From 1993-2005, I worked for a construction trade newspaper with Monica Potter’s Aunt Sue. I heard office tales about her stunning niece who was doing catalog modeling and commercials and even got to meet her once at some company event or other. I also crossed paths with Monica’s Uncle Bill of Brokaw Inc., an advertising agency, since I had begun my career in advertising.
Fast forward to October 2016 when I heard about Monica’s newest TV venture, “Welcome Back Potter,” a reality TV show on HGTV in which Monica, her mother and her sister work to renovate their family home in the North Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland, which is right around the corner from my office at HGR Industrial Surplus. I decided to send her a message on Facebook to see about an interview. I figured, “What do I have to lose?” A few days later I got a response basically saying, “Yes.” I messaged her the questions. I got a message back with a phone number. After some phone tag and texts, we chatted for almost an hour. Who knew that she cares so much about manufacturing and a skilled workforce, and is actually doing something about it?
She is a passionate, intelligent, earthy, kind, fun, friendly, infectious person that you immediately want to hang out with for hours over a few double-dirty martinis with blue-cheese stuffed olives. In the first few minutes of our conversation, she jumped right into the nitty gritty of her philosophy, “It’s not about the business or the house but about doing something on a bigger scale, which I have wanted to do since I was 10. My projects can be a catalyst for people in Cleveland to begin a dialogue with government and politicians.” She says that when she opened her second Monica Potter Home store in The Old Arcade in Cleveland, it was timely because she wants to bring back small businesses and jobs to Cleveland but can only do so much; she need everyone’s help – the mayor, councilmen and law enforcement.
I asked her what she wanted to do when she was 10. She tells the story of calling then-Mayor George Voinovich’s office and leaving a message for him through his secretary because she had an idea. She wanted to take the old Memorial School Building in Collinwood where she went to kindergarten and have a place in that building where people could sleep, eat and learn how to do something in order to get a job, graduate, move out and get a house so that their families could be proud of them and they could feed their families.
How did a 10-year-old come to have thoughts like that? It all goes back to her dad. He’s the reason she bought back the family home in Collinwood, started Monica Potter Home and is looking to do even more. He was an inventor, with 78 patents, who made all of his inventions in the basement of their house then started a fishing-lure business on St. Clair Avenue. She was included in his inventing process and tinkering. She says, “I always did small construction and renovation projects with my dad. I was the boy of the family – changing oil, changing tires, building things from nothing.” She worked at the lure business pouring molds, putting in wires and hooks, and packaging. He had an interest in chemistry, biology, medicine and alternative medicine. He experimented with essential oils and other compounds to treat her eczema. Now, she also is inventing and wants to patent her designs and currently works with a chemist to go through formulas to create the bath and beauty products available through Monica Potter Home. Her mother cleaned on the side at Euclid Square Mall and would take her kids with her. Monica says she learned to act by watching and imitating people in the mall. She started Monica Potter Home because she wanted to make great products for the home that were inspired by her father and mother who liked to keep a nice house and decorate even if they didn’t have a lot of money. You can see how much family, hers and yours, means to her.
Her family originally moved into Collinwood in June 1971. She was born two weeks later. They sold the house in 1987 to move to Alabama. She bought the house back in 2012 and had a film crew come from Los Angeles that summer to document more than 1,000 hours of footage on the work that they did on the home with the intention of creating a documentary. And, when something is meant to be, it is meant to be. Renovation was finished in June 2016 as her lease on a farmhouse in Hiram, Ohio, was up. She occupied the home on June 30, her birthday, and had her family’s priest come to bless the house. She says it was her best birthday ever. She still lives in L.A. full time and spends 10 days per month in Cleveland to work on Monica Potter Home and efforts to renovate more homes in the area.
She originally decided to film the renovation as a documentary because she wanted to tell a story; so, she banked the footage and was working with a filmmaker in L.A. Then, she was approached by a couple of
networks about doing a home renovation show. She said she would do it as long as could produce it and not exploit her family. She went with HGTV and is really happy with result. She says that, “although they showcased the house, it was a different show for them because it showed the City of Cleveland, sisterhood, and what we are doing here and why, not just doorknobs and doors and hanging drywall.” The family worked 7 a.m to 10 p.m. each day, sometimes even sleeping in the car. Monica designed the fixtures, and everything is repurposed. She has an inventory system the documents everything down to the nails pulled from the walls, and she is recycling them to make other things.
