Tolerance Masters

Tolerance Masters is an AS9100c certified contract manufacturer specializing in the production of close-tolerance flight-safety components for its customers in the commercial and military aerospace markets. The company employs 55 people at its plant in Circle Pines, MN.

Tolerance Masters was looking to grow its business by 15% per year over the next five years. To achieve this the company needed to identify and develop new customers in key markets, increase its throughput, and improve its ability to meet the capacity and delivery demands of its customers.

Enterprise Minnesota experts presented Tolerance Masters with a multifaceted approach involving the implementation of a new revenue growth strategy, an in-depth assessment and improvement of some of the company’s key production processes, and a dedicated kaizen event focused on reducing unnecessary inventory and accelerating the delivery of finished products.

Strategy expert Roger Hurd led the leadership team at Tolerance Masters through Enterprise Minnesota’s marketing management system which provides a structured framework to help Tolerance Masters clarify its target markets, create a prioritized action plan and institute an ongoing management system that would sustain the plan’s execution. The project took place over six months with the first three months dedicated to building a high-level integrated marketing plan, while the final three months were focused on executing the plan and measuring its progress.

In an effort to help Tolerance Masters improve its organizational processes, Enterprise Minnesota continuous improvement expert Greg Langfield led a cross-functional team through a value stream mapping (VSM) project. VSM assesses the company’s current manufacturing process and identifies areas with the greatest opportunity for improvement. As a part of this project, members of the Tolerance Masters team underwent training on lean manufacturing techniques to learn how to spot waste in their processes and how to implement improvements. At the end of the VSM, Langfield and the team developed an ideal future state process and created an action plan to ensure the company would achieve this objective.

To help Tolerance Masters achieve its goals of increased throughput and improved delivery times, Enterprise Minnesota continuous improvement expert Sam Gould led a select team of Tolerance Masters’ staff through a rapid improvement kaizen event. This kaizen event applied lean principles and tactics in an effort to reduce unnecessary and excess inventory. The kaizen team met for three days with Gould and evaluated the company’s current state and identified solutions. Many of these solutions were quickly implemented, while 30-day action plans were put in place for solutions that couldn’t be fully implemented during the kaizen.

As a result of its work with Enterprise Minnesota and other ongoing efficiency efforts, Tolerance Masters has reduced its cost of labor by almost 50 percent without eliminating a single employee. Over the next three years, Tolerance Masters projects to:

  • Increase or retain $19 million in sales
  • Yield a cost savings of $500,000
  • Invest $2 million in plant or equipment, workforce skill development, and information systems
  • Create six new jobs

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Every time we have engaged Enterprise Minnesota, we’ve learned something new. With their help we have been able to cut our lead times and reach our growth objectives. Having Enterprise Minnesota as another set of eyes on our business has been great.

Verne McPherson  •  CEO/Owner

Tolerance Masters