March, 2014

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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
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Deadline for applying is March 27, 2014.



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New and Renewing Companies

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


A Couple of Gurus
Advance Corporation
American Custom Roto
APG Cash Drawer
Arete Enterprising
Banner Engineering Corp
Bellcomb Technologies Inc
Best Source Electronics
Bilfinger Water Tech
Brookdale Plastics Inc
Brunn Industries, Inc
Buhler Versatile USA
Clean Air Products Inc
Code Welding & Mfg Inc
Crest Healthcare 
CSM Bakery Products 
Dalsin Industries
Danfoss Power Solutions
Despatch Industries
Doherty Employment 
Dynamic Group
Eaton Corporation
Ecolab Inc
Emerson 
General Label Inc
Global Finishing 
Graco Inc
HIRED-Mpls
Illume Candle
Intek Plastics 
IRD Glass
JunoPacific 
Lake Region Medical
LASX Industries
Le Sueur Inc
Lifecore Biomedical 
Liquid Waste Tech 
Loram Maintenance 
Mate Precision 
Mazzitelli Group 
McCord Consulting  
Mereen-Johnson 
Metro Mold & Design
MGS Machine Corp
Michael Foods
Minco
Navy Island Plywood
Northern Brewer
Pallet Service Corp
Plymouth Industries
PN Products
Ritchie Engineering
Robinson Rubber 
Specialized Recruiting
System Designers 
Tenere Inc
Tennant Company
Turck Inc
UMC Inc
Uponor
Versique
Visions
V-TEK INC



Patent Trolls: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Thursday, April 24, 4:30 – 5:30 pm

Join Patterson Thuente IP and William Mitchell College of Law for a roundtable discussion about one of today’s most pressing legal challenges – patent trolls and abusive patent litigation. For more information and to register visit: www.ptslaw.com/PatentTrolls.



Upcoming Events

October 19th 2017 08:00 am
- Leadership Style and Versatility

October 24th 2017 08:00 am
- Kaizen Rapid Improvement

October 25th 2017 08:00 am
- Intro to A3 Problem Solving

October 26th 2017 08:00 am
- Supplier Selection

October 30th 2017 08:00 am
- Failure Modes and Effects Analysis and Design for Manufacturability and Assembly

October 31st 2017 07:30 am
- Accountability Systems through Tier Management

October 31st 2017 08:00 am
- Intro to 6 Sigma

November 2nd 2017 08:00 am
- Conflict, Communication and Collaboration

November 7th 2017 08:00 am
- Safety Success the Lean Way.

November 8th 2017 07:30 am
- Learning to See Waste

Article Index

Tye biasco rev small Striangle Discovering and Protecting Innovation within Your Company, Part I
Article by: Tye Biasco

Most businesses understand that innovation is crucial for long-term growth or, for many, just survival.  While innovation can be an instantaneous inspiration, it usually does not present itself as a lightning bolt out of the blue. 


Continental machines small Striangle Featured Company: Continental Machines
Article by: Brian Sorenson

Our company is a manufacturer of world famous DoALL products. We manufactured the first metal cutting band machine made in the United States and most major technological advancements in band machining were made here since its invention.


Dana conroy small Striangle The Heart of the Corporate Culture
Article by: Dana Conroy

As the daughter of a VP of a Fortune 500 company, I hold the belief that leaders in industry are good people who work hard to make good things happen. My father taught me the value of hard work and its benefit in a person’s life. My thought is that we need to be our best in order to work and we need work in order to be our best.


Matt timm rev small Striangle Internet Marketing Self Audit
Article by: Matt Timm

Business leaders and owners are inundated by people selling Internet marketing.  Truthfully, most business leaders don’t truly understand what is being sold.  This article is the second of a two-part series that will give you the tools to assess for yourself whether Internet marketing is a fit for your company, how your current implementation is working for you, and can help you answer intelligently the next time someone calls you promoting “Internet Marketing.”


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

For 15 straight months, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index has remained above growth neutral. The index advanced to 64.1 from January’s 57.7. Components of the index from the February survey were new orders at 63.3, production or sales at 68.3, delivery lead time at 62.4, inventories at 72.5, and employment at 54.0.