With her roots in Collinwood and her passion for manufacturing, her ambitions include getting the useable space and machinery to make everything for Monica Potter Home from North Collinwood at a workshop with an apprenticeship program where people can learn from master craftsmen and technicians. This is a family grassroots effort, and she is working hand-in-hand with Brokaw Inc. to create a training space that currently is self-funded with no grants or partners. She said it’s not about a celebrity having a store or two but about creating jobs and making people proud of what they are doing, as well as helping people have incredible products at an affordable price in their homes that are made in the U.S., not overseas. She says that she wants to put up a sign that says, “Who wants to work? Who wants to learn to do something?” when she sees all the shutdowns and empty factories along St. Clair Avenue and as the Baby Boomers age out and are not being replaced with skilled labor.
With heart and soul, she blurts, “We’ve got to get our s!*# together. The Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers did great. I love that we’re winning, and our teams, and the resurgence in the area. It’s Believeland, but now it’s time for us to believe in ourselves. Our great sports teams are catapulting us and making us proud. Now, it’s our turn.”
Get 75 percent off certain items priced under $250 in Aisle 1 for two days only!
Not only are we open, but today is the last day of our week-long progressive sale. Each day, savings increased until the maximum percent off today only. Monday, prices return to normal.
You can get 25% off select heat treating, pallet racking, machine tools, inspection equipment, parts washers, surface grinders, woodworking, fabrication, material handling, finishing equipment, dust collectors and lathes.
Get 35% off select air dryers, blowers, electrical, pumps, valves, cylinders, lift tables, conveyors, shop equipment, manual lifts, printing, label equipment, drill presses, air compressors, chemical processing, packaging, air handling, saws, plastic and rubber equipment, welding equipment and hoists.
Get 50% off select motors, tooling, hardware, hydraulic units, office furniture/chairs, desks, file cabinets, electronics, workbenches, inspection equipment and Aisle 1 items.
We will be open normal hours on Wednesday and Friday, but we are closed on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the holiday with our families. Stop in this week for our progressive sale. Each day, the savings get larger, until Friday, when you can receive up to 50% off select items.
Also, we are open on the second Saturday of every month, but starting on Dec. 10, we will close at 1 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. on Saturdays; so, get your Saturday shopping done early and go enjoy the rest of your day!
Thanks for an abundance of memories and for your patronage!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Cynthia Wilt, board of directors, Career Transition Center)
As leaders of your business, have you ever had to downsize your staff and disrupt your team? Where do you go for help? Where do you send your employees for help? Have you been through this yourself, so you really understand what happens to people and their families? And, what happens to the ones who are left behind – those who keep their jobs? How does the loss of their fellow employees affect their morale, their productivity and their loyalty to your business? Many questions to ponder, aren’t there?
There is always the typical government center to send them to when they sign up for unemployment compensation – where they try to help you, but getting one-on-one help is not usually possible. This was the problem we saw when Career Transition Center was started in 2011. We are a nonprofit organization that assists unemployed and underemployed Northeast Ohio residents who cannot get help elsewhere, and we have learned their needs from the thousands of people we have dealt with during the years.
Many of your employees have never gone through this situation before, or, even if they did, they may not know how to do a real job search. They need support and honesty given by career coaches who know what the employers in the area want in their new hires. You can hire an outplacement firm to handle each person or in groups, but, depending on your budget, you may not really get much assistance for each person. So, what is your moral and community obligation as an employer to help these people? How does your business value system fit into your next steps? These people were once your friends, your team and your fellow employees. What do you owe them? These are things you need to think about before the situation to lay off even occurs.
Some people immediately become depressed and afraid for their future. They tend to do rash things, and their spirit gets so low that they are not able to interview well for other jobs. They may feel that part of the job loss was because of them or their team. And, maybe they should have done something better or different. They become insecure, and some even lie to family and friends about their situation, which is unhealthy for them and for a good job search.
