All Posts By

Chrys Kefalas

Ecolab: A Business Model for Success

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If you want to hear how to run a company effectively, listen to Emilio Tenuta.

He is the vice president of corporate sustainability at Ecolab Inc., a St. Paul, Minnesota–based firm with 48,000 employees, $13 billion in annual sales and a record of being innovative and pro-environment—and long recognized as one of “the world’s most ethical companies.” Read More

Increasing Agility with Business Aviation

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Click Bond, Inc. is recognized as an industry pioneer and a leading supplier of advanced assembly solutions to the aerospace industry. Today the company supports global leaders across the civil and military aircraft, unmanned systems and space vehicle manufacturing sectors. Click Bond’s adhesive bonded fastener products permit installation of systems and structural attachments without drilled holes, reducing customers’ manufacturing costs and improving the maintainability and longevity of their products.

General aviation users and passionate pilots from the start, Click Bond’s leaders have leveraged an increasingly capable succession of business aircraft to deliver the company’s signature responsiveness and support to an expanding customer base effectively. Click Bond President and CEO Karl Hutter talks with Member Focus to discuss how aviation works as a value-added business tool for his company and how it can work for others in the manufacturing sector.

Member Focus: Click Bond’s products are found in a multitude of industries. How do you stay connected to your different customer networks?

Hutter: Our customer base is located across the United States, and about 25 percent of our business is with international customers, predominantly in Europe, Asia and South America. Additionally, our growth has expanded our footprint; in addition to our headquarters in Carson City, Nev., we have a design and manufacturing presence in Watertown, Conn., and a small but growing adhesives facility in Saltney, Wales.

From Carson City, we access airline service through Reno, our closest commercial airport, although the number of nonstop destinations from there are limited. Reaching our primary company and customer sites typically requires one or even two stops with commercial travel. Our team, therefore, spends an unnecessary amount of time on the road away from home and at the mercy of connecting flights and delays.

This is a major driving factor in our continuing expansion of our corporate flight operations. Our customers value our commitment to responsiveness and support; it is a source of genuine competitive advantage. Agility is one of Click Bond’s core values, and business aviation is critical to our ability to deliver it.

Member Focus: As your business has grown and changed, how has your use of business aviation changed with it?

Hutter: My father, mother and I are pilots, and early on, we utilized piston propeller aircraft—a Cessna 185 and then an Aerostar twin—for many of the company’s business trips. In the beginning, we’d have two people on a trip and fly short legs along the West Coast, calling on our customers in Los Angeles and Seattle. However, the increasing need to travel to places like Wichita, Kan.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Washington, D.C., demanded longer legs than what the Aerostar could provide practically.

We acquired the Connecticut facility, and our customer footprint continued to expand. Additionally, as programs grew in complexity, new teams of engineers and specialists needed to be in more places while staying connected to our operations in Carson City. That’s when we made the move to a Cessna Citation business jet. Today we make use of a fleet of three aircraft, including a Citation CJ3 jet for those longer coast-to-coast trips from Carson City to Watertown.

What was usually a two-stop, all-day journey—provided everything went right with connections—is now a five-hour, 15-minute nonstop flight departing right from our own backdoor. This aircraft has been a game-changer from a mission profile and economic standpoint, and the reliability for our team—and customers—is unparalleled. 

My father and I are both certified to fly the Citation, and we personally fly many of these trips, either solo or working as a crew with Jere Marble, our pilot and manager of flight operations and maintenance. He keeps the operation running smoothly and safely.

Member Focus: What has business aviation enabled your company to do?

Hutter: With our need to reach across the continent quickly and reliably, it fills the gaps commercial travel can’t, both in terms of efficiency and flexibility. The economics and payload capabilities of the larger Citation have allowed us to include an increasingly diverse group of teammates on board, representing many disciplines.

That means we can go beyond just having a limited group of senior people at a meeting or a plant visit. It allows me to expose more employees to their customers and their work. They’re not only communicating with customers over the phone or corresponding via email, but they’re also on-site, seeing the successes and the challenges firsthand. This valuable face time builds knowledge of the environments where our products are used and enhances the connection between our employees and the customers we serve.

As a company that puts customer support at the center of what we provide—from rapid turnaround of engineered solutions and prototypes to responsive on-site training and customer support—we view the capability that business aviation provides to our team as essential.

