More Nuggets From Marlin Steel

⏱ Reading Time: 4 minutes

While conducting my daily research, on the hunt for interesting and helpful information to pass on to our manufacturing readership, I came across a familiar face. This isn’t surprising to me, especially since Drew Greenblatt, President and Owner of Marlin Steel Wire Products, LLC is plenty known, well at least in manufacturing/business circles. He holds the title as Executive Board of Directors, National Association of Manufacturers, Chairman, National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation and Chairman of Regional Manufacturing Institute EmWare, a networking infrastructure technologies venture, in which he served as engineering senior VP and is kind-of the Voice of Manufacturing these days.

Despite the recession, Greenblatt’s company has been in the Green for 7 years in a row. He must be doing something right! – Actually, he’s doing a whole lot of things right. He tells IndustryWeek about the TOP 10 things:

Top 10 Things Drew Greenblatt is Doing Right

No. 1 – You really need a general!

You need one person who can bring together teams to get things done and “who’s ultimately responsible for the success or failure of an activity.”

So instead of the norm, assigning a committee to complete a project, by appointing someone in charge will evade the “trying to figure out what went wrong” or “who’s responsible?”.  (A single chain-of-command and a single focus.)

No. 2 – Expanding on the Previous

The “general” should bring together experts from throughout the company and develop cross-functional teams for a project.

With everybody, often multiple teams, looking through different parts of the prism, you have extraordinary insights and less chance that you’ll overlook an elementary element, Greenblatt explains.

Having these eyes of expertise in specific areas like production, maintenance or logistics, that sees only what they can, ensures better quality and a chance of a timelier project launch.

No. 3 – Goals

Greenblatt likes acronyms. One, in particular, he believes in setting high: BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals). Basically, this is what it looks like: set an extreme goal and watch your teams almost always get further than the average company’s.

“It’s the stretch goals that really get people juiced up,” Greenblatt adds. “It’s the stretch goals that change companies to make sure that you can prosper & thrive in a challenging economic environment.”

No. 4 – Always Improving

Let’s try to do it a little bit better tomorrow. Doing something great is fabulous, but let’s not get too heady about it and instead, just keep on improving. That’s pretty much the basis for the corporate culture at Marlin Steel. Greenblatt is a big disciple of lean manufacturing. One of the influences for him was a book by Shigeo Shingo, A Study of the Toyota Production System that, amongst other practices, outlines SMED: the acronym for single minute exchange of dies. If you’re not familiar, read up.

No. 5 – No One is Perfect

Hang tough when messing up. So, if you’re a company that operates in a high-performance environment, that means a lot of risk-taking. That means failure happens.entrepreneurs

“If they are swinging for the fences, you’ve got to cut them some slack, you have to be accommodative,” he asserts. “They have to know that you’re not going to fire them if they have a couple of strikeouts.”

No. 6 – Never Stop Learning

Branch out a little, and get out of your own little company world. I think perhaps our manufacturing readership may be a bit guilty of this. That’s why we plug away, finding and giving you information so that you can emerge from your shop floor. Check out any of these for a taste:

Building Your Business

“Everybody in America has learning institutions near them that they should collaborate with,” Greenblatt asserts, noting the symbiotic needs: “colleges and universities need real-world projects in order to get grants and further their research, while companies need help solving their biggest challenges.”

No. 7 – Hire Hip Help

Hire people to work for you that come up with awesome ideas. Greenblatt surrounds himself with creative people that innovate and find imaginative solutions.

No. 8 – Collaboration is Key

Keep these same people close to each other and to the action. Success happens when all the parts needed are co-located.

He believes, “If you have everyone close to each other and near where everything is being made, it makes it more likely that good ideas will happen. As well, if production runs into a problem, quality observes a defect or marketing has a question, they are right near each other to help each other.”

No. 9 – Pay Bonuses Timely

It’s simple really. Greenblatt has a bonus system in place that pays out every two weeks. Based on specific targets, each employee has a real ability to impact success. Very Goldilocks: The target is not so hard that it can’t be done, and not so easy that you get it every pay period, so people are very engaged. Greenblatt gets “what if we did this/that” after-hour emails – nothing you’d ever see from blue-collar workers.

He concludes, “We have entrepreneurs. We don’t have blue-collar workers.”

No. 10 – Provide the Tools for Triumph

How can you expect all this greatness from your employees if you have outdated, antiquated equipment and stale software? You can demand more if your employees have the tools to implement their new, innovative ideas.

“You have to give them those steroids.  You have to give that technology so that they can perform better,” Greenblatt asserts.

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