Do you give letters of recommendation? Do you offer assistance? Or do you just walk them out the door on the same day they are told? Many people live paycheck to paycheck and may lose their auto, their home, or worse. They need someone to help them become empowered during job transition and career change. They need to gain confidence and realize their actual value in the local market. And, they need the tools and encouragement to develop and implement a plan to reach their next step, something not available just from job clubs or one-stop centers.
Are they a part of the “vanishing middle class” – workers between age 45 and 70 that may not have up-to-date skills; so, employers will not consider them for a new hire? These people get shunned because they are too expensive, too old, or too (you fill in the blank). Sadly, this group remains out of work the longest and is becoming the new poor. They may need to learn current job-search skills and new technology to be considered for the jobs of today. How you plan for these uncertain times has a huge impact on what your business reputation is. It speaks to who might want to work for you, or what people in the community say about your business. It explains what type of employer you are. Now is the time to think about these things and make a plan for how downsizing is handled in your business. If the time comes, you will be better, stronger and make good decisions.
On Nov. 16, 2016, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, in conjunction with PNC Bank, presented its 2016 State of Manufacturing: Important Trends Affecting Northeast Ohio Manufacturers at Jergens Inc., 15700 S. Waterloo Road, Cleveland. There was standing room only as manufacturers and service-industry representatives arrived to hear presentations by Rich Wetzel, Youngstown Business Incubator, on the state of additive manufacturing and Dr. Ned Hill, The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs and Ohio Manufacturing Institute, on manufacturing, the economy and the future.
In opening remarks, Paul Clark, regional president, PNC Bank, noted that “Thirty percent of PNC’s loan commitments in Northeast Ohio have been in manufacturing for the past 20 of 40 years.” These loans help manufacturers with new product development, new markets and acquisitions.
Wetzel, in his presentation on additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, shared the seven main processes of additive manufacturing, with material extrusion being the most common, and says, “Northeast Ohio is becoming the capital of additive manufacturing and putting the area on the map.” He also shared that low-volume tooling is the low-hanging fruit and the easiest to implement for near-term opportunities but that the market tends to be risk averse.
Last, Dr. Hill (if I had an economics professor like this in college, I might have liked economics and learned something) talked about the current uncertainty in the market due to the election but the positive increase in interest rates. He says, “Manufacturing is looked at nostalgically by the public since it’s gone overseas, and they believe we aren’t making things.” In 2014, although China was the top nation for manufacturing, the U.S. was a close second. He shared that the largest market opportunity in the world lies in the NAFTA nations. He did a retrospective and shared that manufacturers were always in the top 10 employers in Ohio but now the reality is that part-time, low-wage jobs in healthcare, retail and food service have become the mainstay. In that reality, he says, “Midsized companies will be driving this state.”
Another trend he discussed in depth was automation. Since 1979, we lost almost 5-million factory jobs but at the same time more than doubled the value due to productivity. In addition, he shared statistics that we have lost 13 percent of factory jobs to trade and 88 percent to automation and continuous improvement, and that robotics is expected to reduce labor by another 22 percent in the U.S. He asked the audience to consider how many jobs technology has saved rather than lost. The U.S., for the first time in recent years, is a threat to China due to its quality, efficiency and improved internal supply chain. He says that when manufacturing can 3D print a die, it will save 20-30 percent and can compete with China. And, as much as we would like to believe that manufacturing powers the economy, it’s actually powered by consumers who do 70 percent of the spending. They are buying the products we manufacture!
Finally, he acknowledged the present problem of aging-out workers and the lack of a skilled workforce to replace them. He says manufacturing’s greatest enemies are parents, school counselors and OSHA, which limits workers under 20 from being on the manufacturing floor. We are losing talent to other industries. Let’s make these people our allies and work toward STEM education and a resurgence of interest in a field has evolved and shed its former stereotypical image.
We aren’t having a Thanksgiving or Black Friday sale, we’re having an entire Thanksgiving-week progressive sale. Each day, the savings increase!
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Annie Liao, director of educational outreach, MakerGear, LLC)
What is MakerGear?
