In a time when e-mail addresses and websites change more frequently than my daughter changes dresses, and customer needs are no more stable than the Silly Bandz fad, manufacturers are seeing a greater need to add agility to their core competencies. Allegra Marketing Print Signs, one of the seven companies who participated in Evanston’s Manufacturing Day Walking Tour Event, demonstrated their agility to the local community during the event itself. Students from Evanston-area high schools submitted their designs for a Manufacturing Day banner to Kyle Kurz, co-owner of Allegra, just after the event kick-off at 11:00. By 1:30, when the tour group reached Allegra’s facility, the pre-press team at Allegra had completed the banner design, incorporating the student’s ideas and verbiage. By 3:30 when the walking tour had wrapped up its final stop, the banner was printed and in the hands of the students for a photo op.
Allegra’s keen understanding of the needs of their clients, as well as the value of making socially responsible decisions such as using all water-based printing chemicals and recyclable materials in their printing presses, makes them a leader in local Illinois manufacturing. The six other companies involved in the Evanston Manufacturing Day Walking Tour also demonstrated critical core competencies. Collins Brothers, a distributor of liquor and wine accessories, for example, has grown a successful business by positioning themselves as a one-stop-shop for their clients who don’t have time to purchase from dozens of vendors. In addition to distributing their own product, Collins procures and resells a wide variety of products made by other manufacturers. Benvenuti and Stein, a custom cabinetry builder, boasts an operational facility that doubles as an impeccable client-ready showroom. They demonstrate an understanding of their clients’ high-end tastes by employing graduates of the Art Institute to work in their paint/stain/finishing area. Pneu-Fast, a high volume plant that produces the world’s best performing collated nails for nail guns, employs experts in metal coatings and applies their proprietary coatings in-house. And the list goes on.
Seeing agility in action at these manufacturers leads me to reflect on the state of manufacturing in general. What causes some manufacturers to recognize the changing demands of the market and nimbly adapt while others seem paralyzed by change? What causes some Illinois manufacturers to proactively reach out to IMEC for support in their sustainability, supply chain, and work-force development initiatives while others seem to be unable to gain traction? I challenge each of us who work in or support of manufacturing to learn from the progressive leaders of the Evanston Manufacturing Day Event and be ready to replace our Silly Bandz with Slap Watches.
Written By Melissa Basa