January, 2014

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2014 Spring Scholarship

Applications are now being accepted for the Spring 2014 Scholarship, sponsored by Patterson Thuente

This Scholarship offers training assistance to companies and their key employees who are interested in additional leadership or continuous improvement skills.

Deadline for applying is March 27, 2014.



Wage Survey

Look for your invitation to participate in the

2014 Wage and Compensation survey

Did not receive one but would like to participate?

Contact Vickie Parks at vickiep@mfrall.com



LinkedIn

Connect with over 1,700 peers online through the Manufacturers Alliance LinkedIn group. Learn More



New and Renewing Companies

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

ActivStyle
Baxter-Synovis Surgical
Bell Manufacturing
Bodeker Fixtures
Caterpillar Paving
Computype, Inc
D W Johnson Associates
Dane Technologies
Eaton Corporation
Eide Bailly LLP
Ergotron
Filtration Products
Frankel Coaching
GAF Materials Corp
General Dynamics
GLS Companies
GN ReSound
Goebel Fixture Solutions
Griffiths Corporation
Hannover Ltd
Hearing Components
ICA Corporation
ICS Healy- Ruff
Industrial Door
Integris Group
James McHattie
King Solutions
Lube-Tech
Lundgren & Associates
M&A Executive Search
Mate Precision Tooling
MGS Machine Corporation
Midwest Rubber Service
MPC
National Flooring Equipment
Nonin Medical Inc
North Anoka Control Systems
Nott Company
NWN Inc/Westin-Nielsen
Orion Search Group
Packnet Ltd
Precision Associates
Rick King
Robinson Rubber Products
Saputo
SBS Group of Companies
Signal Search Group
Starkey Hearing Technologies
Tennant Company
The Bernard Group
Thermo Fisher Scientific
TSI Incorporated
UMC Inc
UTAS-Aerospace
Vascular Solutions
Viking Engineering
Western Graphics



Completed Certifications

Congratulations to the following individuals who have completed their certification in the second half of 2013. 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- Stratasys
Ken Lessley- Midwest Rubber
Don Griwac- Bilfinger

October 2013
Matthew Duffy- ATMI
Jon Nordman- USDP
Wade Yant-USDP
Cammie Hanson- USDP

November 2013
Terry Le- Eaton
Kurt Richards- Uponor

December 2013
Jesse Ross- USDP
Sam Weller- USDP
Mike Justesen- USDP



2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference

Innovating for Success
April 1-2, 2014, Cleveland, OH, Wyndham Hotel
Conference focus will be on the innovations in green chemistry that
drive advances in business, academia, policy, and human health protection
in the Great Lakes region, and how integration
and collaboration of these areas are crucial for success.

For more information, please visit our website at:
www.glrppr.org



Ask The Hiring Expert

Do you have a question related to recruitment or hiring?
Please send your questions to marni@hockenbergsearch.com to be included in next month's newsletter.
Marni Hockenberg is Principal of Hockenberg Search, a Twin Cities search
firm that specializes in managerial recruitment
for manufacturing companies. www.hockenbergsearch.com.

 



Upcoming Events

November 28th 2017 08:00 am
- Design of Experiments (DOE)

November 29th 2017 08:00 am
- Mistake Proofing.

November 30th 2017 08:00 am
- Employee Performance Management and Coaching

December 4th 2017 08:00 am
- Continuous Improvement Idea Systems

December 5th 2017 08:00 am
- Supply Chain Negotiation Strategies

December 6th 2017 08:00 am
- Standard Work

December 7th 2017 07:30 am
- Make to Order Lean

December 7th 2017 08:00 am
- Setup Reduction

December 8th 2017 08:00 am
- Leading and Training Improvement Teams

December 12th 2017 08:00 am
- Root Cause Analysis

Article Index

Ed polin 2 small Striangle Lean Leader of the Month- Ed Polin- Central Package & Display
Article by: Ed Polin

Ed Polin LBC-Sensei, has spent 7.5 years at Central Package & Display as the Lean Enterprise Manager/ Safety Director. CPD has over 50 years of experience manufacturing custom packaging for business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets.


Drernestgoss small Striangle MN Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

For 13 straight months, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index has moved above growth neutral. The index advanced to a healthy 58.9 from 55.7 in November. Components of the index from the December survey were new orders at 69.9, production or sales at 62.2, delivery lead time at 56.2, inventories at 54.4, and employment at 51.8.


