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Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.

Author: Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year

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Manufacturing creates economic growth and is the engine that drives the Wisconsin economy. On the Wisconsin Made, The Podcast, host Nick Novak takes you inside the vibrancy of Wisconsin manufacturers as he sits down with business leaders in the industry.This podcast is in association with the Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year program, a premiere annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program partners Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC). We remain committed to our mission of recognizing excellence in manufacturing, and as part of that continued commitment, we want to showcase the strength and resilience of Wisconsin's manufacturing community - even during a global pandemic.This podcast features stories of how traditional operations, processes and procedures may have shifted to re-envisioning manufacturing today because now more than ever, it is crucial to come together as one community to remember that manufacturing is not only the backbone, but the engine that drives this great state's economy.Tune in each week to hear from Wisconsin CEOs and executives within the manufacturing industry to learn about their challenges, opportunities and success navigating their business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will hear about their success stories and learn more about the future state of manufacturing in Wisconsin post-pandemic.
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“While the safer at home order was in place, we increased hourly pay by three dollars an hour for anybody that worked on site.” – Kelly Ingli | President & CFO | OEM Fabricators“It was a team effort and the face shields were distributed to hospitals in Phillips area, Neillsville and Woodville area.” – Tom Aaby | Vice President of Business Development | OEM FabricatorsIn our final episode of “Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” we are joined by OEM Fabricators out of Woodville, Wisconsin who is a leading contract manufacturer with three locations in the northern half of Wisconsin with facilities in Woodville, Neillsville and Phillips. They specialize in complex, medium to heavy gauge, metal fabricated components that service the rail maintenance, passenger rail, mining, construction and oil and gas industries. In this episode, we learn about how OEM implemented a $3/hour hazard pay increase for those working onsite during the safer at home order. In addition, OEM manufactured and donated 400 face shields to local hospitals and team members sewed and donated over 1,600 masks.Our guests joining us are Kelly Ingli, President & CFO and Tom Aaby, Vice President of Business Development for OEM Fabricators. Kelly is an experienced business leader and has been with OEM Fabricators since 2007. She has served in a variety of roles and most recently as Chief Financial Officer. Tom is integral to the business development of OEM and has been with the organization for nearly 30 years. Join us during this episode to learn more about their insights navigating their business through the COVID-19 pandemic and their thoughts on the future state of manufacturing in Wisconsin.In this episode we answer:Tell me a little bit about OEM Fabricators. (1:45)How did OEM respond to the pandemic in the spring of 2020? (3:10)Why did OEM implement a $3/hour hazard pay increase while the safer at home order was in place? (5:10)What were some of the major challenges you experienced last spring? (6:10)Tell me about how you were able to donate face shields and create about 1,600 masks. (7:30)How does the future look for OEM? What is your outlook for the manufacturing industry generally moving forward? (14:10)Wisconsin Made. The Podcast. – Series Recap, Closing Remarks (17:40)This concludes our series of “Wisconsin. Made. The Podcast.” We truly hope that you have enjoyed this series as we’ve heard from manufacturers across the state of Wisconsin about their challenges and opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have heard some truly amazing stories from Wisconsin employers and what their employees have done over the past year to combat COVID-19 and truly delivered.  The amount of innovation that has happened over the past year is just the beginning, manufacturing is alive and well in Wisconsin and has an extremely bright future.“Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year, a premier annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program sponsors Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
“We purchased virtual reality goggles so we could service our international and all our customers, including domestic customers, because we were limited to travel.” – Ricardo Abud | President | CMD CorporationIn this week’s episode of “Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” we feature CMD Corporation out of Appleton who focuses on delivering advanced technology in converting and packaging equipment by serving customers all around the world. During this podcast episode we learn about some of the innovative technologies that CMD implemented in order to work with the their customers virtually through the use of virtual reality goggles. This gave them the ability to communicate with their customers safely, to train and onboard them with their new equipment and easily answer questions their customers may have when adding their new equipment. In addition, we discuss how CMD dedicated a 3D printer to manufacture parts for face shields and worked with