MakerGear designs and manufactures desktop 3D printers, primarily for use by businesses, schools, and makers. We originally started in a residential Ohio garage in 2009 and have continued to grow ever since. Currently, we have 25 employees at our factory in Beachwood, Ohio. Also, we received an exciting award this week! Our MakerGear M2 3D printer was ranked #1 in the world out of 513 printers. We’re excited to shine a light on technology and manufacturing here in Northeast Ohio.
What is additive manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing processes create objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material to build an object. These processes are in contrast to traditional subtractive types of manufacturing, such as those utilizing CNC machined parts, where material is removed from an object to create the finished product.
What is the benefit of a 3D printer? What problems does it solve?
3D printing is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry for a number of reasons. One significant contribution is that it saves time and money by allowing for rapid prototyping. When producing an object, the prototyping process has historically occupied a bulk of time between concept and launch. Today, with 3D printing, we can substantially shorten that gap by giving engineers and designers the ability to create their own prototypes in house – and as many iterations as they need — without dependency on an outside source or back-and-forth shipping delays.
Beyond those advancements in the industry, 3D printing is one of the most cost effective ways to produce small batch or custom items. This is great for everyone from small businesses creating unique products, all the way to doctors printing scale models of a patient’s heart before surgery. And on top of all of that, 3D printers create less waste, if any at all, compared to traditional manufacturing processes. The technology is constantly improving and changing, and we expect to see the number of problems that 3D printing solves continue to grow.
How can you use a 3D printer? What kinds of things are being made? Who are your customers/what are they making?
Our M2 3D printer requires 3D modeling software to design or import the object to be printed, and convert (or slice) that design into a language the printer can understand called G-code. We use a program called Simplify3D, but we also have recommendations on our website for freeware that works great, as well.
Seeing the range of applications our customers are creating is the most exciting part! The students at Mayfield City Schools’ Excel TECC have been creating 3D printed prosthetic hands, which are functional and only cost about $12 in printing materials. It’s an incredible achievement. One of our customers is printing tailor-fit horseshoes for horses with difficult-to-treat hoof conditions. And, we have customers printing parts for drones that transport medication to remote villages in East Africa. There is a limitless range of applications, and we’re surprised daily by the innovative products people are creating.
What materials can you use to build?
Some 3D printers on the market require the use of proprietary filament, which limits options and innovation. But, we’ve worked really hard to ensure that MakerGear printers can print in a range of materials, including a variety of plastics and metal composites. The list of possibilities is constantly growing.
These materials are packaged on spools in filament form. The filament is fed into the heart and soul of the printer called the hotend. The hotend consists of a heater, thermistor and a nozzle and is capable of heating the printing material to a certain temperature and then extruding it in successive layers onto a build platform. In the case of our M2 3D printer, the build platform also is heated to allow the object to better adhere to the bed during printing.
What does it cost?
Our MakerGear M2 printer costs $1,825. A 1-kg spool of PLA plastic, which is the material we recommend people begin printing with, costs $35, but can see you through multiple projects.
Do you see any trends with the industry or technology?
We are definitely seeing more interest in the types of materials available for 3D printing. We’re constantly testing new materials on our machines and have been excited by the results of some of them, from elastics to metal composites. It opens up a whole new world of innovation.
To avoid what happened with Cleveland Indians’ Pitcher Trevor Bauer when he bought a 3D printer from you and used it to make a drone that cut his finger, what safety tips do you have for users and consumers?
If you were following the Cleveland Indians this year in the playoffs you may have heard that Trevor Bauer owns a MakerGear M2 and 3D prints parts for his drones. He explained in a press conference that he got cut while plugging in his drone when the propeller started spinning at max throttle. We are certainly glad that he was able to recover quickly, and we can assure you that his accident didn’t have anything to do with the 3D printing process.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Liz Fox, senior marketing associate, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network)
Manufacturing has always been at the forefront of change and innovation, notably in creating and implementing new measures to better serve the needs of the company and its customer base. But the rapid pace of technological growth – paired with reluctance to invest in new and/or unexplored systems – has left small- and mid-sized businesses struggling to keep up in an increasingly connected world.
However, digital marketing services can be utilized for different purposes in different industries with the ultimate goal of increasing revenue and establishing credibility. The following reasons not only address the numerous benefits of incorporating digital marketing in your overall strategy, but also how different techniques can grow your business sooner rather than later.
