January, 2018

A publication brought to you by the Manufacturers Alliance

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MA Announcements

New and Renewing Members

Thank you to the following members who have recently joined or renewed your membership!

Dynamic Sealing Tech
Force America
Glenn Metalcraft
GLS Companies
Gopher Resource 
Great River Energy
Griffiths Corp
Hamon Deltak 
Hill-Rom Co 
Hire Authority 
Linnihan Foy Advertising
Management Recruiters of the St. Croix Valley
Mereen-Johnson Mach 
MME Group 
Northern Metal Fab
Orion Search Group
Patterson Thuente IP
Post Consumer Brands
Prima Power Laserdyne
ProtoLabs Company 
Quality Tech, Inc.
Rice Lake Weighing Systems 
Shippers Supply
Specialized Recruiting Group
Superior Aerospace
TEAM Industries
Twin Cities Laboratories
Viking Engineering & Dev
Vista Outdoor
Zero Zone Refrigeration

Completed Certifications

Jenni Derheim-Cretex 
Collin Rudnitski-Aqseptence
Joel Kettler-Atlas Mfg
Steven Wenborg-Gemini Inc 
Jason Thompson-Atlas Mfg
Pat Rufledt-Atlas Mfg
James Welch-Atlas Mfg
Adam Sislo-Caribou Coffee
Jenny Minette-Brunswick/Life Fitness
Mony Siv-Travel Tags
Alan Albert-Travel Tags
Jim Kendall-Atlas Mfg
Bill Dvorak-Vascular Solutions
Jeff Lutz-Atlas Mfg
Mike Thompson-Atlas Mfg
Jacob Maher-Atlas Mfg
Jason Williams-Aqseptence Group
Austin Heisick-Pneumodyne
Bob Schultz-Atlas Mfg
David Hatten-The Bernard Group
Josen Brawk     
Mary DesMarais-Plymouth Industries
Cody Stolp-Aqseptence Group
Michael Nelson-Aqseptence Group

Wage Survey Participation

Participation in our 2018 Manufacturing Compensation and Benefits Survey is open until Feb. 2. Visit our website for more information.

Manufacturer of the Year

We are accepting nominations through Jan. 22 for our annual Manufacturer of the Year Awards Visit our website for more information!


Connect with over 2000 peers online through the Manufacturers Alliance LinkedIn group. Learn More.

MultiSource Manufacturing Certfication

MultiSource Manufacturing has achieved the newest ISO and AS standards. Read more here.

Upcoming MPMA event

Join the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association (MPMA) on Feb. 23 where Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawleny will present "The Future of Work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution." More information and registration is available on the MPMA website.

Feed My Starving Children Event

The Northwest Metro MobilePack event is February 20-25 in Champlin. To get involved visit their website.

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

More in Store for Members in 2018
Article by: Kirby Sneen

In 2018 the Manufacturers Alliance will begin to pursue a new long-term target.

Peer Group Member - Steven J. Van Wiel
Article by: Steven J. Van Wiel

Steven is Vice President Global Operations North America with GN ReSound in Bloomington. He has been with the company for 24 years.

OSHA at the Door
Article by: Tim Sheehan

It’s begins as a normal day, then you get a call from the receptionist: “An OSHA Investigator is here and wants to talk to our safety person."

MN Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

The December Business Conditions Index for Minnesota slipped to a healthy 56.8 from November’s 57.8.

More in Store for Members in 2018

In 2018 the Manufacturers Alliance will begin to pursue a new long-term target.

We want to become the largest, most valued alliance of manufacturers in the 5-state area. Naturally, we will do this one day at a time.

Over the next 365 days, engaging over 10,000 manufacturing practitioners from 450 manufacturing member companies will be our primary focus. We will drive higher levels of engagement by investing in our Educational Seminars, Workshops, Certifications, and Peer Groups.

We will improve seminars by focusing on several of the toughest issues we see members facing including:

  • Creating and sustaining a culture of continuous improvement
  • Implementing Lean in low volume/high mix operations
  • Recruiting and training the next generation of leaders

These seminar topics as well as others will be available in HD video with crystal clear audio in our new Video Library. Watch our first few videos here. https://www.mfrall.com/seminars.

Some of you have noticed our recently updated Lean Leader Certification (https://www.mfrall.com/certification-overview). We made the certification more customizable, built in benchmarking tours, and added a new workshop on “Accelerating a Lean Culture”. We started offering in-person coaching to every participant in a Certification program to assist in the application of the learning, leading to a positive measurable impact. Our coach Tammi Dorion can help with a range of challenges, from constructing problem statements, to identifying measurable results, or making sure you have a plan to sustain your improvements.

After experiencing an increase in demand for our Supervision Fundamentals Certification in both 2016 and 2017, we will expand our leadership workshop category. This spring, we plan on rolling out a new suite of leadership and management training for the next generation of manufacturing practitioners. Also, in an exciting development, we will start offering select Lean workshops in St. Cloud scheduled for this spring.

We’ve recently launched our new Continuous Improvement Practitioner peer group. It is a great fit for those individuals who have recently completed a Lean or 6 Sigma certification, and want to discuss specific challenges associated with solving problems with their peers. This is one of the 21 peer groups we offer that keeps members connected while sharing best practices and providing candid feedback on issues. Finally, we will also expand our peer group forum capabilities and reach. We will open it up to anyone with a company membership and offer sub-forums for specific topical discussions.

This aggressive plan is our way to respond to members’ changing needs. We are very grateful for the opportunity to bring together manufacturing practitioners in their pursuit of excellence.  Lastly, I hope to see you at an upcoming Seminar, Workshop, or Peer Group meeting soon. Contact me any time with ideas, suggestions or questions. In the meantime, onward!

Kirby Sneen is the Vice President of the Manufacturers Alliance - an association of over 400 manufacturers in the greater Twin City area. This industrial association specializes in sharing education and resources peer-to-peer. Kirby may be reached at (763) 557-8007, kirbys@mfrall.com, or www.linkedin.com/in/kirbysneen/

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Peer Group Member - Steven J. Van Wiel

Steven is Vice President Global Operations North America with GN ReSound in Bloomington. He has been with the company for 24 years.

GN ReSound (also known as GN Hearing) is a manufacturer, distributor and service provider of hearing aids, accessories and parts to support the US, Mexico and Puerto Rico countries from our location in Bloomington, MN. Our ReSound Brand Sales and Marketing Commercial group is also headquartered at this location.

How long have you been a member of a Manufacturers Alliance Peer Group?
I have been a member of the Executive Operations Peer Group for one year.

How, when, and why did you get introduced to the Peer Group? What was your main reason for joining?
I was introduced to the Peer Group by Kirby Sneen as he felt that my peripheral activity with the Manufacturers Alliance needed to be accelerated. He also felt that since GN Resound had a number of individuals contributing I could benefit from this Peer Group as well.

When you last hosted a Peer Group meeting, what value did you receive from hosting it? Do you have a topic in mind for the next time you host a Peer Group?
We have hosted a number of events back to February 2015 and held some events in 2016 and 2017 related to our Operations and Lean journey. With our continued effort to host, we are hoping to have group comments about our growth strategy and operational excellence.

Can you tell us about a meeting that exceeded your expectations of the benchmarking tour, or a time when you were able to apply what you learned from a host company or guest speaker?
I will site a visit to Medtronic and Entrust Datacard as two recent meeting where I took away a large number of simple concepts that especially hit home. At Medtronic, I picked up the real feel of the continuous improvement program at work and how the technicians have embraced that mindset with the visual board and how they manage the tight production cell. At Entrust Datacard their ability to trust the technicians in workstation development, meeting production goals, setting high standards, integrating technology and measuring those goals. GN ReSound is well into meeting our aggressive multiyear growth strategy and the Operations group is kicking our continuous improvement effort into gear - we have some great work ahead of us.

Have you used the members of your Peer Group to help to help solve an issue?
I will say that this group answers a lot of questions within the monthly meeting and is open and transparent during our discussions. The Peer Group discussions present a lot of information, and the homework is really to tailor the learnings to our business.

How would you describe peer-to-peer sharing best practices to your colleagues?
We have a strategy at GN to "Listen, Challenge and Transform," and I believe this is how the peer-to-peer sharing model works the best at the Manufacturers Alliance. If you attend the meetings, listen to your peers with great focus, be open to presenting challenges or challenging them, you will eventually transform both parties for the better.

Steven J. Van Wiel is Vice President Global Operations North America at GN ReSound/GN Hearing in Bloomington. He can be reached at vanwiels@gnhearing.com.

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OSHA at the Door

It’s begins as a normal day, then you get a call from the receptionist: “An OSHA Investigator is here and wants to talk to our safety person."

You think – “Today, we have a major order to fill!” Are you ready or does panic set in?

Let’s step back for a minute. Why does OSHA show up at your door? There are five primary reasons:

  1. For a general inspection (random)
  2. Program specific based on their injury data
  3. Employee complaint
  4. An employee is admitted to the hospital due to work related injury
  5. A fatality

Now that reality has set in, important questions quickly come to mind. What is my next step? What do I need to have ready? What will OSHA want to see first? Who will they want to talk to? Who is available to accompany them throughout their visit today?

These questions are very real, they are the questions that most of us do not think about until there is a knock at the door and it’s OSHA. Regardless of what stage you are at with your company’s safety program – just beginning to get serious or consider yourself a well-oiled safety machine – we have some advice for you.

A Story that Hits Home
Recently we received a call from a client in the Twin Cities who had OSHA at their door. We informed the client to follow the OECS procedures that we had trained them on which included informing OSHA that we were on the way, and in the meantime, to review their safety programs and training rosters. We quickly arrived to join the Investigator and the Plant Manager at the facility. An opening conference was conducted by OSHA – explaining why they were there and what the process was going to be for that day. The group conducted a thorough tour of the facility. Then OSHA conducted a Closing Conference at the end of the day. The Investigator said all safety programs were more than adequate, employee interviews positive, and that his recommendation to his boss would be to not issue any citations. A very positive outcome for the company!

Stepping back, in order to have results like this, a lot of hard work went into tackling safety at this company. OECS worked closely with the company to implement the OECS Proven Process. This process covers all the bases in developing and implementing a proven safety system and culture. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. In fact, the company had been previously cited by OSHA from an earlier investigation. Nothing is more rewarding than committing to safety improvements and seeing results like this. Zero injuries, zero citations, and safe employees.  

We look forward to presenting “OSHA at The Door – Prepare Your Team for Success" for Manufacturers Alliance members this month where we will discuss how to proactively prepare a safety program, best practices when OSHA shows up, avoiding costly fines, and an extensive Q & A session.

Tim Sheehan is the Owner/President of OECS-Workplace Safety Experts with offices in Golden Valley, MN and Fargo, ND. Visit www.oecscomply.com for more information about their services.

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MN Economic Outlook

The December Business Conditions Index for Minnesota slipped to a healthy 56.8 from November’s 57.8.

Components of the overall December index from the monthly survey of supply managers were new orders at 69.5, production or sales at 63.4, delivery lead time at 49.0, inventories at 49.3, and employment at 53.0. “In 2016, businesses and farms in the state exported $6.4 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico, supporting more than 38,000 jobs. In the nine-state region, Minnesota is the sixth most dependent on NAFTA sales, registering approximately 1.9 percent of GDP,” said Goss. 2018 NAFTA abolition damage to state economy: Moderate to High.

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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