January 24, 2018

Minnesota Business: Gears & Gadgets & Insights

Recent MN Manufacturing Executives’ event highlighted what seasoned executives have learned from their time in the manufacturing industry

By Brian Martucci

Four Minnesota Business magazine 2015 Manufacturing Awards winners got a second round of exposure on October 28 at Minnesota Manufacturing Executives’ 15th Gears & Gadgets gathering. Host Marni Hockenberg, Hockenberg Search principal and Minnesota Manufacturing Executives founder, and emcee Mark Capaldini, Resultants for Business advisor/EOS implementer, led an “all star” panel with the four award winners:

  • Chuck Gruber, President/CEO, Safe Reflections; MBM’s Best In Class: Small Company Award (company)
  • Eric Gibson, President, Ultra Machining Company; MBM’s Best in Class: Midsize Company Award (company)
  • Janet Bearmon, Human Resources Director, Sign-Zone; MBM’s Emerging Leader Award (individual award)
  • Sheila Murphy, Human Resources Director, Midwest Industrial Tool Grinding Incorporated (MITGI); Image Award (individual award)

With prompting from Capaldini, the panelists shared their respective insights and experiences for about 30 minutes, took individual questions from the audience for another 20, then worked the room at a free-form networking reception that lasted into the evening.

The panelists spent a lot of time talking about what they’d learned during their time in the manufacturing business — in some cases, from numerous employers over careers spanning decades:

Change Is Hard; Communication Helps

Eric Gibson quipped, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” In other words, strategic changes that make sense to senior management often don’t translate well for the rank and file. Communication is key, even for seemingly innocuous initiatives.

For instance, Gibson recently deployed a new scheduling system that affected shift employees’ paid time off. “We didn’t do a good job of explaining how and why we were changing the system,” Gibson said, and employees pushed back harder than management anticipated.

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