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A Woman’s Place... ... is in a factory. These women embrace their feminine advantage and are outspoken advocates for the next generation of female leaders.

Also 16 What I’ve Learned Chris DiPentima, Pegasus Manufacturing

Embracing continuous improvement and implementing Lean throughout the enterprise, Modern Woodcrafts is making plans for a third generation.

26 Waste Watchers Armed with new tools and a new approach to defining waste, Putnam Precision Molding has not only reduced their energy use, but has developed a team of waste detectives.

18 All in the Family

Operational Excellence Business Growth

Manufacturers that move ahead and stay ahead choose CONNSTEP to guide their continuous improvement and growth strategies. Through close collaboration with our industry experts, CONNSTEP accelerates top line growth, operational efficiencies and long-term sustainability. Ready to experience a new level of success with your company? Bring us your business goals and we’ll work together to make them happen. CONNSTEP. Your total business improvement resource.



a d v a n ta ge Vol. 2, Issue 2

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On Your Mark, Get Ready, Get Set... CHANGE! Why is it just so darn hard to change?

16 What I’ve Learned... Chris DiPentima talks candidly on why we need to start educating kids as young as middle school on the good career opportunities in manufacturing, how manufacturing and law are similar and how Lean is a growth strategy at Pegasus.



18 All in the Family Embracing continuous improvement and implementing Lean throughout the enterprise, Modern Woodcrafts is making plans for a third generation.

4 WOMANufacturing Our critical challenge is on-going - how do we attract young people to pursue manufacturing careers? How do we capture their interest and prove that manufacturing is a field in which they can earn a respectable wage, have a sense of pride in what they do, and showcase the clean, pleasant manufacturing environments?


22 A Woman’s Place These manufacturers view being a woman as an asset, not a barrier, to being a successful leader in the male dominated industry.

6 The Buzz Newsworthy trends, topics, statistics and an opportunity to ask the experts.


27 Waste Watchers Armed with new tools and a new approach to defining waste, Putnam Precision Molding has not only reduced their energy use, but has developed a team of waste detectives.

30 Balancing Act There are few easy fixes, certainly no correct answers, and no point at which we’ll officially cross some threshold to being “sustainable”.






I think we can all agree, that in 2012, there are still many obstacles facing U.S. manufacturing. Some, the same contributing factors that led to its decline over the past decades, still remain; and some of these hurdles - outside of the obvious global competition - include barriers to entry, new product development, taxes and regulation, and as equally important, the lack of an available skilled workforce. Our critical challenge is on-going - how do we attract young people to pursue manufacturing careers? How do we capture their interest and prove that manufacturing is a field in which they can earn a respectable wage, have a sense of pride in what they do, and showcase the clean, pleasant manufacturing environments? It’s been apparent for many years now, on both national and local levels, that there is a need to develop a STEM educated workforce. Despite this, formulating a strategy on how to draw students into STEM education, particularly the manufacturing specific programs of technology and engineering, is the biggest challenge. And add to this the even greater task of how to make STEM programs an appealing option for women. Men continue to outnumber women participating in these programs and less than 7% of mechanical engineering degrees are earned by women. Over the last 65 years, we’ve changed our perception of what a woman’s role is in the workforce, however, the acceptance of women in manufacturing - in the engineering and technology skills base - has moved at a pace less than desired. It’s understandable when you consider the experiences of “Rosie the Riveter,” the cultural icon built on behalf of American women working in manufacturing during WWII. During our breakfast at the New Britain Industrial Museum for the “Women in Manufacturing” feature, I learned that Kris Lorch’s mother was a Rosie - a contributor to the war effort. But our discussion did not focus on the fact that her mother received inequitable pay for performing the same job as man... that was a given. We discussed how that, when the war was over, these women returned to their original roles as “housewives” or, in rare occasions, were moved into lower-paying clerical positions. This left me thinking about the deep-seated beliefs, begun at the end of the war, that manufacturing was not appropriate work for women when they were “no longer a necessity.” So, it is on us to move forward, learn from the sins of the past, and actively encourage our students, with a stronger focus on girls and young women, to pursue STEM education. I am absolutely convinced that through the support of parents, teachers, guidance counselors and mentors, that we can improve the number of women earning degrees in engineering and technology related fields. When you read about the young women from Mercy High School who participated in the FIRST program this past spring, you’ll hear first-hand how important it is to stop the heresy that “girls aren’t good at science.” TechTigers team member Vicky Scott finds that whole notion “ridiculous.” Thanks to all those who tirelessly contribute to the FIRST competition. A strong program, it represents just one solution to the problem of inviting our youth into the manufacturing workforce through maximizing creativity, innovation and competitiveness. May your reading be satisfying...

Advantage Magazine is a publication of CONNSTEP, Inc. For the small to medium size business that wants to remain competitive and grow in local and global markets, CONNSTEP provides technical and business solutions proven to have both immediate and sustainable long-term impact. Unlike other professional consultants that focus only on a single component of your business, CONNSTEP’s multidisciplinary team uses a deliberate holistic approach, providing innovative results-driven top line growth solutions that impact the entire organization. Since 1994, nine out of ten CONNSTEP clients have reported increased profitability. In 2011 alone, data provided by an independent survey credited CONNSTEP with impacts of more than $160 million dollars, including new and retained sales, and the creation and retention of nearly 1,600 jobs. Our experience and network of local, state and federal resources, make us not only unique but unequaled in our field and in our state.

Publisher Bonnie Del Conte, President & CEO CONNSTEP

Editor Rebecca Mead, Manager, Marketing & Communications CONNSTEP

Contributing Writers Pam Butterfield, Business Success Tools, LLC Bill Caplan, CONNSTEP Ken Cook, Peer to Peer Advisors Caren R. Dickman, CRD & Associates Pat Hayden, UniMetal Surface Finishing, LLC Mark Paggioli, CONNSTEP Michael Perrelli, CONNSTEP Susie Zimmermann, Channel Z Marketing

Contacts To subscribe: To change an address: For reprints, PDF’s: For permission to copy: To pitch a story: CONNSTEP, Inc., all rights reserved. Reproduction encouraged after obtaining permission from CONNSTEP. CONNSTEP Advantage Magazine is printed three times a year by CONNSTEP, Inc., 1090 Elm Street, Suite 202, Rocky Hill, CT 06067. 800.266.6672

POSTMASTER Send address changes to:

Bonnie Bonnie Del Conte is the president & CEO of CONNSTEP. She can be reached at



Vol. 2, No. 2

CONNSTEP, Inc. 1090 Elm Street, Suite 202 Rocky Hill, CT 06067

>>> Contributors









Pam W. Butterfield is the principal of Business Success Tools LLC, working with business owners, CEOs and organizational leaders to identify and eliminate barriers that impede business growth and performance.


Prior to founding her company, Pam was a senior principal in an international consulting firm. She was responsible for analyzing emerging trends in the financial and technology sectors and developed profitable training and consulting operations to take strategic advantage of changes in these sectors. She assembled high functioning teams to develop innovative products and services and deliver them to market.

Patrick Hayden is the Senior Vice President of UniMetal Surface Finishing, LLC, one of the largest commercial metal finishers in the Northeast.


Prior to UniMetal, Pat was the Vice President of Operations for Donham Craft and has sat on a number of local and state boards including the Smaller Manufacturers Association of Connecticut (SMA), Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut (MAC), Connecticut Association of Metal Finishers (CAMF), and a board appointed seat on the National Association of Metal Finishers (NAMF).

Bill Caplan provides consulting services to a variety of organizations with a concentration in Lean Business Processes. He facilitates the design, development and implementation of Lean methodologies on an enterprisewide basis. Bill is also a program leader for Continuous Improvement Champion Certification.


Bill has more than 25 years of management experience with a focus on the applications of Lean Thinking principles. Past projects include providing facilitation and leadership for the successful implementation of point solution improvement projects as well as the development and implementation of improvements at the value stream and enterprise levels.

Mark Paggioli works with CONNSTEP clients to build top line growth, focusing on innovation, enhancing existing revenue streams, and resolving existing problems to remove barriers on the path to growth.


Joining CONNSTEP in the spring of 2012, Mark brings over ten years of experience and a wealth of knowledge with him, including strategic development, new product development, and plans and demand generation through both online and offline media.


Ken Cook is the Founder and Managing Director of Peer to Peer Advisors.

His background includes over twenty years consulting with high growth and middle market companies, focusing on marketing, sales and growth strategies. Ken’s consulting includes five years as a Senior Contract Consultant for Inc. Magazine. He’s written three books, his latest being The Wisdom of Our Peers. His fourth book, The Wisdom of Relationships, is due out this fall. Ken also writes monthly columns for The Hartford Business Journal and The Worcester Business Journal, and has written columns for The Boston Business Journal and The American Marketing Association.

Michael Perrelli is the Marketing Specialist at CONNSTEP where he is responsible for developing the content, markets and promotions for CONNSTEP training, networking and outreach programs. Additionally, Michael works on organizational market development, website maintenance and trade show efforts.


