EECO Asks Why Podcast

096. Idea - Manufacturing Recipe for Differentiation

April 01, 2021 Electrical Equipment Company Season 4
EECO Asks Why Podcast
096. Idea - Manufacturing Recipe for Differentiation
Chapters
EECO Asks Why Podcast
096. Idea - Manufacturing Recipe for Differentiation
Apr 01, 2021 Season 4
Electrical Equipment Company

Paul Van Metre is the Co-Founder of ProShop ERP and offers insight to areas that make a significant impact for those supporting industries.  Paul specializes in helping machine and fabrication shops grow and support the changing market needs around them.  Many of these businesses begin through the industry knowledge that the owners themselves have and bring to the table.  Scaling that is where it can get tricky, and Paul unpacks many areas to consider to get past this headwind and onto the road of success.

He speaks to what indicators and data are important for businesses to understand and how to use that information to make better decisions in the future.  Tying areas such as quality, sales and customer service together can be challenging, and Paul covers areas to focus on that could move the ball down the field.  Those are areas that most shop owners aren’t trained in and creating a way to support these items are critical for future growth. 

 Think about this – how can a shop know its profitability on every job?  This is a common struggle area and in Paul’s recipe he uncovers how with the right processes and platforms in place every shop can have accurate and to the minute data available to be successful.  Helping others see how a system could improve their process and help in business growth are all areas that Paul expands upon.  

This is a thought-provoking recipe for differentiation and one that we feel could help many out there that are supporting the growing world of manufacturing.

Guest: Paul Van Metre, Co-Founder of ProSoft ERP
Host: Chris Grainger
Executive Producer: Adam Sheets
Audio/Video Editing: Andi Thrower

ProShop Resources:
LinkedIn
YouTube
Making Chips Podcast

Show Notes Transcript

Paul Van Metre is the Co-Founder of ProShop ERP and offers insight to areas that make a significant impact for those supporting industries.  Paul specializes in helping machine and fabrication shops grow and support the changing market needs around them.  Many of these businesses begin through the industry knowledge that the owners themselves have and bring to the table.  Scaling that is where it can get tricky, and Paul unpacks many areas to consider to get past this headwind and onto the road of success.

He speaks to what indicators and data are important for businesses to understand and how to use that information to make better decisions in the future.  Tying areas such as quality, sales and customer service together can be challenging, and Paul covers areas to focus on that could move the ball down the field.  Those are areas that most shop owners aren’t trained in and creating a way to support these items are critical for future growth. 

 Think about this – how can a shop know its profitability on every job?  This is a common struggle area and in Paul’s recipe he uncovers how with the right processes and platforms in place every shop can have accurate and to the minute data available to be successful.  Helping others see how a system could improve their process and help in business growth are all areas that Paul expands upon.  

This is a thought-provoking recipe for differentiation and one that we feel could help many out there that are supporting the growing world of manufacturing.

Guest: Paul Van Metre, Co-Founder of ProSoft ERP
Host: Chris Grainger
Executive Producer: Adam Sheets
Audio/Video Editing: Andi Thrower

ProShop Resources:
LinkedIn
YouTube
Making Chips Podcast

Paul: 00:00 

One thing that we decided to focus on was that just made us stand out from our competition in a little bit of a different way was we decided to focus on really being an engineering partner with our customers and give them as much value and free advice on design for manufacturability and how they can reduce the cost of their parts that we're making.

Chris: 00:27 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why a podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics, spotlights heroes that keep America running. I'm your host, Chris Grainger and on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features of benefits products that come to market. Instead, we focused on advice and insight from the top minds of industry because people and ideas will be how America remains number one in manufacturing in the world. 

So welcome to EECO Asks Why today we have an idea episode, and we're going to be talking about a manufacturing a recipe for differentiation, and we have with us Paul Van Metre, he's the co-founder of ProShop ERP. So welcome Paul. 

Paul: 01:09 

Thank you, Chris. Really appreciate being here.

Chris: 01:12 

Absolutely, man, looking forward to talking with you. How are things going for you today in Washington? 

Paul: 01:17 

It's chilly out today. It's a mid February and it's in the upper teens, which is unusual for us, but besides the cold weather, things are going great. 

Chris: 01:26 

That's great. North Carolina is not much better right now. It's raining is nasty, but that's okay. We're going to have fun today. No matter what the weather is. We were talking, getting ready for his conversation and to get us going, maybe break down. How have you seen the evolution of technology, help manufacturers meet those changing market needs?

Paul: 01:47 

That's a great question. I was thinking about that, I think in a large degree, technology is what drives the changing market needs. 3D printing is a great example, right? So 3D printing was invented, evolved over the years and now it's really become a huge part of manufacturing.

And so all these manufacturers are going out, buying 3D printers, buying hybrid machines that can 3D print and machine in the same machine. So just one little example of this technology that is actually driving. New ways to manufactured new things that are driving then the manufacturing process itself.

Cause then of course, that technology allows things to be made in different ways. Things that could never have been possible before. And then that drives the market demand to buy those machines. 

Chris: 02:31 

And I know you were specifically or with a lot of machine shops and fab shops.

I thought that was really cool. Like when I saw your solution and it really, I was like, man, I wish I'd known that guy years ago when we had our motor shop, he could have really helped us. It was a really cool solution. You have there. 

Paul: 02:46 

Thank you. 

Chris: 02:47 

So when you're talking about those machine shops, what are some common headwinds that you see those guys face that, kind of limit their ability to scale, if you will.

Paul: 02:56 

Yeah most machine shops are started by machinists or programmers or people that are craftsmen in their trade. And not a lot of them have a lot of business experience, which is not their fault. They just, they grew up, learning, machining, learning, programming, fabrication, whatever it is, welding.

And they got really good at it. And they said, you know what? I can do this better than my boss. But that means they don't have a lot of the kind of skills and knowledge that comes with owning a business. A big one that I see for a lot of companies is marketing and sales. You know not nearly enough shops are sales driven, which means that they see this crazy highs and lows and their revenue.

They have a great boom month and then the next month is really dead, which devastates their cashflow. So that's, that is tough on any business, but especially in job shop type businesses, if you don't have a steady stream, that's a huge limit to scaling and growth. Another one we see is not embracing technology to the degree that it actually differentiates you. Prime example it's never, it's probably never been easier to start a shop these days, right? You can go out and buy, a nice vertical mill for, way under a hundred thousand dollars and you can buy a five-axis mill for a little over a hundred thousand.

It's incredible and not speak of it technology but that means the barriers to entry are low, but that doesn't necessarily differentiate, buying one of those machines that everyone else has. Isn't enough to differentiate you and both put you ahead from a marketing perspective and what your capabilities are in terms of delivering solutions to clients.

So a lot of shops try to accommodate for that by just saying, we have excellent, customer support and quality and delivery. Like we'll always come through for you. That's what they say on their websites. But everyone is saying that, so it's not enough. And I'd say the last one is recruiting and growing talent.

As almost every shop owner knows it is hard to find machinists or any kind of skilled workers good welders, good fabricators. And so that, that  pool is not big enough and it's not growing fast enough because new young people are not going into the market at nearly the rate that the people that are retiring are leaving.

And again, just like bringing it, trying to find a customer, you gotta sell your shop to those potential employees, as they have a lot of places to choose from because everyone's looking. So I'd say that's another area where shops could really often use help and definitely limits their ability to scale and grow.

Chris: 05:26 

Yeah. Those are so common areas for many industries, but shops in particular for all. We're, I'm just thinking back through our old days at eco, when we had the motor shop and that recruiting piece. When you said that at the hand I still had hairs come up on the back of my neck just because I know how hard it is to find a machinist.

And we were doing a lot of manual machining primarily we tried to find people who know how to run, lays and hold those tolerances. That is a tough skill to find. And when you get it, you want to take care of them and in the whole sales piece and embracing technology, I just thought that was three great areas that you covered there.

Paul: 06:04 

Yeah, I was on a call yesterday and there was some shops in Chicago and one of them said that there are, I think something like 50,000 open openings right now for machinists in Chicago. 

Chris: 06:15 

Wow. 

Paul: 06:16 

50,000. There's not 50,000 machinists looking for a job in Chicago, I'll tell you that. So those shops are all competing to find, to get that best talent. And they really have to differentiate themselves in a way that makes those machinists, want to come work for them. And then when they get there, they need to love it right. They need to feel supported. They need to feel like they have autonomy. They need to feel like they can do good work and not every shop provides the environment for people to feel that way. 

Chris: 06:45 

Yeah. Cause like you mentioned to get started. So many of these shop owners were good machinist and they don't have  that the foundations of building a business, like you mentioned, and the sales and marketing is usually the farthest thing from their mind. And it's really so important to keep that funnel in that pipeline full. 

Paul: 07:05 

Yeah. When we when we ran our shop we worked really hard on our culture. We made sure that that all the things that I just mentioned were just cornerstones in our company. And it really made a big difference.

We definitely had employees seeking us out, asking to come work for us. And so we that, and some other things like working with the local tech colleges, we always had the employees that we needed to grow, which I think was a big differentiator in how we grew so fast. And for that a lot of our competitors.

Chris: 07:34 

No doubt. Absolutely. Yeah. As we're moving through the conversation, one thing that came up and we were brainstorming together was talking about data and data that helps these businesses get better. So what are some of those data points that you see where that really helped those businesses the most? 

Paul: 07:51 

First of all, a lot of shops don't have the data. They but there's a few key ones. Job costing, the importance of that, can't be understated. It's remarkable. How many shops have no idea which jobs they make money on and which jobs they don't. So they're just, they have a gut feel, right? They say, "Oh, this job was worth three grand. And it took us five days."

So that's probably not good. Or it took one day and that sounds good. So job costing is huge capacity planning and scheduling is definitely another one that every shop fights with and deals with. When they get an, when they get an RFQ, when they get a new job, how do they know they can deliver to their customer on time?

It's really tough. Job shops are an incredibly dynamic environment, right? There's always things changing things, getting pulled in, things, getting pushed out material, not showing up tools missing, someone's out sick and they're the only one that knows how to set up that job. So just really tough environment.

And then probably the last big one would be their quality metrics. What is their first pass yield? Like how often when they go to set up a job. Is there first part? Good. And then when they're running production, are they really keeping tabs on the process? Are they monitoring that that machining process that, that every part that comes out of the inspecting it, do they know, what the variables are that might affect, whether something's going in and out of tolerance?

And so a lot of shops, don't do enough checking, I think or they do it on paper. And they don't have an easy way to aggregate that data, to look at it across the whole company. And I've even heard stories of, of an operator running parts, writing down on the sheet the results that they are checking, not realizing that the results are writing down are actually already out of tolerance, that they just misunderstood, it was a plus minus, variable dimension. And they're like, they thought it was all right, but it wasn't. And they ran all day making bad parts. Yeah, he getting that stuff dialed in can make a huge difference in profitability, and then subsequently growth of a client of the company.

Chris: 09:53 

I got to ask this because just because of my background. So this is a little bit selfish and I think our COO who may listen to this he'll smile at this. Have you worked with any motor repair shops with this type of, with your solution at ProShop? I'm sorry. 

Paul: 10:08 

No worries.  We have not worked with any motor repair shops.

Chris: 10:12 

The reason I'm asking everything you're talking about or were areas that were important to us, that we had job costing. I remember the conversations, how do we know how much money we made on a job? And we had to, we built a system to manage the call structure and we ended up doing a home grown system, but I can only imagine so many shops out there that are asking that same question about what jobs do I make money on and what jobs do I not and how, where do I sit?

Like right now in the middle of this job? How much time do I have left? And are we profitable? Are we ahead of schedule or not? And there's just so many things. And that scheduling piece is so huge too, because you're right. If you've never been in a shop environment, you don't know how dynamic it is. It's moving fast. 

Paul: 11:00 

It's one of the hardest kind of businesses to run this bar none in the world. It is incredibly difficult, which is why it really underscores, someone that is a brilliant machinist programmer. And they're like, I can do this on my own and they get into it and they realize they're just up to their head and stuff that they're not good at  and they passionately care and they try really hard, but it's tough. It's really tough. It really is. 

Chris: 11:24 

And the quality piece you're talking about. That was that's big. That stands out to me. We had to build just, we just hard coded in some tolerances. And so we were doing simple stuff, bearing fits and things like that, but knowing what those bearing fits are and making sure their fits are right. And as we're measuring them and things like that quality piece is so important. When you're looking at the data that's out there, because we would have data. From our machining, but as well as from some of our testing.

So it's the data that the shops are using is it just segmented and you're saying is we didn't, we need to centralize it. Is that kind of what I'm hearing here? 

