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Minnesota Twist Drill

From its plant in Chisholm on Minnesota’s “Iron Range,” Minnesota Twist Drill manufactures high-speed drill bits under the Triumph Twist Drill division which includes brands such as the Thunderbit and Trinado. It also produces private-label drill bits sold by major tool companies such as Black & Decker and Irwin.

Since being purchased by investors nine years ago, the company has tripled revenues to $16 million and increased its staff from 45 workers to 90. MTD president Scott Allison asked Enterprise Minnesota to help his company strengthen the leadership skills of its supervisory staff as they worked on implementing Lean initiatives.   

Enterprise Minnesota hosted a five-day talent development event, employing certified Training Within Industry (TWI) instructors. Beyond classroom time, facilitators provided one-on-one coaching and support for participants. Follow up efforts helped incorporate TWI concepts into the overall company structure.  The net effect would be to get new hires functioning more quickly, foster improved efficiency between individuals and between shifts, bring skills primarily to supervisors and leads, and instill confidence in applying supervisory responsibilities.   

The project helped improve the company’s performance by reducing rework and scrap. In addition it reduced damage to tool and equipment, improved overall quality, provided product consistency and reduced turnover. One notable result of the efficiency efforts is that they helped reduce wasted oil in the manufacturing process. Previously, about 30 percent of oil used to carry away chip debris and prevent the almost-immediate rusting that overtakes raw tool steel was unusable and difficult to dispose of.  The oil byproduct contained hexavalent chromium, a compound that has been linked to a host of health conditions, including respiratory problems and certain cancers, which forced the company to dispose of about one ton per day into a sealed landfill. The company persuaded a non-competitive manufacturer in New Zealand to export a process that enables MTD to sell oil to metal recyclers instead of paying for landfill disposal. Early calculations estimate the machine will save the company an annual $100,000 allowing Minnesota Twist Drill to recoup its $150,000 investment in less than two years.


“Being able to know that we’re polluting less, spending less, and making more is one of the very rare win-win-win situations.”

Tim Ranta – Plant Engineer
Minnesota Twist Drill
Hibbing, MN