Precision Plus of Elkhorn, WI Celebrates MFG DAY with an Open House for the Community on October 8, 2015

Michael Reader

We want to extend a sincere “Thank You!” to everyone who helped make Precision Plus’ (PPI) 2015 Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY) Open House a success!

In all, there were forty-two guests who participated in the event on Thursday, October 8, 2015–members of our community that included educators, students, business partners, and the public at large.

The evening event, which began at 5:00 pm and concluded at 7:30 pm, centered on the manufacturing process as it is practiced at Precision Plus

Mike Reader, President and CEO of Precision Plus kicked off the evening by introducing the team, and sharing his thoughts about manufacturing. He pointed out the marked shift the industry has made over the years from a “dark, dirty and dangerous” environment, to clean, high tech industry surroundings that offer rewarding, high-paying careers to individuals who can combine their applied knowledge of STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), with the practical know-how of how things get done.

Following, several team members spoke about some of the different aspects of the operation:

  • Bill Wells, Sales and Engineering Manager, addressed the quoting and purchasing aspect of the business;
  • Rachel Cates, CAD Drafting, Engineering & Quality Assurance Support Specialist, talked about the design process, and featured a 3D design of a component;
  • Steve Dues, Application Engineer, explained how the CAM software works, and shared a video that takes a part from a 3D print design, through the CAM software to the CNC machine;
  • Terry Mumper, Manufacturing Engineer, talked about the Tornos machines, and the importance of math for designing CAMs;
  • Tom Lankford, Production Manager, explained how to optimally schedule production on different machines, and talked about the benefits to start “getting your hands dirty early in shop classes,” in order to become successful in a machining career;
  • Dale Wittlieff, Director of Quality and Continuous Improvement, talked about how quality fits into “everything” that PPI does, and explained the specifics.
  • Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training, spoke about PPI’s education outreach, and showed the “Millennials Video” made by Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce.

Following the presentations, guests took tours of the facility, had refreshments and took home a key chain souvenir, a scaled replica of the component featured by Rachel Cates in the 3D design and by Steve Dues in the video.

We look forward to MFG DAY 2016!

Millennials in Manufacturing – Precision Plus’ Interns Featured in Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce Video

Michael Reader

Several of Elkhorn, WI’s Precision Plus’s summer college or college-bound interns were recently interviewed to get their take on working at a 21st century high tech manufacturing facility. The video was produced by Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce, Wisconsin’s Chamber of Commerce, to celebrate Wisconsin Manufacturing Month.

Here are some of the comments from the interns:

  • “You create something from a piece of bar.”
  • “You can touch and see something you drew on the computer”
  • “You get to operate machinery that’s really expensive and they trust you.”
  • “In the classroom, you learn all of the logistics, but here you actually get to do it.”
  • “You look forward to the challenges, but you know that if you get stuck, you can ask someone.”
  • “Expectations are not right. This is not a manufacturing plant from the 1800s!”
  • “You’re just not sitting down. You’re constantly moving!”

Precision Plus is proud to have both internship and apprenticeship programs that connect millennials with manufacturing, providing hands-on experience that is bound to contribute to their future and the future of our country.

For more information on Precision Plus’ internship and apprenticeship programs, please contact Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training by email, or by phone at 262-743-1700.

Precision Plus’ 360-Degree Holistic Approach to Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap

Michael Reader

Faced with the reality of a shortage of qualified individuals with high manufacturing technology skills, Precision Plus of Elkhorn, Wisconsin launched a 360-degree holistic initiative to address this deficit from all angles–or a game plan to create a pipeline of next generation machinists.

With all the attributes of a David vs. Goliath-type story, the initiative seemed futile at times. However, two years into the undertaking, the David in the story has become an amalgamated and tenacious force of educators, students, manufacturers, organizations, associations, and legislators who are bound to make a difference and close the skills gap.

The video above features a slide presentation created by Barry Butters, Director of Training and Education at Precision Plus In this presentation, Butters lays out the thirteen steps currently in place at Precision Plus which make up the “Playbook for Workforce Development.”

Please contact Barry Butters via email or phone to arrange a presentation at your facility, or to tour our plant and classrooms and learn more about this initiative.

Precision Plus Intern Matt Dowell Places 5th at SkillsUSA Nationals

Michael Reader

Precision Plus intern Matt Dowell and his team placed 5th out of 22 teams at the National SkillsUSA Competition in Kansas City, MO.

