The perfect recipe for manufacturing success: Part 1/4

Matt Leban uncovers the American manufacturing companies spitting in the eye of recession, and the tried and tested techniques behind their success
 The final part of Matt Leban's four-part series

Written by Matej Matt Leban, Marketing Automation Specialist

To read the latest issue of Manufacturing Digital, click here

The news may be full of doom and gloom, but in reality a manufacturing renaissance is happening right now.

Successful companies all agree that people are their biggest asset; but there are so many costs and regulations when it comes to hiring, not to mention the time it takes to do it right.

Find, hire and keep the best employees without spending too much: Develop low-cost partnerships, and provide a fun, collaborative work environment.

Watchfire started out making time and temperature signs for banks (think running lights with incandescent bulbs) and grew to become one of the premier providers of digital signs and billboards, with more than 12,000 installations throughout the country.

Even during the economic recession, Watchfire experienced significant demand for its products which are rapidly replacing traditional signs and billboards due to their durable and eye-catching nature.

It’s also easy for clients to update the signage remotely via the internet, and the space can be shared among several advertisers. Advertisements or messages can even change on the fly according to shifting conditions, like the weather or interest rates.

With all of this growth came the need to hire the right people with the right technology skills. To meet this hiring challenge, Watchfire partners with both community colleges and state universities to recruit new talent, pays current employees multi-staged bonuses for finding new employees, and operates a nationwide recruitment drive.

MBX provides comprehensive services for OEM hardware with embedded technology, custom-engineering every hardware platform for each customer.

Company revenues grew 116 percent in 2010, and last year the company moved into a facility eight times larger than its previous location.

MBX enjoys high retention rates for its high-tech employees by encouraging collaboration. The work environments include octagon-shaped cubicles, an open floor-plan to encourage conversations, and a variety of conference/meeting rooms for different types and sizes of meetings (one even features a high table with no chairs, which results in shorter meetings).

MBX also appointed a "Fun Trio” - a cross-functional group responsible for making the workplace enjoyable, organising employee lunches and programs that build a sense of community. The company even created an employee lottery – which an employee won last month to the tune of $500.

Cross train

At Torklift International there is no such thing as a fixed job. The company makes high quality parts for recreational vehicles with a lifetime guarantee. Every position is a career with a path to a leadership role. Every employee, from a Parts-Packager up to the President, takes continual leadership and teamwork training.

MBX also cross-trains manufacturing technicians, which prevents production bottlenecks; with its technicians skilled at multiple work centers and flexible enough to be reassigned on the fly.


AllAmericanClothingCo. has created an internship program to get college students who are capable in the 'twitter age.' The result: a focus on social media campaigns that allowed them to socialise with their customers.

People are just one piece of the puzzle. Next week, I’ll discuss few examples of how to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

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