Before joining CONNSTEP at the end of 2010, Michael worked for the Alcone Marketing Group, a promotional agency based in Darien and for SourceMedical in Wallingford, where he controlled multiple direct marketing and trade show efforts for the leader in ambulatory surgery center management software.

Caren R. Dickman has over twenty-five years experience in marketing, business and grant development, for trade associations, higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations.


Currently the Communications and Grant Development Specialist at HRA, Inc., she was previously the Director of Marketing and Membership at EANE where she spearheaded the Strategic Marketing team project to re-brand the association, create a new logo, and standardize all communications. While at EANE and at CBIA she worked closely with numerous manufacturing companies throughout Connecticut on a variety of projects.

Susie Zimmermann has more than 20 years of experience developing and managing marketing and communications for corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. In her current work with clients from both the commercial and non-profit sectors, she provides strategic consulting on branding, product launches, messaging, positioning, employee communications and comprehensive marketing programs.


Prior to launching her own consulting business, Susie managed marketing and communications programs for the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.


>>> calendar

Continuous Improvement Champion Certification The gist: CICC is a ten-session course providing intensive exposure to the principles and practices needed to develop and sustain the Lean Enterprise.

Mastering Lean Leadership To commit to Lean, leaders must believe in Lean. To believe, they must first understand Lean. Lean is not about what you do, it is about how you think. Lean is a way of life, a management system, a long-term strategy. Lean is about growth, not the accustomed cost-cutting.

Approach: You will receive immediate reinforcement of the classroom learning by applying your training to a real-life project within your organization. Together with on-site mentoring and knowledge assessments, this approach dramatically reduces the time frame from training to bottomline results.

Who attends? Those tasked with implementing and sustaining a culture of

The gist: Mastering Lean Leadership helps leaders understand Lean, believe in Lean and commit to Lean so they can create, lead and sustain a Lean business model. The battle is no longer the employee’s resistance to change, as much as it is the executive leadership’s resistance to understanding what it takes to create a Lean business model, to create a Lean culture.

continuous improvement within their organizations.

Approach: In a small group setting, Mastering Lean Leadership is a series The next CICC program begins October 2nd and runs to January 8th. Visit for complete program information.

of six half-day professionally facilitated, interactive roundtables for the top leader and his/her reports to engage in meaningful dialogue about their specific business transformation to a Lean management culture. The next Mastering Lean Leadership program begins September 17th and runs to December 3rd. Visit for complete program information.

Connecticut Manufacturing Coalition Roundtables October through May

The gist: The roundtables offer a confidential forum where manufacturers share and learn about common challenges as well as best practice solutions to achieve sustainable continuous improvement and profitable growth. You’ll gain an invaluable network of trusted peers, business development opportunities, best practice presentations, as well as, industry related resources.

Who attends? Manufacturing professionals interested in benchmarking, networking and learning from their peers.



Vol. 2, No. 2

sound off

>> > Ask the Experts


Have you built environmental and energy initiatives into your organization’s strategies? What barriers do you anticipate?

You have questions, Bill Caplan, finds the answers. An expert in Lean and continuous improvement, Bill answers your questions using his experience and the knowledge of industry’s top thought leaders.

The term ‘Lean & Green’ has become popular recently. Does Lean address environmental and energy wastes as well? When I walk through a manufacturing plant, I typically notice that equipment is not making needed product, there are piles of excess inventory, there is poor work flow, and sometimes a reworking station with someone expeditiously working to repair defective material. I also notice that the building is well lit, the HVAC is working great and I can hear the hum of idling motors in the background. The scene I just described is what Lean practitioners call identified waste or nonvalue added activities. The good news is that all of these wastes can be addressed by applying Lean thinking methodologies to your business or manufacturing processes. By using the tools and methodologies of Lean and a scientific approach to effective problem solving, you can achieve improved results for your production or capacity problems. Lean is about becoming more customer focused, value based and resource efficient. The expected impacts are multifaceted. A typical focused kaizen event (a team-based, multi- day event) using Lean methodologies will yield 15-20% additional throughput with the same resources, 25% less lead time, and will also have a positive impact on inventory. Another benefit of applying Lean thinking is that the additional throughput has a

A: direct impact on the energy consumed. Applying Lean thinking methodologies will lead to energy efficiencies through energy avoidance, it will also improve your energy usage efficiencies, and help with energy conservation. On average, we’ve seen a 15-20% throughput increase translate into a 5% reduction in energy usage or energy avoidance. The efficient use of business processes is equal to energy savings, making more with the same amount of energy consumed. Because Lean thinking is a business system, with a core philosophy of excellence, product or process waste is also an area of interest. The goal here is to ensure that the process yields less material scrap on start up and less rework during run times. As a result you’ll see less material going to the re-claimers or landfills. The goal of Lean is to strive for perfection by continually eliminating the wastes in your processes. Remember waste is waste regardless of its form. Wasted energy or scrap is no different than excess inventory or overproduction. If you’re interested in increasing throughput, capacity, quality and saving energy, then it’s time to get started on your Lean journey.

We have had CONNSTEP at Aerodyne Alloys to conduct the Green Collar champion training session. During this training program, we gained valuable information regarding some of our everyday organizational practices and procedures and have re engineered many of them. Although the process is ongoing, we continue to make great strides month in and month out. Training our staff on these green principles provided them with the needed foundation to ensure the proper implementation and sustainability of our Green initiatives. - Greg Chase, President, Aerodyne Alloys LLC


Bigelow Tea is very much invested in building environmental and energy efforts into our organizational strategy. In our mission statement, the Bigelow family affirms their commitment to being a “good corporate citizen” and protecting the environment. Whether it is through the great work of our “green” teams or individual green goals for each employee, our environmental and energy efforts are part of our daily culture. From the installation of 900 solar panels to the utilization of motion sensors or other energy efficient equipment, this philosophy has yielded more than a benefit to the environment, but it has also provided an economic benefit as well. As with any worthwhile venture, there are always obstacles to work through. As the economy has seen a downturn, incentive money seems to have been affected. Understandably, when it comes to incentive money, most of the efforts are directed towards electrical usage reduction. There needs to be a similar concentration on other areas that affect the environment, such as water conservation and waste reduction. - Jim Gildea, Plant Manager, R.C. Bigelow

Bill Caplan is a Lean Consultant with CONNSTEP. For over 12 years, Bill has been providing consulting services to a variety of businesses with a concentration in Lean Business Processes. Reach Bill at



BUZZ >> > Business Barometer

Green-er Pockets through Green-er Practices Numerous tax incentives are available in support

tax incentives and other opportunities that can

of businesses and their ‘green’ investment, but

increase the ROI of a sustainability strategy. The

many of these savings are left on the table - 37%

report shows that only 16% of companies that have

of respondents in a recent survey indicated they are

a sustainability strategy said their tax or finance

unaware that these incentives exist.

departments are actively involved in the initiatives.

Ernst & Young’s recent report, Working together:

Have you included your tax or finance departments

Linking sustainability and tax to reduce the cost

(or tax professionals) in your green initiatives? If not,

of implementing sustainable initiatives, unearths

ask them to help uncover the tax benefits that are

the root cause of the problem. According to the

there for the taking. Why not take advantage of

report, the lack of integration between sustainability

them while they are still there?

programs with tax and finance departments has led to the neglect of such opportunities.

Are you aware of the incentives below? There is a good chance that you aren’t.

Through their experience, Ernst & Young believes that a holistic approach, with management buy-in

The complete report by Ernst & Young LLP can be

and communication among all relevant departments

viewed at

and external resources, is best able to identify



Local tax credits & other incentives for environmental sustainability initiatives

State tax credits & other incentives for other environmental sustainability initiatives


Utility incentives for environmental sustainability initiatives


Federal tax incentives for manufacturing of environmentally friendly products (IRC section 48C)


State tax credits & other incentives for renewable energy









Federal tax deductions for energy-efficient buildings (IRC Section 179D)


Vol. 2, No. 2



Federal tax incentives for renewable energy








State tax credits & other incentives for R&D or manufacturing of environmentally friendly products

Federal tax incentives for research & development of environmentally friendly products (IRC Section 41)




Other federal grants for environmental sustainability initiatives

State tax credits & other incentives for energy-efficient buildings & upgrades




84% Aware


PASSWORD DOs & OH NO YOU DIDN’Ts We need passwords for everything in these technology-riddled days. The easier you make them to remember, the easier they are to get hacked. Here are 7 helpful tips on how to make secure passwords.



Use a Password Generator Advanced Password Generator This app will generate a creative password for you. Select criteria (Character count, numbers, caps) and it will whip one up for you and tell you how strong it is.


Keep Your Passwords Protected Keeper Password & Data Vault

Use Different Passwords Don’t use the same password for everything. A hack into an easy account like Facebook will almost definitely lead to a higher risk hack. TIP: If you are like me and have hundreds of passwords, come up with a formula that incorporates the website name. For example, you can take the last four digits of your phone number and the website name koobecaf7724, twit7724ter, or even e1b2a3y4.