- Lead delivery and conversion – Lead scoring empowers companies to better track how customers are finding them. By using a marketing automation platform in conjunction with customer relationship management (CRM) software, manufacturers easily can monitor how incoming traffic gets converted to leads, followers, subscribers, and/or closed sales.
- Reduced marketing costs – Traditional media, such as print, radio, and television, harbor high rates and are, in some cases, ineffective at getting to your target market. Digital marketing not only touches a wider range of clients, but also bears better returns on investment. In fact, according to Gartner’s Digital Marketing Spend Report, 40 percent of surveyed small- and mid-sized companies claimed they saved money by using digital means of promotion.
- Level playing field – Now that digital marketing services are becoming more cost-effective, they are no longer exclusive to large, multinational corporations. Smaller companies are granted access to services and capabilities that can help them better compete in growing industries. Sales and marketing strategies as a whole also are subject to expansion, which enables manufacturers to compete on similar levels.
- Better customer interaction –In today’s world, consumers are more likely to follow or purchase from companies with a personal touch, and aspects of digital marketing allow small manufacturers to reach out to their customer base with new products and updates on the company. In particular, branching out into social media – especially Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – builds trust and credibility, which leads to substantial increases in sales and revenue.
- Enhanced identity and brand reputation – In addition to customer interaction, active social media accounts and a comprehensive website offer brand enforcement not found in traditional media. People are more likely to trust companies that have clear messaging and a substantial digital presence, as interactive elements, such as forms, buttons and feeds, can generate excellent results.
- IoT integration – Over the last decade, the Internet of Things has grown into a hot topic for manufacturers, and many companies are embracing the ideology of interconnected devices on the shop floor. Digital marketing can act as the first step to preparing you for this shift and, eventually, will play a larger role in how you streamline your business.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Karen Sating, SHRM-CP and branch/market manager at Manpower)
Tell us in 3-4 sentences what service Manpower provides and what your role is.
With offices in 80 countries, Manpower provides contingent and permanent staffing to organizations of all sizes with solutions to enhance business agility and competitiveness. Manpower helps companies manage the ever-changing talent needs in today’s world in which rapid access to the right talent is a powerful competitive advantage. With our understanding of staffing trends and our pool of highly qualified candidates, Manpower can deliver the talent, matching the right individual to the right job.
What is your experience working with manufacturers or in the trades?
For more 60 years, Manpower has developed an understanding of high-demand occupations in manufacturing. We offer proven recruitment processes to find the right candidates. Finding skilled trades workers is a major challenge for organizations in the U.S., especially workers with the knowledge and experience for a specific job. It’s also Manpower’s core competency. Manpower is staffing for project work, peak production, year-round needs, and one-person jobs with qualified workers.
What are the greatest employment challenges that manufacturers face?
We are now at a turning point in the manufacturing workforce environment in North America. There are major changes underway in the demand and supply for manufacturing workers – many driven by new technologies – that will require new strategies and tactics for both companies and employees. For the fifth consecutive year, skilled trades positions are the hardest to fill globally according to our 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey.
How is the fact of Baby Boomers aging out of the system affecting the employment landscape?
Due to the aging North American workforce and a lack of younger talent to fill the pipeline, a generational skills gap also exists in manufacturing. Because of declines in domestic manufacturing, productivity gains, and a weak economy, many companies have hired few manufacturing workers of any type during the last couple of decades. As a result, many existing employees are nearing retirement. This generational shift will lead to even greater demand for new manufacturing workers for the jobs that remain.
How do you find qualified candidates?
We use a number of methods to attract the right candidates for the right jobs. From targeted local recruiting techniques to technology-enhanced recruiting, we use a wide-ranging methodology to identify the best candidate pool. Additionally, we maintain a pool of available candidates in our proprietary database and will partner with our clients to further anticipate skills and usage patterns.
What types of manufacturing and industrial positions do you staff?
Manpower staffs all types of manufacturing positions from general laborers to skilled trades.
Is there training available to enhance their skills?
Manpower offers free training to our associates via MyPath. With the ever-changing demands, we consider training a key differentiator for our associates’ productivity, efficiency, and long term satisfaction.