customers to adjust converting equipment originally designed to manufacturer garbage bags, for the production of protective items like aprons for health care workers.Our guest joining us is Ricardo Abud, President of CMD Corporation who is an experienced leader within the manufacturing industry with nearly 30 years of domestic and international business experience in the food, paper and capital equipment industries. Join us in this episode as we get a better understanding on how CMD Corporation utilized immerging technologies to continue their business forward during the COVID-19 pandemic which even expanded business opportunities in 2020 and lead them to increasing their workforce.In this episode we answer:Tell us a little bit about CMD Corporation and what you do? (1:40)What was your initial reaction to the government shutdowns and new regulations during the spring of 2020? (3:15)What were some of the specific things that CMD did to switch over your production to address the needs to fight the pandemic? (6:00)What is a lesson you learned from the pandemic that will help you move CMD forward? (8:20)CMD implemented new technologies to allow you to communicate with your customers, can you tell us a little bit about that? (10:35)Where do you see the manufacturing industry going beyond 2021? (16:05)Next week, in our final episode of the series, we will be joined by Kelly Ingli, President & CFO; and Tom Aaby, Vice President of Business Development of OEM Fabricators out of Woodville. We will learn about how OEM really stepped up in a big way to give back to their local communities where their three manufacturing facilities are located. Plus, we will wrap up the series by highlighting all the things we learned from these various Wisconsin manufacturing companies.If you found value in this episode or want to hear the stories from Wisconsin manufacturers, please hit that subscribe button and share it with your peers. We really want to showcase all the good news stories of how manufacturing was critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.“Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year, a premier annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program sponsors Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
“Early on, we really just made the decision to trust our people, trust our culture and we did a lot of things to try to maximize safety.” – Jim Kerlin | President & CEO | Beyond VisionIn this episode of "Wisconsin Made. The Podcast." we highlight Beyond Vision out of Milwaukee who is a non-for-profit company with the mission to enrich the lives of people who are blind through the dignity of work. They offer manufacturing, fulfillment, assembly, packaging and customer care services employees to customers including Harley-Davidson, Caterpillar and Oshkosh Defense. During this episode, we gain insights on how Beyond vision provided additional way-finding tools to allow employees with vision loss to safely navigate and social distance. Plus, we learn about how their strong culture helped them through the pandemic.Our guest joining us in this episode is Jim Kerlin, President & CEO of Beyond Vision who has a strong manufacturing, business and engineering background. He is the inventor and co-inventor of twelve patents, with several additional pending. Join us in this episode to understand how Jim has used his leadership skills to keep his employees and community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, he speaks about the opportunities available in Wisconsin for those who are visual impaired.In this episode we answer:Tell us a little bit about Beyond Vision and what 2020 was like for you? (1:50)What are some of the big things that you had to do early on in the pandemic to really respond and keep your employees safe? (3:35)Can you talk a little bit about your new emergency sick time off program? (8:10)What is the outlook for Beyond Vision in 2021? Where do you see the company going and what challenges do you see happening the rest of this year? (11:00)Where do you see manufacturing in Wisconsin going beyond 2021? Do you think it's on the upswing that it's going to continue to have a bright future? (14:00)What would your message be to your employees for the way they responded over the past year? (18:15)Next week, we will be joined by Ricardo Abud, President of CMD Corporation out of Appleton. We will learn more about the innovative changes they made within their manufacturing processes, how they were able to continue to communicate and work with their customers as travel restrictions were in place and how they were able to achieve business growth in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, we will talk a little bit about what the future holds for CMD Corporation and manufacturing in Wisconsin post-pandemic.If you found value in this episode or want to hear the stories from Wisconsin manufacturers, please hit that subscribe button and share it with your peers. We really want to showcase all the good news stories of how manufacturing was critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.“Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year, a premier annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program sponsors Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