Avoid Personal Info Don’t use info like pet names, birthdays, kids’ names, or your last name, that can be looked up on Facebook. Secure passwords are something only you would guess. TIP: Use the letters of your favorite song, poem, etc. to make an acronym out of it. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” would be SPLHCB. Add some numbers to this and it would be foolproof.


Default Passwords Some websites will give you a default password on your first login. Change that immediately or someone can get in and lock you out! TIP: Use your favorite TV show, the first car you bought, or your favorite book as a password idea. However, if you are obviously the biggest Aerosmith fan in the world, it may be best not to use “Dream On.”


Longer is Better Each letter you add makes it exponentially harder to hack. Push your words together to make it more secure and add more characters if required.

This app allows you to store all different kinds of passwords in one secure place. It’s literally a digital safe. You can set up different folders for all of your passwords. Other features include an Auto-Logout and a Self-Destruct feature if too many attempts are made to access your information.

TIP: If you use Apple 7, make it Apple7Apple7. Want to make it even harder? Throw that password in reverse. ElppaElppa is much harder to figure out. 5.

Avoid Popular Words The most common words used in passwords are: God, love, lust, money, private, QWERTY, secret, sex, snoopy, and password. These are words that most hackers will try and often get right on the first or second attempt. TIP: Try using symbols and letters in your passwords. Some sites require a number....My$is@th3Bank

Bonnie Sharon, better known as Cellular Chloe, is the Gadgetista of Wireless Zone®. She is an advocate for the end user and spends her time pushing the envelope on all devices so she can honestly report her findings. She likes to help you get to that “a ha moment” so you and your gadgets can live happily ever after! You can find her at




be considered, including your budget. Do you already have access to contacts, what is the best way to reach the desired contacts and will your value proposition translate to that marketing medium? 4.

Develop or confirm you have a means to capture the leads and follow up on them in a timely manner. Capturing a lead means that you have all of the required information to follow up with the person that inquired as well as the ability to determine the source of the lead. They should go into a database or, at the very least, excel. Ideally, you have enough information so that your follow up is a continuation of the dialogue that was started through the lead generating activity. And follow up means contacting and qualifying every lead in a timely manner – today that often means 48 hours or less.


Measure. You must measure your lead generation efforts. You need to know what efforts produce the best results for your business, this includes being able to determine what message, medium, market and contacts are delivering results for your time and money.

Lead Generation: An Investment in Your Growth Mark Paggioli

If you’re like most businesses today, you are looking for ways to grow and sustain your business. In fact, according to a recent poll of small and medium size businesses (SMB Business Perspectives: 2011 Results and 2012 Projections) the number one challenge in 2011 was customer/client growth. The survey went on to say that nearly half of SMBs don’t plan to diversify or narrow the scope of their business, suggesting business as usual in 2012. What’s more, 60 percent plan to focus on customer/client growth in 2012. Fortunately, they also mentioned a focus on “improving” in the area of customer growth. The top two areas that SMBs will “invest” in are Marketing and Sales. That’s great news, I say this because the survey now implies they are getting serious about results. They know they need to improve and by using the word invest – it means they are expecting a return on the investment (ROI). Leads, and specifically lead generation, is critical to business, but in order to grow, the business must have an effective process for lead generation. This is a must – a true, end to end process. Why is this so important? Because budgets are



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limited and because the time frame to convert a lead in Business to Business sales is typically 12 months or longer. And if you don’t have a process to stay on top of the leads you are generating, you are wasting your limited resources and under performing. So what are the requirements for an effective lead generation process? For the sake of this article, I’m going to break it down into five basic steps. 1.



Identify target customers and appropriate contacts for your offering. This can be based on an existing best or ideal customer profile, a similar market with similar needs, or new regions to name just a few. Development of your message. This should be in the form of a value proposition and ideally, an economic value proposition that is clear and compelling. It sounds easy but it is not and to complicate matters, a value proposition is typically different for those with different roles within a given organization. Determine how you’ll distribute the message. How will you reach your target? There are variables here that need to

Improving Marketing and Sales results happens with a lead generation process, which will create growth. The most important ingredient is a willingness to do things differently. In order for SMBs to achieve the improvement they desire, they must measure existing results and continue to seek ways to better those results. And to consider dollars spent as an investment in marketing and sales, a business needs to tie performance expectation to that investment. Lead generation is a process and should resemble a plan-do-check-act process or other continuous improvement effort. When that is the approach, how can results not get better?

Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics out of Princeton University, and he is a keen observer of the human mind and how it makes decisions. In Thinking, Fast and Slow Kahneman lays out much of a lifetime of work he and his late partner Amos Tversky undertook to understand how and why humans make the decisions they make. This is not a business book; if you go into a Barnes & Noble store and look for it, you will find it in the Biology and Chemistry section. However, this is one of the best business books I have ever read. Throughout you will find insights and “a ha” moments regarding yourself, your organization, and your customers. The global “a ha” is the understanding you gain regarding how people’s decision making process unfolds, and recognizing the myriad of influences that impact those decisions. My most humbling insight is how I, and everyone else, make so many wrong decisions, yet how comfortable we all are with the illusion of being right. Kahneman begins his non-fiction work with fiction, specifically the labeling of System 1 and System 2, the two parts of the brain that Kahneman calls “useful fictions” because they help explain the quirks of the human mind. As explained in the Introduction, “System 1 runs automatically and System 2 is normally in a comfortable low-effort mode, in which only a fraction of its capacity is engaged.” System 1 uses association, intuition and metaphor to produce a quick take on reality. The often used acronym for System 1 operating is WYSIATI (what you see is all there is). Nothing more; nothing less. Most times this is sufficient. When presented with complexity, incongruity or a need to focus System 2 engages. System 2 makes sense of the nonsensical, and helps us form our more complex beliefs and reasoned choices. There are two sections of the book – Heuristics and Biases, and Overconfidence, that offer up fascinating examples of how the mind and decision making is influenced by intuition, memory, context and the need to be right. One example is The Halo Effect coupled with luck, and their impact on what we believe to be true. An example Kahneman cites is Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, where they analyzed 18 pairs of companies and profiled the best practices of the more successful companies in the pairs. As Kahneman states: •

“Because luck plays a large role, the quality of leadership and management practices cannot be inferred reliably from observations of success.” “On average, the gap in corporate profitability and stock returns between the outstanding firms and the less successful firms studied in Built to Last shrank to almost nothing in the period following the study.” “The average profitability of the companies identified in the famous In Search of Excellence dropped sharply as well within a short time.”

Biz Lit The Wisdom of Our Peers is one of those books that surprises in both its simplicity and richness. Cook runs a company called Peer to Peer Advisors, where he matches leaders of companies into groups, and these groups meet and function as board of advisors for each other. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been a member of one of these groups for four years. The book is a compilation of five years of notes from those meetings. As you can imagine, the spectrum of topics covered in the book is as varied as the number of issues, opportunities and challenges that can arise over five years running a small business. Cook positions the book as “a book of stories.” In one way it is. Each chapter is a synopsis of a real life issue and the personal story of one owner and how he or she dealt with that issue. Each chapter also summarizes the input and advice the advisory group offered on the issue. Besides telling stories, the book is a wonderful reference tool that should be on the bookshelf or better yet at hand on the credenza of every small business owner. The table of contents is six pages long and outlines discussion items under all of the important areas business leaders deal with – leadership, people, strategy and growth, marketing and sales, operations and finance. Some of the solutions are what you would expect; common sense answers based on experiences of the people that have been there and dealt first hand with the problems. There are also quite a few insights you can gain from the experiences other leaders shared. Discussions on Lean practices, key performance indicators, and motivating employees are just some examples of areas that offer unique insights. Over four years of participating, there are very few meetings where I have not gained some value that has made a difference for me and my company. I recommend you pick up this book. You will find yourself referring to it time and time again. - Pat Hayden, UniMetal, Inc.

I could go on with many more examples that fascinate and challenge your thinking. Let me just say that every functional area of a business and the leadership in each of those areas will benefit from reading this book. My suggestion, take the time to read this rich and insightful piece of work. - Ken Cook, Peer to Peer Advisors




They’re Grrrrreat! Don’t mess with these ladies the Mercy High School TechTigers are fierce, fired up and a force to be reckoned with - proving that the technology and engineering fields aren’t boys clubs any longer.



Vol. 2, No. 2


his past March, CONNSTEP President, Bonnie Del Conte had the privilege to serve as a judge for the 2012 Northeast Utilities Connecticut Regional FIRST Competition. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) was founded in 1989 with a mission, “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.” The FIRST competition is also sponsored by United Technologies Corporation, Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Technology Council and the Connecticut Science Center, among many. One of two all-girl teams out of about sixty teams statewide, Mercy High School’s TechTigers, a team of 22 young women with representatives from all four classes, won the Rookie Inspiration Award in 2011. Although, they did not win an award at the Hartford Regional Competition this year, they continue to increase their skills and promote robotics through their outreach program providing demonstrations to younger children throughout the summer.