Erik dove small Striangle Top 4 Ways To Get The Most From Your Lender
Article by: Erik Dove

There are critical junctures where a business owner needs to determine how best to increase available funding for the business.  Some examples include:


Eric chadwick small Striangle Patent Trolls - Separating the Myth from Reality
Article by: Eric Chadwick

In the popular media, we increasingly read and hear about a rise in patent infringement lawsuits that has been driven in large part by patent “trolls.”  They may sometimes also be referred to as “patent-assertion entities” or “non-practicing entities” but regardless of their moniker, each shares one or more of the following characteristics:


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Striangle Lean Leader of the Month- Ed Polin- Central Package & Display

Ed Polin LBC-Sensei, has spent 7.5 years at Central Package & Display as the Lean Enterprise Manager/ Safety Director. CPD has over 50 years of experience manufacturing custom packaging for business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets.

 Its comprehensive team of packaging and display designers specializes in three areas serving multiple industries. The first is corrugated design and protective packaging for medical devices, electronics, foods, and other delicate or breakable products. The second area, point-of-purchase displays, folding carton and set-up boxes, oriented toward marketing and on-the-shelf retail packaging, is the third of the company’s core competencies.

  • Where did you receive your Lean training/experience?

It all began when I was hired at IBM in Poughkeepsie New York in the late 1960’s and the training was called Work Simplification – THINK. The on-the-job training at IBM was shaped from Training Within Industry (TWI).

In 1992, I was selected as Regional Director for the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME), an organization with a similar mission as Manufacturers Alliance. I later became Regional President of AME and a presenter at several AME National Conferences.

In 1997, I became Lean LBC certified -- a standard developed for Lean by SME, AME, ASQ and Shingo – and a certification trainer/certification facilitator for the standard.

  • How, when, and why did you get introduced to lean and what fuels the passion for Continuous Improvement?

First of all I grew up on a dairy farm where change, continuous improvement, innovation, and a systematic approach to tasks was essential for survival.

In 1987 the Baldrige National Quality Program and associated award were established by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act of 1987.

I and several others were selected by IBM Rochester Executive Management to drive IBM’s Continuous Flow Manufacturing (CFM) strategy in manufacturing and the supplier base by following the Baldrige frame work. We benchmarked Motorola after they won the first Baldrige, meeting, listening, and talking with Bob Galvin, Motorola CEO. Seeing first-hand what can be accomplished definitely fueled my Lean/CI passion.

IBM Rochester won the Baldrige in 1990 and our team’s results were documented in the award application.

  • What are your current Lean oriented activities?

Two of the main Lean activities currently are to improve material/product flow and equipment change-over times.

During the second half of last year, we upgraded and added a corrugated die cutter and a label laminator. This was a result of growth in our business, and customer requirements for larger labeling format from big box customers. The new equipment was installed in our existing space causing some bottlenecks in flow.  We are working on an improved flow by using Lean tools, including spaghetti diagrams and supplier pull systems for raw material reduction. Waiting is one of the 7 wastes that have a big impact on flow of material and cash so we are applying SMED as a system for reducing the time it takes to complete equipment change-overs. Video taping the setups and reviewing them has given us a lot of opportunity to improve both the internal and external setup activities.

More importantly, our work force is engaged in Lean and they bring an average of 10 improvement ideas to us each week. Beside the 10 ideas from the work force, our owner and president, Jim Haglund, encourages CI and personally sets a Lean example by taking a GEMBA walk through the entire facility (175,000 sq ft) twice a day. After his walks, we receive many sound, high-priority ideas from Jim.

  • What were the lessons learned (any hurdles you overcame) in leading or training your team on a Lean project?

TIME for Kaizen event action.

We have implemented a white board titled KAIZEN ACTION ITEMS (CI Log Board). During the event, we fill in the blanks on the board – form of waste, name, problem, solution impact, difficultly, person responsible, and date due – and we follow the PDCA process. This board stays in the work cell to track actions and to have other ideas noted that may have been thought of after the event. It also serves as a work-order pull system.  For example, one action item was to add internal light in a large press to help in setup. One of our maintenance technicians saw the action item and came to me asking where we wanted the lights installed – before we even had found the time to write a work order! He was pulling his work versus the team pushing a work order to him.

  • What are the next steps in the Lean journey for your company? (for example: bringing Lean into the office or collaborating with customers on Lean)

Lean collaborating with customers is a key step and plan that CPD is developing for 2014. Lean is a tool that can be utilized to keep current customers and win new customers. There will be mutual benefit, including making everyone’s jobs easier.

