Friday, November 22, 2013

Michigan Thanksgiving Traditions

Traditions are pretty important. They dictate family gatherings, create sports rivalries, inform manufacturing practices, and influence behaviors, likes and dislikes, all sorts of things. Michigan has some pretty fun Thanksgiving traditions and if you are new to the area, aren’t familiar with them or just want a nice refresher, below are some great traditions from the wealth of Michigan history.

The Thanksgiving parade has been a holiday tradition in Detroit for more than 80 years (since 1924). Local business and community leaders volunteer as the parade’s distinguished Clown Corps, doling out candy and good cheer to all parade attendees. The parade was first televised locally in 1948 and today is broadcast nationally to more than 100 million viewers.

Did you know that the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation was formed in 1982 to keep this tradition alive? The Parade Company is the marketing and operating division of the foundation and has been instrumental in organizing, fundraising, and supporting this great tradition. Also, the Parade Company has been responsible for the Red Wings victory parades (1997, 1998, 2002 & 2008) and several other area events. The Parade Company is sought out for assistance in other states and other countries for its reputation and awesome presentation of the one-of-a-kind spectacles of fantasy, spirit and enthusiasm featured in America’s Annual Thanksgiving Parade. This year’s theme is Downtown Our Town and will feature a bigger route and eight new floats. The parade will be broadcast live Thanksgiving Day on WDIV Local 4 from 9-10 AM and on WJR 760 AM.   

For your own up close and personal ‘Day in Paradeland’ is Saturday November 30th, from 10:00 to 5:00. A $6 dollar ticket at the door gets you access to a look at the parade floats, photo ops with Santa, face painting, free arts and crafts, and AM 910 Disney Radio broadcasting live. It’s a chance to see the creativity displayed in the floats – designed and manufactured right here in Detroit.

 Another great holiday tradition for Detroit is the Lion’s Thanksgiving Day Game. The first Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit was played in 1934 against the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears. Ever since, the Detroit Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving Day game. This year’s opponent will be a much despised Green Bay Packers team. 

Of note this year, the Lions, United Way, and playworks are collaborating to present a locally themed halftime show. For more on the 'Meet Up to Eat Up' vignette and other highlights, check out the Detroit Free Press article

Ford Field, where the game will be played, was built incorporating a six-story former Hudson’s warehouse into its design. It took 32 months to build and was completed in August 2002. Several Michigan companies were involved in the building process.

Friday, if you’re not hitting the stores for early Christmas sales, you can see the Nutcracker at the Detroit Opera House from Nov 29th – Dec 1st.  Times are 7:30 Friday evening, 2:30 and 7:30 on Saturday, and 2:30 on Sunday.

The Village of Holly is hosting the Dickens Festival Nov 29th – Dec 1st and Dec 14th and 15th. It’s the 40th annual celebration of the Classic A Christmas Carol in downtown Holly. Step back in time as you stroll the streets, visit the shops, pubs and eateries and get caught up in the story.

The Henry Ford Museum is not to be missed as, starting Nov 29th – Jan 5th 2014, the Dearborn landmark welcomes families. Celebration includes LEGO and Lionel Trains displays, a 25 foot Christmas tree with decorations and more. Kids can visit Santa in the new Winter Wonderland area.

Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village are another highlight event and Holiday worthy tradition. With candlelit paths, live entertainment, costumed presenters, horse-drawn wagons and rides in a Model T, its memory making at its finest.

Will locally grown food be at your holiday table this year? This growing trend starts with an 'Eat Local' challenge. This blog has great ideas and menus submitted by is followers. Michigan has some of the best grown apples for pies, cranberries for sauce, and local farms are a source for a variety of protein options including quail, chicken, turkey, and soy-based vegetarian alternatives, and of course, locally grown vegetables. You can 'search local' to find a farm, farmer's market, or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) near you.

What holiday traditions will you be enjoying this Thanksgiving? 


Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org

Friday, November 15, 2013

Employee Retention: Why it’s Important to Manufacturers


In the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report, American manufacturers added 19,000 new workers in the month of October, with job growth primarily in motor vehicles and parts, wood products, and furniture and related products. As we all look to see if manufacturing continues its much hailed comeback, economists, business leaders, politicians, pundits and the general public alike, are all closely monitoring trends and data from the manufacturing industry. 
It’s always great to see manufacturers add new employees to their team. However, we also need to focus on and gauge data from another important workforce topic: employee retention.
Employee Retention
Your strongest asset is your staff. Without “A+ workers” who are motivated to help your company grow, you can’t implement initiatives that will assist you in becoming more innovative, productive and competitive. When an A+ worker contributes to your team, you don’t want to let him or her leave…especially for a competitor!
When a valued employee departs, it’s not just bad for morale – it can be costly. Think of all the time and money it takes to recruit and train a new worker. Plus, there’s no guarantee your new hire will be a success. In fact, a 2012 study from Harris Interactive revealed that 41 percent of employers estimated that a single bad hire cost them more than $25,000! Nearly seven in ten businesses, or 69% of those same employers, indicated a bad hire had a negative impact on the company, including clients. That’s why it’s so important to retain top talent.
A recent article by Industry Week called, “In Leadership, Employee Motivation is No. 1,” relays the concerns of manufacturing employers. The article highlights some of the results from the 2013 Industrial and Manufacturing Executive Job Trends Survey conducted by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).
The piece states, “In the 2013 Industrial and Manufacturing Executive Job Trends Survey, executives agree leaders need to know how to manage and motivate employees above all else.” Peter Felix, President of the AESC, remarked in the article, "Leadership and inspiring teams are critical for organizations' success, particularly in an era when the 'new normal' means perpetually operating leaner."
With resources stretched thin, it’s not always possible to continuously offer employees financial incentives. However, there are other key ways to motivate employees and retain your workers:
1)    Encourage Employee Vacations: A Harris Interactive survey found that 57% of U.S. workers didn’t use all of their annual vacation days. On average, American workers didn’t use up 70% of their allotted time. If you notice that workers aren’t capitalizing on their time, emphasize that they should take vacation. It will help them relax, reenergize and come back more productive.
2)    Designate Time to Boost Morale and Relaxation: Pizza Friday may be cheesy (no pun intended), but small initiatives to make the workplace more pleasant can go a long way. 
3)   Increase Communication and Feedback: Many times, employees just want to know that their employers value their input. Create forums where employees can voice concerns confidentially. Holding regular employee evaluations is also important. However, instead of just rating the performance metrics of your workers, allow them to provide honest feedback about the company without repercussions. 

As we wind up the end of 2013, now is the perfect time to ensure that your employees are happy with your company. Come 2014, you don’t want to be saying, “goodbye” to your top performers!
Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org

Friday, November 8, 2013

Michigan + Manufacturing = Recipe for Success

Manufacturing is critical to Michigan's economy. . . . . There. I've said it. Now, here's why.

It represents the single largest private sector component of Michigan's GDP, employs about 13.4% of total jobs (roughly 554,000 people), accounts for over 85% of exports, and on average, pays 36.7% higher then the State's average paid wage.

Manufacturing jobs have a great multiplier effect, for each job in manufacturing supports at least two other jobs in other industry sectors. Much has been written on this phenomenon, and a recent article published by the Huffington Post indicates this number may be understated and could be as high as 15.

When manufacturers perform well and can retain and fill new positions, everyone wins. Using a sports analogy, for every 5 new hires in manufacturing, using a conservative 2.2 as a multiplier, a baseball team is created (9 position players and a few coaches), a football offensive or defensive line can take the field (11 players each) or you've added another soccer team (11 players) to the United States Soccer Federation.

Sources: GDP - U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis 2011 data
 Now, leaving aside the need or want of additional sports teams, we would love to have more manufacturers, and not only for the reasons listed above. Michigan has, as you would expect, a high concentration of transportation equipment manufacturers, but did you know it also has a large number of machinery, furniture and related products, plastics & rubber products and primary metal manufacturers? In fact, Michigan employment concentration in these sectors is more than 150% higher than the U.S. average employment in these sectors across the country. Other large manufacturing sectors include food processors and chemical manufacturers.

Michigan had the fastest improving economy in the nation from the third quarter of 2009 through the first quarter of 2012. People have theorized that it is this very diversity in Michigan's manufacturing base that helped boost the recovery.

Bottom line, we love manufacturing. We love making stuff. We love seeing new products come to market and enjoy learning about exciting new technologies, especially when we can link those same technologies to our customers. We like it when good companies get better and better companies grow. We like it when unemployed people fill new jobs and everybody wins.

Michigan + Manufacturing = recipe for success. Who doesn't like to win. Just ask the Boston Red Sox.

What's in your recipe?

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org

Friday, November 1, 2013

Benchmarking and Planning: Partners in Driving Growth (Part 2 of 2)


In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance of growth. In 2014, it will be critical for Michigan’s manufacturers to focus on growth initiatives… developing or improving products, increasing productivity and competing in new markets.

Growth doesn’t come overnight, but it’s worth the investment. That’s why it’s so important to set the foundation for growth through benchmarking and planning.

Part 1  includes details about benchmarking, but to recap, benchmarking is the first step to growth. It boils down to this: if you don’t evaluate your specific strengths and weaknesses, you won’t know where to invest your resources. Furthermore, your evaluation must be backed up by specific metrics, not arbitrary feelings about your operations and organization.

Transformation Planning
Along with benchmarking, your business needs transformation planning. The goal of transformation planning is to outline the path your company needs to take in order to achieve growth. An organized plan is required to clearly define your journey to improved profitability.
However, many manufacturers may be hesitant to develop a strategic plan for growth; they may believe that growth initiatives will interrupt their productivity or involve too much investment in new machinery or products. MMTC has a Transformation Planner that can help.
The Transformation Planners provides insight into 9 key metric areas in comparison to other companies within your sector:
  • Inventory Turns
  • Utilities
  • Scrap and Rework
  • Premium Freight
  • Days Receivables
  • On-Time Delivery
  • Machine Run Hours
  • Schedule Bumping
  • Employee Turnover
The Transformation Planner is beneficial because it enables manufacturers to estimate opportunities for growth that can occur with no additional investment in machinery or an increase in production hours. For more information, click here.

Next year will be an excellent year for growth…but only if you plan ahead and start making it a priority now. Focus on benchmarking and transformation planning in the near future so that you can hit the ground running with action items that will help you become more competitive and profitable!
Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org