- Assessment tool – We are offering a preference evaluation that allows our candidates and associates to align their likes and natural drives to jobs that match those preferences, which gives them the guidance they need to accelerate their career.
- powerYou – We provide our associates with the courses to fill any knowledge or skill gaps through this online classroom. Associates do not need to apply for this resource. They are able to easily sign up with an username and password that should occur outside of regular working hours and is non-compensable.
- Full College Tuition Coverage Program – Manpower is partnering with Western International University to offer our eligible, actively-assigned associates who apply for a Pell Grant with the opportunity to pursue a first-time associate’s or bachelor’s degree with no out-of-pocket costs.
What advice do you have for someone seeking a job in manufacturing?
Manufacturing candidates, especially those in skilled trades are in high demand. We’ve seen a rise in the number of businesses focused on training and development to fill talent gaps. We expect to see this number grow. That’s why we support companies and individuals to nurture learnability, which is the desire and ability to learn new skills to be employable for the long term.
What advice do you have for manufacturers seeking skilled employees?
As organizations report the highest talent shortage since 2007, employers look to develop their own workforces to fill in-demand roles. More employers than ever are filling talent gaps by training and developing their own people. This number has more than doubled since 2015, from one in five to more than half.
As we continue to experience a skills gap as Baby Boomers age out of the system and we struggle to replace them with skilled labor, have you considered hiring a veteran? By 2020, this will be a pool of four-million candidates, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who have the training, experience and dedication that lend themselves to careers in manufacturing.
PolymerOhio states that veterans are goal-minded, resilient, used to working in a fast-paced environment with little room for error, and critical-thinking, strategic leaders. On its website, PolymerOhio provides a list of local and national organizations that can help connect veterans with employers.
There’s even an informative program, “From military front lines to manufacturing front lines,” outlined in a 16-page PDF through The Manufacturing Institute’s website that helps veterans get factory ready and encourages business owners to hire them. General Electric also sponsors the Get Skills to Work coalition that connects manufacturers, educational institutions and veterans’ advocates in order to prepare future veterans for careers in manufacturing.
The benefit to veterans? Many opportunities are available for high-paying, challenging careers as they re-enter civilian life.
Today is Veterans Day! Thank you for your service.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Audrey Holtzman, public relations & marketing coordinator, Euclid City Schools)
The Euclid City School District secured passage of Issue 111 this week. This successful effort will allow the schools to rebuild their high school, build a new middle school, construct an Early Learning Village on the site of Forest Park Middle School, improve recreational facilities at Sparky DiBiasio Stadium and Memorial Park, and convert the Central Middle School property to a MetroPark.
Dr. Charles Smialek, Superintendent of Euclid Schools, issued the following statement:
“Thank you to our Euclid community for believing in our school district and passing Issue 111. We have secured a much brighter future for our district because of you!
We continue to have much work to do to become the district we need to be for our community and students. We will soon begin a strategic planning process to help us collaboratively lend clarity to our immediate future. In the coming weeks, we will communicate these steps and ask many of you to participate in the process. Today, however, let us celebrate a truly significant victory for Our Euclid.
We will immediately begin to prepare to rebuild our high school, construct a new middle school, shape an Early Learning Village, and improve multiple recreational outlets in our community. We will work to ensure that our efforts will improve Euclid for generations to come.”
The 7.89 mill bond issue passed by more than 1,100 votes and will result in an increase of approximately $16 per month in property taxes for the owner of a home valued at $70,000. The overall cost of the construction will be offset by a $40-million contribution from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Chris Adams MBA, Lean BB and Six Sigma BB)
Lean and Six Sigma have been methodologies I have used throughout my career, whether I knew them at that time by those names or not. Educated in Industrial and Operations Engineering “at that school up north,” The University of Michigan, and subsequently obtaining an MBA at The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, I was fortunate enough to get the strict schooling behind me and then later obtained my Lean Black Belt through the corporate Lean office of Emerson Electric in St. Louis and my Six Sigma Black Belt through Lorain County Community College via Dan Sommers who is a Six Sigma Black Belt alumni from GE Lighting.
