September, 2008

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Article Index

The Success of Grass-Roots Design
Article by: Justin Dorsey
You're at a conference and about to watch one more power point. The ubiquitous power point. Then someone hands out a notepad on which to take notes. Only, it's more than a note pad. It's a bound booklet with your company's logo embossed on a cover sculpted from hard transparent plastic and leather.
Want to Innovate? Be happy!
Article by: Rod Greder
The famous song lyrics by Bobby McFerrin encourage us to "Don't worry, Be happy!" It's so simple.
Being Prepared for an OSHA Inspection
Article by: Vija Kelly
Everyone knows that sooner or later it is going to happen–the OSHA inspector shows up without advanced warning.
Lean Leader of the Month
Article by: Kirby Sneen
Michael Reinitz is a Senior Manufacturing Engineer at Johnson Screens located in New Brighton, Minnesota.
Our Continuing Investment in Programs, Workshops, and You
Article by: Art Sneen
For more than twelve years the MA has been immersed in an aggressive three-fold approach to help local manufacturing improve, stay on top of trends, and remain competitive.
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The Success of Grass-Roots Design
You're at a conference and about to watch one more power point. The ubiquitous power point. Then someone hands out a notepad on which to take notes. Only, it's more than a note pad. It's a bound booklet with your company's logo embossed on a cover sculpted from hard transparent plastic and leather.

You've never seen anything like it. And in addition to that bound booklet, there's an assortment of product catalogues - all with the same customized cover and bound in the same unique way. So, what do you remember from the power-point? Not much. But, you remember the look and feel of the customized product literature. You remember its design. And, in the world of marketing today - as Target so powerfully demonstrates - design is a core differentiator.

In Minnesota, Trendex (www.trendex.com) is the go-to company for these kinds of customized bound marketing materials. It began life in 1919 as a restorer of bound county records and deeds. In 1985, two brothers from Owatonna, Tom and Jeff Polacek, bought it to hedge their farming incomes. Initially, it wasn't much of a hedge. But, the last fifteen years have seen year over year double digit growth. And, they've positioned themselves extremely well for continued growth because at their core their product is all about customized added-value. In cliché terms, their product is one of touch-and-feel. Their customers know what they want when they see it. That is, it's one thing to draw a three dimensional cad cam - it's another to hold it in your hand. The result is that they're insulated from the China factor and have a skill set that can't be replicated by either commercial printers or commercial binders.

Bryan Jacobsen is Trendex' Sales Manager. As he says, "The printing business is shrinking, or rather, going overseas. So is the bindery business. But, we don't sell a commodity. We sell ideas. And the demand for marketing differentiators is growing by leaps and bounds."

Today, Trendex employs 80 people in its main facility off of Maryland Avenue in St. Paul. It also has sales offices in Chicago and Denver. Its manufacturing floor is clean, well lit and well organized. There is a noticeable and logical flow. And, it's efficient. At full production, it runs 1 ½ shifts five days a week. It sees this excess production capacity as a built-in reserve for future growth.

Trendex also does something internally that speaks to its corporate sophistication. That is, it posts its "estimated" and "actual" financial statements in the very center of its manufacturing floor complete with pre-tax and post-tax net profits. As a companion piece it also posts a series of break points, the achievement of which trigger a specified level of dollars into a bonus pool- distributed quarterly in the form of cold, hard cash. It's a remarkable display of openness.

With respect to the future, Trendex is excited. But it knows it can't stand still. To that end, Trendex has become an active member of the Manufacturers Alliance. As Bryan Jacobson says, "We know there are ways to improve our processes that we haven't explored yet. And, having a local resource like the MA to draw upon is invaluable." So, the next time you're wondering how to make a lasting impression at your power point seminar - stop by the Trendex office and check out just how different you can be!
Justin Dorsey, Director of Sales & Marketing, Advanced Capital Group located at 50 South Sixth Street, #975 Minneapolis, MN 55402. call (612) 230-3009, email jdorsey@acgbiz.com, or visit www.acgbiz.com.

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Want to Innovate? Be happy!
The famous song lyrics by Bobby McFerrin encourage us to "Don't worry, Be happy!" It's so simple.

