It’s hard to believe we are now into December, and before we know it, 2017 will be behind us. This year has flown by at a blistering pace, likely because we have been very busy helping our customers grow their businesses through the efforts of a great team of Precision Plus problem solvers. In my last “note” from November 10th when I recapped the previous month’s activity, I also hinted of our internal efforts to realign our org chart, work on our strategic planning, and the recognition of our outstanding team members. I can tell you that much has been done in these areas to better position us for even greater success as we head full steam into 2018.
Last week, Kevin Gable joined our team as Quality Manager to lead us into the next evolution of our Quality Management System (QMS). Kevin comes to us with a wealth of experience and knowledge, having spent the past 10 years with Ingenium Aerospace and GE Aviation Systems. To better position us going forward, Kevin and the team will be reviewing our current QMS and overhauling it for the upcoming ISO 9001-2015 certification audit next summer. At the same time, I have challenged Kevin and the group to build the system to support the additional aerospace certification, AS9100. We continue to see more and more opportunities in the aerospace sector, and the time has come to attain the certification for which we are already doing much of the work for right now. It is not well known, but Wisconsin has a strong aerospace supply chain, and working with our state agencies promoting aerospace manufacturing, we intend to build upon this foundation of excellence.
As we continue to grow our business, there comes a time when we must add talent beyond the traditional need for the highly technical, and look at our leadership team. Exactly 22 years ago, I joined my father here at Precision Plus. Over this time, we have completely restructured our business through reinvestment in equipment and our most valuable assets: our skilled craftsmen/women. Through these efforts, we have grown our annual sales by nearly 5 times, and this now requires a different management strategy. While we must clearly continue to invest in the highly skilled craftsmen/women, we must also build our leadership team for continued growth. And to help move us forward, this week we welcome to our team Rick Ehle, Vice President of Operations. His charge is to help us improve our systems and drive even greater success though focused engagement of our team members at all levels. You will continue to read about Kevin and Rick in upcoming letters, but I must also take time to recognize those who have helped make us the successful group we are today.
This month I need to recognize a team member who has been with us from the very beginning. She just marked her 35th anniversary with Precision Plus and has been a consistent contributor on so many levels. I need to thank Barb Cates for all she has done, and continues to do as she leads our Human Resources program.
Hired less than a year later in 1983, Cheryl Kirchoff is our lead customer service team member and production scheduler. After 34 years, she continues to do a remarkable job while managing inventory and production planning of over 700 part numbers for our top customers.
Tom Lankford is celebrating 27 years with us, while leading our production teams and driving success for our customers. This year, he was instrumental in ramping up our production efforts to deliver 17% more product to our customers than last year. This was no small feat, and I thank him for all he has done.
Bill Wells is entering his 12th year with us and is responsible for our sales and engineering teams. He also stepped up to act as interim quality manager during the last few months until we brought Kevin Gable on board last week.
We are grateful for our dedicated group of professionals who make the extraordinary look ordinary and easy. We know it takes great people to do great things in support of our customers, and it is important we recognize a few team members now, and more in the coming months.
As part of the org chart review and overhaul, I have been meeting with every employee to share the company’s vision, reinforce how valuable they are to the organization, and recognize their contributions with pay raises and bonuses. Our success is earned through the collective efforts of our entire team, and generous rewards should naturally flow to everyone who worked so hard to support our customers. Some people may still have the outdated perception of manufacturing in the United States being dark, dirty and dangerous, and that is pays poorly. I would suggest to those who still believe that to come by, visit our facility and meet our team, as it is anything but the stereotypes of years ago.
My org chart overhaul is not yet complete, as we continue to seek technical talent to engineer and validate processes, setup and operate both manual and CNC lathes, and advance all areas of our business. Additionally, we are looking to fill the important role of a very strong Controller. Solid experience in contract manufacturing and cost accounting are required, as well as demonstrated competencies with databases and Excel. The goal is to provide our teams with much better, actionable intelligence so that they can drive even greater results for our customers.
I am excited about the addition of both Kevin and Rick and the knowledge they bring to our team. But more importantly, I look forward to how they, with our existing team, will deliver even better results for our customer/partners in 2018. We will continue to realign our team to drive performance to even higher levels. Stay tuned for ongoing developments as we continue to invest in our future and that of our customers.
Mike Reader, President