October, 2013

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Wage Survey

The 2013 Manufacturers Alliance Compensation and Benefits Survey is now available to purchase. This survey was designed with input from local manufacturing companies to provide comprehensive total cash compensation data for making important pay decisions in this ever changing economy. Learn More



LinkedIn

Connect with over 1,600 peers online through the Manufacturers Alliance LinkedIn group. Learn More



Leaders Alliance

If you want to look beyond your four walls for best practices and leverage the experience of your peers as your own, consider joining a Leaders Alliance peer group.



New and Renewing Companies

Thank you to the following members who joined or renewed your membership in the past 30 days!

Precision Associates
INCERTEC
Coldspring
Starkey Laboratories
Intek Plastics Inc
Loram Maintenance
Independent Packing
Pneumadyne Inc
MMI Precision
Tennessen & Associates
Computype, Inc.
Solid Design Solutions
American Converters
Blow Molded Specialties
BePex International
LAI Intl Midwest
Continental Machines
Lion Precision
Malco Products
Innovative Food Processors
Acist Medical Systems
Brookdale Plastics
Bose Corporation
Western Graphics
Spectralytics
Zero Zone Refrigeration
Robinson Rubber Products
ICA Corporation
Pentair Technical
Metro Mold & Design
JunoPacific Inc
MGS Machine Corp
Miller Manufacturing
Millerbernd MFG
Packnet Ltd
MTS Systems Corp
Minnesota Rubber
Laser Peripherals
BTD Manufacturing
Vision-Ease Lens
Wenger Corporation
Quality Bicycle Products
NRI Electronics
General Dynamics
Visions
North Anoka Control Systems
Ecolab Inc
MGK
Bosch Automotive
SAGE Electrochromics
Elk River Machine Co
Midwest Rubber
UMC Inc
Uponor
Whirltronics Inc
Minco
Skyline Displays
Fiserv Output Solutions
Navy Island Inc



Completed Certifications

Congratulations to the following individuals on completing their certifications in the 3rd Quarter.

Job well done!

July 2013       
Tommy Thongratsamy-Uponor   
David W Larson-Eaton   
Christine L. Schreck-Smiths-Medical   
Robert St. Louis-MGK   
Ron Seurer-Despatch   
Hoai Dinh-Eaton   
       
August 2013       
Lynn Erlandson-Smiths Medical 
Tyler Gregg-Lube Tech   
Luanne Eisenschenk-RedEye, by Stratasys   
Ken Lessley-Midwest Rubber   
Don Griwac-Bilfinger Water Technologies   



Klobuchar Highlights ESOP in Visit to Diversified Plastics

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) visited Diversified Plastics, Inc. to highlight Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) companies and learn more about Diversified Plastics’ transition to employee ownership. Joining Klobuchar during her visit were members of the Minnesota/Dakota chapter of the ESOP Association, two Brooklyn Park city council members and city manager.

“We, the senators involved in this effort, think we can up the ante and start having people within government understand the value of the this kind of business ownership where employees actually get some skin in the game,” added Klobuchar. “This is a company that has proved that employee ownership is a successful business model that leads to more jobs, higher wages, increased productivity and higher retirement security,”

For more information, contact:
Annette Lund
Vice President
Diversified Plastics, Inc.
763.488.7103
alund@divplast.com


Beckhoff Automation Open House

You're invited to an open house, and to tour this fully-automated facility in Savage, Minnesota. Enjoy complimentary appetizers and beverages as well.

Thursday, November 14 2013 from 4:30 - 7:00pm

Beckhoff Automation 13130 Dakota Avenue Savage MN 55378

Please RSVP by November 7 by calling (952)746-1479



2014 Community Impact Awards

Whether a company employs four people or 4,000, it has the ability to make a positive impact. Many Minnesota companies make giving back a part of their culture in a variety of ways. With these awards, MN Business Magazine gives a nod to the best of their efforts. The awards will be announced at a February 2014 event in the Twin Cities. Click Here to learn more.



