Manufacturing Spotlight: Ashley Parent, Mills Machine Works, Quality, Diversity and Job Skills for Our Future

At 3DEXPERIENCE World  we discussed global goals for diversity, inclusion, and the workforce of the future in the manufacturing sector.  We explored these values with advocates Aseena Muthana, Drew Crowe and Meaghan Ziemba.

Audrey – Office Manager, Megan – Machinists and Operations, John – Master Machinist and Shop Manager, Ashley – President and Melissa – Purchasing and Quoting


Closer to home, one dynamic woman, Ashley Parent, along with her sister, Megan and brother, John, exemplify the goals of a diverse, skilled and trainer of our future workforce, in this women-owned, veteran supported, family run, second generation, manufacturing company, Mills Machine Works of Lawrence, MA USA.

Ashley’s dad started the family business out of their home with his wife Janet in 1995.  Gregory “Millsy” Mills would take jobs his boss did not want to do because they were too complicated.  Greg was up to the challenge in helping out customers with complex problems, delivering quality machined products. Ashley was 4 years old. Starting at age 5, Ashley remembers putting small parts into plastic bags with her dad in the basement. Business grew out of the house into an industrial precision shop in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

In high school, Ashley continued to work in the office along side her mom, focusing on corporate and financial aspects.  Ashley made a decision to leave “shop life” and go onto college learning about business/marketing and her other passion, photography.  After graduation, she opened her own successful photography studio.

But at age 24,  illness forced Ashley to give up her studio. The family stuck together and as Ashley’s health improved she was back in the shop part-time, learning about every aspect of the business from her mother, Janet in finance, office management and customer support. United by love of her family, Ashley persevered in and out of the shop. Janet now has given all responsibilities to Ashley and her two siblings.

Younger brother, John and sister, Megan attended Greater Lowell Technical High School.

Since age 9, John has been running m  When entering the machine tech shop at Greater Lowell Technical High School, he spent most of his time helping and teaching the other students in the shop. John then attended  New England Institute of Technology learning SOLIDWORKS, CAM software and additional machining skills. Today, John is a master machinist and shop manager.  He develops North Shore Technical High School students’ skills and is training the new quality manager, Katie and co-op, Paula from Greater Lawrence Technical High School. 

Megan also graduated from Greater Lowell Technical High School.  Although Megan had a shop background from her family, she studied cosmetology.  Megan returned to Greater Lowell for Adult Education Classes for CNC Machining. Megan too is my role model.  She provides so many young women, men and  Career and Technical Education(CTE) educators in the trades examples of success based on hard work and education. She is a Member-At-Large of the SkillsUSA MA Alumni & Friends Association Executive Board, as well as Vice President for Greater Lowell Techs SkillsUSA Alumni Association.

Sharing their experiences, promoting women in manufacturing and showcasing production, the new  Mills Machine Works Instagram account  features women working on the shop floor and in a variety of roles – including owning and managing a business. For Ashley and her siblings, finding good help is one of their biggest challenges.  That is why encouraging young women and training young co-ops is what they do.

Mills Machine Works customers are impressive.  They focus on aerospace, automotive and defense, for some of the largest companies in the world and still give the personal care to small companies and startups.

I asked Ashley what advice would she give an engineer who uses SOLIDWORKS, she stated “Let us partner with you – prior to submitting a purchase order.”  She went on to say, we can look for things in a design to make manufacturing most efficient and cost effective. We can even help with the design.”

Thank you Ashley and Mills Machine Works for sharing your story with the SOLIDWORKS Community and being a role model for so many of our students.  Congratulations on your first  year anniversary. We wish you great success in the years to come.

Design well.  Marie


Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard