Matthew Figgie

Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Helping your team work together

Whether in the workplace or in sports, teamwork can produce extraordinary results. While this seems like a relatively simple task, teamwork does not happen automatically. There are a number of factors that are required for a team to develop and work cohesively and seamlessly.

At Clark-Reliance, we attempt to always use the following rules in our interactions:

Help each other be right, not wrong.

This is the underpinning of all successful teamwork. Our employees are encouraged to try to help their colleagues make a correct decision. This helps to avoid duplication of tasks. It also helps to avoid tasks being executed which are not in the best interest of the company.

Look for ways to make ideas work, not for reasons they won’t.

Make sure that you are promoting listening skills. Never dismiss an idea from someone. Listen to what someone else has to contribute and to try to help make that idea work.

If in doubt, check it out!

Don’t make negative assumptions about each other.

Simply stated — don’t engage in water cooler banter. Instead of fostering negative communication, create an environment of positive communication. If you are uncertain about something, go to the person directly and verify the facts.

Help each other win, and take pride in each other’s victories.

Celebrate your co-worker’s accomplishments. Share compliments. You will find that your enthusiasm is contagious.

Speak positively about each other and the organization.

When you have a chance (internally or externally) speak positively about your colleagues or your company. This can be at press opportunities or charitable events. Always promote the company and your colleagues.

Maintain a positive mental attitude no matter what the circumstances. 

The adage, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it,” can be applied in life and business.

There will inevitably be difficult circumstances where difficult decisions will need to be made in a decisive manner. You have to carry a positive attitude no matter the outcome of those decisions. Do everything with enthusiasm because if you have a good attitude, it will come back to you in return.

Act with initiative and courage.

This is Clark-Reliance’s “empowerment team rule.” We spend a lot of time ensuring that everyone in our organization understands that they have the right to participate and are encouraged to take the initiative to help drive positive outcomes, no matter how small they believe their idea is.

We want our employees to feel comfortable to take the initiative to do what they know is right. We want them to understand what the company is trying to accomplish.

Whatever you want, give it away.

This is troubling for some. For example if you want someone to trust you and have them respect and trust you, then you need to engender those same values in someone else.

If you want to be trusted and respected, you have to be trusted and respectful as well.  Those who trust and respect others are generally those most trusted and respected by others.

Don’t lose faith.

There are always going to be times when the rules have been stressed, strained and broken. As long as everyone keeps pushing in the same direction, it will heal itself.

Have fun.

We want everyone to have fun doing what they do. We are direct and serious about running a successful business, but we want employees to have a positive, fulfilled and enriching career, and so should you.

 

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate co-chairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

Friday, 31 May 2013 20:00

Finding character and cultural fit

It is always difficult to find the right employees, not only people with technical skills but with other traits that will ensure long-term success for your organization.

Finding the right culture “fit” in terms of character and personality traits begins with the creation of the job requirements, preliminary candidate screening and the interview process. Preparation is critical before the interview to develop a series of questions designed to reveal the key traits desired of an employee.

At Clark-Reliance, our first hiring objective is to find candidates with superior technical qualifications and skills necessary to perform the tasks of a particular position. However, a candidate must also have the personal qualifications and skills to thrive in our corporate culture.

Identifying the major character traits that allow employees to fit comfortably into your organization and excel in their work allows you to create the appropriate interview questions. At Clark-Reliance, we have identified four major character traits necessary for an employee to have so that he or she will fit into our culture.

Self-awareness and personal accountability

Our goal is to find employees who have the ability to analyze and critique themselves. We want people to take accountability for their actions and success.

Continuous improvement

We want to find employees who are constantly seeking to sharpen their skills, which means either developing skills further or seeking skills they do not currently possess.

Passion

Simply stated, we want employees who have passion for their job and for our company.

Communication

We want employees who are willing to speak their mind as well as listen to other’s thoughts and ideas. A collaborative environment makes all employees invested in the development of the company.

In order to identify these traits in potential employees you should use behavioral type questions like the ones below:

Self-awareness

  

  • What are three accomplishments or significant successes that you identify with and take great pride?

  

  • What would your present or former boss say about you? What would he or she have liked to see you do differently?

  

  • Can you tell me about a mistake you made, either work or personal, that taught you a significant lesson?

  

Continuous Improvement

 

 

  • Where have you sought to improve yourself over the last three months?

 

 

  • How would a co-worker describe you?

 

 

  • What personal needs do you think this position will satisfy?

 

 

Passion

 

 

  • What has been your toughest job? How did you handle this job?

 

 

  • Has a job ever conflicted with your thoughts of what is right or wrong? If so, how did you handle it?

 

 

  • What work situations irritate you or make you angry?

 

 

Communication

 

 

  • If you were involved in a heated discussion with a fellow co-worker, would you be more comfortable in the role of the peacemaker or decision-maker? Why?

 

 

  • Have you taken the initiative to handle something that is technically out of your area of responsibility? Why did you choose to handle the situation that way?

 

 

  • How do you deal with your boss when he or she overrides a major decision that you have made?

 

 

 

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate cochairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 20:00

An extension of your team

Every company, irrespective of size, at some point needs a variety of service professionals. The amount and experience these professionals possess can substantially add value to your business and mitigate risk.

Technical matters of law, financial audit, tax, industrial marketing and public relations are usually best handled by outside experts. Attorneys, auditors, tax experts, public relations and industrial marketing professionals have specialized knowledge and skills that you couldn’t and shouldn’t hope to duplicate.

Clark-Reliance’s business philosophy has always been that we make service professionals an extension of our team. We frequently invite them to sporting events, company dinners and other internal events. Knowing our service professionals on a personal basis and allowing them access to know our staff makes it a better and more effective partnership.

Our senior management works closely with these providers so that they can answer questions efficiently and quickly whether it’s a simple or complex business issue.

It is also good practice to formally meet with service providers on a frequent basis, even if the meeting is only an update. This practice will allow your providers to gain a better understanding of your business and provides a discussion forum that is different than just dealing with them on an as-needed basis or for “crisis interventions.”

Legal services

Whether you have in-house counsel or not, outside legal service providers are an imperative partner to help you grow and protect your business. Partnering with a reasonably sized firm allows you access to worldwide contacts, practices and procedures.

Almost everyone has four distinct reasons to use an attorney or specialized law firm, even if you do employ general counsel:

Acquisition — When your company is engaged in an acquisition, you need a highly specialized legal team to provide expertise in areas such as due diligence, negotiation, asset acquisition, purchase agreements, taxation and employment transactions.

Intellectual property — The need to safeguard your new product ideas can be ensured by a highly specialized attorney who can protect and defend your intellectual property, patents, trademarks and copyrights, both domestically and worldwide.

Product liability — The misuse and misapplication of products that have been sent into the stream of commerce may result in litigation or unjustified claims that need to be addressed by competent legal counsel.

Labor and employee issues —The multitude of employment law issues, regulation and compliance requirements and employer/employee legal issues demands a working relationship with a labor/employment legal professional.

Financial services

The changes in the United States Federal Tax Code and the continuing compliance with tax laws for federal, state and local taxation demand comprehensive and technical knowledge. Most companies also need to have audited financial data for borrowing purposes or to meet public company regulations. This highly specialized and technical knowledge can only be accessed through a tax and financial adviser.

There are four areas where a financial/tax service professional can assist any business.

Taxes — Whether you are an S-corporation, C-corporation or LLC, you need to have a tax adviser analyze the tax implications of business decisions to ensure that you are properly taking advantage of the complex tax code.

Grants and tax credits — The research tax credit remains a valuable source of support to businesses that conduct qualified research and development.

Acquisition process — During the acquisition process, it is imperative to include your financial advisers in terms of due diligence and specific issues like goodwill, inventory valuation and working capital adjustments.

Audit — Private or public, it is a good idea to have your financial data analyzed and scrubbed by experts in areas of revenue recognition, inventory valuation and off-balance-sheet transactions.

Utilizing service professionals provides a road map to avoid the pitfalls that can present significant obstacles to your business success. ?

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate cochairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

No matter what your business is, you need a quality system in place that ensures consistent, always striving for perfect results. Rather than just trying to inspect each product when it is completed, the better solution is to build upfront quality controls and assurances into the system and products. The discipline will benefit your business and your customers. When quality is a guiding principle, everybody wins and nobody has to compromise.

Clark-Reliance has adopted the ISO 9001 system from the International Organization for Standardization, the worldwide “gold” standard for quality. Other systems can also be used very effectively. In our product manufacturing, for example, we also adhere to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ internationally recognized industrial and manufacturing codes and standards for public safety.

One of the benefits of ISO standards is they aim to harmonize various industry and national standards to facilitate interoperability among products worldwide. There are a number of ways quality management systems, such as ISO standards, can benefit a business.

What is a quality management system?

ISO 9001 is based on the principle that a company will deliver quality products and services on a continuous basis if employees follow process instructions carefully and accurately. The standards call for documenting all steps required for a successful operation and implementing automated checkpoints.

When any of the feedback mechanisms flag an error, employees find the cause of the deviation, and the process instructions may be tightened or the operator retrained, if necessary.

The system ties together every part of the organization and its procedures from the time an order is taken to the time the product is built and delivered. In addition to assuring product quality, this system also allows manufacturers and customers to track the origin of materials used in production.

Management needs to be on board

With ISO 9001, all layers of leadership within the organization must fully endorse quality management. Each year, leadership should integrate quality objectives into the annual corporate goals. Then, the team can examine how to achieve those targets and what staff and equipment should be committed to support implementation.

Importance of certification

To be aligned with a system such as ISO 9001, you first need to contact an accreditation agency, which will then put you in touch with an auditing firm. The auditors come on-site for a few days to evaluate the organization’s compliance with ISO 9001 quality principles. When auditors identify shortcomings, major problems must be addressed before certification is granted and minor ones receive a one-year grace period.

To maintain compliance, certification must be renewed every three years. Even if a business is not successful in its certification audit, simply going through the evaluation and reviewing the findings can help significantly improve business discipline and adherence to quality processes and procedures.

Impact

Research continues to show that businesses that adopt a quality system, such as ISO 9001, are able to grow sales faster and retain customers better than they could otherwise or have done previously.

Whatever quality system or standards you adopt, a formalized process is necessary for your company. The more procedures and metrics you have in place, the more likely you are to be successful. As an organization, you become more “teachable,” and eventually, the processes and procedures become naturally integrated into the fabric of the business. ?

 

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate co-chairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation, and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

During a difficult economic environment or in markets with significant price pressure, sales growth is often elusive and seldom a near-term solution for increasing the profitability of a business. Cost reduction, on the other hand, can have an immediate positive effect.

When companies do a “deep dive” analysis of their cost structure, they can almost always find ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality or customer service, and that “win-win” drops right to the bottom line.

In our experience, a 30-day review of costs will yield extensive insight that can translate directly into cost reduction. We recommend a “quick and dirty analysis” led by a strong cross-functional team. We suggest two specific techniques for conducting this kind of analysis:

Ratio analysis

This is a tool used to conduct a quantitative assessment of a company’s financial statements. Ratios are evaluated by comparing each major cost category to prior years. This internal analysis can then be compared to a peer group of companies.

Ratio analysis of financial statements encourages decision-makers to look at the trend of costs versus activity levels (sales) over time. It enables you to spot trends in the business and compare current performance with the best ratios of prior years.

To get a complete picture, the ratios should be measured against peers’ ratios, as well as comparing the business’ performance over several years. We suggest paying special attention to when and how any unfavorable trends may have developed.

When looking internally, the business should evaluate at least five years (ideally, up to 10 years) of historical numbers in fundamental areas such as sales, materials and labor costs, overhead, gross profit, selling, general and administrative costs.

A macro analysis requires the team to identify the best ratio in each category. For example, if the third year has the best ratio in a category, then that ratio provides a snapshot of the “ideal” situation. Once the other best historical ratios in each category are identified, the business will then have a complete picture of what’s possible.

We recommend conducting a macro analysis not only internally but also against a peer group. The macro analysis should be done with the major cost categories on your company’s profit and loss statement.

As a next step, a micro analysis allows the business to drill down into the specific cost elements in each major category. For example, if the macro analysis category was general administrative, that area could be segmented into salary, wages, fringe benefits, supplies, travel and entertainment. These segments would then get a similar ratio analysis conducted upon them.

While this type of analysis is often laborious, it can provide very clear indicators of what can be done to “claw back” unnecessary costs.

The purpose of micro and macro ratio analysis is to take the best ratios of each cost category and build a target profit and loss statement utilizing those best ratios. You then try to get your current P&L statement to replicate those best ratios. The benefit of cost reduction is that it requires little capital cost and no working capital or debt.

Constant dollar sales per employee

This technique measures the average revenue generated by each employee of the company, and is calculated by dividing a firm’s revenue by the total number of employees.

Revenue per employee is a rough measure of how productive a particular company is utilizing its employees. In general, relatively high revenue per employee is a positive sign that suggests the company is finding ways to leverage more sales out of each of its employees.

The reason for measuring constant dollar sales is that the CDS calculation removes inflation. Labor needs vary from industry to industry and labor-intensive companies will typically have lower revenue per employee ratios than companies that require less labor.

Hence, a comparison of revenue per employee is generally most meaningful among companies within the same industry. Ultimately, increasing your constant dollar sales per employee will lead to expanding margins and improved profitability.

 

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate co-chairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation, and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

One of the most significant and enduring ways to increase business profitability is to continuously evaluate your cost structure and reduce costs where possible without sacrificing quality and customer satisfaction. You need to reduce both direct costs of producing your finished goods and business overhead.

Your profit improvement program should help you identify specific steps for cost reduction. These steps often include lowering total delivered costs with your suppliers and reviewing production processes and systems to eliminate waste.

Define material content

You want to start with an evaluation of each category of your cost of goods sold. This evaluation requires each category to be identified with the actual dollars spent and its percentage of sales.

The next step is to look at material content, which is usually your largest cost of sales category, both in actual dollars and as a percent of sales. It is not uncommon in industrial products for your material content to be between 40 and 60 percent of sales. Reducing material costs will immediately and directly benefit the bottom

line and does not require any working capital.

The next thing you need to do is define the specific material content of your products.

Work with suppliers to reduce cost

Companies should be sure to develop a global supply chain for procuring material and evaluate the suppliers for their ability to deliver on time with the required quality and lowest possible cost. Intensive Internet searches, referrals and supply chain conference seminars are all useful for finding and evaluating suppliers.

Displaying your products at supply chain open-house events can also be very effective for developing new sources of supply. Effective supply chain partners will constantly suggest product improvement and cost-reduction ideas.

Adopt an open-door policy for the supply base. You should always be willing to talk to anyone who has a potential way to help you reduce cost and improve quality.

Stratify material purchases

The ABC methodology stratifies all materials and parts purchased by a company into three groups. The A parts are the most expensive and critical to the company’s operations. They will make up 70 to 75 percent of your total material spend, but represent only 5 to 10 percent of the total number of part numbers you purchase.

B parts represent 20 percent of your material spend and about 20 percent of the total part numbers purchased. C parts represent 5 to 10 percent of your material spend but represent 70 to 75 percent of your total number of part numbers purchased. This stratification gives you and your supply base the focus to work on reducing the greatest costs.

Next you want to develop and analyze a purchase price variance report. Ask yourself what your actual spend is versus standard. What are the year-over-year changes? You should evaluate your supply chain’s delivery and quality by developing a scorecard to know how delivery and quality are influencing your total costs.

Product simplification

Another way to reduce material content and costs is product redesign or product simplification. Product simplification is the discipline of integrating the greatest performance functionality into the fewest number of parts using the most suitable and cost-effective materials and manufacturing processes.

Through product simplification, cross-functional product development teams have found that the rigorous combination of design and process innovation can significantly enhance market desirability and engineering efficiency.

Not only is it a team-building experience, but it is also a business opportunity that typically nets significant cost reduction and improved efficiency without sacrificing quality or product performance.

Scrap analysis

Make an effort to become a greener company by recycling. This can contribute to reduced total material content and increased profitability.

 

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multidivisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate co-chairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

There are a multitude of options available to you when looking to raise awareness of your company or products through marketing and advertising. Advertising is simply one of the tools that can be used in a marketing campaign. Advertising can include a company image ad or an ad that calls for action based on your marketing plan. It is a way to reach your objectives and your goals through telling your audience about what you want them to know through a controlled messaging platform.

Marketing to the industrial markets is a very specific practice and covers a huge array of diverse industries — from power generation stations to pharmaceutical manufacturing. At Clark-Reliance, we use advertising as a tool to generate a response by the target — the potential customer.

So what is an effective marketing program and how do you go about developing one? We’ve divided the process into a few steps — no answers, but a guide to help you find yours.

1. What do you want to accomplish?

Whether you are introducing a new product, expanding your present customer base or penetrating new markets, a defined goal needs to be established before you can plan your marketing program. These goals can be easily measured, such as the number of leads generated from a direct mail campaign. Or they can be more difficult to measure if you are entering a new market.

Some industrial marketing programs may take longer to see the results, as the industrial sales cycles are much longer than those in the consumer market.

2. Understand your company’s capabilities, structures and operations.

Is there a budget for the marketing program? Does the program “fit” your sales and distribution structures? Do you have the capabilities to handle or respond to the desired results? Decisions on where or how you want the customers to respond should meet your available resources whether they are direct or through any outside sales channels.

At Clark-Reliance, most of our marketing programs are designed to handle direct replies from the program recipients, qualified and then fed into the sales channels, direct or through our representative networks. As our sales resources continue to expand with our growth, the lead qualification is being transferred directly to the sales channels. All current marketing programs have been designed for this change.

3. Know your customers more than they know themselves.

There is nothing more important and valuable than field intelligence. Know how your target market or customers’ purchasing process works. You may need a marketing program to get a potential clients’ “AML” (approved manufacturers list). Customers want to be assured of performance, product life and dependability. Getting on that list is vital in obtaining the opportunity to “sell” your products.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, many companies now require an invitation for a sales appointment. Clark-Reliance designed a very successful and creative marketing program aimed at product purchasing managers and product specifiers. We sent a box of creative marketing materials, which grabbed their attention and resulted in appointments and ultimately sales. Marketing programs that are targeted can be done very economically and produce exceptional results.

4. Channels to market — the many ways to reach your customers.

The industrial market has defined options: trade magazines, paper mail, trade shows, email and phones. When your marketing plan is developed, the channel to use may be crystal clear. Make sure it is to your customers. Of course, your budget may restrict those options.

One very effective and very economical means to continually expose the industry with news of new products and application solutions is to partner with a public relations firm that specializes in these markets. They are a critical partner in marketing planning, advertising and press releases. Their experience and contacts they have developed over the years continue to make inroads beyond our expectations.

5. Plan and develop your strategy to meet your objective.

Now the fun starts. Developing your plan — the message, the target, the channel and the desired response — is not a solo task. Use your available assets in areas such as engineering, field service and sales. Make sure to include your company’s advantages and your product “differentiators” in your message.

Use anything that will help the target respond and take the desired action per your plan. Prior to finalizing the marketing program, test it. A current customer with a good relationship works well. Make sure to ask them to be critical in their critique.

6. Launch and educate.

Launching is executing your plan. Communicating to your sales channel and internal departments that will be involved with customer responses is very important. What is the plan and what is their role? All employees like to see that their company is active in promoting themselves and their products, solutions and services. Everyone wants to be on a winning team.

7. Measure performance results and evaluate.

So how did you do? Try to get some feedback — ask the target customers that did respond what prompted them to respond, and what their specific likes and dislikes were to your approach. Keep in mind the results may take time to evaluate. Some industrial products have sales cycles over a year. Use these results when planning your next marketing plan and see your sales soar.

 

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation and a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

Many people understand the phrase “improving your company” to mean reducing costs and  improving profits. Certainly every business wants to improve profits, however, there are many ideas that may not seem to have a calculated payback but definitely improve the way your teams conduct business.

Continuously evaluating your work processes and procedures in both manufacturing and office areas can improve productivity, efficiency, throughput time and save money.

The commitment to improving processes and procedures is the “proof” to your employees that how the work gets done is important. This commitment stresses the importance of the physical space in which you work, the tools your team has to work with, the speed with which the team can perform their work and the quality they can achieve.

Japanese manufacturing embraced this concept of elimination of muda, or waste (time, physical waste, scrap, etc.), and their approach popularized improvement tools such as kaizen and 5S. What you call your improvement program or how well you utilize each new-wave tool is not as important as committing your team to getting better every day.

Organizational structure

Any improvement program should always start with the way the company and individual teams are organized. The objective of this analysis is to determine how departments or teams can be streamlined or reorganized in such a way as to not only cut costs but increase effectiveness and productivity.

Appointing team leaders that can improve work flow and manage daily activities may allow your supervisors and managers more time to work on strategic positioning issues.

Once your organizational structure is redefined, make sure you evaluate this structure at least every year. Next you have to concentrate on the physical space in which the work gets done. 5S is a system designed to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace and has probably been utilized in your company in some way, shape or form.

The 5S pillars are sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain. Provide a methodology for organizing, cleaning, developing and sustaining a productive work environment. Basically, these are routines that encourage employees to reduce waste and unplanned downtime and focus on workflow.

A typical 5S implementation would result in significant optimization of workspace, including things such as shadow boards for placement of all necessary tools and equipment.

Processes and procedures

Most small companies rely on “tribal knowledge” or the collective knowledge and secrets that each team member has in his or her heads about how to get the work done. This knowledge needs to be documented, not just for any new employee’s sake but for continuity between shifts and for historical record, especially if the knowledge directly relates to producing a product.

Once this initial documentation occurs, it is important to continually modify these written procedures as new ideas and better ways of conducting the work are found.

At Clark-Reliance, we have a manufacturing engineering group that works with all departments to codify processes and procedures and update them with new approaches. We have a program called Ideas Develop Excellence Advantage and Success that recognizes and monetarily rewards employees for making a suggestion that improves the workplace or processes.

The word kaizen means “continuous improvement.” It comes from the Japanese words ? “kai” which means “change” or “to correct” and ? “zen” which means “good.”

In most cases, these are not ideas for major changes — it is a process to always be improving productivity, safety and effectiveness while reducing waste. The kaizen philosophy is to “do it better, even if it isn’t broken, because if we don’t, we can’t compete with those who do.”

Embracing continuous improvement will lead to elevating the standards and expectations of your entire workforce. You will find improved efficiency, productivity and reduced costs, but perhaps most importantly, you will experience enhanced customer service for both internal and external customers. <<

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multidivisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation and a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

The importance of keeping up with changes in business systems and technology will be more important as your business grows. If your company’s internal business system is not maintained properly and enhanced over time, you may not be able to keep up with sales and growth opportunities.

There are four main areas to consider when auditing, maintaining and updating your internal systems capabilities:

Manufacturing resource planning

This system is designed to centralize, integrate and process information for effective decision-making in scheduling, design engineering, inventory management and cost control in manufacturing.

It gives your company real-time visibility across your entire organization, enabling superior resource planning, leaner manufacturing production processes and better supply chain management.

The net benefit is making the process seamless for customers from the time the order is taken to manufacturing, shipping and order tracking. This allows you to reduce the lag time between your customers’ demand and the ability to get their orders to them. It also allows you to gain more control over your business with real-time business intelligence.

MRP’s key features include capacity management, work order control, product history tracking, product engineering and shop-floor control.

Computer-aided design

CAD involves the use of computer systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis and optimization of a design for customers. This technology is used by almost every manufacturing company today as a way to increase the productivity of the designer, improve the quality of design, improve communications through documentation and create a database for the manufacturing company.

This application allows your company to draft and easily revise engineering drawings and then build 3-D models to show customers how a product will work. It allows salespeople to show costs and representative models and products in a format that is easy to understand, manipulate and evaluate. The images can also be transferred to tablet computers such as the iPad, making such devices highly effective business development and sales tools.

Customer relationship management

By its very name, CRM is about managing customers. Manufacturers no longer simply build and market products; they now manage customers’ expectations and needs.

CRM changes the focus of manufacturing to a more customer-centric environment.

