On a one to 10 scale, how challenging is the skills gap and are workforce challenges affecting your profitability today?

I’ll say three. There is and has been an impact, but when problems emerge, you come up with solutions to address those problems and work around them. A couple of years ago I’d call this challenge a four, but I’d call it a three now. It has the potential to become a two or a six. It sort of depends on inertial forces and things that we have given momentum to — recruiting people and training people and exposing them to the world of manufacturing.

And that’s part of the narrative that’s changing. It has changed in Bemidji, too, over the last 10 years. That narrative is, “Yeah, go explore. Go get of here, but come on back and do something here.”

It’s almost astonishing to us that half the parents said, “My kid’s going into college” and the other half said, “My kid tried college and he wasn’t ready. It wasn’t the thing to do.” And the big eyes of the parents who were so focused on a four-year degree, they were having light bulb moments. How do we, how do you, how do counselors and school administrators, encourage parents to have those light bulb moments? It’s a big question. Sometimes you can tell by asking, “Well, what is your kid really interested in?” But then you can also tell by reflecting on our own personal experiences.

Our survey provides quantitative data, and the focus groups round out the survey process by gaining qualitative data about how manufacturers are navigating around business challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially identifying opportunities for the future, and sharing ideas with fellow manufacturing executives about how best to move forward.

Bob Kill  •  President & CEO

Enterprise MN

We needed to get the different parts of our operation on the same page, making sure everything’s complete before it goes on to the next department. There was a point – probably about three-quarters of the way through our [ISO 9001:2015] training when a light came on for most of us. We realized the certification’s value when we started to understand it is more of a management tool than it is how we process things from start to finish. It’s working great now with everyone on the shop floor.

Tony Cremer  •  President & CEO

Craft Pattern & Mold

Enterprise Minnesota has never felt like an outside consultant and has always been a valued partner in helping us improve the way we do business. These consulting projects not only helped us develop a roadmap to meet our strategic objective of growth, but most importantly ensured that we included all the stakeholders in Harmony Enterprises, Inc. in the process.

Steve Cremer  •  President

Harmony Enterprises, Inc.

The consultants we have worked with at Enterprise Minnesota have been fantastic. Mary Connor was really knowledgeable and knew the Strategy Management process. The process itself was so useful and we have utilized what we learned there on other projects and initiatives during the past few years.

Traci Tapani  •  Co-President

Wyoming Machine

I was fortunate to be involved with both the Proactive Marketing and Strategy Management projects. Both were great as they focused on the needs of manufacturing companies. Roger (Hurd) and Mary (Connor) were great resources and did a wonderful job of steering us through the projects. With the Strategy Management, every employee in the company was involved in at least one or more of the 21 research areas.  We also included customers and vendors in the process. As a result, we established a solid foundation from which we are able to build upon and keep the business moving forward.

John Kroll  •  VP Sales and Marketing

Midwest Rubber Service & Supply Co.

The support we have had from Enterprise Minnesota has proved to be invaluable. The knowledge the staff has working with people is impressive. With their help, we are now able to consistently train our staff on the important steps, what we do, in what order, how we do it, and why we do it that way. Whenever we ask for a follow-up or help dealing with an issue that arises, Enterprise Minnesota’s staff has been more than willing to come to our aid whether it’s a phone call or an on-site visit. At times, that has meant spending some time on our midnight shift, or even working an extra-long day to cover all three shifts; no matter, they are there for us regardless.

Randy Tupa  •  Quality Assurance Manager

L&M Radiator, Inc.

The team at Enterprise Minnesota were great to work with. They brought new angles and different experience to not only help us with ISO certification but helped us in many other areas of our business. It was a very smooth and useful experience.

Jon Boutain  •  CEO and Part Owner

Voyager Industries

While we have done formal strategic planning for many years, marketing has always been an afterthought. With the help of Enterprise Minnesota, our marketing plan is now focused on how we can best serve our customers and has become a key part of our strategic plan.

Tom Murphy  •  President

CARDSource

Enterprise Minnesota has never felt like an outside consultant and has always been a valued partner in helping us improve the way we do business. These consulting projects not only helped us develop a roadmap to meet our strategic objective of growth, but most importantly ensured that we included all the stakeholders in Harmony Enterprises, Inc. in the process.

Steve Cremer  •  President

Harmony Enterprises, Inc.

We found that Enterprise Minnesota worked hard to be accommodating to our needs. [They] came to us, worked with our schedule, and kept us on task until we could define the problems and the solutions. By bringing a team of employees together from the beginning of the process to the end, we were able to map our processes and identify the bottlenecks in our manufacturing flow. After engaging Enterprise Minnesota, our production rate has more than doubled. This has been a very valuable and rewarding experience for us.

Greg Donley  •  Plant Manager

Midwest Fabrication & Supply

We have reduced our costs and lowered our cycle times which has led to increased capacity. We couldn’t have done with this without Enterprise Minnesota.

Ken Detloff  •  Owner & CEO

Kenway Engineering

The consultants we have worked with at Enterprise Minnesota have been fantastic. Mary Connor was really knowledgeable and knew the Strategy Management process. The process itself was so useful and we have utilized what we learned there on other projects and initiatives during the past few years.

Traci Tapani  •  Co-president

Wyoming Machine