UCBC Presents: Don’t Let Import & Export Compliance Issues Slow Down Your Supply Chain

Guest speaker Mr. SenGupta will discuss best practices and pitfalls to US-China trade. For exporters, he will discuss US export controls and how to be vigilant in complying with US export controls when shipping to China.  For importers, he will discuss common errors to avoid to ensure a smooth import process, and reduce the likelihood of penalties due to non-compliance with customs regulations.  

Members of the Manufacturers Alliance may attend this event at no cost! Learn more and register here http://www.ucbcgroup.org



Upcoming Events

February 7th 2023 09:00 am
- The Role of the Leader Online

February 8th 2023 08:00 am
- Creating Process Maps

February 9th 2023 08:00 am
- Sustaining Lean Culture Through Leadership Changes

February 14th 2023 09:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems Supervision Fundamentals Certification

February 15th 2023 09:00 am
- The Role of the Leader

February 16th 2023 08:00 am
- Conflict, Communication and Collaboration

February 21st 2023 08:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems 6 Sigma Green Belt Certification

February 21st 2023 09:00 am
- Leadership Style & Versatility Online

February 22nd 2023 08:00 am
- Root Cause Analysis

February 22nd 2023 09:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems Supervision Fundamentals Certification

Article Index

MN Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

For a 10th straight month, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index moved above growth neutral. The index from a monthly survey of supply managers in the state dipped to a still solid 57.0 from 59.0 in August. 


Exports Equal $ales, $tability, $uccess - More Manufacturers Need to Think Outside the Border
Article by: Kathleen Motzenbecker

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Owatonna and one day you get an inquiry from a potential customer in Los Angeles or Chicago or Atlanta. Do you respond? Of course you do. When business comes knocking, you answer the door. That’s a no-brainer.


Book Review- "Now You See It – How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn"
Article by: David Haynes

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler.  Most of the attention on learning in the workplace – at least in the manufacturing world – is focused on changing skill sets. Davidson’s important work surveys a much broader landscape. Thinking about skills as individual and set-bound is a model under siege.


Coming Soon- Employment questions answered here!
Article by: Marni Hockenberg

We know that finding, hiring and retaining top employees is a real challenge in today’s competitive candidate market!  In response, we are  pleased to announce a new monthly column in the MA Insider.  Our columnist is Marni Hockenberg, Principal of Hockenberg Search - a Twin Cities Executive Search firm specializing in managerial recruitment for Manufacturing and aligned industries.


Lean Leader of the Month: Patrick Soschnik with Coldspring
Article by: Patrick Soschnik

Patrick Soschnik has spent 26 years at Coldspring, and is currently the Continuous Improvement Office Supervisor. Coldspring has been serving the architectural, memorial, residential and industrial markets for more than 115 years.


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MN Economic Outlook

For a 10th straight month, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index moved above growth neutral. The index from a monthly survey of supply managers in the state dipped to a still solid 57.0 from 59.0 in August. 

Components of the index from the September survey were new orders at 60.3, production or sales at 63.7, delivery lead time at 54.8, inventories at 55.7, and employment at 51.9. “Expansions among durable goods manufacturers more than offset pullbacks among food processors and other nondurable goods producers in the state,” said Goss.

Dr. Ernest Goss of Creighton University, used the same methodology as The National Association of Purchasing Management to compile this information. An index number greater than 50 percent indicates an expansionary economy, and an index under 50 percent forecast a sluggish economy, for the next three to six months.

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Exports Equal $ales, $tability, $uccess - More Manufacturers Need to Think Outside the Border

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Owatonna and one day you get an inquiry from a potential customer in Los Angeles or Chicago or Atlanta. Do you respond? Of course you do. When business comes knocking, you answer the door. That’s a no-brainer.

But what if the inquiry comes from Toronto, or Hamburg, or Sao Paulo?

If you’re like a lot of Minnesota manufacturers, you might not do anything at all.  You might ignore it. Research shows that more than half of the inquiries companies receive from potential customers in foreign markets go unanswered.

That’s true both here in Minnesota and nationwide.  About 81 percent of Minnesota’s manufacturers ship to customers in another state, but only 41 percent ship to another country.  Why so few?
Many small and midsized manufacturers think it will be too hard or too risky, so their mindset says ‘We just don’t do global business”.  My belief is that if approached deliberately, it’s really no more difficult than what you already do to manage your domestic operations.