Through the investment in CRM software, businesses can gain a greater insight into manufacturing demand, changes in markets and the prediction of business trends.

Website for e-business

Modern-day business owners simply cannot ignore the Internet as a means to market and sell products. The Internet opens new markets immediately, as even the smallest stores can sell products worldwide. Besides, online stores don’t have opening and closing hours, so business owners can earn money even on off-hours.

A potentially successful website needs to be easy to browse, which requires a well-crafted, intuitive site architecture. Customers need to be able to find the products they need without wasting their time or getting frustrated. Build your e-business website to generate sales, not just amuse casual browsers.

With these four tools as the primary components of your business system, you will better understand your customers’ needs, gain a greater understanding of your market demand, and you will leverage your limited resources. This leveraging allows smaller businesses to work globally at a fraction of the cost.

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation, petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies.

Employees are a company’s greatest asset. They are the driving force behind creating new ideas, developing products and cultivating a work environment that is both profitable and enjoyable. Yet, one of the greatest challenges a company will face is hiring and retaining the right people.

Every organization wants to hire the right employee every time. A high success rate happens only when you have a workplace culture that attracts the attention of the best candidates. The key to attracting and retaining the best employees is to create an attractive but competitive compensation package, combined with a flexible, challenging work environment, opportunities for empowerment and recognition.

As difficult as it is to attract the right talent, retaining them is even more challenging because, if you’ve done the hiring job well, you have hired people with great skills, experience, aspirations and motivation. Other employers will want them too. Studies show that almost one-third of employees who have been in their current job for less than six months are already searching. So, what can you do to get the best people and keep them on the team and fully engaged?

At Clark-Reliance, we have worked tirelessly to address these issues. Our efforts have been refined over the years, and they have clearly worked — some 38 employees (18 percent of the workforce) have been with our company for more than 20 years, and 138 employees (64 percent) have been with us for at least five years. We have an annual service awards banquet to thank employees for their service to our company.

We have learned to focus on the elements that are both satisfying and motivating to our employees. These areas of focus include benefits, training, incentives, challenges and opportunities to grow. While compensation is important, it is not the sole motivator. Employees want challenges, recognition, empowerment and rewards.

Based on our experience, the following advice will help your company attract and retain your most treasured asset.

Create a culture your employees enjoy and can thrive in. A company with a well-defined strategic purpose and a clear set of business objectives, philosophies, etc., will attract, support and motivate good employees who will know what is expected of them and how to achieve their goals. At Clark-Reliance, not only do we emphasize the importance of getting the work done, we are clear on how to get the work done properly while supplying the tools to allow for success.

Be flexible. Provide a flexible work environment that allows for a healthy work/life balance. Today’s workforce is looking for flexibility on the job and balance in their life.

Give attractive benefits. Health care is one of the biggest concerns for workers today and a good health plan with a family option will be attractive to most workers. We started a “life coaching” program that helps employees set and achieve personal and professional aspirations, including health and wellness goals.

Offer training opportunities. Employees value the opportunity for personal and professional development. At Clark-Reliance, we pay for training classes, undergraduate and graduate courses, online courses, in-house training, and external seminars and conferences.

Recognize good work. Nothing motivates more than positive recognition for one’s achievements and contributions. Recognition can be given in a number of ways: e-boards with names, newsletters and special events such as employee luncheons, doughnut days, an ice cream truck on hot summer days and by our ACE award ,which is our employee recognition program.

Make work fun and rewarding: Find things that motivate your employees and help them bond with other employees. These opportunities include bowling leagues, fishing charters, outings at sporting events, etc. Clark-Reliance has an annual Halloween party for employees, a complete Thanksgiving dinner is distributed to all families, a full course Christmas luncheon and a family day at Cedar Point.

Establish a goal outside of work: Finding a charity or project to work on outside of work can enhance team building. Also, employees like to work for a company that has a “soul.”

Creating an attractive work environment, being transparent, approachable, respectful and supportive creates a place where the best employees want to work. It has valuable long-term reputational benefits as well as a significant day-to-day impact on work quality, safety and financial performance. The best people do indeed make the best employees and the best companies.

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multidivisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies.

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