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Striangle Discovering and Protecting Innovation within Your Company, Part I

Most businesses understand that innovation is crucial for long-term growth or, for many, just survival.  While innovation can be an instantaneous inspiration, it usually does not present itself as a lightning bolt out of the blue. 

Innovation typically surfaces incrementally, brought about by employees from different business units collaborating and through a great deal of trial-and-error.  As the marketplace becomes more competitive, it is vital to capture the value in that innovation.   

A study published in 2003 determined that 67% of U.S. companies owned intellectual property assets they did not exploit to the tune of approximately $115 billion.  To maximize the value of your company’s innovation you have to first identify your intellectual property, both that which is protected (via patents, copyrights, and trademarks) and that which may be valuable in other ways (trade secrets, business practices, etc.). Old-school lab/inventor notebooks were the standard practice for identifying intellectual property for decades.  The engineers and scientists that worked in product development kept a running log of their ideas in a single notebook that was rarely shared with anyone else.  This resulted in only those ideas that the inventor truly believed had a chance to see the light of day ever being vetted by others in the company.  And because those notebooks are kept by the individuals that author them, the companies have no formal mechanism of recording ideas.

A better mechanism, which is more common today, is to use invention disclosure forms that memorialize one idea per form.  Those forms are then shared with others in the organization on a regular basis to determine the viability of the idea.  This process prevents ideas from being overlooked that, while maybe not the next light bulb, could be a valuable asset to the company.  It also exposes ideas to others who may understand the lack of direct value to the company, but may recognize the value in licensing the idea to companies in other markets.  Most importantly, the disclosure forms are kept in a centralized location so the company can revisit records in the future.

Another mechanism for better identifying your intellectual property is to have processes and events that capture innovation.  Encourage employees to innovate both through a standard process (e.g., suggestion box) and by having regularly-scheduled innovation meetings where ideas can be exchanged in a less formal environment.  Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo and the former innovation czar at Google, held regular brainstorming sessions where engineers were given 10 minutes to pitch ideas and then a group of 100 others would discuss whether proffered ideas were worthy of further consideration.  For these methods to be successful in generating and capturing the value of innovation, your employees must understand that everyone in your company, no matter what level, shares in the responsibility of innovation.

Regular intellectual property audits are also useful to not only identify your intellectual property, but to claim ownership and protect it.  Larger companies rely upon law firms specializing in intellectual property to conduct regular audits.  The largest of companies have regular auditing capability via dedicated in-house counsel and marketing personnel.  While regular consultant audits may not be economically feasible for smaller companies, using an outside consultant is useful when first attempting to identify intellectual property assets.  Once the initial assessment of a company’s IP portfolio is made, internal staff can conduct future audits to add newly-acquired assets.

Not only do companies need to have a better system for identifying their intellectual property in terms of how they use it in their own context, but they also must have a broader view of how that intellectual property can be used in new markets.  Many companies understand the value of their intellectual property to themselves and their competitors, but overlook the potential opportunities for licensing their intellectual property to businesses in other industries.  IP consultants typically have a diversified understanding of the business potential for an idea, so this is one aspect of mining your company’s intellectual property that can benefit from outside help.

Mining your company’s intellectual property is not a quick process.  It takes significant time and effort to fully capitalize on underutilized intellectual property.  But the first step in the process is to make the commitment to identifying your intellectual property.  Many companies can identify much of their intellectual property by using simple tools such as suggestion boxes or idea workshops.  For companies that are further advanced in the intellectual property world, conducting audits and seeking the advice of outside consultants can maximize the value of intellectual property by realizing its potential use in other markets and assisting in marketing that property to others.

Tye biasco rev small Tye Biasco is a partner 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 Tye at 612.349-3010/biasco@ptslaw.com.

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Striangle Featured Company: Continental Machines

Our company is a manufacturer of world famous DoALL products. We manufactured the first metal cutting band machine made in the United States and most major technological advancements in band machining were made here since its invention.

These developments were honored in 1967 when the National Machine Tool Builders Association recognized band machining as one of the seven basic methods.

