December 23rd, 2020 (Elkhorn, WI) – As we enter the final weeks of an unpredictable year, I’d first like to reflect on the many Pluses of 2020 before looking forward to 2021. January was a great month for shipment and business activity in general. Our industry trade association, the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) hosted its annual Strategic Planning session in Cape Coral, FL. It was good to spend time with industry colleagues, competitors, and staff. The collective wisdom of the group has helped us navigate difficult times in the past and I was happy to contribute.
February was busy with Precision Plus’s 3rd consecutive Goldsmith Sponsorship of the Elkhorn Area School District’s Mini Maker Faire on the 16th. Our team represented the company well by sharing personal stories, engineering custom giveaways, and pulling together all the gear to showcase state of the art manufacturing right here in southeastern Wisconsin. It was great for the team to interact with so many highly engaged families from the community who came out to learn about all the amazing things in the world of “making”.
Watch our 2020 Year in Review Photo Slideshow on YouTube!
If the Maker Faire wasn’t enough for a short 29-day month, the P+ team was honored to host and collaborate with the Parker Hannifin HR team. While our companies are very different in size, everyone is challenged to find, develop, and retain talent. Through our strong partnership, we gathered to exchange best practices and help each other improve our strategies. Better together!
March was a near record sales/shipment month, even amongst the chaos of the looming pandemic. The weekend of the 7th, three of our team members, myself included, attended the PMPA National Meeting in Atlanta, GA. The biggest takeaway came from keynote speaker, Mr. Paul Akers of FastCap LLC and author of many business books, including 2 Second Lean. Paul inspired the group to action, even me as I reached out afterward to learn more about his accomplishments so that we can do better.
April flew by as we were blessed to be an essential business, proven by our shipments of ventilator parts to Clippard Instrument Laboratory, Parker Hannifin, and several other ventilator manufacturers. If you missed my April newsletter, please head to our website and give it a read, as there is so much good that happened with our team who showed true grit and pride in their work. Read Clippard’s story on the ventilator crisis by clicking here.
Early May showed great solidarity of our team by their participation in a food and monetary donation drive benefitting United Methodist Church in Delavan, WI. Precision Plus was honored to match the team’s contributions, all in memory of former Precision Plus employee, Dave Cates and in honor of the entire Cates family. May also welcomed the arrival of our new CFO Jeffrey Germanotta, met through a mutual Marquette University friend and colleague, who brings a wealth of high-level financial and M&A background.
In the very busy month of June, we welcomed COO David Strand, former president and owner of Wisconsin Oven Corporation, who brings 30+ years of manufacturing, management, and team building experience. Jeff and Dave were introduced to the team at an outdoor pig roast luncheon, safely hosted by the Executive Team geared up in PPE and team members spaced 6 feet apart. There was much to celebrate with the team and the safely social distanced event provided me the opportunity to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication while working long hours and weekends to support the ventilator efforts earlier in spring.
The summer months raced by as we brought nine bright and driven young adults to the team through the intern program here at Precision Plus. We are proud of the career exploration opportunities offered to these shining stars and are always looking to turn an internship into a full-time opportunity. This group has a vivid future ahead of them in the world of manufacturing and I’m excited to see where they land.
Monthly company-wide gatherings were slim this year due to the virus, but beautiful September weather gave way for a team breakfast meeting, where tables were spaced 6 feet apart outside in the fresh morning air. COO Dave Strand also introduced his famous “WOW” (Work of Winners) Wheel and employees had the opportunity to spin for fantastic prizes. September also presented the opportunity to bring on board a dedicated person to once again lead our education and training efforts, ensuring all team members are provided support to grow and develop their skills. Stefan Brusky grew up in a family-owned machine shop where he quickly understood the beauty of machining and made a career out of his passion. He now has the opportunity to help others achieve their true potential while sharing his knowledge acquired over the past 20+ years in the industry.
October, Manufacturing Month, was bittersweet as we were unable to welcome the larger Walworth County community into our facility for the Annual Manufacturing Day event. Fortunately, with everyone masked up and spaced out, a small meet, greet and tour with educators from the Elkhorn Area School District was coordinated. I always say, “every day is manufacturing day here at Precision Plus”, but to make this month extra special for our dedicated team, WOW Wheel Wednesdays were initiated. Check out my October newsletter for details of all the fun!
In November, a handful of team members traveled to Williams Bay High School and had the opportunity to share insight of the exciting world of advanced manufacturing. I started the conversation with students in the Industrial Tech Ed class by detailing different aspects of a manufacturing career, along with the various paths students can take to get started. Director of Education & Business Development, Stefan Brusky, shared different “earn while you learn” opportunities available to students, including our Youth Apprentice (YA) and Internship programs. Will Sanchez, former YA, shared his own journey from YA to being hired on full-time after high school graduation, to a successful career on our Client Services team.
And here we are in December, where on Friday the 4th we welcomed the arrival of 2 new state-of-the-art Star SW-20 Swiss-Type CNC lathes. This brings our 2020 investment in technology to a total of 11 Swiss type lathes (3-Star SW-20’s, 4 SW-12RII’s and 4 SR-10J’s) along with a 2nd Brother R650XI Speedio, twin pallet VMC with Nikon 4th axis tables. The 3 key additions to our management team were also accompanied by a number of talented machinists and enthusiastic support personnel throughout the year. Again, it’s all about passionate and talented people, empowered with the very best technology available. Without them, it’s only a machine wasting away.
It’s time to wrap this up! I wish you a Very Merry Christmas and know I am grateful for everyone who has contributed to the successes of this unpredictable and turbulent year – the entire solution providing Precision Plus team, our trusting and valued clients, supportive vendors and suppliers, knowledgeable industry peers and partners, my beautiful wife & family, and our dear friends. 2020 has truly proven we are indeed “better together”.
That being said, I am ready to put 2020 in the rear-view mirror. Precision Plus will be closed December 24th, 25th, 31st, and January 1st in observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Until my next letter, stay safe, enjoy the holidays with those closest to you, and let’s all look forward to the possibilities 2021 has in store.
Mike Reader, President