By Michael Gallagher
We give a lot of tours at our headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota. The most frequently asked question during a tour is, “What’s your secret to running a successful manufacturing business?”
The question reminds me of when people ask about the secret to weight loss. “What’s your secret?” they’ll ask a friend. The answer usually has something to do with eating right and getting active. There is no magic pill; no get rich quick scheme, no software program that does all the work. We don’t mean to burst your bubble.
However! There are a few “secrets” we’ve picked up over the past 20+ years in the industry. And, yes, we’re going to share them with you. Pencils ready.
- Hire good employees. Rule #1, hire good people. This requires a vetting process that ensures you are building the best team possible. At Spectrum Aeromed, our employees are a huge strength. We’re able to have an international impact with a small, well-functioning team.
- Provide solid training. A big part of training for us at Spectrum Aeromed, is creating an atmosphere that is open to positive change. We encourage our employees to look for ways we can improve our business. We don’t believe there is a bad idea. We’ve done a lot of great things thanks to employee ideas and we continue to push them to find more.
- Never stop looking for ways to be more efficient. Don’t leave this mentality for the higher-ups. Encourage your employees to be part of this process. At Spectrum Aeromed, we empower our employees to come up with ideas that make use more efficient. We call them “Continuous Improvement Ideas” and in the last two years, we have implemented 194 of those ideas. They may involve how we ship, how we put together orders, improving the tools we are using, or updating the software – it’s what the employees come up with. It’s whatever will make their work easier and help us meet our goals.
- Streamline your processes. Don’t just look for new ways or talk about them, actually implement them! Of course not every idea can be implemented. But if your team brings up a new idea, take it into thoughtful consideration and talk about logistics of making it happen — and then, if it’s plausible, do it!
These are our Core Four, the pillars of any good business, and the key to your success. And I’ve seen it work.
In the last three years I have seen lead-time on orders cut down from 110 days to 45 days. We have become so efficient with small changes that we have doubled the capacity of our plant without adding employees. We have improved our on time delivery rate from 78% to 96%. We are always looking internally and finding ways we can be better, and that makes us stronger. When we can eliminate unnecessary steps in our process, it helps us improve and in turn helps the customer and the service they are receiving.
Everything in our company is driving toward customer satisfaction. In the process, we’ve built a team that enjoys their work and is part of our overall growth.
TL;DR: The core four secrets are hire good employees, train them well, streamline processes, and always look for ways to be more efficient.
For us here at Spectrum Aeromed, following the core four and building a successful manufacturing business allows us to produce quality equipment that can save more lives. That’s something that’s definitely worth the work.
Michael Gallagher joined Spectrum Aeromed in 2011 as Project Manager and currently serves as VP-Director of Production. In this role he leads the Production, Purchasing, Project Management, and Customer Service teams in a mission to delight our customers with world-class products and service.