The vast majority of my experience with Lean and Six Sigma methodologies has come through the manufacturing world. So, the first tip I would propose is to start with the Lean Journey 5S (or sometimes companies choose to use 6S to call out safety separately) if you and your organization have the wherewithal and commitment. Instituting the rigors of 5S and then maintaining are definitely a place where good standard work and an audit process pay off.
But, many an organization is too impatient to allow for the “cost” of 5S and the, sometimes, soft-cost savings to be returned. So, my second tip, Value Stream Mapping is still the way to make the current state be documented and understood as well as provide for the solid basis on which future-state Value Stream Maps can drive the profitability of an organization in the right direction.
My third tip is to use, sooner rather than later, the Value Stream Mapping process to understand back to the suppliers’ supplier and forward to the customers’ customer. I have been with organizations that have been successful in implementing and working with their suppliers and customers as a win-win in the value chain.
The fourth tip is to have a solid foundation for the process used to implement project- or process-based change. In my last two roles, I have been fortunate enough to work with organizations that were committed enough to the process of leading change that Policy Deployment (or Strategy Deployment or X-matrix) were truly practiced. An organization that waterfalls its top three to five main corporate objectives to the associate on the floor really understands what teamwork is all about.
My fifth and final tip is that, although my experience (and to this point) a significant amount of the use of Lean and Six Sigma tools have come through the manufacturing world, service industries are a hotbed where these tools can be more universally applied. In my personal experience as a volunteer at one of the most respected hospital systems in the world, we’ve learned that a process is a process and can be improved.
We talked with HGR Frequent Shopper Jason Wein of Cleveland Art about his life as an artist, his philosophy and his connection with manufacturing. If you visit HGR’s new offices located at the rear of our existing building, you will see tables, chairs, signage and decorative items that he made. Since his work is owned by famous Hollywood stars, such as Ellen DeGeneres, Gwyneth Paltrow and Steven Spielberg and is featured globally, including the Timberland store in London, we are honored to have his work in our building. If you’ve ever visited us on a Wednesday for lunch and sat at the tables with built-in stools or at the computer terminals in our customer lounge, you are sitting on and at Jason’s creations. You can see a glass bowl in our new offices that is just like the hundreds he blew for Spielberg to use as ice buckets and to give out as gifts at his parties.
When asked about how he got his start as an artist, he says, “I have dyslexia really bad. As a kid of about eight years old, I embarrassed my parents when I garbage picked bicycles and went to abandoned industrial buildings. I always had busted knuckles from working on cars, garbage picking and making furniture. My teachers told me that I wouldn’t make it in anything and were abusive, but then a high-school art teacher told me that I was talented and encouraged me to follow a career in art rather than a mechanical career. I went to Kent State University for a year but the teachers didn’t like how I was doing things; so, I went to Alaska to get inspiration from ice and water for my blown glass.”
He was born in New Jersey, lived in Cleveland since he was 10 then lived in Alaska for many years and didn’t think that he would leave, but, since his art is inspired by The Rust Belt and he wanted to raise a family, he came back to Cleveland, and here he remains. He is married with two sons: one 18 years old at Ohio University where he majors in film writing with a minor in marketing, the other 14 years old who wants to make money and may work with his uncle’s bank.
Jason shops for materials and makes everything in Cleveland then ships it to his 10,000-square-foot Los Angeles gallery to sell. He also makes pieces on commission and for architects and designers to furnish to their clients. In Cleveland, he blew an 80-foot glass chandelier and made furniture for The Metropolitan at the 9, Cleveland’s only five-star hotel.
About his inspiration, he says, “Most people don’t look at a bridge as a piece of art, but it is a perfectly balanced piece of art. It is the epitome of art. The reason I chose to do the project for HGR is because I walk in HGR the way people walk in parks to get inspired by trees. I get inspired by machines. I’ll see a machine that three people spent their lives behind. Their initials are carved into it. You can see their fingerprints and wear marks on the seat. These machines tell stories. The people who made and worked at the machines are artists and never got recognition for building our country. Those machines cost more than a house, and factories had 50 machines in one room. Now, one person can operate several CNCs and take over a whole factory of people. In a time where we have time, we don’t have time anymore with cell phones and computers. People spent their lifetimes punching holes and slicing metal; they did one thing, and that’s all they did. Machines look like beautiful prehistoric creatures. And, there’s no place in the world like HGR where you can see 10 acres that are a sign of the past when things were made quality. The drill presses there will outlive you, but a new one is disposable.”