There are tremendous opportunities in the international marketplace, and Minnesota’s manufacturers are in position to take advantage of them.  Last year, Minnesota companies exported $32 billion in goods, services and commodities to markets worldwide. Manufactured goods accounted for nearly $19 billion (58 percent) of that total.

The impact of those foreign sales goes well beyond the balance sheet of any individual company. Manufactured exports generate nearly 115,000 jobs in Minnesota.  About half are manufacturing jobs, the other half support industries such as sales, marketing, transportation and logistics. Exports also generate more tax revenue for the state.

That’s an all-around great performance. Still, Minnesota’s manufacturers are far from realizing their full exporting potential. 

Understanding the Benefits

Every company wants to increase profits.  But, increased revenue and profits aren’t the only reasons manufacturers should take exporting seriously. Just as compelling: Exporting can make your company more stable and predictable by insulating it from the usual business cycle fluctuations in domestic demand. Exports can be a life preserver in the event of a severe, widespread and prolonged economic downturn.

It would be rare for the entire world to face economic downturns all at the same time. Even during the Great Recession, many companies told us that if it hadn’t been for foreign sales (especially in Japan and other parts of Asia), they’d have had to lay-off workers or close their doors. Exports were suddenly 40 percent of their business – because domestic sales fell off a cliff.

Executives at small and midsized companies that do export often report that competing for business in the international marketplace has made them stronger and more competitive in their home markets. 

That’s the case at Delkor Systems, Inc., a leading manufacturer of food-packaging equipment based in Arden Hills, where export sales are an important driver of the company’s growth. 
A decade ago, exports (mostly to customers in Canada) accounted for less than 10 percent of Delkor’s new equipment sales, says company president and CEO Dale Andersen. Today, foreign sales have grown to 25 percent, and Delkor’s export markets have broadened to include Mexico, Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Last year, the company was honored by Gov. Mark Dayton with an award for exporting success. 

But none of it happened overnight.

By the time Andersen made the decision to invest time, money and effort in Latin America, he had visited his target markets many times over several years to assess their true potential.  At industry expos, trade shows, and on trade missions he got to know customers and their needs; he learned about market constraints; he sized up his competition; and eventually, he clearly identified Delkor’s competitive niche.
It’s a game plan that Andersen thinks other Minnesota manufacturers interested in exporting would do well to employ.
“It is strategically important for a business to understand the competitive landscape outside the United States. You just can’t do that from a distance. Go to the shows. Visit the customers. You have to get out there,” says Andersen.

That kind of on-the-ground market intelligence is a crucial investment that can pay-off two ways:
•    It can lay the foundation for a successful market entry.
•    It can keep you from making investments in markets where the timing is not right or where    you never really had a chance to succeed.
Other advice that Andersen offers manufacturers considering exporting:

“If you do see opportunity, it’s important to explore it. Don’t rush. Don’t just jump in,” he says, noting that impulsivity can lead to costly mistakes. “Be strategic and just take it in steps.”

I couldn’t agree more. To go from thinking about exporting to getting your company export-ready and entering a new global market is a deliberate process that requires careful thinking all along the way, no question about it.

And all processes have a beginning. The first step is for more Minnesota manufacturers to consider the possibility – to see the full potential – of exporting their products to foreign markets. The next step is to call us at the Minnesota Trade Office. We’ll help you take it from there.

To learn more about how the Minnesota Trade Office can help you explore opportunities in exporting call 651-259-7499 or toll free at 800-657-3858. To speak with an international trade representative about specific market or industry questions, call the MTO’s Trade Assistance Helpline at 651-259-7498 or email Mto.TradeAssistance@state.mn.us

Kathleen Motzenbecker is the executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. She is on a mission to move more manufacturers into the ranks of exporting companies by getting them to see the opportunities and then helping them prepare to enter their target market successfully.

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Book Review- "Now You See It – How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn"

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler.  Most of the attention on learning in the workplace – at least in the manufacturing world – is focused on changing skill sets. Davidson’s important work surveys a much broader landscape. Thinking about skills as individual and set-bound is a model under siege.