Continental Machines, Inc. is the outgrowth of the Wilkie Machine Works. Julius C. Wilkie, the founder, was devoted primarily to the repair and rebuilding of early motor cars in Winona, Minnesota.

The sons of Julius Wilkie – Leighton, Robert, James and Donald – inherited much of their father’s fascination with the tools that make machines.

Leighton Wilkie, the oldest son, matched his father’s knack for building innovative machine tools with a unique development in die stamping known as the “Continental Process”. Adding instinctive marketing organizational skills, the company relocated to Minneapolis and was renamed Continental Specialties, Inc.

During the late 1930s, Leighton introduced the DoALL band saw which had a profound impact on the die-making business. Sales sky-rocketed from $115,000 in 1935, when Mr. Wilkie and his wife traveled to sales presentations around the country with the DoALL machine hitched behind their car in a trailer, to exceed $7 million just 10 years later.

In 1935, the first DoALL contour machine was manufactured. To reflect the changing nature of its activities, the company was renamed “Continental Machines” during that same year. By 1939, work began on the development of the DoALL precision surface grinder and on production of precision gage blocks and accessories. As a result of this expansion the “Savage Tool Company” was organized. Construction of the plant in Savage was completed in 1942.

In 1946, Continental Machines, Inc. absorbed the modern facilities of the Savage Tool Company and moved its entire operation from Minneapolis to the new plant in Savage.

In 1949, CMI introduced the first hydraulic actuated band machine, and by 1956 was selling several hydraulic models. This necessitated producing hydraulic components which provided reliable performance. In 1961 the company created a hydraulic division and in 1979 the Continental Hydraulic Division built its own plant located on adjoining grounds with CMI.

In 2004, DoALL began its distribution arm with DGI Supply, a full-line industrial distributor that represents over 1,500 of the best brand names in the industry, with over 40 locations nationwide. The addition of DGI Supply allowed DoALL to increase product awareness within the industry and further cement our position as an innovator in the sawing field.

Since that time, DoALL has continued its legacy of innovation with constant improvements to its existing line of sawing machines and is recognized as an industry leader with the successful launch of new production saws such as the C-330NC and the CP-21 as well as the low cost Model 2012-D12 diamond saw and Supreme M81 blades recognized for their blade life longevity in cutting large work pieces.

Recent years have seen many members of our valuable manufacturing team become cross-trained to perform multiple jobs which has not only increased their skill set but made them even more valuable to the Continental Machines family.

Executive Vice President Kurt Plechaty stated “Cross training allows us to be flexible and responsive to our customers’ needs while giving our employees and opportunity to grow and personally develop.”

Other companies under the DoALL umbrella include Greenlee Diamond tool, manufacturer of diamond and super abrasive solutions, Contour Saws, manufacturer of band saw blades and Rams Head coolants maker of cutting fluids and lubricants for a wide variety of industrial applications.

DoALL continues to be the number one recognized name in sawing, as recognized in “Metal Center News”.  This acknowledgement of dependability, durability and performance continue to drive Continental Machines, Inc. to build on our rich history and enhance our strong position in the marketplace today. Recent changes in the manufacturing area have made Continental Machines, Inc. a more agile company and a focus on new talent in the engineering area has CMI poised for future growth and an exciting future which our founders would be proud of.

Continental machines small Brian Sorenson is a Marketing Communications Specialist at Continental Machines Inc./DoAll Sawing Products, www.doallsawing.com. He can be reached at 952-895-6427.

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Striangle The Heart of the Corporate Culture

As the daughter of a VP of a Fortune 500 company, I hold the belief that leaders in industry are good people who work hard to make good things happen. My father taught me the value of hard work and its benefit in a person’s life. My thought is that we need to be our best in order to work and we need work in order to be our best.

My own life’s work has been to prepare people for employment  who may have disadvantages or limitations, and  then to “be a bridge” between those who are geared for success, and business leaders who are interested in providing a work opportunity and a place in society  for a person  who might otherwise be marginalized and dependent on government  funding.

Over the years I’ve seen the genuine desire of business leaders to live out their values in this way, but I’ve also seen hesitation on their part due to an uncertainty as to how to proceed in a prudent way. My hope is that this article addresses that uncertainty, and that my service is seen as a prudent way to proceed.