I feel better already, at least temporarily. Franklin Roosevelt said happiness lies in the joy of achievement and in the thrill of creative effort. That sounds a little more involved, with work leading up to it. That brand of happiness might be more long-lived and deeply rooted. But what is happiness and why is it we are obsessed with it?

We all want to be happy. Americans consider happiness more important to them than money, moral goodness, and even going to Heaven. Happiness is defined as a state of well-being ranging from subtle contentment to intense joy. It's a gut feeling that things are OK. I'm OK. You're OK. The world is OK. OK, it's probably not that simple!

Many factors contribute to happiness: focusing on significant others and a circle of friends, lowering our expectations and accepting what is, being more active, being more optimistic, giving of yourself to others, feeling grateful and living in the present moment.

Yes, we want to be happy but what does this have to do with innovation?

Harvard Business School professor, Teresa Amabile, found that positive emotion was tied to higher creativity and negative feelings linked to lower motivation and lower creativity. (Data for her study is based on diary evidence from 238 professionals from seven companies working in high tech industries on projects requiring creative effort. The diary evidence confirms that a subject actually did creative thinking that day, not on his or her self-evaluation.) The diary findings also showed a positive hang-over effect in creativity and productivity, one day and sometimes two days after an employee reported being in a positive mood. She called this positive emotion the employee's 'inner work life'.

What can managers do to promote a healthy, positive inner work life? Saying thanks or a company picnic is always welcome, but what Amabile discovered was much simpler: People have their best days and do their best work when they are allowed to make progress. "Big breakthroughs are great, but we found that even incremental progress evokes a powerfully positive inner work life,"

Amabile notes." Fostering a positive inner work life, then, can be as easy (or difficult) as this, Amabile concludes: Support employees' progress in their work every day. Set clear and meaningful goals for them; provide direct help, versus hindrance; offer adequate resources and time; respond to successes and failures by drawing on the experience as a learning opportunity, not just a moment to praise or reprimand; and establish a culture where people are treated with respect.

Happiness, or in a business context 'positive inner work life', is a fragile and ephemeral feeling. It can be induced by different triggers for different people. The bottom line is that you need to know each individual's lever. In addition you need to create an overall culture that doesn't prevent the individual triggers from being effective. If you want to start a fire, or spark creativity in this case, you need to keep the tinder dry (have a culture that allows and nurtures a creative spark.)

Keeping employees happy is not only good for business but it is good for employees as individuals. It is also rewarding for the manager who gives of himself to make others happy. By spreading happiness he/she gets to share the feeling.
Rod Greder, Ph.D. founded Breakthrough Forum, an innovation dialogue and accountability group, for product developers and marketers to tap the collective intelligence of their peers who have been there and done that. rgreder@improveproducts.com, (763)443-1531.

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Being Prepared for an OSHA Inspection
Everyone knows that sooner or later it is going to happen–the OSHA inspector shows up without advanced warning.

Everyone knows, but all too often no one is prepared. And, that is the worst place to be–unprepared. You will have no credibility if you can't put your hands on everything the inspector wants when it is asked for. All too often I get phone calls when the OSHA inspector is already there asking me when the last Right to Know training was, what did it cover, do we have this or that program in place. In those circumstances, the inspector is going to inevitably wonder whose shop it is anyway.

Here are some tips so that you can be ready every time and anytime the OSHA inspector drops by:
  1. Have more than one person in the know. If all of your safety issues and documentation are handled by a single individual and that individual happens to be gone when the inspector shows up, you are going to look bad. At least two people should be aware of where the paper-work is kept, when the last training took place, what was covered, etc.

  2. Have your Form 300 current and all the backup documentation accessible. OSHA inspections usually begin with a look at your injury and illness record. All recordable injuries and illnesses should be entered onto the log as soon after the incident as possible. The First Report of Injury and any accident investigation forms, medical records that apply, etc. should be with or near the log.

  3. Have your written programs within easy reach. You will undoubtedly be asked for a written Hazard Communication Program. If respirators are in use, you will be asked for a written Respiratory Protection Program. Other written programs likely to be demanded are: Personal Protection, Lockout/Tagout, Bloodborne Pathogens.

