- Elmhurst, Illinois
"Working with IMEC and StratMarketing Group allowed us to responsibly delegate our SEO strategy and see fantastic results - great partners in an online world.”
“. . . As things evolve and our companies figure out the new game, politically, economically, and culturally, it’s nice to know IMEC is there with resources like your new Made in Illinois, A Modern Playbook for Manufacturers to Compete and Win. One of my favorite parts of this excellent PLAYBOOK was the simplicity of what should be the most important focus - People, Performance and Mindset – with tactical advice. Thank you Dr. Boulay and team for always supporting our special people. We appreciate your dedication.”
“I relate especially to two priorities from this book: workforce and supply chains. Both declined in the U.S. from 2000 until 2010. Both are now coming back. The two are tightly related. We need a higher quantity and quality of workforce to compete and produce the work being reshored. Higher productivity then enables more reshoring, repairing supply chain gaps and attracting more high potential recruits.”
“. . . Made in Illinois, is a wonderful new compilation of writings from the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center and leading manufacturers eager to share their lessons, experiences, and leadership to help the next generation of manufacturers succeed. Leaders across all sectors can find valuable stories that will foster excellence for our state’s creators and makers, dreamers and doers.”
“A helpful guide on how to improve operations, cultivate a high-performing team, and win in the global manufacturing landscape. Dave has captured his team’s most important and relevant advice for manufacturing leaders into one easy-to-read playbook.”
“The success story of U.S. manufacturing was built on adaptability and resilience. IMEC has proven itself to be stewards of both, and they will continue to be an education and networking hub for Illinois manufacturers for decades to come. There’s no better way to stay current on tech, trends, and best practices in the industry.”
“. . . In short, Made in Illinois is recommended for any manager who believes her/his company is less than perfect.”
“At a time of unprecedented change, challenge, and opportunity, the IMEC team has created an extraordinarily solid framework for manufacturers that are hungry to compete and thrive.”
“We never would have been able to achieve an SPRS score in November of 2020 without the guidance of IMEC and Alpine Security. We had no clue how to proceed when we learned of the DFARS requirement. IMEC and Alpine Security were able to educate us in a language we understood.”
“When you have an electromechanical product, you need to ensure that your systems integration is covered- IMEC allowed us to do that by assisting with product development and protecting our intellectual property. The work was a pivotal component of our launch strategy.”
“Our investment in people goes hand-in-hand with our success.”
“IMEC’s knowledgeable and useful assistance was instrumental in Area Diesel Service’s ISO 9001:2015 certification registration.”
“Custom Direct and IMEC were a dream to work with and I would recommend them to anyone. Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was well worth it. Nancy O’Leary from Custom Direct lead the process and took a different path that we would have never considered. Not to mention, they are extremely easy to work with.”
“The work of IMEC, its partners, and the hard-working businesses in the state will mean that ‘made in Illinois’ is not a thing of the past but a thing of the future.”
"Trainer Ed Huey did an outstanding job and many positive comments were received. Ryan Langdon patience with getting this training up and running is greatly appreciated." (Employee Retention Improvement)
"Overall the training was great. The focus was leadership development and we plan to continue with the other half of our group next year. The only change will be to one of the modules." (Leadership Development)
"Service response was phenomenal and service was conducted professionally and efficiently." (COVID-19 Emergency Cleaning Service)
“As our trusted partner, I knew IMEC would be able to [help us] use the international benchmark to realize the level of industry data needed to be more strategic."
"Our IMEC experience—historically, and this year—has been a major source of continuous process improvement, critical to our success."
"I cannot say enough about the team at IMEC and how they have truly expanded our future at Lindy. We would not be in the renewed shape we are in without their knowledge, direction, and networking."
“Meeting IMEC and learning of the resources available to support our team was critical in our internal conversations and driving change throughout the organization."
“Small, emerging, and rural firms throughout Illinois and the Midwest must be able to grow their businesses, and with the support they’ll receive from this grant they can continue to do just that. More businesses will now have the assistance they need as they continue to adapt, survive, and grow."
“IMEC has been investing in the future of Illinois manufacturers by helping them break through growth barriers and sustain competitiveness. This is a great new opportunity for our small and medium-sized manufacturers to take control of their future and lead the way for Illinois to pioneer the next era of manufacturing.”
“The Kane County Board has adopted several unique programs to support manufacturers in Kane County and is delighted to partner with IMEC in this Innovation Voucher Program, where Kane County manufacturers can grow and prepare for the challenges of the future.”
“We found it remarkably difficult to reach the right people and offer an inexpensive, sometimes free, solution to decontaminating PPE. Decision makers are flooded with calls and it’s obvious that there are opportunistic sellers that muddy the waters with product that has not been verified. Not receiving calls back when offering something that works really well, is really inexpensive, and has zero lead time issues, was frustrating. IMEC has been extremely resourceful.”
"We were able to bring our manufacturing back online in shorter amount of time due to the service provided." (COVID-19 Emergency Cleaning Service)
In a small manufacturing community, it’s essential to build close relationships and leverage the experience of others. IMEC provided that for us and internally forced us to examine our network of resources, pulling in the right people and resources to get the job done.