“Girls are stereotyped as unintelligent or inadequate when it comes to the subjects of math and technology. I find this ridiculous! During WWII, many women were working in manufacturing factories doing the “men’s” jobs…with a little encouragement, girls can do anything.”

2012 marks the second year that the TechTigers competed with thanks to the help of generous sponsors including Carrier, Loctite, JC Penney, Bentley, and 4H through the UCONN Cooperative Extension. We caught up with a few of the girls to see how their experience on the robotics team influenced their future education goals. Sophomore, Melanie Dworak, joined to see if she could understand the concepts, make new discoveries, and find out if it interested her, is now planning on pursuing a career as an engineer, “I’ve always enjoyed building things, learning how it all works, and being able to implement my knowledge is probably one of the most enjoyable things in my life. I can’t imagine going on to do anything else.” Rachel Dziatko, a junior at Mercy, will not be an engineer; instead she is looking to pursue a career as a physician. Rachel joined the TechTigers for the opportunity to learn more about modern technology since, “The world is becoming more technologically advanced every day and much of the success of medicine is dependent on technology…I think it is very important for me to learn about technology and understand how it works.”

it happened to be one of the FIRST core values, “Coopertition”, the philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. According to senior Vicky Scott, “Everyone is helpful and it’s a wonderful time. It’s a safe environment for people to grow in the fields of science, math, friendship, and teamwork.”

It’s clear that these girls are inspired to be tomorrow’s science and technology leaders, which is a good thing... a recent report issued by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology concluded that if the United States is to maintain its historic pre-eminence in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and

The girls also shared their opinions on how to better encourage young women to pursue education and careers in technology and mathematics. Recent graduate Celine Coleman, who will be pursuing a major in We also asked the girls about their favorite biochemistry this fall believes, Mercy TechTigers Celine Coleman and Vicky Scott at the 2012 aspects of the competition. For several, FIRST Competition. “Robotics does a great job in encouraging young girls to Dr. Woodie Flowers FIRST Executive Advisory Board Chairman; Pappalardo mathematics—and gain the social, economic, possibly pursue careers Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of and national-security benefits that come with Technology, speaks with the TechTigers at the 2012 FIRST Competition. in engineering, computer such pre-eminence, then we must produce science, or even software approximately one million more workers in development.” those fields over the next decade than we are on track now to turn out. Melanie Dworak added that, “there is At current rates, American colleges and a difference between universities will graduate about three million using these skills in a STEM majors over the next decade, so an classroom and using additional one million graduates would them in real life, closing require a 33% increase in enrollment. With that gap is instrumental the continued help of programs like FIRST and in encouraging girls to promotion of robotics and STEM subjects at the pursue higher education, secondary school level, hopefully we will reach and hopefully, careers this goal by engaging the next generation - of in technology and both male and female students -to pursue mathematics.” STEM fields at the college level. According to incoming senior, Vicky Scott,


On Your Mark, Get Ready, Get Set... CHANGE! Why is change so hard?

If only it was that easy. Becoming “changeready” is so critical to the success and survival of any organization today. It’s essential when it comes to leading change that affects your organization’s culture. But why is it so difficult and time consuming? You know that Lean practices are the way to go. After all, your major competitor implemented Lean manufacturing seven years ago and their efficiencies have become legendary in the industry.

Pam Butterfield

You and a handful of trusted employees are working very hard to “direct” people in your workforce to do things differently. You explain why it is important. You send people for training. You might cajole. Despite what you do to lead the charge, you are faced with fear, possibly silence, blank stares, mutterings, foot-dragging and potential subtle sabotage, leaving you feeling like you are trying to herd cats. You can have the best plan on paper for implementing changes within your organization but your plans will fail miserably if



Vol. 2, No. 2

you can’t get the people in your organization to cope with the changes and actually get them to move forward and take actions in new and/or different directions. If your company or organization has undergone significant changes in recent years, or you, as a leader, are facing difficulties implementing changes within your organization, please read on. This article is meant to explain some of the things that must happen within your organization, to help you and your workforce transition more quickly and efficiently. We will look at culture and why culture is important; climate and why your organization’s climate is so important; and, provide a recommendation and starting point for beginning the process of creating a change-ready culture and organization. What is culture and what causes it to change? We use the word “culture,” but what does that word really mean in an organizational setting? Every organization has “a culture” and

the words that I hear people use to describe their company’s culture are often words such as “good or bad”, “healthy or unhealthy”, “strong or toxic”, “dynamic or stagnant.” An organization’s culture is an accumulation of all the overt and covert rules, values, and principles that guide people to act and behave. Culture is strongly influenced by your organization’s history, customs, policies, rules and practices. And, when changes in the way people do their work, or when a change in top leadership occurs, or when your organization participates in mergers and/or acquisitions, the existing culture is bound to be challenged to change. A word about company values Many organizations have written value statements framed and posted on their walls. The statements usually say something about, “how highly customers and employees are valued, regarded and treated.” If you really want to know what an organization truly values, look beyond these written statements. The true values that are supported within your company are reflected more accurately by how people act and behave on a daily basis. Do people honor commitments and follow through on what they promise? Behaviors start at the very top, with your top level executives, and move on down through the organization. True values are not necessarily articulated and published. They are often unconscious so they cannot be written down. “It’s just the way we do things here” is often a more accurate reflection of an organization’s “actual culture.” When a company is not able to follow through, move through barriers, and learn to successfully implement new ways of doing things, employees become cynical and learn to wait out “the next flavor of the month,” knowing it will go nowhere. Key Point – When top leadership is not fully engaged in leading a significant change initiative, the existing culture is bound to be challenged to change and the initiative will either fail or become a reality very slowly and painfully. Strategic Lean requires successful culture change When you have an organization that is proud of its strong, long-standing culture and that culture is about to be changed in some way or

another, there are two important questions to ask regarding the culture and what should change: 1.


Which aspects of the organization’s culture aid the organization in meeting today’s goals? Which aspects do not?

Any attempt to change the culture must be tied to improving your organization’s outcomes or the change will fail. Bottom-line benefits of a healthy, changing culture Companies that are unable to change, in today’s world, cease to exist. An adaptive culture, one that is able to change, has a greater likelihood of achieving higher financial performance and organizational viability. If your company somehow discourages change, it is very possible your company will cease to exist. Today, any condition or situation outside an organization that can influence the performance of that organization is considered a potential threat or opportunity. Changing marketplaces, world financial/economic conditions, political and governmental circumstances, ecological conditions, social trends, and technological innovations must be identified and handled. Depending upon the alteration in one or more variables in the external environment, it might require entirely new behaviors on the part of the organization’s members. The collective new behaviors mean a change in culture. Climate and your organization - What is climate? Have you ever walked into a place of business and spent a few minutes observing the interactions and exchanges between employees? In doing so, have you gotten a strong impression that either this would be a great place to work or that you wouldn’t want to work there for five minutes? This is the idea behind an organization’s climate. The climate can be “friendly, warm and sunny” like the weather or it can be “cold and dangerous” like a bad ice storm. The next time you are sitting in a waiting room, standing in a company’s lobby, or standing

in line, notice the interactions and exchanges between people. And, notice what kind of impressions you form as you observe the interactions around you. An organization’s climate is an accumulation of all of the human interactions that take place each and every day. If you want a warm, sunny climate, your entire management team from the very top to all entry level supervisory levels, must model the behaviors that produce a warm, sunny and productive climate. Recommendation In a well-established organization, one whose culture is entrenched in tradition (“this is how we do things, we’ve always done things this way”), it is practical to draw a distinction between culture and climate. My recommendation is not to try to directly change the culture; to do so is simply too disruptive. Instead, begin by changing managerial behaviors and practices. This will change the climate. Arm your managers with essential supervisory skills and team facilitation capabilities. When you strengthen how the management ranks behave and communicate and you hold them accountable for applying those newly learned behaviors consistently and persistently, over time, the wind will pick up and the climate will begin to shift. Any climate changes will eventually impact the culture, leading to changed customs, policies, rules and practices, both overt and covert. Final note from the Author - The approach described in this article is one of several approaches we use when helping an organization deal with change. Changing climate in order to affect culture change works well with organizations that have some time to make necessary changes. It allows an organization with a strong culture and proud history to build on the aspects of its history and legacy without throwing “everything that was, away.” It allows leadership to do what they have to do and continue a company’s proud history by writing a new chapter instead of throwing the company’s history book in the trash.

Note - The concepts of organizational culture-climate come from the Burke-Litwin Model of Organizational Change.