 Those of you who have spent considerable time in ‘gemba’ (in the lexicon of lean thinking, the place where the work is done, in Japanese the 'real place') may recognize some of the key insights of the science of attention.

  • It’s not easy to change on our own
  • We cannot see ourselves as others see us
  • If we can create the right environment, others can help us see what we’re missing – and we can help them see what they’re missing

At the center of her story is the observation of brain scientists that at any given time our brains expend an inordinate amount of energy selecting what to attend to, and in the process make us blind to most everything else – in some cases literally. Neurologist Marcus Raichle has determined that an astonishing 80 percent of our neural energy is taken by the mind talking to itself, not by external distractions.

 Staying on track with any thought requires not only this subconscious selection and rejection but also requires a narrative. A beginning and ending, with clear categories. And while categories are necessary and useful to sort through what would otherwise be chaos, Davidson reminds us that categories are arbitrary. In her words, “They define what we want them to, not the other way around.”

 Davidson argues that the narratives of the 20th century no longer fit our 21st century lives, and further, many of those narratives are at odds with what we’ve learned about brain science in recent years. Our brains are simply not built to take one task from start to completion without interruption, then the next, and the next. But that’s the way we’ve organized our businesses and our schools.

Her book, however, is not a dry recitation of scientific research. It is an engaging series of stories. Stories about kids, stories about teachers, stories about workers and the organizations they’re part of. Some stories are hair-pulling bits of nearsightedness and inertia, but many more are inspirational and full of possibility.

If you worry about our kids and our schools, if you wonder about the future of our workplaces, if you’re nervous about our headlong plunge into hyper-connectedness and dizzying rates of change, Davidson will frighten you but give you hope.

 “Now You See It” is an important work of scholarship, but it is a book that’s easy to read more than once. Which is good, because you’ll need to.

 Read the book. Go look for help on your own blindness. Then read it again. Listen carefully to what others tell you. Perhaps then you’ll find yourself saying, “Now I see it.”

Cathy Davidson (http://cathydavidson.com) holds two distinguished chairs at Duke University, the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, where she co-directs the Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge. She is cofounding director of the 11,000+ member international digital learning network HASTAC (“haystack”), Humanities, Arts, Technology, and Science Alliance and Collaboratory. http://www.hastac.org

David Haynes- Owner of Lean4All LLC providing consulting services in influencing change: aligning strategy, IT, process improvement, and organizational communication. David may be reached at david@lean4all.com

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Coming Soon- Employment questions answered here!

We know that finding, hiring and retaining top employees is a real challenge in today’s competitive candidate market!  In response, we are  pleased to announce a new monthly column in the MA Insider.  Our columnist is Marni Hockenberg, Principal of Hockenberg Search - a Twin Cities Executive Search firm specializing in managerial recruitment for Manufacturing and aligned industries.

As an experienced and trusted business advisor to manufacturing companies, Marni is uniquely qualified to provide practical advice on navigating these complex issues.  Her keen insights are based on daily interactions with parties on both sides of the interview desk.

Marni will answer questions from our member hiring managers and job search candidates on:

  • Recruitment
  • Hiring
  • Employee Engagement & Retention
  • Job Search

 What questions do you have for Marni? Please send them to her at  info@hockenbergsearch.com. Your name and company name will remain confidential in the column.

Marni Hockenberg is Principal of Hockenberg Search, a Twin Cities search firm that specializes in managerial recruitment for Midwest manufacturing companies. Contact Marni at marni@hockenbergsearch.com; 952-500-9542; www.hockenbergsearch.com.

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Lean Leader of the Month: Patrick Soschnik with Coldspring

Patrick Soschnik has spent 26 years at Coldspring, and is currently the Continuous Improvement Office Supervisor. Coldspring has been serving the architectural, memorial, residential and industrial markets for more than 115 years.

Headquartered in Cold Spring, Minnesota, the company owns and operates multiple facilities across the country, including 30 quarries, five fabrication locations, and a bronze foundry. They employ more than 900 employees throughout North America.