"IMEC has been extremely helpful in presenting Lean Manufacturing approach to my employee's in a way they all understand across generations that I could not." (5S Workplace Organization - Training and Implementation)
“IMEC experts are true professionals in all aspects of the business. I have yet to run into any one that isn’t of the highest grade and we look forward to continuing to utilize the IMEC team for future improvements.”
“We’ve been through a bad decision in the past-the wrong system and poor implementation-and I can tell you from experience that’s much more costly than investing the additional time and money to bring in a resource like IMEC. Using IMEC’s expertise and network, we feel like we did everything possible to make the best decision for our company.”
“I would recommend IMEC to anyone looking to improve their lean initiatives. The IMEC team is very knowledgeable and easy to work with. The instructors speak to our employees on their level and that helps with engagement; very popular with our people.”
“This certification illustrates that we have a strong commitment to quality at all levels of the organization and a commitment to quality to all our customers.”
“There is tremendous value in how IMEC approaches this. They forced us to communicate with each other, in a good way. They gave us assignments and we committed to completing them to stay on track. It’s a process that really worked.”
“It is a work in progress but I am certain we could not be producing the volume we are now producing without the team lead program in place.”
“This project not only helps Prater provide better customer service and grow sales, it provides the opportunity for someone who might not have had the chance to be part of the workforce be an integral part of the solution.“
“IMEC brings a lot of knowledge to the table from their experience with other companies. I would encourage any heavy labor-based manufacturer to take a look at TWI because it will help you reduce costs and keep jobs here in the U.S. IMEC is a great, cost-effective resource to get it done.”
“IMEC has tremendous experts on staff and in their base of subcontractors. The team was helpful in guiding us through the process efficiently and professionally.”
“There is nothing better than watching the people doing the work every day take ownership of the process and do it with enthusiasm. The training we received from IMEC got us started down that path, and it’s the best path we could possibly be on.”
“This review highlighted areas where we could get more cost effective and environmentally friendly. The various activities were presented to the ASC team so that we were easily able to prioritize the activities. A lot of the actions were relatively inexpensive to implement.”
“I really cannot say enough about working with IMEC. To have a resource on-call with expertise that relates directly to our business and who is truly invested in our success has been a fantastic thing.”
“IMEC helped keep us focused and on track. Through the experience the IMEC personnel has from past roles and through other businesses, our staff has gained a great amount of knowledge.”
The relationship with IMEC is incredible – they are always accommodating and go out of their way to work with us. Our company is family, and IMEC just fit right into that. They listened to our ideas and thoughts and went right along with our culture.
IMEC has been terrific at moving us forward while still respecting our company heritage and culture. They never pressured us to move too much, too fast and adjusted their approach to help cater to our company’s unique structure.
I cannot say enough about the team at IMEC and how they have truly expanded our future at Lindy. We would not be in the renewed shape we are in without their knowledge, direction, and networking.
Our organization has substantially benefited both tangibly and intangibly from our relationship with IMEC. Much of the training we have provided would not have been contemplated nor realized without their help. We are grateful for the relationship and we look forward to continuing to work with IMEC to help our company become a World Class Manufacturer within the City of Chicago.
“The IMEC Recognition Program and the volunteer Examiners is a huge network of people that serve as an invaluable resource. They are a community of people on the same journey, which together, are truly helping each other.”
“By teaching us how to do the work ourselves, IMEC gave us the ability to produce more and be more profitable with the same number of people. Their expertise and resources are so valuable for small companies like ours.”
“The IMEC staff was extremely helpful in moving things forward for us. They challenged what we are undertaking internally and gave us direction to progress through improvements. The third party integration as well as the ability to buffer and provide non-biased opinions has been most beneficial.”
“The professional development opportunities ILPEx provides, from the best practices conference to individual training are outstanding. Being able to network with the others on the journey is critical for our continual improvement. ILPEx provides this multitude of opportunities to keep us improving.”
“The process of working with IMEC was eye opening and much less risky; having them as a partner gave us peace of mind and the complete confidence that we had chosen the right software for us. At the same time, the project saved us a lot of wasted time conducting our own evaluation or wasted dollars working with other consultants.”
“IMEC takes time to listen to everyone’s perspectives and they’re very patient. These projects have helped us take a big step forward in modernizing our business processes.”
“I have yet to come across an IMEC rep that isn’t outstanding. Everyone on their team knows exactly what their role is and what they need to do to help me improve my business. It’s a great group to rely on – I wouldn’t even know who to turn to for this kind of help if it weren’t for IMEC.”
“Having someone to support you in this kind of thing is great. We’d work with IMEC again in a minute, and we’re keeping our eyes open for more opportunities.”
“Proactively putting a quality management system in place sets us apart from our competitors. It shows our customers that we’ve examined our procedures and that we follow them consistently. There’s no way I could have done it without IMEC’s help. I’d still be writing procedures today.”