What I’ve Learned

>>> Chris DiPentima, President, Pegasus Manufacturing, Inc. Middletown, Connecticut, 40 years old 16


Vol. 2, No. 2


was a trial attorney for six years before joining the family business. My father coaxed me in by saying, “think about the opportunity you’d get to craft strategy, operations and watch the business grow.” I realized it could be a nice idea to design my “art,” rather than be a cog in the wheel at the firm. I started gradually with a company we acquired from California, but soon got more involved with all aspects of the company, from operations to HR, legal and financial. The learning curve was huge. I always liked math and science and am very analytical, but I still had a lot to learn. The first few months in a new business is all about learning the terminology—the language and dialect of the business. Once you understand the lexicon, things open up. I’m more transparent with data and metrics than my father, who started Pegasus, was, and like sharing this information with the entire organization so everyone understands our hurdles and we can address them together. It was by analyzing data that we realized in 1996 that most of our customers were only generating 20% of revenue—and to serve them we were juggling multiple quality systems, addressing a wide range of customer requirements and lacking sales direction. Ours was a reactive approach, because many felt we were a job shop with no control over our destiny since we didn’t control product design. So we shifted away from those “one hit wonder” clients to be more vertically integrated with the small number of customers generating the bulk of our business. That shift has enabled us to make significant process improvements and understand where to invest. As a result, we really grew in two years, from 56 employees and $9 million annually to 90 employees and $15 million annually today. Our job shop is like a law firm. We sell hours— the more efficient we are, the more we can do and the more we can bill. But managing the business is very different. In the law, I worked with a small team and we managed all sides of the business—the financial, the technical, and customer service. Pegasus’

different departments and divisions meant that I needed to learn to relinquish control, listen and learn from my co-workers, and delegate more. Like most managers, my biggest weakness is time management. I like to roll up my sleeves and help out to get the job done, wherever help is needed but I also need to learn to take better control of my day and focus more strategically—to look at the forest and beyond rather than the trees. It’s always a balancing act to ensure that the day-to-day tactical is accomplished, while also understanding and preparing for what’s on the horizon three to five years out. I have dabbled a bit in politics, serving on the land use board in Durham and getting involved in various campaigns and industry groups. I want to ensure manufacturing has a voice at any and all tables. This is critical for Connecticut and for the U.S.—not just for Pegasus but also to grow our amazing industry so we can weather any future downturns. The key to growing manufacturing is increasing productivity and increasing the workforce pipeline. We have to embrace Lean and continuous improvement, and we must start educating students in middle school about the real and exciting opportunities in today’s manufacturing. We are at a critical time, needing to replace retiring skilled workers and hire even more people to grow and meet the demand for our work. Lean is the foundation of our growth strategy and the only way we will double our business by 2014. Lean doesn’t eliminate jobs. Becoming more efficient doesn’t mean that we lay off workers. In fact, it’s just the opposite. When we become Lean and more efficient, our capacity increases, and customers have been immediately filling any additional capacity we create. I need to replace every retiring worker with two new employees to keep up with demand. That’s great opportunity. We have to educate teachers and guidance counselors about the great opportunities in manufacturing. It’s not the dark, dirty and cyclical business people think it is. Instead, we

offer great financial potential, terrific challenges and diverse positions. No other industry has such diversity in one business and the chance for employees to move around and learn new aspects of a business in one place. That’s still what’s so exciting for me. I wear different hats each day and always have more to learn, from operations to strategy to financial to customer service to technical skills. I don’t think I could ever get bored here. Life is a continuous education. Maybe that’s why I’m always tinkering with change. And why we have created a culture of continuous learning at Pegasus with minimum annual training requirements, continuous Lean education and more. As much as I love change, though, I’ve learned through training and experience, that my own need for speed to get things done—even if I have to do them myself—isn’t always what’s best for my company. Instead, the only way Pegasus will realize its true potential is if we have a learning organization where everyone has ownership of the processes and overall company performance—a team of people constantly planning and tinkering with change, analyzing the results and then making adjustments as needed. This has forced me to become more patient rather than trying to solve everything on my own, and we’re building a culture of problem solving that’s a part of everything we do. I’m always reading—and alternate between a non-fiction book that will build my skills and knowledge and a getaway fiction book. I thank my Dad all the time for the opportunity he gave me, and for convincing me to try it. I also admire how he stepped back when he retired and truly turned the business over. That’s not always the case in family businesses, but it’s critical to have seamless direction and clarity. I’m very transparent and some might say too direct and honest. While I may some day try my hand at politics, I’m not sure it’s for me. Even though I was a trial attorney, I really don’t like spending time negotiating and prefer to get right to the bottom line. As a result, I may be too direct and outspoken for some people.


All i the Fam >> for more examples of Lean Manufacturing transformations, improving the performance, quality and profitability of Connecticut companies, visit



Vol. 2, No. 2

in mily

Embracing continuous improvement and implementing Lean throughout the enterprise, Modern Woodcrafts is making plans for a third generation.

by Caren Dickman Photographs by Jennifer Fiereck


mbracing the common sense principles of Lean came naturally to Gerald Pelletier, founder of Modern Woodcrafts, Inc. His daughter, current President Lisa Pelletier-Fekete, notes “Dad kept his business very Lean – it was in his nature.” Gerald’s four core company values are the essence of continuous improvement. Treat each customer as if they are your only customer. Always look for ways to improve process and product. Focus on quality and hire the best team of employees. That was 1959. Today, these four core values continue to drive this second generation family run business. Modern Woodcrafts, LLC is a full service custom manufacturer of high end architectural interiors for the retail, institutional, corporate and hospitality markets. Each job is engineered and manufactured to order. Gerald Pelletier launched Modern Woodcrafts in his garage in 1959. Six months later, after cutting a large hole in the wall to get a job out, he decided it was time to move. This was the first of many moves, each one driven by the need for more production space. By 1970 he bought the current building – a 65,000 square foot warehousing and production facility in Plainville. The company’s first 50 years were all about growth – increasing sales, production capacity and profit. It purchased the CT plant then bought another 95,000 square foot plant in Maine. It also invested in equipment capacity – buying an AutoCAD System to replace traditional drawing, installing the first of three CNC machining centers and later making a $1 million investment in equipment and software. Poised for continued growth, it entered the 21st century using modern equipment in full-scale production and inventory facilities. But entrance into the 21st century brought on a “silver tsunami” with many top executives and shop floor workers retiring, leaving behind waves of transition in their wake. In 2008 Lisa Pelletier-Fekete was promoted to President. Simultaneously, Joe Legere was promoted to Vice


President of Operations. The next year Modern Woodcrafts made a second major $2 million investment in equipment and software. Business remained strong, but the company was carrying too much overhead, too much capacity and too much duplicate equipment. Joe turned his attention to operational inefficiencies to improve workflow and production. Modern Woodcrafts’ 50th anniversary in 2009 was a bittersweet milestone. The recession hit hard - they had to close the Maine plant, laying off 43% of the workforce and selling or consolidating equipment. They kept the Connecticut plant because it’s a newer building better suited for modern day manufacturing than the Maine plant which was a 1920’s mill building. Connecticut is also centrally located to serve a larger regional market in the Northeast.

During the kaizen “…we collectively stumbled upon a way to create one piece flow that could be adapted to our organization. We took products and divided them into eight categories. Each category contains products that have consistent manufacturing processes and similar capacity loading for each work cell.” The team created a matrix and derived the optimal work order size for consistent flow of every product category through the shop. Prior to this kaizen, Joe says cycle time “...varied wildly from job to job and work order to work order.”

CONNSTEP’s John McCarroll speaks with Modern Woodcraft’s Joe Legere (center) and Scott Thibodeau (right).

Lisa used this anniversary to confirm her commitment to the company’s future. Modern Woodcrafts set out on its continuous improvement journey. “With new management and enthusiasm, we want to carry on a legacy.”

Standardizing cycle time created a consistent flow rate, decreasing cycle time from 54.6 hours to 46 hours. They also decreased lead time from 15 to 10.6 days; jobs in process changed from 19 to nine and they identified work flow controls.

CONNSTEP’s Continuous Improvement Champion Certification (CICC) deepened Joe’s knowledge of Lean principles. He undertook a high level project on shop floor layout and workflow process. With funding from Northeast Utilities (NU) PRIME, Modern Woodcrafts implemented its first kaizen, Production Flow-1.

The success of this first kaizen proved the value of CONNSTEP’s approach to Enterprise Wide Lean (EWL). CONNSTEP’s John McCarroll says “Without a holistic approach, continuous improvement becomes the program of the year. It makes more sense to zero in on the Lean solutions that best support the company’s vision and business strategies.”

CONNSTEP led the project, using value stream mapping to view their process and set the direction. As a full service custom manufacturer that engineers and manufactures each job to order, it was difficult to establish a good system that consistently produced all products because of the number of variations. The first kaizen changed this.

John began EWL by coaching the steering committee through the process of developing their vision statement. Lisa claims “John’s integrity and perseverance helped us stay on track, despite the many opportunities to take the easy route and just quit. CONNSTEP was instrumental in guiding us through this.”

