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ESGR in the News


CANNON FALLS, Minn. – Stephanie Zabel, Vice President of Finance at Cannon Equipment, received the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriotic Employer Award Aug. 8.

Cannon Equipment designs and builds material handling systems for grocery, retail, automotive, eCommerce, logistics, and food and beverage industries. Zabel was nominated by Navy Reserve Cmdr. Nathan Neilitz, who is an IT Systems Analyst for Cannon Equipment. Cannon Equipment President Robyn Walker gave remarks, and approximately 30 members of the Cannon Equipment workforce attended the presentation. ESGR Volunteer Christie Nixon presented the award.

Neilitz received a direct commission as an engineering officer 20 years ago, after three years as an Information Technology enlisted sailor in the Navy Reserve. He has held command and staff positions with Naval Construction (Seabee) units around the county and has deployed to Afghanistan and Djibouti. His current assignment is INDOPACOM Engineering Plans Officer, where his unit’s duties are to run combined exercises and provide additional support to that geographic combatant command.

Zabel has been Neilitz’s supervisor at Cannon since he began working there in 2019. She sits down with Nathan and plans how his work will be done or rescheduled while he is away on military duty and understands and supports that duty even if it comes on short notice. She tells other employees why Nathan is not available and protects him from being contacted about Cannon Equipment business when he is on military duty. She tells him a parallel message – just do your Navy work. Stephanie expressed appreciation for the recognition and for the work that Nathan does.

Robyn Walker, President of Cannon Equipment, signed a Statement of Support of the Guard and Reserve and made remarks that showed the company’s support of Reserve service members. Neilitz expressed appreciation for Walker hiring him with knowledge of his Reserve membership and obligations.

ESGR is a Department of Defense program which seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call (800) 336-4590 or visit

Photo 1: Christie Nixon (ESGR), Stephanie Zabul (VP, Finance – Cannon Equipment), Commander Nathan Neilitz.

Photo 2: Christie Nixon (ESGR), Robyn Walker (President – Cannon Equipment), Stephanie Zabul (VP, Finance – Cannon Equipment), Commander Nathan Neilitz.

Posted in: Minnesota
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