This year has brought unprecedented challenges to West Michigan’s manufacturers. From closures in the spring and pivoting to the production of essential supplies, to restarting operations and adjusting to the “new normal”, local manufacturers are in a state of flux. It can be difficult to know where to go from here, particularly when the future is uncertain.
The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center – West (The Center-West) has several decades of experience providing personalized consulting services to small and mid-sized manufacturers, oftentimes guiding them through various crises. This work has ensured our region’s manufacturers remain strong and globally competitive.
When facing tumultuous circumstances, many businesses find themselves in survival mode and feel they’re on an island. This is where The Center-West can help. The team has identified several common challenges resulting from the pandemic and created custom solutions to navigate them successfully.
One of those companies was Jireh Metal Products, a local family-owned business who is a direct supplier to OEMs and other Tier 1 suppliers. The pandemic and associated Executive Orders meant Jireh Metal could only fulfill essential business, which resulted in declining sales. They immediately recognized the need for assistance and contacted The Center-West.
The Center-West introduced Jireh Metal to the PIVOT 2020 Toolkit, which allowed them to outline their industry’s challenges and develop scenarios which impacted how they responded to situations as they became reality. They also relied on their membership in The Right Place | The Center-West Manufacturer’s Council to develop relationships with other manufacturers and share best practices.
The results speak for themselves: Jireh Metal has done what they needed to do to keep their people safe at work and retain key talent while also growing into new markets. As business is rebounding, they are hiring. Josh Bischoff, Jireh Metal’s Director of Operations and Strategy, credits The Center-West’s support for their success. “Through our engagement, we have been able to improve many areas of our operation. With support, we outlined our industry challenges and developed multiple scenarios that would allow us options as we monitored the business and industry. Many of those scenarios then became reality, which we navigated with more confidence and awareness through the focused sessions and discussions within our team.”
Jireh Metal’s approach to tackling pandemic-related challenges allowed them to weather the storm, while many local manufacturers are still working on similar issues. If your company is facing any of the common challenges below, The Center-West team can guide you forward.
Challenge 1: Difficulty planning for an uncertain future
During this time of uncertainty it’s difficult to plan past today, let alone prepare for the next opportunity. That’s why The Center-West developed the PIVOT 2020 Tool Kit, designed to offer methodical scenario planning and explore options to deploy limited resources. The team is also offering Post COVID-19 Operational Planning, which includes operational development or review, workplace evaluation, and risk assessment.
Challenge 2: Declining sales
Today, perhaps more than ever, small to mid-sized manufacturers are faced with cashflow management challenges. The Cash Flow Analysis Tool evaluates payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable with concise data and not emotion. This helps all stakeholders have shared investment and easily see how the forecast affects them.
Challenge 3: Lack of leadership development
The recent crises have been a pressure-test for leadership and culture as new values and perceptions form. Several user groups have been created to develop leaders and increase manufacturing competitiveness. Join industry peers in learning best practices – and how to avoid costly mistakes. There are numerous user groups to fit your needs, including a Mid-level Manager Group, Plant Floor Manager Group, Shop Floor Lean, and more.
While these are some of the common challenges local manufacturers are facing, it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. The Center-West is here to offer personalized guidance for any trial you may be facing. Contact us at [email protected] or visit our website to get your manufacturing operations back on track.