Executive Team Profiles


Jim Garstka

Vice President of Sales & Business Development

Garstka joined Plasma-Therm in January 2020 as VP Sales & BD. He is a seasoned C-suite executive with over 20 years of proven experience in Sales, Marketing and Business Development and is responsible for all aspects of revenue growth at Plasma-Therm. Prior to Plasma-Therm, Garstka has held various executive positions at several semiconductor related OEMs. He holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts.


Bill Davis

Global Customer Service

Davis joined Plasma-Therm in April 2012 as a Special project manager leading cost control effort for the VLN product line. He advanced to the role of Operational Excellence Manager initiating multiple continuous improvement projects and programs that boost efficiency, and productivity while enhancing customer satisfaction. Davis has over 20 years of Operations and Field Service Management experience within the semiconductor industry and he holds a B.S., Electronic Engineering, from ITT Technical Institute.


Dwarakanth Geerpuram

Director of Product Development

As Director of Product Development, Geerpuram is responsible for all the engineering operations at Plasma-Therm. Geerpuram joined Plasma-Therm in 2006 as a process engineer and advanced to a role as Process Engineering Manager before taking over as the Director of Product Development. He has around 15 years of experience in various aspects of semiconductor device fabrication and plasma processing and has authored or coauthored 20 publications and a patent. Geerpuram holds a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the University of Florida.


Russ Westerman

Executive Vice President of Technology

As EVP of Technology, Westerman oversees all technical operations at Plasma-Therm. Westerman joined Plasma-Therm in 1996 and became CTO and one of the managing partners in January 2009. Previously, he oversaw Plasma-Therm’s R&D efforts as head of product development. He has authored and coauthored more than 30 publications and 10 patents in various aspects of semiconductor processing. Westerman holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech, a master's in chemical engineering from University of Illinois, and an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology. Westerman has been a member of the CS MANTECH Technical Programming Committee since 2004 and is an active member of the Society of Vacuum Coaters and the American Vacuum Society.


Bob Conte

Director of Operations

Conte joined Plasma-Therm in August 2014 as Director of Operations, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing and leading Lean manufacturing transformations. He is an expert in state-of-the-art manufacturing methods and has expertise in automation, machining, and metal fabrication, as well as in operational excellence initiatives including Kaizen, 5S, Kanban, and Value Stream Mapping. He previously managed operations at several U.S. manufacturing firms. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New York University and an MBA from the University of Connecticut.

Grace Smoker

Grace Smoker

Director of Human Resources

As Director of HR, Smoker is responsible for providing leadership and guidance in the development and administration of human resource policies, programs, and practices. Smoker came to Plasma-Therm in November 2012 as Senior Human Resources Manager and was promoted to Director of Human Resources in June 2013. She has more than 13 years of experience in human resources and IT services management, risk management, and strategic business partnering. She earned the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification in 2012. Smoker has been a member of the Society for Human Resource Management since 2001, and an active member of Suncoast Human Resource Management Association (Suncoast HR), since 2001.

Abdul Lateef

Abdul Lateef

Chief Executive Officer

Lateef joined Plasma-Therm in 1998 as a project manager leading the PVD product development effort. He advanced to roles as Applications Lab Manager, Principal Scientist, and Head of the Etch Business Unit. In 2005, Lateef became a Senior Project Manager in Oerlikon's corporate office in Switzerland, where he focused on operational restructuring of various divisions. Lateef later led the MBO process, which re-established the Plasma-Therm brand, at which time he assumed the CEO role. With more than 20 years of experience in the semiconductor equipment and process market, Lateef is also co-author on a patent and several published papers covering multiple technologies. Prior to joining Plasma-Therm, Lateef spent several years at Sputtered Films Inc. as a process engineer. He serves on the Banner Center for Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Council and the St. Petersburg College Advisory Committee, and is a leadership coach at the University of Tampa. Lateef has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska, and an MBA from the University of Florida.


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