L&M Radiator, Inc. is a family owned and run business that designs and manufactures radiators and other heat exchangers for heavy mobile equipment primarily within the mining and oil and gas industries. Based in Hibbing, MN, L&M employs 260 people at its plants in Hibbing and Yankton, South Dakota. The company has additional plants in Perth, Western Australia; Antofagasta, Chile; and Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.
L&M Radiator was experiencing rapid growth; in a three-year period the company had quadrupled its business and had an immediate need for first-line supervisors. The company had long promoted from within and many of its new supervisors were coming right off the shop floor with limited leadership experience. L&M was looking for a way to provide its new supervisors with the tools and skills they needed to perform as leaders and take ownership of their new roles. In addition to supervisor training, L&M also needed a way to standardize its training for new and existing employees to help get everyone on the same page in a speedy manner.
Enterprise Minnesota experts led L&M through a series of talent development programs focused on standardizing essential skills needed by supervisors, instituting a training program utilizing existing “tribal knowledge,” and empowering employees to identify and solve production problems. To achieve these objectives, Enterprise Minnesota’s experts turned to Training Within Industry (TWI).
L&M’s TWI training involved three distinct components: Job Relations, Job Safety, and Job Instruction. Job Relations helped new and existing supervisors develop skills in leading people and taught them how to more effectively communicate with their teams. Job Safety taught staff how to analyze the causes of accidents in order to prevent them before they occur. Job Instruction helped develop a consistent method of training and sharing best practices by creating specific job breakdowns which makes clear what work is to be done, in what order, how it is done correctly, and most importantly, why it is done that way. To help foster a culture of ownership, the job breakdowns were written with input from every member of each department that participated in the Job Instruction program.
The success of TWI led L&M to engage Enterprise Minnesota in implementing a number of lean manufacturing practices to help reduce time, motion, energy, and material waste across the organization.
As a result of its ongoing work with Enterprise Minnesota, L&M Radiator has experienced a 36 percent reduction in its training time, improved workplace morale, reduced absenteeism, and reduced employee turnover. Over the next three years L&M projects to:
- Yield a cost savings of $4.25 million
- Increase or retain $2 million in sales
- Invest $250,000 in plant or equipment and workforce skill development
“The support we have had from Enterprise Minnesota has proved to be invaluable. The knowledge the staff has working with people is impressive. With their help, we are now able to consistently train our staff on the important steps, what we do, in what order, how we do it, and why we do it that way. Whenever we ask for a follow-up or help dealing with an issue that arises, Enterprise Minnesota’s staff has been more than willing to come to our aid whether it's a phone call or an on-site visit. At times, that has meant spending some time on our midnight shift, or even working an extra-long day to cover all three shifts; no matter, they are there for us regardless.”