“Beyond just the manufacturing platform, I think what we’ve learned as we service our customers was an awful lot about creativity and various ways to do things.” – Robyn Buss | Executive Vice President of Food Packaging & Technical Solutions | Ahlstrom-MunksjöIn our latest episode of “Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” we feature Ahlstrom-Munksjö based in Kaukauna, Wisconsin who is the leading global and North American manufacturer of specialty paper products. From medical tapes that keep IVs in place and base papers for face masks and gowns to fast food carryout bags and nonperishable and frozen food packaging, we learn how Ahlstrom-Munksjö kept up with demand to ensure others could respond as needed to the pandemic.Our guest joining us this week is Robyn Buss, Executive Vice President of Food Packaging & Technical Solutions of Ahlstrom-Munksjö who is a seasoned sales and marketing professional with over 25 years of experience. Robyn has a track record of leading teams, attracting top talent and developing individuals to their highest potential. Tune in to our latest episode to learn more about how Ahlstrom-Munksjö responded to the shifting demands in the medical industry and how Robyn sees the future of manufacturing in Wisconsin moving forward.In this episode we answer:Tell us a little bit about Ahlstrom-Munksjö and how you resounded to COVID-19. (2:22)How were you able to respond so quickly to the shifts in demand within the medical industry in response to the pandemic? (4:44)What did it mean to your employees to know that they were really a critical part of the COVID-19 response? (8:45)How is Ahlstrom-Munksjö planning for the rest of 2021 and beyond with all the changes happening? (11:00)Reflecting on the past year plus, do you think that this showed that the manufacturing industry is more resilient than ever and has a bright future? What’s your interpretation of the long-term plan for the manufacturing industry? (13:45)What are some solutions that you and the team at Ahlstrom-Munksjö doing to address the workforce shortage and fill the needed positions for your business? (18:20)Next week, we are excited to be joined by Jim Kerlin, President & CEO at Beyond Vision out of Milwaukee. We will share another perspective from an innovative company in Wisconsin and how they were able to continue to protect front-line workers, their employees and community.If you found value in this episode or want to hear the stories from Wisconsin manufacturers, please hit that subscribe button and share it with your peers. We really want to showcase all the good news stories of how manufacturing was critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.“Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year, a premier annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program sponsors Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
“Again, something we never would have considered in the past, but clearly something that is going to be part of a consideration going forward, so technology is a great thing and when you’re faced with still having to provide a result, we get kind of creative on how to get there.” – Rick Ruzga | President | Power Test DynamometersIn this week’s episode of “Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” we highlight Power Test Dynamometers out of Sussex, Wisconsin. They began 2020 with momentum that was created the previous year and maintained it throughout. The company completed two acquisitions, expanded its manufacturing footprint and increased its workforce while exhibiting 5% revenue growth and a 30% growth in profit. In addition, Power Test again contributed 2% of revenue to charity and supported COVID relief in other ways. Employees organized supply drives to support local organizations, continued blood drives onsite and donated meals to local hospital workers.Our guest joining us in this episode is Rick Ruzga, President of Power Test Dynamometers. Rick has a proven track record of operational excellence with the ability to synthesize engineering, quality, manufacturing, finance and customer operations in a growing business. Tune in to this episode as we learn more about the successes and challenges that the team at Power Test faced in 2020 and learn more about Rick’s thoughts on the manufacturing industry in Wisconsin moving forward.In this episode we answer:Tell us a little bit about Power Test. (1:45)Can you tell us a little bit about the revenue growth and the growth of the company over the last year? (3:05)What kind of technologies and processes did Power Test put in place to communicate internally and also to communicate externally to customers? (6:00)What were some of the initiatives Power Test took in 2020 to support the community during the pandemic? (13:00)What are you seeing for the rest of 2021? Do you see manufacturing really coming back strong following the pandemic? (15: 30)What is something you learned in 2020 that will really help drive the company forward for the next year and beyond? (18:30)In next week’s episode, we are going to be joined by Robyn Buss, Executive Vice President of Food Packaging & Technical Solutions at Ahlstrom-Munksjo. We will learn more about how they responded to COVID-19 and specifically about shifting their production processes to meet the demand for the medical industry throughout 2020 and beyond. Plus, we will gain a little insight about the type of products they have been manufacturing to help in the fight against COVID-19.If you found value in this episode or want to hear the stories from Wisconsin manufacturers, please hit that subscribe button and share it with your peers. We really want to showcase all the good news stories of how manufacturing was critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.“Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year, a premier annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program sponsors Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