Paul: 12:01 

Yeah. If you don't have it at all, you need to collect it. You need to get some system to you to create it and use it. Yeah, there's a lot of shops. Like I said, that don't have job costing. And that could be for a number of reasons. They either just don't have a system that can generate it, or they have a system that theoretically generates it, but it's so cumbersome that they don't actually use it. I've heard that story countless times. We're using this other software. Yeah. It has job costing, but it doesn't work quite well enough. And it's so much work to get the numbers out that we don't end up doing it because we're so busy, the job ships we're straight onto the next one.

We don't even have time to look. 

Chris: 12:36 

Yeah. We'll figure it out later. 

Paul: 12:37 

But but those that do have it often have it, like you said, very segmented. They have their main ERP system that gives them hopefully job costing. But they, they, it doesn't have any real quality functions, for example.

So then they buy some other software to manage their inspection reports, or they're just doing it on paper. And that's very segmented, it's sitting in a filing cabinet and you don't know it's there unless you pull out the cabinet and look And again, it's just, it's a ton of overhead costs to manage different data and copy and paste and put it in spreadsheets from paper that someone on the floor collected and try to do that.

And it's just, and the challenge with that, especially in manufacturing and in job shops is that the margins are so slim because the competition is so fierce that there's just no time. There's no resources to take all that desperate data and put it into something that makes sense to try to make smart decisions. It's too big of an uphill battle. So it just doesn't often happen. 

Chris: 13:37 

So true. So true. So that , that leads us right into what we were talking about before this conversation to Paul that recipe for differentiation. So if, when you think through and trying to help some of these businesses, what are some of the core items that that you think manufacturers could take advantage of to make the largest impact in their industry?

Paul: 13:59 

We had a machine shop here in Western Washington, and there were hundreds of shops in Western Washington because Boeing is here and there's a big, it's a big aerospace area. And we had nice machines, but also to all of our competitors. So one thing that we decided to focus on was that just made us stand out from our competition in a little bit of a different way was we decided to focus on really being an engineering partner with our customers and.

And give them as much value and free advice on design for manufacturability and how they can reduce the cost of their parts that we're making. So we started by cause I'm sure every single shop out there, especially in machine shops or any shop, that's making anything, they get drawings and models from their customers and they look at those and they're like, "This is ridiculous, look at these dimensions, look at these  tolerances, look at these features." Like I can tell it doesn't need to be this hard. But they have all these engineers designing these things that have no idea, right? They've never been a machinist. They've never been a fabricator. They don't know. They got their engineering degree. They got hired into this job and they're doing the best they can. And they use this 3D CAD software that allows them to draw and tolerance anything in the world. That's all right. 

So we decided to focus on design for manufacturability. So we started simple with just a newsletter, we would take real-world parts that we were getting quotes on and we'd take snapshots of the drawing or prints off the model. And we'd write up a little article about it. And we're like, this model has this kind of feature and that's causing this part to be like 40% more costs than if they change the feature a little bit, change this radius, change this tolerance. And we just started sending those out and our customers loved it. They replied, they're like, "Oh my gosh, thank you for this." And then some of them started asking, "Hey, would you come teach us? Rather than just reading your newsletter, would you come to our company and present to our engineers?

What you're talking about?" And we're like, "Okay, sure." So we developed like a half day BFM bootcamp, came in and we would spend about four hours, presenting to their whole engineering team and they'd usually have buyers come as well and sit on it cause they don't know anything about it either.

And it turned into a really significant activity for us. And the reason that it was such a key thing for our company as a revenue generator is because those customers really started to trust us. And we also wouldn't even, we were just. We gave and gave, there was no expectations that they were going to send us the work if they send us a drawing to look out for them.

And then for some of our customers that even became, "Hey, would you come to our company on a weekly basis and have some sort of in-house office hours, where our engineers could just go talk to you or you can go talk to them at their desk and give them feedback on their designs?" And we're like, absolutely sure.

And, just cause we're going to help you on this does not necessarily mean we're going to make it for you, but it was a pretty good bet that if we were giving them feedback, they would say, "Hey, would you quote this while we're at it?" It's like, "Sure we'll quote that." Our other competitors, we're not doing that.

And that became a pretty big differentiator for us. So that's just one example of standing out above your other competitors  in a way that's just really unique and different and providing value to your customers. And then the other one is, I mentioned earlier how everyone says on their website that they have the best service and the best delivery and the best quality, but it's tough, buyers, especially that buy parts, they can smell BS a mile away.

They know that every shop out there says this. And when they come and visit you, to audit you and decide whether they're going to put you on their vendor list, they are looking for proof that you can back up your claims. I have a very good friend that was a buyer that bought parts from us and he has since retired, but we stay in contact and he's like," Paul, I can go into any shop.

And within five minutes, I know if their BSing and me are not," right? And what he's looking for are systems. And so that is another way to differentiate it. It's hard. It's a little bit hard to do it just on your website, but when you start having a conversation with a buyer, with a potential customer, you need to talk about how you guarantee the claims you make on your site.

That you have 99 plus percent delivery and quality, that you're not going to accidentally forget to order some material and realize until the job is due, that you didn't make that part. Or that your machinist on the shop floor isn't writing down a result they think is good, but it's actually bad and they've scrapped the whole lot.

And you don't realize that until you either send it to your customer because you don't have a good final inspection process or you catch it at final and it's too late. You gotta remake all the parts. The job's going to be weeks late. So because those things happen all the time.

And so proving that you have a really robust process is what gives buyers, the confidence to give you those purchase orders. They want it, they want to know that when they place the order with you, they don't need to babysit you and they don't need to worry about it. And it's just through objective evidence and proof that they're going to believe that you can deliver on.

Chris: 19:41 

Yeah. That's two great examples. The whole newsletter  idea. That's great, man. It sounds like it worked wonderful for you and it helps so many people. The second piece caught my attention when you were walking through that story, we actually built a shop evaluation guide, and we put that out on our website and we found that thing was downloaded. That was one of the most downloaded pieces of content we developed. And it wasn't really geared towards us. It was trying to help our customers. And it was for the motor shop industry specifically, but if you're going into an  electric motor shop and you want it to look for, here's some systems you need to check for, here's some areas for quality, you need to check for here's some inventory items. Just basic core competencies and that guide, it was really cool. That guide it's still out there and it's just, it's niche for that market, but it sounds very similar to the audit process you were talking through. 

Paul: 20:35 

That's really smart. I need to do one of those for machine shops. 

Chris: 20:37 

Yeah. A machine shop evaluation guide. That was a really good, I'll be glad to share that content with you as well,but along with that guide that was a really a great area to help our customers just from an experience standpoint. So do you have any areas about customer experience and how that has been impacted through this process that you'd like to share? 

Paul: 21:00 

I sure do. Yeah. Let's talk for a second about hamburgers, right? You probably visit McDonald's on occasion, as we all do. And you know that every time you go to McDonald's, that burger is going to be exactly the same as the last time; the taste and the shape and the flavor that you have come to love. So people, humans want consistency. They want to trust that when they go to do something or buy something that it's going to be the same consistent experience as they aren't, that they have gotten in the past, same thing with Disneyland, right?

That's one of the models that they've they built. So that is true in industrial manufacturing as well. Those buyers, those customers want to have a very consistent and personalized experience that is friction-free. And gives them and makes them feel like they are your most important customer and you're spending all your effort, making sure you get everything right for them. And the way that's done is through systems. You cannot just tell your employees, "Hey, just be really nice and kind to this customer and they'll love us," right? They have so many little idiosyncrasies and things that they need and want, if they're an aerospace customer they're going to always ask you for NAS 9102 report, right?

That's the aerospace standard for an inspection report. And so you gotta make sure you deliver that format of that report every time, if you build systems to guarantee that all of your employees and your process are going to execute per that customer's needs, that buyer is going to be happy. They're going to feel like they're getting a consistent experience from you and they will be loyal and keep ordering from you. 

Chris: 22:45 

No doubt. No doubt. And that's a great analogy, tying it back to Mcdonalds. 

It's very relatable, everyone understands.

It's so relatable, man. Absolutely. And having that consistency and I think just raising your expectations as a consumer. That, "Hey, I should be getting that from all my vendors and all the shops that I work with," and things like that. It's great stuff man. Speaking to the shops themselves and that are supporting industry, you mentioned earlier about the workforce attrition and how that can be tough. I know training's a big area for you that you have worked with in the past. So how do you see that as helping their attrition issue? 