Matt and his teammates Mikaela Coose and Cecily Fico earned the a trip to the national competition by taking 1st place in Wisconsin’s SkillsUSA Engineering Technology/Design Competition in Madison on April 29-30, from six teams competing in this category. Precision Plus congratulates Matt and his teammates!

Their product, called ecoTUBE,  is an innovative medical tube designed to dispense 100% of any salve or ointment.

The national competition spanned from Monday, June 23 through Saturday, June 28, 2014. In the Engineering Technology/Design category, teams of three students demonstrated their ability to design an innovative an engineering project and present those ideas along with a display and live model. During the presentation, students were judged on their performance as a professional team, presentation of their project to a panel of judges from the engineering field, their storyboard presentation model, and the overall effect of the presentation.

Matt and his teammates developed their project while taking the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) capstone course Engineering Design and Development (EDD) at Wilmot Union H.S. Their advisor for the SkillsUSA competition was George Troupis.


Problem Origination: Team member Mikaela Coose’s dog suffers from dry-eye syndrome, which requires regular application of an ointment medication. The ointment comes in a tube, most similar to that of a toothpaste tube, but smaller in size. Because this medication is costly and a substantial amount remains in the tube after it is squeezed out, the team decided they would redesign the current not user-friendly squeezable tube design for these types of applications.


Design Statement: Patients find it increasingly difficult to utilize the full value of expensive salve medicine due to the current structure of medical tubes.

Design Objective: Design and develop an innovative medical tube that allows patients to more adequately utilize the full value of costly salve medicine.

Target Market:

  • Elderly or Individuals with Arthritis – due to the limited force needed to squeeze the medication out compared to other containers
  • Handicapped or Disabled Individuals With Limited Motor Skills
  • Anyone Looking to Save Money – The product’s low waste results in cost savings

 Description of Product Overview (As Shown On The Video Above):
The design was rendered in Autodesk Inventor, and 3-D modeled using the same software.

  • The first segment shows ecoTUBE’s assembly sequence
    • The spring moves left into the far left component
    • The assembly moves from left to right, snapping the left most pieces together
    • The plunger gets screwed on
    • An O-ring is added to seal the assembly
    • The product is placed in the tube
    • The sub assembly from before gets snapped into the tube
    • The cap gets placed on it.
  • The second segment shows an working model of ecoTUBE
  • The third segment demonstrates the child lock on the bottom of it. Initially it just spins, but once pushed in, it twists the entire unit

Note: There is also a model that does not include the child lock, and is geared for over-the-counter products such as sunscreen, toothpaste, etc. The team included a child lock on the original design presented, as their target market was medical-type applications.

Personal Project Roles Of The Team Members:

Matthew Dowell – Headed up the CAD modeling and prototype building

Mikaela Coose – Presentation materials such as the PowerPoint and Storyboard

Cecily Fico – Much of the documentation such as the design brief and made the label


This was not Wilmot’s first trip to Kansas City, as Mikaela Coose (past Senior) and Matt Dowell (past Junior), made their second trip along with new member Cecily Fico (past Sophomore) to the 50th SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. Having placed 14th in last year’s competition in the Engineering Technology/Design category, Coose and Dowell learned what it would really take to bring their presentation to the next level.

With Fico on board, the Wilmot team devoted most of their free time throughout the school year to work on their ecoTUBE – coined for its economical and ecofriendly qualities – an innovative medical tube designed to dispense 100% of any salve, such as medicine gels, toothpaste or sunscreen lotion.

During the week of June 22 -27, 2014, Coose, Dowell, and Fico had the opportunity to demonstrate and explain their creative idea to each of the judges in personal interviews as well as to the public. They also took on a spontaneous team problem-solving problem, involving building a roller coaster for a marble out of provided materials. The team ended the competition week with a professional presentation of their product. Wilmot came very close to medaling at the Awards Night, but were completely thrilled to find out the team notably placed 5th in the Nation.

Although Coose will be moving on to study engineering at Olivet Nazarene University, Dowell and Fico have a promising future as they look forward to using the priceless experience they have gained to improve and eventually compete at the next SkillsUSA Conference in 2015. Dowell is looking to a future of becoming a mechanical engineer, and Fico desires to be a civil or architectural engineer.

