Lynn Shelton

Power Tools

The Weekly Report – Dec. 15, 2020
With a little guidance, manufacturers can fully realize the power of assessments. 

Never underestimate the power of knowing your weaknesses.

But don’t take just our word for it. Listen to Pinnacle Climate Technologies and Minnesota Tool and Die Works. Both are examples of manufacturers that recognized a weakness then did what they had to do to correct it. The results speak for themselves.

In both cases, their discoveries started with an assessment.

Enterprise Minnesota offers assessments in many areas to identify where waste can be eliminated, and efficiency enhanced. Think of it as a diagnosis of sorts. Or perhaps an on-ramp to a highway of internal improvements in quality management systems, leadership team competency, revenue growth and other areas.

Pinnacle has worked with Enterprise Minnesota on multiple assessments over the years under CEO Ron Ten Berge’s leadership in areas such as lean, marketing and project management. In several cases, Pinnacle took what was learned in the assessment and pursued further consulting services that, in the end, made Pinnacle a better-run company.

A case study offered by Ten Berge illustrates the point: Last spring, with COVID about to alter the way the world operates, Pinnacle jumped on what it saw as a golden opportunity. Using existing technology, it quickly produced an air-purification product to address virus fears. (The results can be seen at, one of Pinnacle’s latest creations.) From conception to sales took two and a half months. That kind of speed is remarkable even in a normal economic environment. They were able to do this so quickly, in part, because they’d worked with consultants on how to effectively manage and lead employees in the remote working environment.

“This is a product that we built and launched at the beginning of the pandemic. And it’s seen some pretty substantial commercial success,” Ten Berge says. “We went from ideation to actually building a complete website, building the complete product, and delivering to consumers in 74 days — 74 days from ideation to in your home. That’s just unbelievable.”

Ten Berge credits his post-assessment work with Enterprise Minnesota Business Growth Consultant Michele Neale with giving them the tools they needed to pull it off. He says the work they’ve done since going through the assessment process has made them more flexible, more resilient and better able to adapt to any kind of adversity.

“Over the last three years, we’ve gotten much leaner, and much faster with the way we do things,” he says. “Her training was pretty in depth with our marketing team. It was about communication style. She did a bunch of things about teaching people how to manage remote employees successfully. And she was actually on our project team.”

Over at Minnesota Tool and Die Works, the facts on the ground are different, but the big picture is similar: They did an ISO assessment, which led to further improvements at the company that will help it be more competitive and more profitable. It will also help them compete for lucrative defense department contracts.

“Obviously, growth was attractive to us,” Minnesota Tool and Die President Jay Sherer says. “As well as being able to manage the business at a better level. It’s helping us organize better with record keeping, and everything that we need to do here on our end. It’s a learning experience here for the company and my team. With the assistance of Enterprise Minnesota, it’s coming to fruition.”

And that’s where the true power of assessments lies. Assessments on their own are merely a key to unlocking a world of potential. Upgrading ISO certification can open doors to new markets. Going through a lean assessment can lead to unearthing myriad inefficiencies. A cyber security assessment can guide your way to minimizing your risk of cyber theft.

Philosopher Abraham Kaplan said, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” In other words, smart problem solvers understand that having the right tool for the job can make all the difference. Assessments are a powerful tool in discovering a more profitable and efficient future.

You can read the full article in the Spring 2021 edition of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine.

Olsen Thielen CPA - Oct 2020

Events Calendar

January 13 – Driving Continuous Improvement in Uncertain Times
David Ahlquist will be demonstrating continuous improvement techniques that will keep employees engaged and focused on value-added activities, especially in times of uncertainty. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

January 20 – How Your Employees Can help Improve Profitability in the Coming Recovery
Join talent expert Michele Neale as she shows ways to foster an engaged and productive workforce as part of your employee retention strategy. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

January 28 – Thriving in a State of Change: Leveraging Purpose, Process and People
Competition is everywhere, especially in southeastern Minnesota! This Executive Forum is for SE manufacturing executives who want to grow and innovate as we work through the COVID-19 recovery. Three of our expert consultants will show you how to identify gaps that may exist within your purpose, processes, and people and help you create a step-by-step action plan that takes your company from managing to thriving. Online presentation  Learn more and register

February 4 – A Model for Manufacturing Excellence Using ISO 9001
ISO Certification expert Keith Gadacz will be discussing the value of the ISO and how it can take your operation from average to excellent. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

See more upcoming events

Industry News

Central McGowan expands its Fargo CO2 distribution hub
The St. Cloud-based industrial gas manufacturer is expanding its footprint in North Dakota with a CO2 distribution hub in partnership with Northern States Supply. Dec. 13, St. Cloud Times  Read more

Pet treat company eyeing former Del Monte plant in southern Minnesota 
The closing of the Del Monte plant in Sleepy Eye affected around 360 employees, but Minneota-based Chasing Our Tails has signed an agreement to buy the facility. Dec. 9, MPR News  Read more

Manufacturing’s digital transformation is here to stay
Industry expert Ryan Chan says five years of digital progress has been condensed over the past eight months, and this acceleration will likely continue as pandemic restrictions are lifted. Dec. 8,  Read more

Fullerton Building Systems welcomes new CEO Cathy Schmidt
The Plymouth-based producer of high quality finished exterior building shell packages welcomes Cathy Schmidt as its new CEO. Dec. 2, Fullerton Bldg. Systems Read More

– – –

Enterprise Minnesota is dedicated to helping Minnesota manufacturers grow profitably. If you are interested in receiving The Weekly Report to your inbox, please visit our subscription page.

Learn more about Enterprise Minnesota.