"OEMs, original equipment manufacturers, starting to reconsider Asia sourcing, global supply chains, you know, where their products are coming from and that presents a huge opportunity for manufacturing in our country." - Bill Berrien | CEO | Pindel Global Precision | Founder | PRODxIn this week's episode of "Wisconsin Made. The Podcast." we highlight Pindel Global Precision and PRODx out of New Berlin and Linetec out of Wausau. These companies each experienced unique challenges in 2020 while also finding new business opportunities. Pindel Global Precision is a manufacturer of precision machined production parts and solutions. After witnessing the disrupted global supply chains and sudden increases in demand, Pindel Global Precision founded a separate owned company, Production Expediting Technologies LLC - PRODx for short. Linetec is a single-source solution for architectural finishing who continued to support their customers whose products help create and remodel critical buildings and structures throughout the pandemic.Our guests joining us for this episode are Bill Berrien, CEO of Pindel Global Precision and Founder of PRODx and Jon Close, President of Linetec. Bill is an innovative leader who runs multiple manufacturing businesses in Wisconsin while Jon is a dynamic cross-functional business executive with experience in sales, marketing and operations. Tune in to this episode as we discuss on how they navigated 2020 and how the pandemic affected global supply chains and how that's a huge opportunity for manufacturers in Wisconsin.In this episode we answer:Tell us a little bit about Pindel Global Precision and how the pandemic impacted you. (2:19)How did the disrupted global supply chains lead you to beginning a new company Production Expediting Technologies or PRODx? (5:10)What do you see moving forward with the rest of 2021 and the future of the manufacturing industry? (9:15)Tell us a little but about Linetec, what do you manufacture in Wausau? (13:45) What challenges do you anticipate still coming up as we try to navigate this new normal that we're in in the presence of COVID still? (16:35)What do you see as one of the biggest things you learned over this past year that's going to help you succeed moving forward? (20:30)In next week’s episode, we are going to be talking with Rick Ruzga, President of Power Test Dynamometers. We will learn about their ability to pivot to virtual trade shows to meet with customers, develop remote commissioning capabilities and still managed to give two percent of revenue to charity. The company also purchased meals from struggling local restaurants to donate them to hospital workers in the area.If you found value in this episode or want to hear the stories from Wisconsin manufacturers, please hit that subscribe button and share it with your peers. We really want to showcase all the good news stories of how manufacturing was critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.“Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year, a premier annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program sponsors Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
“I think most people who would be listening to this have probably interacted with one of our products at least once and I don’t know whether to say your welcome or I’m sorry depending on your opinion of the (testing) kit, but it’s obviously a critical part of what we make and that is medical swab sticks, our market that we’ve been in for over 40 years.” – Christian Herrild | Director of Growth Strategies | Teel Plastics In the third episode of “Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” we feature Teel Plastics out of Baraboo, Wisconsin. In March 2020, Teel was asked by Vice President Mike Pence’s office to increase COVID-19 test kit production. In Response, Teel adjusted its priorities to increase production of swab stick handles for test kits. Throughout the episode, we learn how the company went from producing 100 million per month to an increased capacity of 200 million per month in 2021 and what other critical PPE the company has been manufacturing in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Guest joining us for this episode is Christian Herrild, Director of Growth Strategies of Teel Plastics who is an experienced sales and marketing professional working in the plastics industry. Tune in to this episode as we discuss with Christian on how Teel Plastics ramped up production for medical swab sticks for testing kits and PPE while also experiencing business growth in 2020. In this episode we answer: Tell us about the company and what Teel Plastics does. (1:52)How did you ramp up production for the medical swab sticks for testing kits? (3:27)What does it mean to Teel, your employees and the community of Baraboo to produce these swab sticks? How has it impacted the business? (5:52)What other PPE products has Teel Plastics produced in 2020? (8:33)Where do you see the future for Teel in 2021 and beyond? (14:06)Generally, where do you see the manufacturing industry going in Wisconsin moving forward? (17:51)In next week’s episode, we are going to be talking with Bill Berrien, CEO of Pindel Global Precision and Found of PRODx. Plus, we will also hear from Jon Close, President of Linetec. We will learn more about their stories in 2020 and discuss the future of manufacturing in Wisconsin. If you found value in this episode or want to hear the stories from Wisconsin manufacturers, please hit that subscribe button and share it with your peers. We really want to showcase all the good news stories of how manufacturing was critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. “Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year, a premier annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program sponsors Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC). 
