Can you tell us a little bit about your educational background?
After graduating high school I attended Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo , Michigan where I pursued a BS degree in Physics. After leaving Kalamazoo College, I attended California State, in Northridge , California. As a student my interests were in the sciences especially chemical, mechanical, optical and electrical engineering.
After graduating did you immediately look for a career in manufacturing or did you pursue another career path?
I worked at various businesses while attending night class. I found that the night classes were very beneficial to me because I could see the immediate application of various engineering and science classes in real time
Before working at Protomatic what if any company’s in the manufacturing sector did you work for and what was your responsibilities?
While living in Simi Valley, California I worked for Micro Peripherals ( MPI Chatsworth California) from 1981-1983 manufacturing 5 1/4 ” floppy drives and worked extensively on electronic test equipment. After leaving (MPI) I began working for Wangtek Inc. in Simi Valley California from 1983- 1993 in the manufacturing of high speed tape backup drives( QIC and DAT Technologies) At both Micro Peripherals Inc and Wangtek Inc. The majority of my time was in product support and development as the International Technical Support Manager. I was responsible for product support and product development. After leaving Wangtek I joined Protomatic.
You are currently the Managing Director at Contract Manufacturer Protomatic in Dexter Michigan. What are your current responsibilities?
Vice President and General Manager. I oversee all P& L responsibilities and also always looking forward at future technologies and trends that can help our bottom line. I am currently overseeing many manufacturing based projects to improve technical reach of the company while increasing productivity. I also get involved overseeing an infrastructure which ranges from cyber security to marketing.
Doug, from our recent conversations you always see the glass as half full however many in our industry see the glass as half empty. I know you mentioned to me that a slow business climate can also have a silver lining. Can you please explain?
Slow times happen periodically, but it is important to still push forward. The world keeps spinning and it is easy to get passed up by a startup entrepreneur. In good times we all take care of the big projects the + 10% improvement projects however in slow times take care of ten + 1% improvement projects.
Can we have your thoughts on the effect of the tumbling oil prices is having on our industry? Also when do you see the recovery?
Protomatic is in the non energy manufacturing market, focusing on medical, and aerospace sectors. The energy manufacturing manufacturers have significantly decreased production and some are selling equipment. Most of this equipment is too large for our applications, so there are limited expansion opportunities. Commodities have been relatively flat or downward direction regarding material pricing. Consumers/Customers have seen no significant price savings, but slower consumer demand and more competition migrating out of the energy manufacturing sector drives a deflationary direction for product pricing. Manufacturers as a whole are experiencing lower margins.
I think one of the major impacts is reevaluation of the existing contracts.Most company’s will exercise “Forced majeure” or similar clause. This will have significant long term impact on England, I would guess that most renegotiated contracts will be less favorable for England’s manufacturing companies.
I know you talked about focusing on incremental (ROI) profits that may not have been getting significant attention when business was busy.Why is incremental (ROI) so important now?
It is getting harder and more competitive everyday. We need good (ROI) on our business improvements to stay in business. Manufacturing sector businesses have to work hard to improve and there are few + 10% performance improvements available. These all add up to savings to the company and ultimately to the consumer.
I know you talked about how all manufacturing company’s can benefit from process improvement and now is the time to examine these processes and identify how to make them more efficient.
What specific programs has Protomatic put in place to help make Protomatic more efficient and profitable over the next twelve months?
It is easier to talk about what Protomatic has done recently. Some improvements include:
Lighting ( Higher intensity and reduced)
Energy ( LED or T-5)
Improve throughput — just a faster machine
New business direction
New style equipment or process equipment
Stock racks–faster retrieval, improved traceability
Environmental – HVAC for temperature regulation, allowing higher tolerance parts.
Inventory management- tool crib dispenser for ease of purchasing and reduction
of rush freight.
New business direction- added capability that we did not have , rubber molding, etc
Information Tech and Support
CAD/CAM software – Improvement of performance
Equipment monitor – MT connect help.
Improvements in phone system
HR Training Program
Automation plans for specific parts
3 axis to 5 axis conversions,or multi axis
Reduce cycle times
Improve quality response
Improve job travel information
Small continuous improvements
This year we are also working on reducing inspection and cycle times.
Doug, I will give you the last word.
Protomatic is proud to be manufacturing in the United States and we see the critical importance that all manufacturing brings to make the United States a better and safer place.