Where did you receive your Lean training/experience?
In 1999, Coldspring contracted a lean consulting firm that taught us Time Based Strategy, 5S, Standard Operations and Global Production Systems. We introduced a Continuous Improvement Office that took about 40 Coldspring managers and supervisors (myself included) through a 6-month tour. The tour incorporated in-depth training on these new tools. We led kaizen events throughout the company, and after six months, we were deployed to a new area of the company with a fresh set of eyes to implement improvements.

How, when, and why did you get introduced to lean and what fuels the passion for Continuous Improvement?   
Beginning in the early 1990s, Coldspring felt the economic pressures and the increase in foreign competition. As such, we recognized the need to eliminate waste and manufacture more efficiently, so we implemented various forms of lean activities until the major effort in 1999.

What fuels the passion?
Working with a team to take a process – analyze it, and develop solutions that close the gap between current state and ideal state. Looking back, we believe our business wouldn’t be as healthy, and like some of our competitors, may no longer exist, if we hadn’t started lean initiatives. Today, we strive to be the best in our industry, so we continuously look at ways to improve and work more efficiently into the future.

What are your current Lean oriented activities?
One of the major lean initiatives in the last several years was the dramatic consolidation of our operations facilities. It merged two locations – 2 miles apart – into one corporate headquarters. The goal was to save on space and produce a better workflow. We worked as a team to lean equipment and processes which resulted in greater efficiencies, and a reduction of energy consumption and our overall footprint. After the move, we reintroduced the Continuous Improvement Office to the organization.

Our focus is still rooted in Time Based Strategy tools, and the reduction of the 7 wastes of manufacturing (storage, transportation, overproduction, processing, waiting, motion and defects). More recently, we’ve become increasingly passionate about the 8th waste – resource utilization (raw material, people and equipment). For example, because we are a vertically integrated company (we control the source of our materials), we have elevated the importance of utilizing and optimizing as much of the stone we quarry across all market areas of the business.

In the last year, we’ve formalized our lean training. We chose three groups of 20 people (based on impacts they can have on the business) and trained them in an intense 2-day event. The event includes an in-depth overview of our company’s strategy - how we utilize and optimize our resources and understand our customer’s unique needs to create value. We also review company financials, and teach the importance of communication, team building and group collaboration to reach decisions that improve our bottom line. In the end, the goal is to train participants to understand how decisions they make each day impact our overall ability to satisfy customers and create margin.

What were the lessons learned  in leading or training your team on a Lean project?
• Teamwork: It’s difficult for people to change until they realize the benefit, so engaging a cross-functional team (including upper management) in the lean   event is important. This shows the company truly embraces change. We include core team members, managers, executives and the Continuous Improvement team.
• Accountability: The event is followed by ongoing 8-week assessments that hold the team accountable for tracking and measuring the improvements and obstacles   yet to overcome. This process encourages collaboration, teamwork and fosters a lean state of mind.
• Proof of success: We’ve witnessed the greatest results when we start with a project that ensures success. This creates momentum to continuously improve.  Sharing our successes is also important. We include results of successful lean events in our companywide publication so all employees can see the benefits and realize the rewards.

Changing a culture can be time consuming and difficult, but our experience has proven the benefits greatly outweigh the challenges.

What are the next steps in the Lean journey for your company?
This year, we re-branded to better reflect who we are and where we are going in the future, changing from Cold Spring Granite, to one unified master brand: Coldspring. We have been more than a granite company for years, and we didn’t want our name to limit us. We have added new capabilities, diversified into new markets, and developed expertise with a wide range of materials. As one Coldspring, unity and collaboration are key to capitalizing on our strengths, making best use of our resources, our capacity, our scale and scope. As one Coldspring, we will continue to utilize lean strategies to remove waste from our system, continuously improve our processes, and deliver extraordinary customer experiences.

How would you describe peer-to-peer education & training to your colleague?
I’ve learned that everyone deals with similar issues. I meet with my Lean peers on a monthly basis and we share our successes, and work together to develop alternatives to challenges. Through this partnership, I’ve brought lessons and learning from other companies into Coldspring.

Patrick Soschnik has spent 26 years at ColdSpring, in ColdSpring, MN and is currently the Continuous Improvement Office Supervisor. He can be contacted at psoschnik@coldspringusa.com

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