Lisa Ryan: Hey, I'm Lisa Ryan and welcome to the manufacturers' network podcast, I'm excited to bring you my guest today. Scott McKenzie, the host of the industrial talk podcast and one of my very favorite people on the planet, and he will soon be one of yours as well. Scott, welcome to the show.
Scott MacKenzie: Well absolutely honored to be part of this particular podcast. I love it. I love what you're doing. I love what you stand for. I love your purpose and your passion and everything's associated with it, you are adding value to a lot of people right now. I love it.
Lisa Ryan: Well, we actually got together because I was on your podcast, which I know you've been doing for a number of years. I'd like for you to just kind of share your journey. And where were you were in your career and what got you to what you're doing today.
Scott MacKenzie: Yeah, I have a strong industry background. I was with Price Waterhouse - did a lot of work there. And then I also then went into a terminal company took it public, retired and then I started my own maintenance company. I spent a lot of money on print from a marketing perspective and the attention perspective got nothing out of it.
I was just coming back from a client. And I was listening to a podcast and for whatever reason, I decided I can do that. And all I wanted to do was just be able to open up a dialogue with companies that I could never get in through the door. Nobody wants to talk about industrial maintenance, but if they have something going on, I'd always say, “Hey, get on the podcast. I think the listeners would love to hear about what's going on in your company,” and for the most part people would say “yes.”
And that's how the door was open and it turned out to be just an absolutely incredible journey. And podcasting has just been a wonderful experience because I get to meet people like you and others around the world just because of this. It's good. It's cool. That's, that's it.
Lisa Ryan: We actually met on the podcasts, of course, so we didn't meet live until a couple of months ago when you got to come to my lovely city of Cleveland to show us off and work with some of the manufacturing leaders in Cleveland, so just yeah props to you number one for showcasing one of the best cities in the world.
Scott MacKenzie: Without a doubt, and, and boy that manufacturing base in that whole area Northeast Ohio - Team NEO, Manufacturing Works, Magnet. It takes incredible passion for that area to be successful, especially where we're going in this COVID. I don't have an answer. I don't have a crystal ball on that. However, you guys have got tremendous skills in that area manufacturing skills. Good stuff.
Lisa Ryan: So what are some of the things that you're seeing right now that have just been some highlights some of the things that manufacturers are doing really well. As far as keeping up with the times and moving forward into the next year and into the next decade.
Scott MacKenzie: Yeah, that's an interesting question because nobody in their business continuity plan had a global pandemic. So from a manufacturing perspective, what I saw was really positive versus some of the challenges which we all know. The challenges included how nimble manufacturers can be. They had to keep the lights on. They had to survive.
Now I hope they're at a point where they can begin to rebuild it and then begin to prosper in whatever this next normal is, but what I really saw was that these leaders these manufacturing leaders figure out how to survive because when you start looking at their business, it wasn't just “here's the business” because that definitely got hammered, but “where is my supply chain? Where do I, where do I source my feedstock. What do I how it's it's been decimated? I was in Asia, and I was putting in and bolts and now that's all messed up. How do I reach or near-shore onshore what it, what are my strategies around that? And then once again what does the market look like? How do I manufacturer to those that the demands of the market?
It was just absolutely all new and it just demonstrated a tremendous amount of leadership on the part of manufacturers.
Lisa Ryan: Well, and just being able to see manufacturers that yeah one day they're brewing beer and the next day they're making hand sanitizer. Or one day they're making clothing and the next day they're making masks. So, not only to be able to turn on a dime like that but also to let their employees know that hey you're contributing to something that’s part of the solution in this pandemic that we're all facing. For lots of people, not only in my industry, but lots of other people I talked to this was going to be the best year ever. Everything was going so well and then March came and the bottom fell out. So it's been definitely an interesting year.
Scott MacKenzie: I think one of the positives and I'm always gonna try to gravitate to the positive is that I think pre-pandemic. We were lazy. We were just, sort of, just going through the motion and economy and all of that stuff during the pandemic. I think that there were meaningful conversations, the realization that people - it's a people conversation. And so many of these manufacturers sat down with their team and said, “I need your help.” And there was a level of vulnerability that exists.
You didn't have the answers you know why? Because you've never been through it and you needed that ability to collaborate, not just internally. Which is a good thing where you're creating that dialogue and you're valuable, but also externally and saying, “I don't have the answers, either.” So I need to collaborate with other individuals outside and there was this need to help everybody tried to survive. And that was a beautiful thing. And I hope going forward, that that is not lost. And that we continue to collaborate in a way that helps everybody succeed.
Lisa Ryan: Well, also, it really helped us speed up technology because when we look at who runs a lot of the manufacturing companies, it’s like, “We've been doing it this way for 40 years, man. We don't need those apps. We don't need that video, and we're not going to do the zoom thing, whatever that is.” But you were forced into it. So from a technology standpoint, it seems that we just blasted five or 10 years into the future. Further than if we had just stayed put.
And that level of communicating, especially with your millennial and Gen Z employees who are used to communicating this way. It's like, now we just really expanded our options as far as doing that which is super cool.
Scott MacKenzie: So this is an interesting point that you bring up Lisa one there's that digital transformation and pre-virus. There were companies saying, “I hear this industry 4.0, I hear IoT, edge, cloud, jet - all of the things that are associated with industry 4.0 and they put it on their plan two to five years. We’re gonna start to deploy it right. Then there were companies that said, hey, this is important to us and so we're going to begin to deploy our digital transformation strategy, whatever that might look like. The ones that did it right beforehand or in a better position today than the ones that right just sort of planned it out. That's one.
The other challenge that exists because of the pandemic, because of the challenges and the focus on digital transformation is the education gap that exists now so what used to be something that, “hey we're planning, we're going to have a grand time and we're going to learn a little bit this and little edge of this and really just sort of meander on into digital transformation.”
Now we've realized that there is a necessity and in any of your young listeners out there anything that deals with IoT digital transformation AI. Edge robots get into it because now there's this major gap and the speed of technology is demanding that there's an educated workforce that can respond to that.
You’re not going to go down the world of digital transformation if you don't have the resources, the people, the human element in doing that. It just, you're not so that education components massive especially now mess.
Lisa Ryan: Well, and that also helps us to change the conversation because, for a lot of parents, a lot of guidance school counselors think of manufacturing the way it was back in the day when it was loud and dirty and greasy grimy and the technology that's taken over. I mean, you walk into some of these plants and it's clean. They're bright. It's exciting. You're seeing all these robots and just cool stuff around and a lot of people don't know that. So it's just really, how are you getting the word out. How are you showing off what you're doing? How are you, attracting people to your industry who may have never considered manufacturing before?
Scott MacKenzie: Isn't that an interesting challenge because that is more of marketing into an attention type of strategy outside of the fact that you gotta educate - that's sophisticated stuff. It's cool stuff. And if you're in the game. If you're doing it. And if that's your profession, you're writing because technology is moving so fast. Version one is yesterday's news now is wearing version two. I'm already hearing about 6G and it's just so fast. But if you're in the game. You're in it, you get to hear it, you get in your learning curve is not a steep get in the game.
And then secondly, you're right. You know, there's this preconceived notion that manufacturing is dirty, filthy, whatever. Now it's a sophisticated profession that is only getting more demanding when it comes to technology sophistication data analytics because there's gold in that skill set. Big time.
Lisa Ryan: Yeah, and I think that COVID has also helped us to look at business and look at production differently. My husband just went back to work after being furloughed for eight months and they are actually basing their production on who shows up that day because they don't know if one of their workers has been exposed to COVID. They don't know if they have to be in quarantine because a family member was exposed.
So, a year ago, you would have never thought, no, this is the production schedule this or what they're running but like you said to have that flexibility of being able to turn and say, okay, well, instead of making 100 units today. Maybe we can only make 75 because that's who we have- and it’s being okay with that because nobody knows what's what, where we're going, and how these things are when we're going to get back to whatever that next normal is.
Scott MacKenzie: Yeah it. See you bring up another good point. It's when we first started the conversation. One of the things that I was very fascinated with is the ability of manufacturers to be nimble. Because my understanding, prior to the pandemic is that manufacturers, they just they're into doing things in and honing that process over and over and over again. That's what they do. Right.
And now you throw in a pandemic you throw in that. And then all of a sudden, they realize they need to be nimble. Here's the benefit - they're able to say, okay, “Been there, it’s been a pain.” This is how we've adjusted it only benefits them going forward. Now we have 100 people in today, tomorrow, we have 75. This is what we can do and we're still staying alive and moving forward and turning the wheels. That's a great thing. And going forward, people talk about the ability to be able to take a lot of things for granted in the manufacturing process.