Had we not engaged in our Lean journey, we very well might be like so many other businesses in our industry that did not make it through this recession. Joe Legere



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At the same time, CONNSTEP introduced all employees to Lean principles with introductory training. As with most companies, employees were resistant to change at first. It was hard for some of the long-time shop floor workers to understand why things that worked so well for 50 years and made them top in their field now had to change for the company to survive. Even some of the newer employees, like Scott Thibodeau, were initially skeptical. “I had some previous exposure to Lean principles, but was, frankly, a non-believer until I joined the Modern Woodcrafts team. Here I’ve seen results both on the shop floor and in the office that have dramatically increased flow and organization. My father taught me the tools for my success in the woodworking industry and CONNSTEP taught me the Lean principles to achieve greater success through flow, 5S and continuous improvement.” Modern Woodcrafts used their second NU PRIME kaizen, Production Flow-II, to create consistent flow in the shop. CONNSTEP led this project which uses a universal ship date to drive all operations. The team established a first in, first out system driven by ship date, in which all resources are focused on one job at a time and getting it out the door. By digging deeper into their production flow processes, the team achieved even stronger results. Lead time decreased further, from 10.6 days to five days. By re-designing the shop floor into modular work areas the company freed up 5,000 square feet that they used to house equipment from the Maine plant. Cycle hours per release dropped from 262 hours to 208 hours. In addition, they identified an average 21% improvement in machine efficiency.

In the next kaizen, the team worked on Joe’s CICC kaizen Project – Assembly Flow/5S. They divided the floor into three color coded teams of five with one being a cell leader. This system put five people on one job until they got it done before they moved on to the next job. To be successful, this also required cross training so that expertise was available on demand to complete a job. Cellular based assembly teams established one piece flow, dramatically improving the work flow. Fewer people produced twice the volume at less cost. The team reduced WIP by 50% and reduced space utilization by 30%. They also reduced production paperwork by 50%. Prior to this kaizen, work was assigned by expertise - often leading to production interruption. Joe calls it “…production by chaos because it was driven by who could do what when. Projects were set aside while they waited for the right person to do them. Sometimes projects got lost in the shuffle, which created chaos and sometimes overtime to get a project out on time.” Office backlogs delayed response time because of inconsistent procedures and how long something sat on someone’s desk. In the Project Management Flow kaizen, the team identified areas where they could develop a universal system with policies, job descriptions and work instructions. They established standard work for the management of all projects from kick-off to completion. Engineering and purchasing created a system that is 100% driven by ship date as is the plant floor.

production start time from one week (or more) to 24 hours. Overall, the team decreased lead time from 100 to 74 days. Adding a plant manager was another key business strategy. Within one month of his promotion, Scott Thibodeau began CONNSTEP’s CICC program and work on his kaizen project. His goal was to perform a 5S in the Finishing Department to better utilize space. By modifying cart design he gained 800 square feet. He created visual sample boards for all active jobs which identify all finishes and current status. Scott also created 5S standards and audits for the Finish Cell. Modern Woodcrafts has executed three significant operational improvements since they began their Lean journey. Two of these have very clear financial impacts. Physical inventory levels have decreased from $500,000 to $100,000. Secondly, manufacturing space utilization has increased 100% from its previous level. In 2007, they produced $21 million in revenues using 130,000 square feet of manufacturing space in a single shift. Today, they are confident they can produce $20M in revenues out of 55,000 square feet. This number could go higher with the addition of a second shift in certain cells. Joe attributes this to tighter WIP management, reduced inventory space and the removal of waste from the shop floor. They took out oversized work benches, excess scrap and under used machines and they reorganized the workstations for maximum use of space.

The third significant operational impact is difficult to put a dollar sign on. However, decreased lead time has also contributed to improved Modern Woodcraft’s President, Lisa Pelletier-Fekete, inspects panels being production flow and better constructed for a major retail installation. space utilization.

Sales reduced the gap between bid award and

The company has invested in state-of-the-art equipment but has also invested in their employees. Every craftsperson is crosstrained which has not only increased their skills but has given them a hands-on understanding of the entire project.

management and production techniques of the 21st century but their commitment to Gerald’s legacy remains firm – as does their commitment to continuous improvement. Joe believes that the use of key business metrics will continue to drive Lean behaviors. “When you go beyond the financial results, you tend to give employees the measurements and feedback they need in real time so they can make consistent decisions that align with the vision statement goals and continuous improvement objectives.” The next continuous improvement project will create company-wide transparency for all employees. Joe plans to use digital distribution to share information so that everyone will know what’s happening in real time. In the office they’ve done this with e-mail alerts. On the shop floor he plans to install flat screens in each cell. Though the company’s revenues have risen steadily since 2008, economic conditions in the industry have eroded profits. Yet Joe is confident that their commitment to continuous improvement will make them a better producer so that when more work is available they will provide more value to their customers. He adds, “Had we not engaged in our Lean journey, we very well might be like so many other businesses in our industry that did not make it through this recession.” Lisa also remains optimistic. “We retired a lot of experience over the past three years, but we have a younger, more enthusiastic team who understands the commitment needed to achieve our goals of increased profitability. Although economically this is a tough situation for everybody, we have embraced it as a time to scrutinize our procedures, policies and our commitment to Lean principles. What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger, and we are planning to be around for a long time.” For more information about Modern Woodcrafts, please visit


Today, under Lisa’s leadership, the company continues to evolve into the


A Woman’s Place… is in a factory.



Vol. 2, No. 2

These women embrace their feminine advantage and are outspoken advocates for the next generation of manufacturing leaders.

By Susie Zimmermann Photographs by Jennifer Fiereck


orty-some years ago, Kris Lorch learned a quick

lesson in standing her ground as a woman “in a man’s world.” She was driving a truck for the garment industry when it was struck by an 18-wheeler. The driver scolded her, saying she should have been home washing dishes, and would only speak to her boss about the accident. Rather than become skeptical and bitter about the challenges women face in manufacturing, Lorch just became stronger and surprisingly, more tolerant. “But only for bosses and jobs that would stand behind me and not blow me off.” Friendly banter was okay, as long as it did not get in the way of her hard work and no-nonsense approach. “I was willing to work as hard as any guy. Eventually, that work paid off, and I never would use how the guys treated me as an excuse.” Lorch is president and CEO of Alloy Engineering in Bridgeport. Carol Wallace, president and CEO of Cooper Atkins Corporation, encountered similar gender discrimination


early in her career. While heading

industries, according to the U.S.

purchasing and inventory control at a

Census, is female, women fill only

100-year old firm, she encountered great

14% of senior executive roles.

resistance working as the only woman in

Twenty-eight percent of firms in

senior management. “It was like pushing

Connecticut are women-owned,

a rock uphill, but with time and hard work

but most of those companies

I made good strides and became well

have zero or very few employees.

respected by the group.” Still, at bonus

Among the Fortune 500 in 2012,

time, she was given a bonus less than that

only 18 are led by female CEOs.

of her male colleagues. Only after raising the question of discrimination did the

Women still have a long way to go

boss relent and agree to give her an equal

to be equally represented in upper

bonus—by giving her the cash she was

management positions, but they

due in the parking lot out of sight of the

have made great strides in the last

rest of the team.

decade. More women are taking over their family businesses when

In spite of these early challenges, these

a father decides to step down, but

and other women in charge of some of

not without proving themselves

Connecticut’s manufacturers have kept

first in other businesses. “Until

their eyes on the prize, working hard and

only recently it was assumed that

discovering strategies along the way to

the men in the family would take

bypass the naysayers and focus on what’s

over,” says Bonnie Del Conte, president

best for business. In the process, they

of CONNSTEP. “Today, many women are

have paved the way for more women to

among the next generation stepping in

follow, established strategies for success

to lead manufacturing firms.” Others are

for all employees moving up the corporate

moving up in the ranks, competing with

ladder and defined the special skills

men and capitalizing on opportunities to

women can draw upon to succeed.

develop skills across divisions, build teams

Carol Wallace, President & CEO Cooper Atkins Corporation of Middlefield

and focus on bottom-line impacts. Breaking through the Glass Ceiling According to the Bureau of Labor

What propelled the women who are

Statistics, 28% of the manufacturing

in charge of some of Connecticut’s

workforce is female. And while 51% of

manufacturing firms? Many of them are

managerial or professional positions in all

daughters of fathers who treated them as

enter a room of other CEOs and be the only female.” Allison Schieffelin, president of The Lighting Quotient in West Haven, learned from her father to value exemplary work and not to back off from being the best. “If everyone earned an A on a test, he was only really impressed if mine was the only one in the class.” Participating in team sports taught her the value of collaboration, maximizing

equals to their brothers, with high expectations Allison Schieffelin, President, The Lighting Quotient, West Haven

for all. “Dad raised my brothers and sisters all exactly the same, with no distinctions for girls versus boys,” recalls Kathy Saint, president and CEO of Schwerdtle, Inc. in Bridgeport. “I never thought about gender in my work—it only became apparent to me as a topic for discussion when I would



Vol. 2, No. 2

Being the best and being a team player aren’t mutually exclusive. Don’t ever apologize for being the best. Allison Schieffelin

legislation that mandated equal opportunities for women in collegiate sports, perhaps it’s

Women must pull up their bootstraps

no surprise that more women will have the experience of competitive sports to propel them into the corporate world.

to take over these

In order to succeed and stand

businesses in our

industry, these and other

state. They have the

harder than their colleagues. “I

brains to do it well!

while at the same time “get

out in a male-dominated women probably had to work had to make fewer mistakes,” along rather than make a fuss over the little injustices or sexist

Kris Lorch

comments that came my way,” remembers Wallace. While she was willing to take on issues of

Kris Lorch, President & CEO, Alloy Engineering, Bridgeport

pay equity with her boss, she every opportunity, setting goals and appreciating the importance of each player’s contribution. Recognizing the value of both individual and team achievement, Schieffelin firmly believes that “being the best and being a team player aren’t mutually exclusive.”

chose to overlook remarks about her clothing or hairstyle to maintain friendly relationships with colleagues—and in the process keep her focus on doing her very best work. She found the most success when she “avoided the resistors, and instead worked with those below them to get the job done.”

