With a work history built on expanding his analytical expertise and developing a multi-faceted toolbox of skills, Keith Gadacz has become one of Enterprise Minnesota’s most well-rounded — and busiest — quality management systems consultants.
Gadacz, whose Polish name rhymes with “cottage” and translates to “big talker,” attended Foley High School where he finished fourth in a class of 156. He then got a degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota-Morris.
“Not to teach, which is kind of interesting that now I’m a consultant,” he says. “I guess I sort of teach in a different way. I certainly didn’t intend to be a classroom teacher when I went to college.”
Gadacz has used his three years at Enterprise Minnesota to carve a niche as a skilled ISO problem-solver. But instead of merely striving to help the greatest number of ISO certifications, Gadacz says he’s motivated by customer satisfaction.
“The customer’s goals motivate me,” Keith said.
Colleagues and customers alike appreciate Gadacz’s career-long priority of honing his skills and acquiring new expertise.
While working his first job out of college at Hutchinson Technologies, Enterprise Minnesota business growth consultant Keith Gadacz absorbed every ounce of wisdom from a trusted mentor, a person who would later call Gadacz the best technician he ever worked with.
When he later took a job at Fingerhut, Gadacz noticed analytical opportunity and used his math skills to help usher the concept of “big data” into the company’s process, helping Fingerhut dive deeper into customer behavior analysis.
And at Minnesota Rubber — where he initially knew nothing about ISO or quality management systems — Gadacz became a self-taught expert about ISO 9001, ISO 13485 (the standard that governs manufacturers of medical devices) and IATF 16949 (the standard that governs the automotive industry).
“I really didn’t have a clue,” Gadacz says of his time prior to Minnesota Rubber. “And you get thrown headlong in. Your first week there you have a customer complaint to deal with, you have a nonconformance you get to conduct an [ISO] audit on. So, okay, let’s learn these things and get going.”
That experience, Gadacz says, taught him how to accommodate unhappy customers. He learned how to deal with traceability, lot control, product cleanliness, contamination, mixed parts, and defects — and how all those sub-systems work together. As he progressed into a managerial role at Minnesota Rubber, he made conscious efforts to become a well-rounded management systems expert.
As he attained greater responsibilities, he says, he gained ownership of the company’s management systems, things like internal auditing processes, and Management Review, a key element of the ISO Management System. He learned about handling customer feedback and complaints. He applied his mathematical skills to Statistical Process Control (SPC) training. Customer experience helped him improve his skills in First Article submissions, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), and corrective actions. And he learned to write effective procedures, work instructions, and job aides.
“I use all of that experiential knowledge to help manufacturers build their Quality Management System (QMS) and improve their businesses,” he says now.
Whether customers want to work with government contractors or demanding OEMs, their desire to improve prompts laser-like focus from Gadacz. He says he loves helping clients understand the why of implementing a QMS. When they understand that, it’s much easier to get them on board with systemic changes that elevate their process and professionalism. From that, victories follow.
“I get to provide victories to five different manufacturers a week,” Gadacz says. “So, I can do different creative things. An electronics builder, a rubber and plastic house, a machine shop, a supply house, a die maker. They all have different avenues I get to grow from. It’s fun to help them find solutions that are great for their culture, their style, their technology and their customers.”
Gadacz is a true believer in the power of management systems, one of Enterprise Minnesota’s most extensive and impactful services. And he sees every job as an opportunity to help that company maximize its potential.
“A management system is a perfect tool to make a business better,” he says. “It’s a perfect framework for growing profitably. The management system becomes the building block or the frame of the house. They are the full pieces. And each business has a unique way of having to go about them.”
Featured story in the Summer 2021 issue of Enterprise Minnesota magazine.