  4. If you have 25 or more employees, have Safety Committee Meeting Minutes at hand. You don't have to hold committee meetings more often than quarterly, but you'd better have records that they are actually doing something. Safety Committee workplace safety inspections are very impressive.

  5. If forklift trucks operate indoors, you better have your carbon monoxide test logs available. Tailpipe emissions must be tested annually, ambient air quarterly.

  6. Have your training records together and know what the training covered. Minnesota's Right to Know law requires records to be kept for five consecutive years. Keep the yearly training roster together with an outline of the training or handouts. The request for content of training has become more frequent in recent years. I suspect it is because too many companies are showing a generic video and never making the content shop specific. That does not meet the requirements of the law!
An OSHA inspection will happen sooner or later. If you aren't prepared, you will be sorry. It's a case of paying now or paying later. Later is much more painful.
<img src="http://www.mfrall.com/newsletter/authorpics/vijakelly.jpg"align="left">Hazard Management is a consulting and training firm specializing in occupational safety and hazardous waste management. Call Vija Kelly at 651-697-0422 for more information.

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Lean Leader of the Month
Michael Reinitz is a Senior Manufacturing Engineer at Johnson Screens located in New Brighton, Minnesota.



Johnson Screens is the world's leading manufacturer of industrial filters and water well screens since 1904. Our filtration systems provide screening solutions in the refining & petrochemical, mining, food & beverage, pulp & paper, and water treatment industries. We also provide a full line of products for innovative architecture and construction projects. Headquartered in New Brighton, Minnesota, Johnson Screens has offices and manufacturing facilities in the United States, Australia, France, Japan, India, South America and Africa. Our Lean journey began in 2004.

Why did you decide to enroll in the Lean Leader Certification?

I enrolled in the Lean Leader Certification to support my company in our current lean efforts, to learn the tools to assess where we are in our journey and to create an action plan for continuing our efforts.

What were the lessons learned from leading or training your team on a lean manufacturing project?

In leading teams it is important to gain commitment to the effort from all the members, working to overcome any embedded resistance to change. Becoming a successful coach is one key tool to use in order to gain this commitment.

Did you encounter any resistance in leading or training others on lean tools and if so how did being more of a coach help?

You should always be prepared for some level of resistance when training others on lean tools, especially if team members are being introduced to a new group/organizational expectation. This new expectation can be perceived as a positive change and be accepted without resistance or it can be perceived as the annihilation of the old, comfortable, and (until now) perfectly good standard and be met with complete resistance.

Being a coach helps in overcoming resistance. A coach can describe why the change is necessary, can describe what the change will look like, and will offer support to the team members during this change. I try to do my best to listen to what my team members are saying. Understanding their point of view is key in overcoming their resistance to the change.

What would you say to describe the training the Manufacturers Alliance offers?

The Lean Leader training offered by the Manufacturers Alliance provides the learner with practical in-class exercises to apply the course concepts. We were also encouraged by our instructors to utilize the MA peer-to-peer network as a resource during our efforts in sustaining our company's Lean journey.
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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Our Continuing Investment in Programs, Workshops, and You
For more than twelve years the MA has been immersed in an aggressive three-fold approach to help local manufacturing improve, stay on top of trends, and remain competitive.

We will continue to do so by persistently developing new:
  • Monthly Programs
  • Lean Enterprise Workshops
  • Leaders Alliance Peer Groups
As a member of MA, in 2009 you will see some consistent themes as well as some new ones. We will continue to use our peer-to-peer training model, we will continue to develop new LA peer groups-like our newest Quality Management group, and we will continue to solicit feedback from members on monthly program topics. We will also investigate new ways to deliver online training such as podcast and webinars. You can expect a few of our prices to increase this year, while we continue to hold costs steady on most of our training.

As they say, all ships rise with the tide and we would like to say "thank you" for being active members of the MA and helping improve the local manufacturing community.
Art Sneen founded the Manufacturers Alliance in 1990 - an association of over 300 hundred manufacturers in the greater Twin City area. This 12,000-member industrial association specializes in sharing manufacturing education and resources peer-to-peer.

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