  • How would you describe peer-to-peer education & training to your colleague?

It offers the opportunity to learn from and network with people who are as passionate about Enterprise Excellence as I am. Peers are very trustworthy and truly fantastic in terms of sharing lessons they have learned, both so I don’t have to make the same mistakes and so that I can enjoy similar success for myself and my company.

Ed polin 2 small Ed Polin a Lean Black Belt & Sensei is currently the Enterprise Manager/Safety Director at Central Package & Display. To learn more please contact at epolin@centralpackage.com

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Striangle MN Economic Outlook

For 13 straight months, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index has moved above growth neutral. The index advanced to a healthy 58.9 from 55.7 in November. Components of the index from the December survey were new orders at 69.9, production or sales at 62.2, delivery lead time at 56.2, inventories at 54.4, and employment at 51.8.

“Durable goods manufacturers and engineering services firms ended the year growing at a very healthy pace.  Nondurable goods processors, including food manufacturers and ethanol producers, experienced pullbacks in economic activity in the final quarter of 2013. While construction firms have added jobs for 2013, the industry has not returned to pre-recession employment levels,” said Goss. The 2014 Minnesota wish list includes: Federal Reserve maintains its bond buying program above $50 billion monthly for all of 2014; The 2014 greatest economic risk: A significant upturn in mortgage rates that pushes the state’s construction industry into negative growth territory.

Drernestgoss small 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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Striangle Top 4 Ways To Get The Most From Your Lender

There are critical junctures where a business owner needs to determine how best to increase available funding for the business.  Some examples include:

  • The company sees a great acquisition opportunity but doesn’t know how best to finance all or a portion of the acquisition
  • Their current loan is expiring or they have a balloon payment coming due
  • The current lending arrangement doesn’t support growth (new equipment purchases or rapid growth of AR) and leaves them short on cash to fund payroll or vendors
  • They want financing to fund a distribution to owners

Clearly, one of the most critical issues for the success of any business is the funding it obtains from its lender.  However, most business owners and CEO’s, and even many CFO’s, don’t know the level of funding needed for the various stages of their business, who they should approach to get it, and how to optimize lender relations.  Instead of reaching out to an unbiased resource to help guide them, they commonly turn to their banker for advice.  But the banker’s interests generally do not align with the business’s interests.  A banker’s first concern is to protect the bank’s interest and limit risk.  The banker will seek to limit its exposure by placing tighter than needed restrictions on the loan or limit its commitment level below the business’s needs.  The result is that businesses often accept suboptimal financing from their lender.

Getting the most from your lender requires an understanding of 4 key issues:

1.What Level of Financing Can Your Business Support?
Too often as cash runs short, many business owners and CEO will seek loans without any idea how big a loan they need or can get.  They fail to clearly articulate the “story” that can help demonstrate the need and capacity to repay the loan.  They are often too late to effectively support the business – they need the cash now but they go to a lender who can’t react quickly enough.
It is critical that a business owner be able to understand his business’s own funding needs and debt capacity.  It is not reasonable to assume the banker can do this work for you.  If the business doesn’t understanding its current, short-term, and long-term funding need, it is unlikely the business will obtain a lending facility that works for it.  These analyses require a level of knowledge and experience many CFO’s and CPA’s simply don’t have; getting advice on the amount and type of optimal funding is critical to the profitability, growth, and health of your business. 

2.Whom Should You Approach to Get It?
Businesses ordinarily obtain loans from a large bank, a community bank, credit union, or a commercial finance company.  Each of these institutions loans money and monitors your company in different ways.  Having a loan from the wrong financial institution can be fatal to your business either because the effective interest rate is unnecessarily high and killing profit, or the institution is unable or unwilling to assist you with emergency funding or to ride with you during the tough periods.  Financial institutions differ markedly in approach, flexibility, rates, terms, and pressure from regulators.

3.How Can You Ensure Optimal Financing Is Obtained?
Obtaining optimal funding depends on your company’s risk profile.  In assessing risk, lenders generally look at the Five “Cs” of Lending:

  • Character
  • Collateral
  • Cash Flow
  • Current Condition (Market Condition)
  • Capital Structure

In addition, certain financial analysis and financial ratios are key elements to a lender’s determination of risk.  Effective management reporting (which few smaller companies have) is also critical.  To the extent you can show your lender that you have data on your company in an actionable form and that you understand how and why you are achieving the current levels of revenue and profitability, you will be more likely to optimize the size of the loan facility.

