Turning Adversity Into Advantage

The Weekly Report – Dec. 12, 2022
Learning from manufacturers that have already faced the challenges of the coming year

Attendees at this year’s State of Manufacturing (SOM) survey event were treated to a lively panel discussion that showed how two companies have tackled some of the top concerns listed by survey respondents. Matt Hanson, president of Hanson Silo, and Jane Meyer, training coordinator for Windings, Inc., shared how they have dealt with rising costs, loss of sales, and worker retention issues in creative and effective ways.

Working with Enterprise Minnesota business growth consultants Steve Haarstad and Abbey Hellickson, who also served on the panel, Hanson Silo and Windings Inc. have developed and executed strategies to turn adversity into advantage.

Matt Hanson shared how the rapid and unpredictable rise in building material costs in 2020 and 2021 cut into his company’s profitability. A trial-run of sorts for the inflation many companies now face, Hanson implemented real-time pricing processes that created efficiencies for the sales force while limiting losses from skyrocketing material prices.

Windings, which builds motors and electromagnetic components, used to rely for a third of its sales on the commercial aerospace industry. Meyer said the aerospace nose-dive during the early months of COVID restrictions moved Windings to innovate to its first stand-alone product, a nearly indestructible electric motor for downhole drilling in the oil and gas industry.

Matt Hanson added that Hanson Silo hasn’t sold a silo for six or seven years–yes, seven years–but has learned to branch into new product areas, including the concrete hog slat market. Working with Haarstad, Hanson and his team developed a strategy to move into that market, and had sales contracts even before taking delivery of the equipment needed to manufacture the final product.

Like so many manufacturing companies, Hanson Silo and Windings were dealing with these issues as they also wrestled with attracting and retaining quality workers, another top SOM survey concern.

By implementing a new on-boarding process that introduces its values and mission, and specifies the skills required for advancement, Windings has achieved an outstanding retention rate for new hires. Of 13 production employees hired in 2021, for example, 12 are still with the company. Meyer also shared that the employee-owned company has remarkably dedicated workers–so dedicated in fact, that one of management’s top concerns is avoiding repetitive use injuries.

Hanson Silo recruits by rewarding existing employees for referring new hires, and then pairs those new hires with mentors. Matt Hanson says those who stay for three months are usually there for the long haul, and the mentoring program is designed to get them to that three-month mark.

Succession planning is also a priority at Hanson Silo–not just among top management, but also for key production employees. It’s not an easy conversation, Hanson says, but sometimes you just have to ask, “So, when do you think you might start fishing more and working less?”

The panel was a fast-paced conversation, covering automation, training, cash management, and employee engagement, with a healthy dose of strategic planning throughout. Follow the link below to watch the whole discussion. I can assure you it will be worth your time to see how these companies are thriving.

Watch the complete panel discussion here.

View the complete State of Manufacturing survey results here.

View all Enterprise Minnesota upcoming events here.

Industry News

MN metal fabricator looks around the bend with part automation
December 10, The Fabricator

Felling Trailer appoints Klimek as Quality Assurance Manager
December 8, Thomasnet.com

New DEED automation funding program to bring more robots to Minnesota economy
December 4, Brainern Dispatch

Ridgewater College machine tool program gets $18,000 donation
December 3, WillmarRadio.com

Manufacturing indexes turn negative for the first time since spring 2020
December 1, Star Tribune

– – –

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.