“I can say that we were probably challenged more with trying to be fast, fluid and flexible in 2020 than ever before in the history of the company.” – Tony Cavalco | CEO | Nicolet PlasticsIn the second episode of “Wisconsin Made. The Podcast.” we highlight our first manufacturing story as we feature Nicolet Plastics out of Jackson, Wisconsin. In 2020, they lived by their trademark: Fast, Fluid and Flexible. Nicolet Plastics had a customer who manufactured disposable PPE that suddenly experienced a huge increase in demand due to COVID-19. In less than two weeks, the company added a third shift and increased production from 200,000 parts per week to 600,000. Over the next six weeks, they added equipment and began running shifts 24/7 to produce 1.6 million parts per week. Our guest joining us for this episode is Tony Cavalco, CEO of Nicolet Plastics who has an extensive background in managing complex manufacturing businesses with over 30 years of experience. Tune in to this episode as we discuss with Tony on how Nicolet Plastics adapted to the market and changes to what their customers needed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The team at Nicolet Plastics really responded to the needs of their customers in a big way in 2020 and really was critical in the fight against the pandemic with manufacturing PPE for front-line workers.In this episode we answer:Who is Nicolet Plastics and how did you manage your businesses throughout COVID-19? (2:16)What did it mean to be fast, fluid and flexible in 2020 for Nicolet Plastics? (3:50) What does your production floor look like? What changes did you have to make in 2020 to keep people safe while still being able to respond to this pandemic and make critical PPE? (6:02)How did your team react when you said we are going to ramp up on manufacturing PPE? (8:16)Do you envision that this is going to be a new product (PPE) long term, or do you think you will transition back into your core products? Where do you see Nicolet Plastics going in the next year? (12:54)Do you see a continuation in the growing challenge to find workers in 2021 and beyond? (17:23)In next week’s episode, we are going to be talking with Christian Herrild, Director of Growth Strategies of Teel Plastics. We will learn about their personal story and what 2020 was like for them and how they navigated through all the challenges and even found success and opportunities moving forward. If you found value in this episode or want to hear the stories from Wisconsin manufacturers, please hit that subscribe button and share it with your peers. We really want to showcase all the good news stories of how manufacturing was critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. "Wisconsin Made. The Podcast." is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year, a premiere annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our program sponsors Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC). 
“We think that this podcast as well as just sharing these (manufacturing) stories is just an invaluable way for WMC, Baker Tilly and Michael Best again, give back to the community.” – David Krutz | Firm Managing Partner | Michael BestIn the first episode of "Wisconsin Made. The Podcast." which is brought to you by Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year (MOTY) Awards program, host Nick Novak is joined by the MOTY program partners Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) to discuss why we started this podcast and what you can expect in future episodes as we highlight Wisconsin manufacturers ability to navigate their business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our guests joining us today are Greg Sofra, Partner of Baker Tilly who specializes in providing assurance services for manufacturing and distribution clients. David Krutz, Firm Managing Partner of Michael Best who works closely with clients, lawyers, and staff to determine and implement Michael Best’s strategic growth and development plan. And finally, Kurt Bauer, President & CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce who leads combined state chamber and manufacturers’ association – which aims to make Wisconsin the most competitive state in the nation to do business. In this episode we answer: Who is Baker Tilly, Michael Best & Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce? (1:51)Why did we want to start this podcast and tell the stories of Wisconsin manufacturers? (6:05)What are you hearing from your clients/members on how they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic? (7:48) (13:49)Where do you see manufacturing going moving forward? (11:35) (15:30)What is your view of what manufactures did in 2020 and how would you explain really the resiliency they had throughout the year? (19:10)In future episodes, we are going to be talking with CEOs and different executives from the manufacturing companies in Wisconsin about their personal stories and what 2020 was like for them. How they navigated through all the challenges, changed their business models and even found success and opportunities moving forward. Please join us next week as we hear our first manufacturing story from Nicolet Plastics out of Jackson as we learn about how they shifted their processes and protocols and really stepped up to help manufacturing critical PPE for our communities and our country. If you found value in this episode or want to hear the stories from Wisconsin manufacturers, please hit that subscribe button and share it with your peers. We really want to showcase all the good news stories of how manufacturing was critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Wisconsin Made. The Podcast. features stories of how traditional operations, processes and procedures may have shifted, re-envisioning manufacturing today. Now more than ever, it is crucial to come together as one community to remember that manufacturing is not only the backbone, but the engine that drives this great state's economy. Tune in each week to hear from Wisconsin CEOs and executives within the manufacturing industry to learn about their challenges, opportunities and success navigating their business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will hear about their success stories and learn more about the future state of manufacturing in Wisconsin post-pandemic. This podcast is in association with Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year program, a premiere annual awards program celebrating excellence in manufacturing in the state of Wisconsin. Thank you to our partners of this great program: Baker Tilly, Michael Best and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC). 
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