Paul: 23:26 

So there's two big parts of this one is attracting and growing new employees, as we talked about earlier, baby boomers are retiring in droves.

There's just an amazing amount of talent and knowledge that is in the heads of these folks. And they're getting ready to, take it easy for the rest of their lives. And and there's not enough folks coming in, so we gotta you really need to put your best foot forward on your website, on the way that you recruit, the way even your social media, right? That's gotta be something that's in your mind about making your company look like an attractive place to work. And then when you do get someone they have to love it and they have to feel like you are investing in them. You are coaching them, teaching them, giving them the tools and support they need. If you have a machinist that really just has a dream to be a programmer, then support them in that. Get them some programming classes or some references or materials, if they decide that they just are, they love the quality area and they want to become the quality manager someday, then help support them in that.

It's some of the practical tools we've been doing it for years and years. It's one-on-one meetings where you and your manager sit together. One-on-one for, 15 to 30 minutes, but do it like every week or every two weeks, right? Don't wait, six months or a year to have a formal review.

And you say, you know what, I'm not happy with your performance in the last six months and then you're like, "Why didn't you tell me, I want you to be happy. I want to do good things for this company." Most employees really care about doing a good job. They want to feel like their work matters. They want to feel like they matter. Anyway, so that's really important on the practical side of training I think every shop should have a formalized process for creating training or, having training that they get delivered, having a process for which employees need that training. So you even know if you come in and you're an entry operator, you need to know these basic things, we need to train you up on how to do those. And then if you want to become that programmer,  here's the other things you need to learn, or if you want to be the shift lead, before you're the programmer, right? You need to learn these additional skills, which are both technical and soft skills, right?

If you're a lead, you need to know some management stuff, you need to know how to talk to people, how to address conflict because there's always going to be conflict and you can address it in a healthy way or you can address it in a non-healthy way. So there's just a lot of really important stuff that shops should be thinking about, I believe, to build that culture well, where it really becomes like a beacon to attract talent. It's a small industry, right? People know each other, people machinists know other machinists at other shops, or they have friends in the business. And if you have just an amazing culture, it will just draw people to you and then once they come, you gotta, really make sure you're making them feel taken care of.

Chris: 26:26 

Oh no doubt. You have to be intentional. I think the biggest thing I'm hearing is just be intentional. And I actually drive to help the people themselves. I love the one-on-one advice. I think too often that goes, we don't do the reviews until HR says it's time to do the review. You know, a lot has happened. 

Paul: 26:42 

You can just Google a one-on-one one-on-one meeting form. Sometimes  they're called 0-3 for one-on-one. So there's lots of them out there. And I'm just start with a format, work on it, do it and see how it feels, evolve it. But yeah, having that personal connection and just talking about how are things going, how can I support you? Are there things that I'm doing that are bugging you? And you, if you ask that question, you have to ask it from a point of humility. You can't get mad at an employee if they say, "you know what actually bugs me when you micromanage me this way." You'd be like, "okay, I get it. I'm sorry." Let's talk about, why I feel a need to do that or why I'm doing that and let's make this better together.

Chris: 27:20 

No doubt. I just read a book, a Performance Conversations. This is about the one-on-one and how to have that. And to not be so structured, but there's, four or five questions that you always ask to really open the conversation up to get real but again, it all comes. I love that you use humility because you're right.You can't come in and firing. It's a chance to learn. It's a chance to learn, back and forth. 

Paul: 27:44 

I'm learning that myself with my teenage son. 

Chris: 27:47 

There you go. There you go. 

Paul: 27:50 

Sometimes I come in firing, but that never works. Never, ever works. 

Chris: 27:55 

I have young daughters, myself. Trust me. It's the same way with the females in my house. So that's. I know one that one area you talked about was quality and there are a lot of quality people out there in the shops and in the world, what should they be thinking about when they're hearing this conversation? How should they change their process to create more alignment in that, the overall strategy?

Paul: 28:19 

Yeah. I think one of the most important aspects about that, if they're in quality, they're trying to get everyone to work within the systems. Quality has to be like the underpinning of everything that's done. If it's not, you don't really have anything. You can deliver your parts on time or a day early all the time, but if they're not good, it doesn't matter if they were early.

