The folks at Park Industries always put together an impressive event, with a nice balance of information and discussion. I can see why people keep comping back!
I’m always most impressed by the fabricators Park invites to share their stories about becoming digital shops. I know this is a competitive industry, but these fabricators are remarkably generous with their time and experience. It’s inspiring! They give detailed advice. They answer real questions.
- What did you purchase first?
- Would you make the same purchase today?
- What mistakes did you make – and how might others avoid them?
Their generosity and humor creates a great environment for collaboration and learning.
Blake Wamstad from Hatton Granite in North Dakota talked us through the investments and process changes he made on his 7-year journey to awesomeness. That journey included investments in digital templating, Moraware scheduling, Slabsmith layouts & Park equipment. Becoming a digital shop reduced his fabrication costs from $10/sq. ft. in 2005 to just over $4/sq. ft. by 2012 – but it also gave him more freedom and more control over his business in general.
By going digital, Hatton Granite:
- reduced time from template to install;
- reduced installation time and errors, and improved customer satisfaction;
- reduced number of total staff;
- improved ability to remake a piece if there is damage;
- improved ability to re-educate and manage staff;
- improved communication with customers and designers.
And all of these improvements combined meant more profit!
OUR BUSINESS EVOLUTION: TRIALS & CELEBRATION
Although operating in a very different market, John Westerkamp with KBR Mfg. in Cincinnati, Ohio also described the transition to digital as a journey. “We went digital in 2005, but we figured it out in 2011!” A great storyteller, John shared the details of his “template” for becoming a profitable, digital shop. In addition to describing the software and equipment he implemented along the way, he also painted a clear picture of how going digital can free you up to achieve other kinds of awesomeness.
We’ve probably all heard, for example, that we need to spend time working ON our business – instead of just being consumed by the day-to-day excitement of working IN the business. Going digital can help fabricators capture that time! Once you get systems and equipment in place so things are running consistently – without you doing all the work yourself – you’ll have time to step back and look for new opportunities to improve.
And improvements don’t always mean more technology. For John, stepping back allowed him to identify places where he needed to change employee behavior – for the sake of both productivity and safety. When training and incentives failed to get his people from damaging tops by transporting them on the wrong carts, he solved the problem by taking technology away. He removed the wheels!
At it’s best, technology gives us more room to be creative.