4.How Best Can You Maintain and Improve What You Get?
The key to maintaining optimal funding is, of course, communication. Yet, many business owners provide as little information as possible to their lender, even when they are doing well.  A company often raises its risk profile with the lender when it submits information to it without any explanation.   A company certainly raises its risk profile when it ignores reporting requirements in loan documents or submits such reports late.  Perhaps the worst sin is surprising your lender – the lack of trust created by the avoidable surprise perhaps most severely harms your lending relationship.

Conclusion
Before seeking a loan and after the loan is obtained, it is important to get advice on how to optimize the loan amount and lending relationship, as well as handle the ups and downs you will experience in your business.  Strangely, business owners rarely seek advice in this area, and few firms offer such advice.   However, how you address lending issues will, in large measure, determine the success of your business.

Erik dove small Erik Dove is Managing Partner of Cornerstone Advisory Solutions headquartered in Minnesota. He was a senior executive at US Bank, TCF and Associated Bank. He can be contacted at edove@cornerstone-as.com

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Striangle Patent Trolls - Separating the Myth from Reality

In the popular media, we increasingly read and hear about a rise in patent infringement lawsuits that has been driven in large part by patent “trolls.”  They may sometimes also be referred to as “patent-assertion entities” or “non-practicing entities” but regardless of their moniker, each shares one or more of the following characteristics:

  • It is a corporation – often a holding company – that doesn’t produce a product covered by any of the patent’s it owns;
  • It generates the bulk of its revenue from patent licensing and enforcement efforts;
  • It is not run or organized by the original inventor of the patented technology; and
  • It tends to believe that a large number of others infringe its patent (while the accused often believe the claims are frivolous).

While manufacturing and technology companies may worry about receiving threats of a lawsuit from a patent troll, arming oneself with knowledge about the reality of recent events might just take the edge off of these legal worries so time can be spent on more productive pursuits, like one’s core business.

Many have sounded the alarm, declaring the problem to be out of control and citing statistics that more than 3 out of 5 patent infringement lawsuits are initiated by patent trolls—a 115% increase in less than two years.  Still others have issued a call to action, reaching out to Congress and demanding legislation directed specifically at the hated patent troll.  In fact, just last summer, Senator Amy Klobuchar identified patent trolls as a “drag on innovation” in Minnesota.  But is the problem really as far-reaching as these reports seem to imply?  Perhaps not.  This is not to say that patent trolls do not exist.  They do.  Or that having to defend a patent infringement lawsuit won’t cause major disruptions for any business.  It will.  But a closer look at things, gives some cause for hope. 

First, the explosion in patent troll litigation is somewhat of an illusion.  In an effort to combat the patent troll problem, Congress enacted legislation in September 2011 making it more difficult for a patent owner to sue multiple defendants in one suit.  So, whereas before a patent troll may have sued 20 defendants in one lawsuit, now it must file 20 separate law suits.  Less than two years later the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, attributed the uptick in patent troll lawsuits directly to the 2011 legislation that prohibited joinder of multiple defendants in one suit. 

Second, a sizable majority of patent troll lawsuits (some say as high as 90%) involve patents on software.  Often these patents purport to cover web- or mobile-based implementations such as a recent lawsuit filed against smartphone app developers, among others.  Here again, the recent GAO report attributes the problem to patents of low quality having “unclear property rights, overly broad claims, or both.”  The problem is inherent in software because, unlike a mechanical device, it is intangible and difficult to clearly define.

Finally, many of the software patents that have been asserted were issued in the 1990s.  As now well-recognized, the quality of software patents granted during that time leaves much to be desired.  Thankfully, a great many of these patents have already expired or soon will.  And more recently, patent quality has improved, which should lessen the assertion of frivolous claims over time.  Thus, even without further legislative action the problem should begin to resolve itself.

Certainly, for those whose core business involves software or technology implemented over the internet, the patent troll problem can be a real and daunting threat.  Strategies with which to combat these threats are varied and extend beyond the scope of this article.  However, for many companies, the patent troll problem should not be a source of excessive concern.  Of course, working closely with your trusted, legal advisor to understand your company’s intellectual property rights—whether owned or licensed—is a prudent step toward obtaining peace of mind relating to patent trolls and other intellectual property issues.

Eric chadwick small Eric Chadwick is a partner and chair of the litigation practice at Patterson Thuente IP. Patterson Thuente IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, dedicated to helping technology-based companies protect, and profit from, their ideas. Learn more about the firm at www.ptslaw.com or contact Eric at 612.349-5778/chadwick@ptslaw.com.

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