Lynn Shelton

The Good Guys Win

The Weekly Report – August 23, 2021
Fairmont company sells to Spanish firm, yet the jobs will stay local.

Don’t you just love it when the good guys win? Ken Detloff from Kenway Engineering in Fairmont is one of those people. Ken recently sold his company, which manufactures heating and air conditioning units for off road and construction vehicles worldwide, to a Spanish company. He turned down other offers because they wanted to move the company out of Fairmont and out of Minnesota.

That kept the company’s employees in Fairmont working and benefits the city’s economy. Both are things that Ken realizes are important. Keeping the company in Fairmont gave him the opportunity to help the community that helped him succeed. He also knew that it was that community support that helped him increase the company’s profitability, and that raised the company’s value to potential buyers.

When Ken started the company about 40 years ago, he had to work hard to overcome some challenges. He had been laid off from his job and he had limited funds to create the new company. Through it all, Ken knew he could depend on his employees in Fairmont to work hard and that helped the business grow. It also created new challenges.

“When your business is growing, you start to look for ways to continue that growth and to continue to attract new customers,” Ken said. “You have to show potential customers that your staff can manage any issues that might come up.”

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That’s when Ken came to us, and that started a wonderful relationship. We were able to suggest business practices and procedures that helped Kenway Engineering stay on a steady and successful path. Ken wanted his company to continuously improve while also becoming known as an OEM and specialty machine shop.

To accomplish that, we recommended “Lean” thinking to support two of Kenway’s greatest opportunities for continuous growth – Value Stream Mapping and continuing the company’s employees training in “Lean” thinking.

One of our colleagues here at Enterprise Minnesota, Greg Langfield, worked with Kenway Engineering. Greg helped them create a company culture that helped it earn an ISO rating. I’m very proud of Greg and his work. He was able to help them sort out many of the issues that were holding them back.

Kenway Engineering faced a problem many of us face in our own lives. We get used to doing things the same way we’ve always done them. Those traditional practices have always worked, so why change them? That’s a trap we all tend to fall into, and it might be holding us back.

Ken discovered that sometimes a little change is good. He also found out that a little help could have unexpected benefits that ended up supporting his company, his employees, and the city. This is a lesson that can benefit us all. Our consultants, including Greg, are here to help. We can look at your manufacturing processes and offer some suggestions that can help you achieve your goals. It is these efforts that have helped us build strong relationships, like the one with have with Ken. I am very proud of the bonds we have created and how they are strengthening our state and the manufacturing industry.

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Events Calendar

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September – State of Manufacturing® focus groups
Manufacturing executives and leaders – join us in September for one of our Executive Focus Groups and gain insight into how your fellow manufacturers are approaching current economic issues and opportunities. Online and in person sessions available.  Learn more and register

October 7 – A Model for Manufacturing Excellence Using ISO 9001
ISO certification expert Keith Gadacz will be discussing ways to take your operation from average to excellent using the ISO 9001 business management system. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

October 21 – Investing In Your People To Create Leaders At All Levels
Talent and Leadership expert Abbey Hellickson will be discussing how to determine and develop leadership competencies in your organization to help foster a company culture of growth and resilience. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

See more upcoming events

Lake Area Bank banner adIndustry News

Little Falls, MN to see new freeze-drying manufacturing facility
In a partnership between Anchor Ingredients Co. LLC and Barrett Petfood Innovations, the new facility is slated to open in the first half of 2022. August 18,  Read more

Winnebago Industries, Inc. to move corporate headquarters to MN in December
The outdoor lifestyle product manufacturer will be shifting its corporate headquarters from Forest City, Iowa to Eden Prairie. There are no planned job losses and no physical implication on manufacturing assets. August 18, KAALtv  Read more

Stratasys spearheads sustainability for 3D printing industry
In a commitment to a circular economy, climate action and social impact, the Eden Prairie & Israel-based company said now is the time for Mindful Manufacturing. August 17,  Read more

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