He started out bartending from age 19 to 22 to subsidize the art. He says his background is in garbage picking and buying junk, art and antiques. He mainly makes functional objects, such as lights, tables and shelves but, lately, has been getting into some sculptural stuff like the interior and exterior lighting, outdoor sundial and globe sculpture at One University Circle, a five-star, high-rise apartment tower in Cleveland. He uses wood, metal and glass, more natural materials, not those that are synthetic or manmade, like plastic.
He learned about HGR because he used to drive around neighborhoods in Cleveland looking for old buildings to get claw-foot bathtubs. He took 40 of them with him to Alaska. That’s how he met the HGR guys — when they worked at McKean Machinery and he was a customer. HGR CEO Brian Krueger was his salesman. When they left McKean to form HGR, Jason followed him.
I asked Jason if he is considers himself a maker or upcycler. He says, “We were doing it before it was cool. When I started in the 90s, it wasn’t cool. People didn’t want “used” stuff. In 1994, I got the marble bathroom stalls and bronze gargoyles and dragonflies from Terminal Tower and some barn stalls. I used them with stone and marble to make shoe-shine stands and clock faces. People were convinced they were antique clocks. I bought camouflage, combat boots, trench coats and Levis from the U.S. Army and from thrift stores to sell to high-end stores in New York City. The full name of my company was Cleveland Art and Antiques. I started out in hiding as an antique dealer so people didn’t think I was an upcycler.”
I asked him what he does when he’s not making art. He doesn’t. He says, “I live, breathe, think and dream it. I like to work.” He also shared his insights about manufacturing trends that affect his work. He says, “For my business, the technology we use is old and outdated. It’s handmade and handcrafted. I pay 20 percent of my employees’ wages to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. As a small business I struggle to stay afloat then large, chain hardware and home furnishing companies steal my designs and farm them out to India for $3-4/week in wages to make what I make for pennies on the dollar. It’s hard to be competitive; so, I’m always changing my designs and have to sell to the top 2 percent of the population because the stuff I make is expensive. I never wanted to be restricted to who I sell to but it’s hard to sell to a regular market with cheap imports.”
His advice to aspiring artists and makers? “For anyone who goes into the arts, people told me you’re so inspiring and that they wanted to go to school for glass or furniture making. I would tell them to go to school for business and minor in art. They need the education in the business end of selling their art. They need to be a good buyer, seller and smart manufacturer. There are so many hats you have to wear. A lot of people blow glass and are color blind and try to use color but don’t understand color. So, I do clear glass and can have every color of the rainbow in it. I understand what sells. It’s a very difficult way to make a living.”
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Justin Mobilian, HGR’s sales & marketing summer intern)
If you remember, I wrote a blog about the future of 3D printing (additive manufacturing). Hopefully my goal of sparking your interest in the industry was achieved. If not, well, I’m sorry. BUT, this post should change your mind.
If you live near Cleveland and aren’t a member of the Cleveland Public Library, you may want to change that. Back in 2014, the library added 3D printers for the public’s use. Note: Libraries offering 3D printers to the public are available nationwide. Just call your local library to see if they are available. If you’ve ever wanted to give one of these printers a shot, now is your chance.
Libraries across the country are unveiling ‘MakerSpace’ stations, which are essentially places for people to gather to learn about technology and get hands-on with the machines – 3D printers being a hot topic right now.
For those who have access to the Cleveland Public Library, their MakerSpace station provides access to 3D printers, laser cutters, music production equipment and many other tools. It is located in the lower level of the Louis Stokes Wing at 325 Superior Avenue (open Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.).
If you’re looking to pick-up a new hobby, make a trip to a MakerSpace. I haven’t been to a library since high school, but that will change in the next couple weeks! Who knows, you might find your next favorite activity AND a new friend. If you have been to a MakerSpace station before, feel free to comment below with your experience of it and where it was.