15, September 2017

Lean-Mean-Manufacturing — South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa Criss-Cross Kentucky

by Bill Zortman, KELO Radio

It’s pretty simple---Manufacturing for the Future can’t be viewed as rust belt like. It needs to be cool, approach those in middle school ---and work the workforce.

This was the 3rd year that I made the trip to Kentucky – with South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology.

Those that think it’s play time for those with manufacturing interests – and even this host are sadly short on what it’s all about.

I walk more steps – see more businesses --- learn more information in 3 ½ days than any time of the year.

The dedication I see from those 28 or 30 people attending from the Dakotas, and this year Minnesota and Iowa --- is amazing.

They’ll jump on a bus early morning – cross the state – this year with remnants of Hurricane Irma making this Commonwealth of Kentucky feel like a rainy Ireland that I was able to see in June of this year.

The leadership of South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology along with Impact Dakota set up a tight schedule – with stops at UPS, Toyota, Woodford Reserve – a Kentucky Community College that has the latest approach to apprenticeships and a full schedule of working and being educated in their same building.

They only have 73 students --- but those 73 are the guinea pigs of the future ---

When you go through Toyota---you realize what the Japanese did for not only the hills of Kentucky and their workforce – but the rest of us that go along to study.

Mike Hoseus – who recently put on sessions in both Sioux Falls and north—was our tour guide. He served as Manager of the Toyota Plant – and answered some tough questions from those on the bus – at the banquet—and from this guy who still asks why lean and mean works even when you are paying $12 to $14 dollars an hour – and those next to you are starting at $18 and $20 in a Ford Plant – and Louisville is looking to steal their dedicated employees.

Is it a dying business? In some places yes ---- but these manufacturing scientists are looking for ways to improve their businesses.

One company RMS Roller Grinder—brought six on the trip. They were on the bus early –and talking late night about what they could do to improve their organization with the things they learn.

Three of the members Thursday – were diverted to their brewery interest in Kentucky. While there were rumors they brought back samples..none of the three ever proved it to me.

In our hour long show – you’ll hear from Hoseus—about why he does this trip with those in the Dakotas (yes there is always money involved) but he has a passion – and he shares it – and what it would be like if there was not support for those in the Dakotas and neighboring states to grow the businesses and move forward.

Stacey Dykstra is our tour guide for a member of our It’s YOUR Business Family – Cain Ellsworth…she made the trip as they work manufacturing and agriculture – have an author in their business family in Sheldon Iowa and Sioux Falls --- and just wanted to get her hands dirty looking at what the manufacturers were looking at.

Today – Stacey shares with me her thoughts and everything that it means to her.

We’ll talk with Tom Quackenbush---Plant Manager for Daktronics in Redwood Falls. He was a little reserve when we started the 4 days – but was pushing the envelope with great questions before we finished at 4PM Thursday.

Tony Richards is CEO and President for IMPACT Dakota ---based in North Dakota. Tony – like many around the country was called into a conference call as funding for many of the Manufacturing Organizations like his and the one in South Dakota – was facing a legislative road block. I listened in on the conference call --- and heard the frustration --- with the hard work that Manufacturing Organizations do --- and the need to continue to help manufacturers, employees and communities.

Tony addresses the question what if there wasn’t support for manufacturers to learn. Plus you’ll meet Angela Koppen – Steffes in North Dakota. She has her head on straight – and you’ll see what she learned on the trip and how it will one day help her to work with her families business.

We’ll talk about upcoming events – including the Summit--- and perhaps even put together some meetings with the Dakotas with Tech Schools, Lawmakers and manufacturers.

Yes we’ll check the commodities--- and Stacey will share what she learned.

I may get a word in edgewise as well.

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