With the 40th anniversary of the Title IX

Paving the Way for the Next Generation

Kathy Saint, President & CEO, Schwerdtle, Inc., Bridgeport

As CEOs, these women are committed to strengthening manufacturing in Connecticut and helping young girls and women discover careers in manufacturing. Schieffelin has coached at the Hopkins School in New Haven, teaching students the value of team sports and serving as a role model. Lorch actively volunteers in the community serving on dozens of organizational and professional boards and task forces, while Saint advocates with policy makers to improve the business environment for manufacturers in the state.

Wallace is the second female chair of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. As outspoken advocates for women or by quietly modeling success, they are clearing the way to make it easier for the next generation to take their places. To prepare them, Lorch encourages girls to study math, science, technology and engineering—the STEM curriculum that is gaining momentum in schools nationwide. “Women are better with STEM than many men. They are less distracted and can focus for longer periods of time.” Wallace agrees, encouraging guidance counselors to discuss manufacturing as career path for girls: “It’s critically important they do this for manufacturing to survive.” Out of high school, or with an associate’s degree, young women can start in an entry-level position and grow into management. Wallace advises women to mix technology and engineering studies in college with classes in organizational behavior, calling this merging of people and technology a winning combination. Saint says another “magic bullet” in today’s manufacturing combines an


Dad raised my brothers and sisters all exactly the same, with no distinctions for girls versus boys. I never thought about gender in my work—it only became apparent to me as a topic for discussion when I would enter a room of other CEOs and be the only female.

seek out advice and assistance from

learned how to play golf to be included

their peers. “Women CEOs are not

in those offline events that bring CEOs

reluctant to let their guard down,” she

together”—and yet says that she’d be

says. “These women focus not on the

most proud to be a role model as a strong

competition with other companies but

independent woman who still found time

on doing whatever it takes to make

to be a loving wife and stepmother.

their own businesses as efficient and profitable as possible.”

Lorch reminds women to focus on the work and ignore any innuendo or ‘absurd

Many women in Connecticut who are

talk’ they may encounter in the plant.

leading the state’s small and medium-

“Women must pull up their bootstraps to

sized firms are succeeding because

take over these businesses in our state.

of these skills and many others, and

They have the brains to do it well!”

might have even been driven by the challenges and roadblocks they

Schieffelin says it more directly, reminding

faced on their way to the executive

women of their capabilities and potential:

office. Now that they’re there, they

“Don’t ever apologize for being the best.”

are committed to the success of their businesses, and none are considering


yet the idea of retirement. “I’m having too much fun to think about stopping anytime soon,” declares Saint. Wallace continues to build her network to learn from her peers—“I even

Our thanks to Karen Hudkins, Director of the The New Britain Industrial Museum for her generous hospitality in allowing us to host a breakfast and take photos of our featured Women in Manufacturing.

Kathy Saint

engineering degree with an MBA. Skills of collaboration, says Wallace, give women “the edge to succeed,” and make them naturally more nurturing and more successful at cultivating relationships and strong teams.

At the New Britain Industrial Museum you will discover the vast array of items pioneered and produced in New Britain by generations of innovative and inventive people drawn to work in, what came to be known as, the Hardware Capital of the World. From hooks and eyes produced by hand in the early 1800’s to Fafnir Bearings produced in clean rooms for the U.S. Space Program to items currently manufactured in New Britain, the museum’s collection celebrates the city’s contribution to manufacturing world-wide.

The Feminine Advantage These talented women credit their gender as being better at multi-tasking, seeing multiple sides of an issue, encouraging dialogue, instilling teamwork, and ensuring the general care and welfare of

Because there is inspiration for the future and an appreciation for the past to be gleaned by the accomplishments of those who came before us, our mission is to use the collection as a way to inspire the next generation and increase pride in the community. This is done by exhibiting items manufactured in New Britain, sharing the histories of the factories where these items were manufactured and telling the stories of the people who started it all.

employees to build a dedicated workforce. Del Conte agrees and observes that women are more likely than men to



Vol. 2, No. 2

The museum is open 12-5 p.m. on Wednesdays, 2-5 p.m. M, T, Th, F and by appointment. Visit us at 185 Main Street, New Britain, CT | | 860.832.8654

Waste Watchers Armed with new tools and a new approach to defining waste, Putnam Precision Molding has not only reduced their energy use, but has developed a team of waste detectives.


lastics touch all aspects of our lives on a daily basis - from

consumer product packaging to electronics to transportation to writing utensils - plastic products are all around us. The way we use these products determines the raw material used in their production. Will the final product be a component of something larger? Will the product be required to hold or house other products? Will it be exposed to extreme forces or elements? In today’s marketplace there are thousands of plastic resins available for manufacture with viability depending on the requirements of the final application. Putnam Precision Molding Inc., a custom injection molded parts manufacturer located in Putnam, Connecticut, specializes in running high-performance resins for specialized applications.

Michael Perrelli

Compared to commodity or industrial level resins that form products such as toys, dishes, cups and appliance housings, high performance resins comprise products that would melt, break, or wear down if made of the lower level materials. “We run materials at the top of the plastics pyramid,� says Chris Voorhees,

>> for more examples of companies leveraging energy and environmental initiatives to achieve sustainable operations, visit


Operations Manager with Putnam

resins. The injection molding process

Precision Molding. “These materials all

itself, where plastic resin is fed into a

Housed in a facility constructed in 1967

have special properties for applications

heated barrel, then mixed, and forced

with methods and materials of that time,

where metal or other materials wouldn’t

into a mold where it cools and hardens to

Voorhees knew they must be wasting

work or would be considered unsuitable.”

the configuration of the cavity, is heavily

energy through the building envelope

reliant upon energy.

as well as through their manufacturing

As part of Ensinger, a German-based

process, but did not have the resources to

company with entities across the globe in

“Our equipment is different to that of a

adequately tackle the challenge. Being a

various disciplines of plastic production,

commodity or industrial plastic injection

veteran of Lean training, Voorhees knew

Putnam Precision Molding provides a total

molding facility because the materials

the first step must be the training and

solution approach to customer demands.

are very corrosive, more difficult to melt

education of the workforce, believing

When a customer approaches Ensinger

and push into the cavities,” explains

it necessary to raise worker awareness

with a need, the most logical discipline

Voorhees. “Our equipment needs to be

on the importance of becoming more

is awarded the project. “The same grade

capable of reaching levels above 1000

environmentally focused and to provide

of plastic can be injection molded

the skills needed for everyone to

or extruded, but each process

lead workplace-based sustainable

produces outcomes with different


physical properties,” says Voorhees when explaining the unique

In a recent survey completed by

worldwide sales organization. “A

Connecticut Business and Industry

fellow extrusion company within

Association, 29% of the 390

the Ensinger group may realize the

survey respondents noted that the

application would be better served

single greatest barrier to “going

going through an injection molder

green” is a lack of knowledge

and would pass that project along

regarding sustainable practices.

to us. The entire organization tries

As with Lean, a culture change is

to present customers with the total

required for everyone to embrace


the new focus and methodology, “If the people involved in the

During their 15-year tenure with

initiative aren’t educated, it will

Ensinger, Putnam Precision Molding

degrees Fahrenheit. A machine molding

be doomed to fail from the start. The

has placed great emphasis on creating

plastic cups requires a lot less energy than

three-day Green Collar program was a

additional output with the same resources

molding a high performance material.”

combination of classroom and on-the-

through the implementation of Lean

shop floor training that kept people

Manufacturing, the installation of

For years, Putnam Precision Molding has

engaged and excited,” Voorhees explains.

new equipment, and attention to new

utilized Lean principles but never thought

“After we learned the key concepts and

processes by which to produce high

about incorporating an environmental

how to identify energy waste on the

quality product. “The drive to constantly

(aka green) or energy perspective, “We

floor and in the office, our staff was on

get better at what we are doing is a core

decided to use CONNSTEP’s Green Collar

self-directed detective hunts searching for

value of our company,” says Voorhees. “If

approach in combining Lean and Green

improvements. It became fun for them.”

you are standing still and not improving,

methodologies to identify waste and

you are going backwards. It is a constant

opportunities. Most people think of Lean

Voorhees recalls one particular example

battle to bring costs down and improve

as a way to remove and prevent waste

that stood out. Using the UltraProbe, a

our processes.”

from occurring but they forget wasting

tool that detects air leaks, the Putnam

energy is waste too,” says Voorhees.

