Thurman of Dynatect Manufacturing, Inc. speaks during the
7th annual New Faces of Manufacturing event at the Country
Springs Hotel on Friday.
— The Waukesha Business Alliance held its 7th Annual New Faces
of Manufacturing event at the Country Springs Hotel on Friday,
where area professionals discussed what keeps them “up at
night,” and examined key issues affecting the region’s future
luncheon featured a panel discussion with four local executives,
including Larry Blanton, senior vice president and general manager
of Wisconsin Centrifugal Division at MetalTek International; Bill
Goggins, chief executive officer at Harken USA; Mark Thurman,
chief executive officer at Dynatect Manufacturing, Inc.; and Eric
Zimmerman, vice president of operations and general manager at
Gaco Western. Mark Sabljak, publisher of the Milwaukee Business
Journal, moderated the event.
the panel participants briefly expressed concerns over global
economic conditions, such as the foreign exchange rate, commodity
pricing and the Chinese slowdown, the conversation quickly turned
to how manufacturers can empower their teams to grow their
companies from within — instead of focusing on facets outside of
the key to the region’s future rests in its ability to diversify
markets, invest in innovation and develop leadership, the panel
Zimmerman of Gaco Western, LLC makes a point during a
roundtable discussion on Friday.
job as leaders is always to be prepared for the future so that our
companies remain sustainable and continue to grow,” Branton
said. “One [way] is how to sustain growth through market
diversity, with new applications, and new customers, in new
markets. So that as we come out of one downturn we go into the
next upturn stronger than we were [before].”
said manufacturers should take a hard look at their current
product arsenal and look for applications in other markets. At
Harken, which makes yacht products, for example, the company
seized an opportunity in infrastructure.
manufacturers also create custom orders on behalf of clients, or
build products as a “one-off.” However, other clients are
likely to be interested in the same solution, Thurman said.
these kinds of opportunities becomes possible when a manufacturing
firm begins to invest innovation, said the panel. For example,
Dynatect reassigned several of its engineers from handling
day-today responsibilities to focus solely on developing new
products. At Gaco, new product developments increased their value
to new and existing clients, tripling their revenue over the last
few years, Zimmerman said.
new product is an opportunity to have a customer for life,”
being said, having new products — or finding new markets for
existing product lines — requires a motivated and engaged staff.
People who care about the company are more likely to be motivated
to find ways for sustaining it and find new areas for growth.
overcome the skills gap, manufacturers are investing in leadership
development and technical training for employees with the
potential to climb the company ladder. Thurman compared the
strategy to training an athlete who possesses the talent to become
a star player.
kind of have to go make your own way,” Thurman said. “You have
certain skills in your business. You have to find that, build off
of that and don’t let the economy control how you handle that.
Go and do something different.”