Right now we have the perfect aircraft for our mission, at least until our business drives a great need for intercontinental travel.

Member Focus: General aviation is still gaining traction in the manufacturing industry as a useful business tool. How do your customers view your use of aircraft?

Hutter: Many of our customers have roots in the aviation and aerospace industry, and they know and love that we are true aviation enthusiasts. Click Bond’s aircraft ownership and operation demonstrates that passion, but more importantly, puts us in our customers’ shoes. When we meet with Textron Aviation, for example, our contacts in engineering know we bring not only a supplier/partner perspective but also a customer perspective, and that we recognize the importance of the quality and reliability of their product to their customers, and that our own products must enable that.

Member Focus: What’s your advice for a manufacturer considering business aviation to expand its footprint?

Hutter: Definitely be thoughtful about where you are pounding in stakes—the investment in a plant, a workforce and a community is one of the strongest commitments that you will make. Ensure that the place in which you choose to land has the access to customers, material and other resources that you will need to be successful. Don’t rule out wonderful communities that may offer tremendous advantage but don’t have a robust commercial air service. That’s where business aviation proves to be a valuable asset.

A capable general aviation airport, coupled by your company’s use of business aviation, can make them not only practical places to base your operation but also unlock locations that might be the source of competitive advantage that others might never find.

 L to R: Click Bond founders Charles Hutter and Collie Hutter and President and CEO Karl Hutter in front of the company’s Citation CJ3 business jet

Small Texas-Based Boot Manufacturer Thinks Big

By | Shopfloor Main | No Comments

AUSTIN, Texas—In his 1,600-square-foot headquarters, which the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) visited during its 2017 State of Manufacturing Tour, Joshua Bingaman is a whirling dervish—designing, packaging and shipping upscale boots to as many as 150 customers per month. A former singer, shoe store owner and coffee shop proprietor, Bingaman is the founder of HELM Boots, a small but fast-growing company.

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Power of Small Profile: Getting to Know Mesa Industries

By | General, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The face of modern manufacturing continues to change in America, whether it is with General Motors elevating Mary Barra to chairman and CEO or Alicia Boler Davis to executive vice president of global manufacturing, the distinguished tenure of Denise Morrison as president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company, the achievements of this year’s Manufacturing Institute 2017 STEP Ahead Award Honorees and Emerging Leaders or the rise of more women to lead legacy family manufacturers, such as Terry Segerberg, CEO at Mesa Industries, Inc. These signs of progress point to what is achievable today in modern manufacturing for everyone.

As part of our Member Focus “Power of Small” feature for this month, I had the chance to visit with Terry—to learn more about her journey and the great Cincinnati-based company she’s navigating to long-term success. Read More

Creators Wanted! Say Hello to the Future of Manufacturing!

By | General, Shopfloor Main | One Comment

“Creators are wanted,” say many manufacturers across the United States. And the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is taking another step to populate the talent pipeline in America—with a new “Creators Wanted” video and infographic series we’re rolling out during the State of Manufacturing Tour. Over the next week, on the NAM’s digital platforms, you’ll begin to see the makings of the NAM’s new initiative to show parents and teachers, and thereby children, what modern manufacturing really looks like today (and will look like tomorrow). We’re grateful for the participation of Anheuser-Busch, Dell, Emerson, General Motors, Honda and PPG Industries, as well as BTE, Edward Marc Brands, HELM Boots, Marlin Steel and STIHL to help us get this series started.

We hope you’ll share these videos and infographics—because the numbers not only bear out the need but also the opportunity in modern manufacturing. At General Motors, for example, approximately 500 to 600 college graduates are hired every year—and, like the teammates featured in our videos, they might not be what you think of when you envision a “manufacturer.” Picture someone who can develop an app for your smart device. That’s part of an account we heard yesterday in Austin, Texas, when the tour visited GM’s IT Innovation Center—one of four such state-of-the-art operations in the United States. Overall, according to a study by the NAM’s Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, over the next decade, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled.

So parents and teachers, let’s get millennials and members of Generation Z heading toward careers in modern manufacturing—a path to not just well-paying jobs but also to career longevity and the pride, and passion, that comes with making something tangible, real for us and our world.