The way manufacturers have used Enterprise Minnesota’s peer councils to help each other cope with the COVID economy demonstrates how these groups have evolved into one of our most effective consulting weapons.

Enterprise Minnesota’s peer councils were created 21 years ago. We recruited a group of non-competitive CEOs to meet in confidential monthly meetings to listen to a combination of topical presentations and open-ended conversations. Facilitated by Enterprise Minnesota consultants, participants function as an advisory board for each other. Today, we’ve expanded the CEO groups to encompass operations and human resources.

When COVID first started to disrupt our economy early last year, we saw manufacturers reach out to each other to find ways adapt to current marketing conditions. They convened ad hoc meetings of their peer councils — phone calls, then Zoom meetings — to address all the COVID-related uncertainties. There were all sorts of things none of us had contemplated: the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program; masking and distancing. Should they take temperatures of employees every day? What about policies for quarantined employees or parents with children doing distance learning? How should they address employee fears about job security? How can they possibly make reasonable business forecasts about their suppliers, customers and competitors within the almost surreal ambiguities?

Olsen Thielen CPA - Oct 2020

Bob Kill, our president and CEO, emphasized at that time that our objective should be to lead the meetings and then get out of the way. “Our focus,” he said, “is not telling manufacturers anything, but letting them share their own knowledge and experiences. That’s the power of peer councils. The focus is on the manufacturers.”

It’s happening again. The challenges of the post-COVID economy bring all sorts of quirky new challenges that transcend one-size-fits-all solutions.

The chronic workforce shortage lingers on as probably the most consequential problem facing manufacturers. In the near term, manufacturers still have to contend with some employees wary about returning too soon to their jobs. Parents of school-aged children continue to cope with the responsibilities of distance learning or the COVID-related shortage of accessible child-care.

And very few employee-starved manufacturers aren’t a little frustrated by their perception about the number of potential non-skilled workers who delay re-entering the job market because of extended unemployment benefits or the federal stimulus checks.

The bottom line: My experience tells me that resourceful manufacturers, working together, will persevere through all this and thrive once again. They always do! We at Enterprise Minnesota are pleased that our peer councils might have helped use creativity and innovation to get them there.

Learn more about Manufacturing Peer Councils on our website. 

Look soon for more information about our August 10th manufacturing workshop led by one of our top talent and leadership consultants, Abbey Hellickson.

Bremer Bank_ad_2020Events Calendar

June 3 Workshop WR Graphic

June 9 – Continuous Improvement for Your Business
Learn how to take your lean 1.0 operation to lean 2.0 with expert Ally Johnston. Strengthen and sustain your continuous improvement efforts across your organization. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

June 23 – Business Strategy for Growth
Discover foundational components to developing a strategic business plan and roadmap to sustained growth. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

July 15 – A Model for Manufacturing Excellence Using ISO 9001
ISO certification expert Keith Gadacz will be discussing ways to take your operation from average to excellent using the ISO 9001 business management system. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

See more upcoming events

WIDSETH architecture and engineering

Industry News

Envision Company acquires Premier Marine of Wyoming, MN
Envision Company of Elk River announced May 3 the acquisition of Premier Marine, a leader in the luxury pontoon market, based in Wyoming, Minnesota.  May 10, Star News  Read more

Two central MN cities get grants to retain, expand employment
Sauk Centre was awarded $1,320,000 to assist with a new 58-acre industrial park and Princeton was awarded $575,000 to support investments in public infrastructure.  May 7, KNSIradio.com  Read more

Highway Materials of Becker, MN acquired by American Highway
Highway Materials, a full-service distributor and manufacturer of materials for the concrete construction industry was acquired by American Highway, which will increase the company’s Upper Midwest manufacturing capacity.  May 6, PR Newswire  Read more

SCC President Dr. Parker testified before congress on worker shortage 
President Annette Parker of South Central College in Mankato testified before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on the need for more investment in training the next generation of infrastructure workers. May 6, KEYC News  Read more

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