One of the biggest challenges I, that we see in the quality processes or quality systems or companies is that like we talked about earlier, they are separated from the manufacturing process, right? They are in separate software. They're in separate paper documents are in separate binders. And the fact that's where it exists and it's not really connected that well to the manufacturing process. Just causes a huge amount of friction and overhead costs and redundant data movement and migration and collection. And it just it becomes in some cases, just so overwhelming that there isn't enough time to actually strategically work on quality, you're busy doing clerical stuff, filling out forms and spreadsheets rather than digging into your root cause of what's causing scrap on the floor. So that's where quality people should really be spending the majority of their time. And we've seen examples where when you go from a separate, isolated kind of quality system, that's a little bit scattered and you align it into a really seamless way into manufacturing.

You could have a quality manager free up half of their time, every single day, right? Literally I was doing four hours of work doing these things and I no longer need to do any of that work. So imagine just how effective a quality person can be if they have half of their time freed up to then do more strategic things, to dig into those root cause analysis of why they're causing scrap or have a new initiative to, go get a certification that they really should have to win some new customers. So yeah, getting that all aligned and getting rid of the waste and one of the best ways to identify this is to do a value stream map.

Look at your process really carefully, and you Google it if you haven't done that before, get a small team of people to watch jobs, go through the process, write down what all the steps are, how long it takes, what are they doing? Why are they doing it? And then really dig into where can we eliminate steps? Where can we eliminate waste? And part of doing that well is understanding waste from like the Toyota production system, lean concepts, right? A motion overproduction, scrap, a movement, those kinds of things. Those cost money your customers do not want to pay you to transcribe data from one sheet to another sheet or to put the same data in two different places. They just don't want to do that. They're not going to pay you for it. So it's not value added. So therefore it's waste. 

Chris: 31:35 

It sounds like there are several examples you just went through of potential untapped growth for some of these businesses to take advantage of, right?

Paul: 31:45 

Yeah, absolutely. I had a customer just recently, only a 20 person shop who said, you know what we just freed up so much time that we took one of our overhead staff, and in a shop of 20 people, it's mostly shop people, not that many overhead people. They're like we took this person, we completely eliminated their role and we put them into a more value added process.

In fact, they moved them into quality, in this case. They were in a completely admin position and they were able to them into quality and really focus on, improving and doing their process better. And that's a great story. Yeah. And so all these things we've been talking about, if you put them all together in this, recipe for differentiation, And have a well executed strategy versus not having a well executed strategy that is the night and day difference between major growth and not major growth.

 And it's those, the reason that I'm so passionate about this is that this manufacturing activity is the core of our entire economy, right? Let me look at the microphone in front of you and the arm. That's all made up of either machine parts or parts that were stamped or molded, or, some other process, which those machines have a bunch of machine parts in them, right? Everything that we touch, everything that we do has a foundation in manufacturing. So it as, so when a shop can thrive, when they can grow, when they can hire employees that is economic driving of growth in their local economies for their communities, for the families of those that they employ. And I don't think there's anything much more important than that for our whole country to thrive. 

Chris: 33:40 

Absolutely. And I think that was wonderful. I loved how you summarize that. I think you basically, you covered the why right there. That was wonderful. 

Paul: 33:50 

Yeah. Yeah. That is, yeah. That's certainly my why, that's certainly my why.

Chris: 33:55 

You guys are doing phenomenal job at ProShop and what we'll do for all the listeners. We'll connect you directly with Paul. We'll have links in the show notes and make it really easy for you to go to ProShop. I think you got some really good videos. I've binged a lot of your videos out there just learning your solution. So hats off to you guys. 

Paul: 34:15 

We're having a good time. We think it's important. It's yeah, it's supporting small manufacturers is is really important work. And so it's our passion. It's our privilege to work with and talk to these shops and help them do better. 

Chris: 34:29 

Absolutely. Thank you, Paul. This is this has been a fun conversation. We haven't covered this topic for sure. And it took me back to talking shop, which I enjoyed. So thanks for embellishing me there. 

Paul: 34:41 

Thank you, Chris. Yeah, you have a class act here. I really appreciate your show and all the topics you cover. It's my privilege. 

Chris: 34:48 

Thank you so much, sir. It's it flooded. It was all ours. You have a great day.

Paul: 34:52 

All right. You too. Take care.

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