Not every employment candidate who I begin to work with stays with my service, which includes months of rigorous assessment, training and counseling.  Those who persevere are typically people who are grateful for a chance to live fully by working hard. They are used to overcoming obstacles and are not put off by them, and they demonstrate their integrity by waiting, hoping and consistently pursuing their chance to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Martin, age 20 (not his real name), just received his first work opportunity at Old Country Buffet where he washes dishes, serves customers and replenishes foods and condiments. Martin has a learning disability and some anxiety associated with growing up in one foster home after another. You can hear his sense of belonging when he talks about his workplace and the people who have taken him under their wing. Now, months later, Martin is a star employee and helps others out whenever he can. Martin’s sense of gratitude is contagious and other employees are uplifted by his positive attitude, humility and dedication. The employer has asked for another referral.

Kate, mother of two (not her real name), has been out of the workforce for 10 years raising her children who are now successful adults living on their own. Her data entry skills are outdated and she is very shy. Kate has been volunteering at the Community Emergency Assistance Program, entering data, stocking shelves and handing out food to the poor in an effort to prepare for employment. Her supervisor is reluctant to let her go, but is willing to be a reference for Kate who is looking for an entry level job.

When matched well, limitations or disadvantages are not noticed, but if concerns do arise it is my pleasure to be an ongoing resource including, on very rare occasion, to place someone in another position.

There is no cost to the employer for my service which is funded by the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The employer can take advantage of a tax credit upon hiring one of my referrals and receives a Certificate of Appreciation signed by state representatives, as proof of adherence to affirmative action policies.

Please contact me if you have an interest in more information. I would be glad to to assess your work needs in relation to the abilities of my employment candidates. Wise risks that reveal the heart of the corporate culture yield immeasurable benefits.

Dana conroy small Dana Conroy is a Vocational Consultant at Mains'L Serives, Inc. in Brooklyn Park, www.mainsl.com. She has a Master of Arts degree in rehabilitation counseling and over 20 years' experience screening and preparing candidates and facilitating job matches that work. Dana can be reached at 612-655-7348.

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Striangle Internet Marketing Self Audit

Business leaders and owners are inundated by people selling Internet marketing.  Truthfully, most business leaders don’t truly understand what is being sold.  This article is the second of a two-part series that will give you the tools to assess for yourself whether Internet marketing is a fit for your company, how your current implementation is working for you, and can help you answer intelligently the next time someone calls you promoting “Internet Marketing.”

Last month the article focused on keywords, and helped you assess whether your site was ranking for non-branded searches.  If you missed that article, you can read it here.  This month we will assess your online reputation, your website and your use of social media.

Part Two:  Check your online reputation. 

Last month we used non-branded search terms to check our rankings on Google.  Remember that non-branded search terms are those that are general phrases geared toward your industry, but do not contain your company name.  They are phrases like medical device contract manufacturer, modular gas delivery systems, or sheet metal fabricator in St. Paul.  For the next test we will shift gears to using branded search terms, i.e. the name of your company.

1. Type the name of your company into Google.  If your company’s website doesn’t show up, you have some real problems to work through and you need help from someone quickly.  Most of the time your company will be listed, and I’ll assume that is the case here.

What else is listed? Look at page 1 and page 2.   Is there anything negative about your company?  Under your company’s listing it might indicate that you have “X Google reviews.”  Click that link to see if they are positive or negative. 

Try searching on the name of your company, followed by the word “reviews”.   What is listed?  Are there any Yelp or Manta reviews of your company?  If so, check those out as well. 

2. Do a search on your company’s leadership by name, including members of the executive committee and/or board members.  What do you find?  Is there anything negative?

If you find negative reviews or content about your company that is prominent through this exercise, there may be things that can be done to minimize it.  If there is a lot that is negative, then you need to take a look at your culture and practices and understand if you have an internal problem that needs to be solved.

Part Three: Analyze your website.

1. Take a look at your website and how it is designed.  Website designs have changed a lot in the past few years, and generally, simpler is better.  Know that when potential customers are doing research for suppliers they are making judgments of your company based on your website.  If you have an old and dated website with graphics that are flashing or moving around, those can be hurting you.  Visitors may ask themselves, “What else is dated about this company?”  It might be time to make a change.