Precision Molding team was able to

“Many members of our staff weren’t

find $3,600 worth of air leaks in just

A Real Eye Opener

aware of the total cost of running

90 minutes. All of these leaks were

Running 26 molding machines, five days a

an operation like this from an energy

undetectable by the human ear, “When

week, is a costly venture for any injection

standpoint. Because you don’t ‘see’

we came back from our hunt, we

molder, but more so for Putnam Precision

energy waste, it’s harder to think of it as

converted measurements into numbers,

Molding due to the high performance


and then into dollars. It opened everyone’s



Vol. 2, No. 2

changes are highly visible and easy to see.”

When we came back from our hunt, we converted measurements into numbers, and then into dollars. It opened everyone’s eyes to the opportunity that was in front of us.

With Connecticut ranking second among the top ten states with the highest energy costs in the nation, companies all across the state are embracing sustainability activities to help lower operating costs and reduce their environmental impact. Through just the initial training program and implementation of energy savings initiatives, Putnam Precision Molding has

Chris Vorhees

realized significant impacts including cost savings of $10,000, an increase in sales of $100,000, the addition of six new jobs, and has been able to retain twelve existing

we are making the right strides in our

positions. In addition, the company

of us,” Voorhees says. “The staff thought

sustainability efforts that provide benefits

has been able to reinvest $27,000 into

that a little leak here and a little leak

across the entire business and into our

equipment upgrades and workforce skills

there weren’t of concern, but this training

communities. The key is for us to sustain


showed them that combined, this wasn’t


eyes to the opportunity that was in front

a little problem. This is a huge problem

Putnam Precision Molding isn’t content

and a problem that can be fixed if we

The improvements go far beyond

with these initial results - the list of

adjust our equipment, our processes, the

detecting and correcting air leaks. New

future improvements isn’t a short one for

way we think, and the way we behave.”

desiccant resin drying machines, that

Voorhees and his team. Items ranging

consume one-third of the energy of the

from window replacements to launching

older models, have been added. Natural

a recyclable and returnable packaging

The Future Looks Green

light now fills the offices and machines,

program with their customers are on their

While plastic itself isn’t considered

such as exhaust vacuums or heaters,

to-do list. Voorhees is confident in the

“green” by some, Putnam Precision

are no longer left running idle on the

change taking place among his staff. “We

Molding doesn’t see it that way, “Good

production floor causing maintenance

have a trained staff that stretches across

injection molders are the best recyclers in

personnel to attend to overheating

the entire facility, from the front door all

the world. We could be sending massive

motors. “We have connected operations

the way to the back door. People are now

amounts of waste and scrap to landfills,

so they shut off together. We have

proactively identifying opportunities for

but the majority of our materials can

removed the steps one might forget by

improvement and want to do something

be reused and are reused. We know

introducing automation,” Voorhees says.

about it.”

“In the case of our office

A staff showing the desire to make

staff, they

these changes, as opposed to one that is

have made

forced to do so, is a sure-fire sign that the


foundation is in place for Putnam Precision

changes in

Molding’s energy and environmental

terms of their

initiatives to enjoy long-term sustainability.

light use. Some are even taking

For more information about Putnam

some of the

Precision Molding, visit

principles we

learned and are implementing them in their


homes. The


Balancing Act Beth Scherer Curtis Packaging I thought a lot about the meaning of the word “sustainability” in preparation for this column. The classic definition taught in environmental studies courses across the country came from the Brundtland Commission. Sustainable development, as the Commission defined it, “meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” But what does the word mean to the layperson, the person who might not feel passionately, as I do, about conservation and who has not heard that mantra so many times they could recite it like the pledge of allegiance? I decided to find out. I walked around our offices and our shop floor, assured people that what I was about to ask was “not a test”, and then asked them “off the top of your head, in one sentence, what is a sustainable business?” I received a wide range of answers, some having to do with the environment, some not, but my favorite came from Steve Rainone in our Pre-Press

Beth Scherer leads the sustainability program at Curtis Packaging, the pioneer in sustainable production of luxury folding cartons. Curtis was the first print and packaging

department. Steve said, “Beth, you can wordsmith something, but it basically comes down to

company in North America to operate using 100%

being responsible; to taking responsibility for our actions.”

renewable electricity, be carbon neutral, and be certified by both the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

It occurred to me that what is now called “sustainable business” could just as easily be called “responsible business.” We as a company are responsible to our employees, our customers and our local community. We are responsible to those who we can’t see, but who our operations

Ms. Scherer is responsible for setting company-wide environmental goals, implementing sustainability programs, and all CSR reporting. She holds a Masters

affect. That responsibility means taking into account the resources we use (because then others

of Environmental Management from the Yale School of

cannot use them), and the things we produce (both intentionally and unintentionally), the

Forestry & Environmental Studies and a BA in Economics

longevity of our business and the health and happiness of our employees in each and every decision that we make. We do not do this perfectly, and I have yet to come across a business that does. It’s a giant balancing act. So what does “sustainability” mean at Curtis Packaging? It means that we choose to power our facility using 100% renewable energy and that we’re carbon neutral. It means that we offer certified forest products from the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative and products that contain post consumer recycled fiber. It means that in the last year we’ve increased our recycling rate from 56 to 90 percent (a decision that happens to be quite beneficial to our bottom line). It means that we recently implemented a new and improved review process for all employees that will allow for more and better feedback and training. It means that we’re in the process of developing an environmental management system compliant with ISO 14001. It means that we strive to regularly communicate with our stakeholders about the decisions we make and our progress toward our goals. But most importantly it means that we work every day to continuously improve our performance in people, planet, and profits. Taking more factors into account in our decision making processes indisputably requires more work. There are few easy fixes, certainly no correct answers, and no point at which we’ll officially cross some threshold to being “sustainable.” Sometimes decisions result in an immediate financial payback and sometimes the benefits are less quantifiable. In the end, as Don Droppo, Jr. our president & CEO, is fond of saying “no one will ever fault you for trying to do the right thing.”



Vol. 2, No. 2

from Colby College.

by the numbers



CONNSTEP Continuous Improvement Champion Certification program launched to provide the principles and practices needed to develop and sustain Lean enterprises across Connecticut.


graduates to date from 101 Connecticut companies across industries including aerospace and defense, medical device, plastics, chemicals and contract manufacturers.


Lean tools are covered during the CICC course. Together with on-site mentoring, participants apply the learned principles in a real-time project within their organizations.


the average number of members on a project kaizen team... CICC participants learn how to prioritize improvement opportunities, develop skills to build strong teams and are taught how to lead kaizen, focused on providing immediate, measureable and profitable impacts.

Unique projects During the CICC program, participants implement the Lean tools through a real-time project at their company site. Unique to each company’s process, projects lead to measurable ROI results.


A typical CICC project yields ROI of at least five times the program tuition.

CICC is for everyone







percent of CICC graduates are Vice Presidents or above

percent of CICC graduates are designated as Lean or Continuous Improvement professionals

percent of CICC graduates hold Administrative roles within their companies

percent of CICC graduates are FEMALE

percent of CICC graduates are in Quality positions

percent of CICC graduates are serving in an Engineering capacity

TOP 5 REASONS to Invest in Continuous Improvement Champions CI Champions steer and support the entire continuous improvement strategy toward business and operational objectives. CI Champions ensure Lean initiatives are aligned with the strategic goals of the organization. CI Champions communicate the “WIIFM” to all stakeholders. CI Champions identify enterprise-wide improvement opportunities that support the organization’s goals - they become the change agent. CI Champions learn by doing and educate the masses to help promote Lean thinking. CI Champions ensure sustainability of improvement initiatives. Not convinced? Check out the recent project results at


CONNSTEP, Inc. 1090 Elm Street, Suite 202 Rocky Hill, CT 06067

Tel 860.529.5120 Fax 860.529.5001

For the small to medium size business that wants to remain competitive and grow in local and global markets, CONNSTEP provides technical and business solutions proven to have both immediate and sustainable long-term impact. Unlike other professional consultants that focus only on a single component of your business, CONNSTEP’s multidisciplinary team uses a deliberate holistic approach, providing innovative results-driven top line growth solutions that impact the entire organization. Since 1994, nine out of ten CONNSTEP clients have reported increased profitability. In 2011 alone, data provided by an independent survey credited CONNSTEP with impacts of more than $160 million dollars, including new and retained sales, and the creation and retention of nearly 1,600 jobs. Our experience and network of local, state and federal resources, make us not only unique but unequaled in our field and in our state.


CONNSTEP advantage, Vol 2, Issue 2  

The CONNSTEP advantage ispublished by CONNSTEP, Inc. For the small to medium size business that wants to remain competitive and grow in loca...

CONNSTEP advantage, Vol 2, Issue 2  

The CONNSTEP advantage ispublished by CONNSTEP, Inc. For the small to medium size business that wants to remain competitive and grow in loca...