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Empowering Employees to Improve Business Processes and Bottom Line

For many companies, the thought of empowering employees to improve the business processes and increase the bottom line is impossible.

For at least one Machine Job Shop in Cincinnati, Ohio, this is exactly what they are doing. Professional CNC Machinists, CNC Programmers, Carbide Saw Grinders, and Welders in the industry are getting more and more difficult to find and retain. To attract more professionals in the field, Pride Tool empowers employees to do their best. Trusting employees and earning their respect, while providing the tools needed to get their job done are the keys to starting the process.

Start by empowering your employees. It requires that employers trust in the employee’s ability to perform the work. Help employees make good decisions. Train employees to understand the impact of their decisions, so that they are willing to take measured risks. It is extremely important to use mistakes as learning opportunities for improved decisions in the future.

The common reasons why companies do not empower their employees are:
  • Poor leadership and management
    • Lack of clear goals and objectives
    • Lack of trust in employees
    • Fear of losing control
    • Resistance to change
  • Inadequate communication and training
  • Inadequate systems and processes in place to support the empowerment
  • Limited resources and budget

The first step in empowering employees is believing they can handle the work. Once managers show they trust their employees and provide clear goals and objectives employees are encouraged to act. To reinforce their effectiveness, it is important that employees must have the proper training and an open channel of communication for proper decision-making. These actions allow employees to be independent thinkers and to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

When employees are empowered, they are engaged. When employees are engaged, their hands-on knowledge of how processes actually flow is price-less. Developing improvements that can have a significant impact on strengthening a company’s bottom line is greatly improved.

Employing employee empowerment is a simple matter of building mutual trust with your employees. When you provide the right tools with clear instruction, guidance, and training as needed, you demonstrate your confidence in their ability to succeed. The better the company does, the better everyone does. Once you have trust, empowerment is easy. You can see the culture of the company change and with it the profit margins increase while the cost ratio decreases. What more can you ask for?

Scott Schwarz Owner / President of Pride Tool

This makes it sound easy, it really isn’t. What worthwhile venture isn’t entangled with some level of challenge? Employee empowerment and the results it can produce are definitely worth the investment.

Try it in your business. Small steps starting with communication and training could open the keys to the kingdom!

Let us know how you are improving your business processes and if employee empowerment has fueled your progress.

Machining & Fabrication: The Winning Formula for Price Tool’s Growth

Since the close of Price Tool’s first year under new management, the industrial CNC Machining and Metal Fabrication business has been flourishing.  The year was marked with achievements. These included: expanding into industrial market segments of aerospace and marine, up to a 50% reduction in lead times, double-digit sales growth, and a 25% increase in shop and administrative staff.

How could this happen in just twelve months?

Key to achieving this success started with several months spent meeting and speaking with the current staff and existing customers. We got to know each other and to understand the greatest areas of opportunity for improvement. It also provided the perfect backdrop to learn how Pride Tool could better serve the needs of each.

Next was to understand the business’s physical assets, including inventory and equipment. This began by establishing, formalizing, and performing a physical inventory process.  It served to not only develop important benchmarks for the newly acquired business but to also establish a clear path to reduce obsolete inventories.  During the process, our staff decluttered and better organized inventory, WIP, and customer stock. We thoroughly cleaned plant areas that were previously a challenge to access. These efforts not only provided much-needed current inventory space and additional space for growth;  we also created a safer work environment by clearing the way for safety equipment installations.

Utilizing the information provided by the staff and our customers, Pride Tool researched best-in-class technology updates to upgrade and improve the entire plant’s IT infrastructure. This started with the backbone IT server systems, including the email systems. “Upgrading all the systems to the latest versions was a bit of a challenge, but well worth the effort,” stated Scott Schwarz, Pride Tool’s new owner and president. “We stated from day one, that improving the efficiencies throughout the plant was the top priority during the first two quarters, and I am proud to state that we accomplish that within the first quarter,” he continued.

Captial Investments

With the foundational improvements completed, our focus changed to initiating capital investments to serve our customers through the fourth quarter better. These investments included capital equipment purchases of CNC Machining Equipment, a Cincinnati Laser Cutter, a Fiber Laser Cutter, and upgrades to provide our staff with the latest in technology  These not only enhance the precision quality of each stations output but also increases manufacturing capacity.New metal bending press brake offers greater precision angles and added capacity.

A 4-axis dual pallet milling machine was added, as Pride Tool’s first equipment investment. We purchased a new OKUMA MBH5000 II dual pallet 4-axis horizontal mill that significantly increased milling capacity. MasterCam 3D programming was also purchased and installed for all mills and lathes. This was coupled with the purchase of a new 120-ton Press Brake and additional technology upgrades.

Our purchase of a new CLI Laser Cutting Center with Plasma Cutting capacity is our newest investment. Each equipment upgrade and purchase positions Pride Tool to offer top-quality products to customers increases capacity, as well as expands Pride Tool’s ability to service more industrial segments.

