The Best of Both Worlds

The Weekly Report – August 21, 2023
Developing leadership and communication skills has enabled metal fabricator LimPro to tap into the strengths of both veteran and newer employees, building a foundation for future growth.

Not long ago, generational differences in communication and working styles caused some tension at Fridley-based LimPro, a manufacturer of quick-turnaround parts and components. Company President Nick Bolin knew he needed to tackle those issues to help meet current high demand, and to lay the groundwork for future growth when more seasoned employees begin retiring.

In the next issue of Enterprise Minnesota magazine®, writer Suzy Frisch gives readers a candid look at how the company worked with talent and leadership development expert Michele Neale to bridge the differences among employees.

Four employees from LimPro and eight people from its sister companies, machining outfits QualiMac and UniMatic, attended the Leadership Essentials program, one of our consulting services in late 2022 and early 2023.

“There were some ‘aha’ moments for our people,” Bolin says. “One of the most enlightening was the surveys that their peers did on their communication styles and working styles. It was an eye opener because they started thinking about why they were viewed a certain way. Then they started working on listening better or being more confident.”

Frisch highlights how Leadership Essentials transformed the relationship between two LimPro employees. Mike Babb has been working as a press brake operator his whole career. Andrew Krasaway, a newer employee, often had questions about the press brake he was operating and ideas for making improvements. He thought it reflected his eagerness to learn and master the skills needed to serve. But those questions didn’t always come off the way Krasaway intended.

Babb noticed a big difference after the younger worker completed Leadership Essentials. They’ve been able to recognize each other’s expertise — Babb’s on the traditional brake and Krasaway’s on the computerized one — and learn from each other. Now Krasaway is more willing to tap into Babb’s experience, and Babb is more open to Krasaway’s questions and ideas.

“He really mellowed out after the leadership sessions. He wants to work and he wants to learn. I think he realized he doesn’t know everything,” Babb says. “If we have a problem, we work together to figure it out. He’s willing to work with me and learn. I think he will be a good leader down the road.”

In addition to identifying their communication and working styles, the program helped participants develop specific skills. LimPro’s Chris Morris brought 15 years of heavy metal manufacturing experience to LimPro when he joined the company as a fabricator about a year ago, but in his career, Morris hadn’t been given many opportunities to gain leadership training or experience.

So, Morris was pleased when Bolin offered him the chance to participate in Leadership Essentials. He learned many new skills, such as how to have coaching conversations, provide reviews, and communicate with people with different styles of interaction.

“Now I have some of the tools to implement leadership practices, and I have the confidence I need to go and have a hard conversation with someone,” Morris says. “I have the tools to frame the conversation and be able to respond when someone has a remark or clarifying questions. It makes it much less overwhelming for me.”

Eddy Hinsch, a welder who participated in Leadership Essentials, says that with Enterprise Minnesota’s guidance and improved communication among employees, he sees LimPro and his future moving in a positive direction. “It made us feel good that company leadership sees us as the future of LimPro. We have 80% of the shop who’s going to retire in the next seven years,” he says.

“When some of the older guys leave, we will have to take on those leadership roles. We want to see the company grow, and for a company to grow you need to have good leaders. We are building a team that fits our values.”

Read the full story about LimPro in the next issue of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine.

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