Man On a Mission
West Point grad Dalton Pierce uses military precision to put Polaris’s Roseau plant on an impressive lean journey
By Lynn Shelton
Enterprise Minnesota's Director of Marketing and Legislative Relations
Observations from the road from Tom Mason, our traveling State of Manufacturing® correspondent.
Tom Mason, the man who has conducted more than 100 focus groups as part of our annual State of Manufacturing survey was in Warroad early last week to facilitate the first of the 15 focus groups. What made the six-and-a-half hour car ride from the Twin Cities agreeable, he claims, was listening to the first 13 of 24 lectures in the Teaching Company series on the High Middle Ages. (For most of us that might have made it seem like a 13-hour car ride). But he was even more jazzed by a side trip he took to Roseau to spend a few hours with Dalton Pierce, director of operations for the 1,300-person Polaris Plant.
Our own Bill Martinson, a business growth advisor in the northwest Minnesota, had alerted me that the diversion would be well worth Tom’s time. Polaris, Bill said, operates with a more-than-impressive level of lean competence.
Tom, who also edits Enterprise Minnesota® magazine, will profile Polaris in the next issue of our magazine.
Pierce, originally from North Carolina, arrived at Polaris just four years ago. A graduate of West Point, he left the Army after four years in an era of military downsizing. He didn’t see a mission in the military, so he went into manufacturing, where he developed a soldierly passion for lean manufacturing.
He describes the day he interviewed for the job in the Roseau plant, when the temperature was 30-below zero with a 54-below wind chill. Nonetheless, he told Tom, he knew this was the job he wanted. “I saw a lot of opportunity. This is something I always wanted to do, a top-to-bottom lean implementation.”
At the time, Polaris had a Kaizen culture that had not yet been integrated into an overall strategy, something he describes as “random acts of Kaizen.”
But Polaris needed more. The company had been growing 15 to 20 percent per year and his facility was bursting at the seams.
“We were getting it done via brute force,” he remembers. “We couldn’t produce everything that we needed. The production line experienced hours of down time per line per day. There were material shortages; rework was high and delivery was low, registering something like 60 percent for on-time delivery. That first fall, the plant worked 17 consecutive Saturdays.
About that same time, Polaris’s board of directors visited the plant. Polaris’s president, Scott Wine, turned to Pierce and said, “We’ve got to go faster in our lean journey.”
The story of how Pierce put the company on an accelerated journey will be a good read. And, Tom says, he can’t wait to write it. I for one can’t wait to read it.
How To Develop Your Future Leaders
**Exclusive to Manufacturers**
Thursday, April 13, 2017
9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Brainerd Lakes Chamber - CTC Room
224 West Washington Street
Brainerd, MN 56401
What to Expect
Manufacturers know that the growing skills gap means they can no longer count on hiring applicants who will have the skills they need. Instead, they urgently need to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities of their current employees. Equally important, manufacturers need to focus on the unique competencies that comprise leadership skills.
Please join us to learn insights about the critical components of talent management and the steps necessary to develop a successful leadership development program. Upon completion of the workshop participants will be able to:
- Define talent and talent management
- Identify the talent management life cycle
- Describe key components to talent management
- Explain the impact leaders have on an organization
- Depict steps to developing a leadership development program
- Create an action plan to implement within their own organization
This event is exclusive to manufacturers and is free of charge. Registration required.
To register please contact email@example.com or call 612-455-4239