Industry Events and Connections

One of the highlights this year for Scott was attending industry events such as the Gosigerfest biennial gathering of manufacturing and CNC decision-makers, users, and vendors held in Dayton, Ohio.  “Attending events such as the Gosigerfest was a great opportunity to learn the latest trends and cutting-edge technologies available in the industry”, mentioned Scott.  “During the event, I’ve met a lot of great people and potential partners. It was my first Gosigerfest event, and I was greatly impressed. I’m looking forward to attending each event,” Scott stated.

Internal Investments

As a part of Scott’s vision, we trained and certified our staff in Lean Six Sigma methodologies. This included the entire staff, production teams, and administrative staff. “This was the perfect venue for driving home the importance of improving business processes through the reduction of defects and errors, minimizing variation, and increasing quality and efficiency,” stated Scott. “This mindset is important in fulfilling our customer promise for our products to meet customer requirements, EVERY time.”

There were many challenges during the year, but Pride Tool overcame them and is positioned for greater growth over the next 12 months. Follow our Linkedin page to keep up to date with Pride Tool information and news.  We look forward to growing together with our industry partners, our community, and especially our customers. Please feel free to contact us for all your metal fabrication needs.

Finding and Keeping Skilled Machinists – Recruiting the Best Talent in a Post COVID World

While COVID-19 changed a bit of the landscape with people becoming accustomed to working from home, the machining business is not exactly a profession equipped to be performed outside of the foundry. That does not prevent employees from desiring more flexible hours that afford them the ability to meet, mingle, and socialize with friends and family whose careers do offer work from home opportunities.

So how do you go about attracting top talent in the Machining & Fabrication industry?

  1. Get Involved with Local Vo-Tech Schools
  2. Support Local Scholarships
  3. Post Open CNC Machinist Positions, EVERYWHERE
  4. Empower and Promote Internally
  5. Employee Referrals

It is always a good idea to create a good relationship with local Vo-Tech schools. Offering plant tours, internships, and other activities are great ways to encourage youth into the work force. Offering or supporting scholarships at local schools is also a good strategic plan to cultivate potential future employees. While these are great seeds to plant, it will take time to harvest the fruits of your labor.

Next is the tried and true, if you build it they will come route. Post, post, post, everywhere and anywhere. Every job board from monster to LinkedIn. You also can’t forget the industry association boards, technical and local colleges, and local newspapers. All great places to ensure your job posting gets viewed. This is the hardest of all approaches and you rarely get the best applicants and little to no valid background data that can easily or readily be verified.

Empowering your workforce is always an effective way to build your company’s reputation. Who doesn’t want to work for a company that trusts and empowers its employees? This includes offering employee’s development opportunities that promotes employee engagement that also fulfills company goals.

It also requires full buy-in at the organizational level through a common leadership language. Break the mold by providing equitable access to development opportunities to all employees. Companies that reserve growth and training only for those deemed “high-potentials” quickly result in poor morale and participation.

Now that you have an empowered workforce, it is time to reward them by encouraging them to be brand ambassadors. There is also no one better at identifying the skill gaps than your current employees doing the work. Collaborate with your teams at every opportunity, especially when you need to fill positions.

For managers and HR professionals, this is an excellent time to identify emerging skills among other team members. Instead of replacing outgoing employees with new employees, help lift employees to grow and fill higher-level positions. This is where empowerment and trust are built. It also encourages team members to be more likely to activate their own professional networks to refer their contacts to join the company.

Recruiting doesn’t need to be hard when your employees have been professionally and personally helped to grow in the company. Keep your teams involved in the recruitment process so that they feel comfortable reaching out to their valuable connections.

We recommend all of the above to keep your workforce motivated, positions filled, and culture warm and inviting. All these attributes will create the type of environment anyone would find hard to resist. Lastly, be sure to always promote from within when filling positions. You never know when your next new hire can be filled with the help of a current teammate!

How welding and social media are the perfect couple

The Perfect Couple – Welding & Social Media!

The powerful tools used in welding to marry together metal plates can be compared to the power behind effective social media communications and how it unites businesses with their customers.

The imagery born from a photo shoot of welding projects is absolutely mesmerizing! This makes for exciting and highly impactful posts on social media, especially for professional welders when done correctly.

Many articles have been written on the topic. According to BakersGas.com, “Two-way communication and a strong marketing strategy will engage your customers or clients and keep them interested… “.

With endless opportunities from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even a personal blog, professional welders can build a network by showcasing their work, sharing expertise, and demonstrating their unique strengths. Each platform provides the ability to upload amazing photographs of projects as well as engaging video footage.

While the exciting photos and videos collected will attract industry professionals and the general public alike, you can’t go wrong. Enhancing word-of-mouth advertising and staying top of mind in the mind of potential clients is the most cost-effective way to improve sales.

So, keep your camera batteries charged, and have a member of the team with a steady hand (or gimble) available when you are ready to begin your next welding project. You never know when that eye-catching image or footage will be just the ticket a potential customer needs to partner with you.

As you can see, Welding and Social Media are undeniably a perfect couple when growing business in industrial manufacturing, machining, and fabrication.