“IMEC has been there and done that. They have a lot of experience, and it’s hands-on experience, not theory. They’re a great partner in our ongoing continuous improvement journey.”
“As you work your business day in and out, you get so used to things that you don’t see them anymore. IMEC gave us the ability to look at our business with fresh eyes.”
“Consultants get a reputation for not delivering results. IMEC delivers on everything they say they will. And their level of expertise and experience is just tremendous.”
“We know that it’s easy to sit back and cut costs, but if you’re not careful, you can also cut value to the customer. With IMEC’s help, we eliminated unnecessary waste while producing the quality our customers expect.”
“We’re looking at this as a multi-year evolution of the company. Continuous improvement is continuous, after all-there’s no end point. IMEC is helping us implement cost-effective solutions within our own four walls.”
“Our big take away is to pay attention to the data and then focus resources on the customers and projects that are the most profitable. Rethink those customers and projects that do not offer a worthwhile return. For us, that meant phasing out some products. It seems pretty basic, and it is, but sometimes we get emotional attachments to customers, products, or projects and disregard what the data is telling us.”
Successes in Enterprise Excellence
Before the Framework
Elmhurst Hospital is a patient-centered care facility and a part of the Edward-Elmhurst Health System. Nearly ten years ago, the hospital was facing a state of change – a move to a new facility built from the ground up was planned and a holistic (mind-body-spirit) and transformational patient-centered care philosophy was being adopted. In order to successfully achieve patient-centered care, Sherri Hill, then Quality Director, and the CNO/COO Pamela Dunley knew the organization would require a sophisticated approach for ongoing improvement and implementation. Sherri knew the Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence could assist in addressing the many challenges. But as is common across healthcare organizations, there can be resistance to adopting yet another “program” and this led to doubt and discouragement from some leadership. However, leadership was determined to move the organization forward, away from fragmented departments and toward alignment of their workforce, strategy, results, and more. It was then that Sherri and Pamela knew the approach had to be about the “evidence-based approach to performance excellence” without the Baldrige label.
It was clear the leadership was interested in a strategic guide to organizational improvement. At the time, there was no other clear alternative for an evidence-based framework being used to improve performance across sectors, and specifically in healthcare. It became something the organization could apply over a period of years without folks knowing they were on the “Baldrige” journey, or with the stigma of “another program”. It was about the journey to performance excellence. Sherri began to ask questions from the framework and integrated the criteria into various department discussions about quality, safety, care coordination and improved work initiatives by focusing on using the data and results to make real progress.
The Journey to Excellence
Without 100% buy-in from senior leadership, Sherri knew Examiner training and the “best” path to understanding the Framework was out of her reach. Instead she needed to pursue other avenues of information about Baldrige to educate herself and share back with the leadership team. By engaging the leadership team with tools and resources focused on organizational excellence, she was quickly gaining the traction she needed to pursue the Framework more formally. When Sherri was named the Associate Vice President of Quality and Safety for Elmhurst Hospital, she knew she had reached a point where she could leverage her leadership alliance with the CNO/COO and begin working on performance improvement at a new level. She had finally reached the point where the organization was more accepting of the opportunity to write and submit an application through the IMEC Recognition Program.
The objective feedback from an external source was a critical, internal selling point. By applying through the IMEC Recognition Program, the Hospital would not only gain more internal clarity and consensus on their systems and results, but facilitate an honest conversation with third party reviewers. The team was on the same page and ready to pursue the organizational blueprint; a document that would serve as a guide for current and future leadership to continue on the journey to excellence. Sherri, Pamela, and members of the senior leadership team completed the application for the 2016 recognition cycle and received a site visit; an in-person perspective that served as a pulse check for where they were and where they needed to go. The organization was on a journey of being the best they could be – it did not matter if they called it “Baldrige” – everyone was aligned around a common goal.
After three years pursuing performance excellence – from the Framework concepts and adopting the true systems perspective, to gaining internal buy-in and application support, all the way to the site visit – Elmhurst Hospital was awarded a Bronze Award for Excellence from the IMEC Recognition Program and were honored at the annual award ceremony in March 2017.
Reflecting on Key Lessons
The Hospital’s journey to excellence was fitting for their organization and the expectations of the internal champions and stakeholders. They had pulled together the right team of individuals and were dedicated to pursuing a long-term path to performance improvement, not simply an award. The team created a structure for themselves to learn, breakdown the silos they had long struggled with, and align with the concepts of the true systems perspective. They were open and responsive to the external feedback and have committed to the continuous process and performance improvements needed to stay on the right track. Opportunities for improvement from the feedback report have generated work plans for teams to review; their inconsistencies became apparent and brought systematic needs to the forefront. As the team continues to do the work they are doing, they now have the Framework and feedback in the background to guide them. Some things are simpler than others, but the commitment to grow and improve will continue to be the true factor for success.
- Dramatically reduced serious safety events by 52% in less than a year.
- Redefined the organization’s strategic plan to incorporate the criteria and ensure more systematic processes
- Contributed to the development of more highly reliable processes and results
- Engaged all levels of the organization in learning and looking for opportunities for improvement and innovation