Veterans Are Key to Our Country’s Future Success

Michael Reader

1918. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice between the Allied Nations and Germany came into effect, ending WWI. Exactly a year later, President Wilson proclaimed that November 11th should be proclaimed as “Veterans Day” from that day on.

In reality, counting from the Revolutionary War that spanned from 1775 to 1783, there have been more than one hundred wars in which the U.S. has been involved, meaning that there have been more than 100 wars from which there are veterans.

Precision Plus has always been aware of the sacrifice veterans have made for our country. Not too long ago, VetsRoll came to our attention. VetsRoll is an organization that sprouted in South Beloit, IL, with the sole mission to “provide safe ground transportation and an enjoyable experience for WWI, Korean War veterans, and all the Rosies from the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ movement” to visit the Washington, DC memorials and tributes for their service. We are losing veterans of that era at the rate of 900 to 1000 a day. VetsRoll hopes to provide these veterans with that opportunity. We, at Precision Plus, support their mission.

Decades ago, most veterans were able to incorporate back into the workforce. However, in recent years, a ‘knowledge validity shift’ has positioned many veterans in work limbo. Volunteering for their country at 18, many have not had a chance to receive a college degree. In addition, many ‘hands-on’ veterans who have worked on processes and equipment have the skills, but not the diploma that would put a stamp on their knowledge tract.

Last year, Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus, had the honor of meeting veteran Hernán Luis y Prado, who is making a difference in this arena. Hernán is the founder of “Workshops for Warriors,” an organization that helps returning veterans return to civilian life with valuable skills so needed in today’s market. Workshops for Warriors — a San Diego-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to training, certifying, and placing veterans in manufacturing careers.
“I had the privilege to tour the Workshops for Warriors facility, and meet the many men and women who have given everything for our country,” said Reader, “but who are striving to learn new technical skills in order to integrate back into the community, and make a difference.” We also support their cause.

Closer to home, we are proud that one out of three of the most recent hires at Precision Plus are U.S. Veterans. Their focus and discipline has played an integral part in their success.  Join us in recognizing:

• Anthony Anzalone , Army
• Michael Brown, Marines
• Angel Cabrera , Army
• John Espinoza, Marines
• Dave Lee, Marines
• Adam Rosseland, Army
• Neil Fleischhacker, Army
• Jim Hagar, Army
• Kevin Wilson, Navy

All the above Precision Plus family members have many character traits in common, including the honor to have served our country. Fortunately, we are blessed to have them as part of the Precision Plus Team!

Over the years, actor Gary Sinise has become a spokesperson for veterans. Recently, as an active supporter of “Get Skills to Work,” an organization that hopes to match 100,000 veterans with high skilled jobs by 2015, he supports the training of veterans to help close the current manufacturing skills gap.

At Precision Plus, we appreciate our veterans, their service for our country, and encourage and support their involvement in manufacturing. Their commitment to our country is beyond boundaries.

Brian White’s Manufacturing Story is An Inspiration for New Generations Coming Up Through the Ranks

Michael Reader

By Mike Reader
About a year ago, I had the pleasure of attending a Waukesha County Business Alliance (WCBA) Manufacturing Alliance panel discussion on workforce development issues and meeting Brian White. Brian, President of GE Energy’s Waukesha Gas Engines, was one of the panelists and he spoke frankly about manufacturing and the privilege of employing about 700 Wisconsinites.

In September of 2012, and under Brian’s leadership, GE Energy’s Waukesha Gas Engines had announced the hiring of 115 employees, following a $3.1 million investment into its engineering center.

Brian is a brilliant leader, but his story is not your typical rise-to-the-top story, because Brian didn’t go to college after graduating from high school. As a matter of fact, he didn’t know what to do with his life, until he found the opportunities that manufacturing presented to him—opportunities which he did not hesitate to pursue.
In May 2013, Dream It! Do It! Wisconsin, featured Brian in a video titled “Upward Bound – Wisconsin Manufacturing Careers.” In just a few statements, Brian tells us about his early life, and gives anyone looking into a career in manufacturing the assurance that anything is possible.

Last night, I attended another WCBA meeting, hosted by GE Energy’s Waukesha Gas Engines, which included tours of the engine assembly area and featured the Dream It! Do It! Wisconsin video featuring Brian. I was pleased to connect with Brian again. We had a very good discussion about what each was doing to address the skills gap and looked forward to collaborating in the future.