2. Now go to 4-5 of your competitors’ websites.  How do they compare to yours?  Do you have a comparatively modern design or is it outdated?  How does the content on your site compare to the competition? 

3. Check to see if your site is mobile friendly. Take out your smartphone and launch your website on your mobile browser.  How easy is it to read?  Do you need to zoom in and scroll left and right to read the content?  If so, your site has not been setup for mobile browsers.  Even with my industrial clients we are beginning to see between 15 – 25% mobile traffic and that number is growing rapidly.  Engineers and buyers begin the search process for vendors while still in the conference room discussing the project.  Google has stated that they will now begin favoring sites that are mobile friendly for visitors who are searching with a mobile device, which has the potential to negatively impact your rankings for a sub-set of your site traffic if your site is not mobile friendly.

Part Four: Analyze your company’s use of social media.

Don’t laugh—you might think that social media is not for you, but don’t judge too quickly.  While Facebook may not be the right solution for most B2B clients, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool.  We’ve run very successful LinkedIn campaigns for our B2B clients that have turned into real revenue!

1. Take an inventory of your company’s social properties

a. Log into your LinkedIn account and type the name of your company into the search bar at the top of the page.  Click “companies” to the left of the search bar, and then search.  Does your company have a company page?  Does your company page list your products and services?  How many people are following your company page?  Does your company page feature appropriate groups that contain your target clients?

b. Now perform a search of the employees in your company that are using LinkedIn.  Are your sales and business development people listed?  Do they have complete profiles with pictures?  Are they posting content?  Do they have over 300 connections each?  If your sales and business development people are not using LinkedIn in their daily routines and actively increasing their network, you are likely missing out on an opportunity.

c. Log into your Facebook account and type the name of your company into the search bar at the top of the screen.  Does your company come up?  Does your company have a Facebook presence?  While I tell all my Industrial, Tech and Manufacturing clients that a LinkedIn presence is critical, Facebook is not.  However, Facebook can be an effective tool when used properly.

d. Go to Google.com and enter the name of your company into the search bar and press enter.  Below your company’s listing, is there a link to your Google + page?  If so, click the link.  On the “About” tab, is there a complete description of your company?  Are there good pictures of your company?  A completed Google + profile is a valuable component of a rankings strategy.

e. Go to Google.com and enter the name of your company, followed by the word “twitter”, and press enter.  Does your company have a twitter page?  How many followers do you have?  Again, don’t assume that Twitter is not a good tool for you.  Twitter can be extremely valuable for your sales people when attending conferences and tradeshows.  It is also an engagement tool that can be used to maintain regular communication with your clients.

When analyzing your social media strategy, make sure you are:

1. On appropriate social media platforms.
2. Posting valuable content regularly.
3. Leveraging appropriate groups in LinkedIn that contain your target clients.
4. Using tools like twitter to engage your audience regularly, particularly at shows and conferences.

The audit is over, how did you do?

If you have worked through both parts of this assessment, you’ve completed your Internet Marketing audit!  How did you fare?  Hopefully your site is ranking for non-branded terms, your online reputation is clean, your site has a modern look, and your company is leveraging social media to distribute content and make connections.  If that’s not the case, then consider getting some help to guide you in the process!

Matt timm rev small Matt is the Managing Partner at Magnetic North, a Digital Marketing Agency. Prior to founding Magnetic North, Matt spent his career in executive leadership positions in numerous technology and manufacturing companies. Matt can be reached at m.timm@magnorth.com

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Striangle MN Economic Outlook

For 15 straight months, Minnesota’s Business Conditions Index has remained above growth neutral. The index advanced to 64.1 from January’s 57.7. Components of the index from the February survey were new orders at 63.3, production or sales at 68.3, delivery lead time at 62.4, inventories at 72.5, and employment at 54.0.

“Expansions for durable goods manufacturers, including medical equipment producers, more than offset pullbacks for food processors.  As in past months, companies reported expanding output via the use of temporary employment,” said Goss.

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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