I about died when I went to the store and there was nothing on the shelves like toilet paper. And then I realized the importance of manufacturing, I realized the importance of the Supply Chain. I always knew it was, but I'm living it and everybody else is living it.
But what's great about it is that there's this cafeteria type of mindset. If I can modify my manufacturing process to manipulate it and satisfy my customer even better. Instead of a red car, I want that green car. I want it now, you know, and it's just being able to do that real-time.
Manipulation of your manufacturing process that's the data analytics, that is a Iot. That is a technology solution, but that's where we're going. And it only benefits us from a manual from a consumer perspective, it's, it's cool.
Lisa Ryan: So what are you seeing as far as some of the main things that are keeping manufacturers up at night.
Scott MacKenzie: I just think that the market. It's too squiffy right now. I don't know what the answer is. You know, you see the news out there is the demand up, have we seen the impact on business, the economy. It's just before the pandemic, you're really honing in on that data and how you're manufacturing, it's like, you get it. Your idea you're looking at it, you're seeing it. The pandemic hits and all things are just off the table.
One of the biggest challenges is, “how do I make my capital investment when I don't know what the market looks like. I don't even know where I'm going. I'm having a hard time sourcing this. I'm not getting paid because they're having a problem and that's where that collaboration. It's a human solution. You're just going to have to collaborate with people, you're going to have to innovate and you're going to have to educate all the time.
And you're going to have to make that commitment. So the biggest challenges. I don't know what the future looks like I don't know what that means when everybody gets the vaccine does business. Go back to usual, I don't know. If you come across somebody that does know, well question them because I just don't know. But you can have a conversation about what do you do here. Well, we had that problem and we did it this way. Thank you very much. That's helpful and being about each other.
We've got to be we're all in this boat together. You've got to be about the other and helping them succeed if they succeed, you succeed. Bottom line, that's all about industrial talk that's all about what you do you want people to succeed. And if they succeed you succeed.
We can sit there and piss and moan about the pandemic, but it really has opened up the opportunity to have meaningful conversations and people have to take that vulnerable position to say, “Yeah, I don't have all the answers. I used to, but I have now and that's a good thing to be.” I like that.
Lisa Ryan: And I know from just from knowing you, one of your superpowers, is the fact that you are a connector. So as far as, you know, just really helping manufacturers to network to get together with each other.
What are some of the ways that you have found to do that? If somebody struggling with a question and looking for that right person – how do you make those introductions and how have you been so successful connecting people?
Scott MacKenzie: Oh, that's a great question. Outside of the fact that I've been doing this for about two and a half, three years, right, and I've had a really fortunate opportunity to be able to interview. I think the class of 2020 industrial top class of 2020 was far greater than, let's say 200 plus industry professionals industry heroes. Right. And so for me, I get the opportunity to interview and I do it intentionally to figure out what the challenges are and then I think there was like, oh, I know who it is you need to talk to Lisa. I do this quite frequently.
I'll just say, stay on the line. So, and then I'll call the individual and say you need to do this right now, here, and I'll pull up my cell phone and I'll stick it on the mic and say you need to connect and then I'll do it. And then I'll create it and then I back away because, again, if we're not about the necessity to collaborate.
We can't just hold our cards close to our chest. We just can't. We've got to be open. It's got to be an open kimono type of interaction. And so I do that real-time, because I'll get distracted. I'll contact that person and I will get them on the phone and I say that you got to contact them and that's how it works. I can't help facilitate the next step, but I will be a pain in the ass and I will always be it's like hey did you contact them. Did you contact them? Yes. You got to be that way. You got to follow up, you gotta do it.
Lisa Ryan: That and that human connection. Yeah, that's the one thing that we really kind of took for granted and we're getting back to realizing how important that is.
Scott MacKenzie: It, it, it is. And I agree with you, 100% it is at the top of that heap. It's that collaboration and being vulnerable and then always learning and educating. I think education is always up there too. That's leadership, you know, and you're big into leadership, you're big into the gratitude stuff, which is pretty damn cool.
Lisa Ryan: So what is the best way for people to connect with you.
Scott MacKenzie: Go to IndustrialTalk.com and you can see all of the podcast episodes there.