On this episode, we speak to ManufactureCT President, Mark Auletta who is also the COO at Bauer Inc, and with CompassMSP CEO and Podcast host Ari Santiago. Join us as we take a look at some of the key themes in manufacturing in 2022 and look ahead to the future and 2023.
Welcome to Meet the Manufacturer's podcast. Brought to you by Manufacturer CT and sponsored by Cohn Reznick who are dedicated to helping manufacturers and distributors to enhance their competitive position and succeed in high pressure trade environments. Visit them firstname.lastname@example.org. Meet the Manufacturers is available on all of the world's biggest podcast platforms, including Apple Podcast.
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It's my great pleasure to have two illustrious leaders in the podcast studio. Today I've got Marco Letter, who is the President of Manufacture ct and the one and only Ari Santiago, who is the host of Maiden America, and of course the c e O of Compass, m s p. Gentlemen, welcome to meet the manufacturers.
Claire. Great to be with you and same Ari. Good to.
Yeah, absolutely Claire. Super fun to be on. Appreciate you guys inviting me. Mark, always a pleasure to see you.
Ah, it's always a pleasure. Never a chore is the phrase we always use . So Jens, what we wanted to do is wanted to get you guys together, two manufacturing brains, if you like.nd to talk a little bit about: Tell me a little bit about:
Yeah, well it was great to be back in the office, everyone, back in the office, at least at, at our company, Bauer and Bristol. But I think that held true for many, if not most of our manufacturers across the state. You know, the one big change post pandemic was the amount of hybrid work.was a significant change for: and they're gonna be here for:
mark. I agree. Sort of themeing on a little bit of that.ow, we've really, in my view,:
Zoom stocks, stuff like that. And I think, you know, we're starting to see, you know, I dunno if it's quite a reversion to the mean, but the manufacturing side, you know, a lot of the aero. Commercial stuff seems to be coming back, you know, in a big way. Some of the upside of stay at home, you know, related manufacturing stuff seems to have given way to a little bit more rebound on some of the traditional stuff, I think.
But some of the changes are baked in. And you mentioned hybrid work. I think that's sort of one of 'em. And I, I'm gonna throw a question if you don't mind your way, cuz I just can't help myself, I guess, on a podcast asking a question. But you and I spoke, I, I don't believe it was on the podcast, but we, we speak a lot.
Don't know exactly when, but you know, we had talked about as it relates to Bauer and then in business in general, the idea that we'd seen a lot of meetings moving to virtual. I see some of the virtual stuff moving back to in person with some of the virtual stuff saying, staying virtual, I wonder, are you seeing the same, do you think we've sort of reached as stasis point, or do you think we're still sort of figuring out what the new normal is gonna be?
so I'll put my Bauer hat on as a Chief Operating Officer Bow. and we are back in person, and not only our employees here, but our customers. Mm-hmm. . So as we speak today, actually we have three customers in from Turkish Airlines and Tomor, and they're here for factory acceptance for the next two weeks.
And that's the model that for, you know, 50, 75 years, Bauer has gone by. And we missed that so that it w it came at a huge cost during the pandemic to not have customers be able to travel to Bristol, Connecticut. And likewise, our engineers couldn't travel to Turkish Airlines to do an installation, startup training, commissioning, it's real difficult, you know, there's certain things you can do over Zoom and virtually, but you can't replace it with the the in-person.
Yeah. So you're seeing a little bit of that reversion back that I'm, that I've been hearing about and seeing in a lot of businesses. Yeah,
absolutely. The other thing I, you know, that comes to mind during the height of the pandemic, we sent our engineers home for what, two, three months. And that, and we couldn't wait to get him back in the office because you just lost so much on productivity and efficiency, and not only between engineering disciplines, but also between engineering and the shop.
So if a mechanic is assembling a test stand, he has a question. He's not gonna pick up the phone and call an engineer at home. He would go to his desk, he'd walk to his desk and say, come on out here. I need to show you this and help me figure it. Right. Yep. So thank goodness everything's pretty much back in person.
Mark, do you currently have any staff working hybrid or from home or is everybody back?
We have a couple field service people that travel a fair amount. They are virtual employees, remote staff anyways cuz they're on the road a fair amount and as well as a couple salespeople and some are international and some are here domestic.
But one else from, you know, operations, engineering, manufac. They're all in the Bristol office. They're all back.
Ari, what about yourself? What about Compass? What about your
team? So we're way more back than we've been. I think, you know, for a lot of folks we're, we're back in five days and sort of similar to Mark, we've got some people that are in the field a lot and so.
It didn't make a ton of sense to force them to come to the office to sort of lay their jacket down, only to pick it back up and head back out into the field again. So, you know, some of those folks are, are working from home and other folks we have on a three, two hybrid, but we're back much more we're actually gonna doing planning on, and we'll be executing an office expansion to create more space to facilitate growth and more in, in-office collaboration, expanding our training room and stuff like that.
You know, I think we're betting long term that, uh, that being in person more and having the face-to-face collaboration is really gonna drive more value over the long
term. When I think about workforce challenges, certainly recruitment is important, but retention. And so one thing that we did during the pandemic is we had summer work hours.
So we decided, you know, rather than going to a, a four day work week, We would allow employees to work a half a day Friday, assuming they got in. You know, they put in nine hour days Monday through Thursday. So this flexible work arrangement was really popular, went over really well, and it was actually an employee suggestion that we continue those summer work hours year round.
And we did that and it's been great. So, you know, people come in between seven and nine and they leave between three and six or whatever the hours. The point is, you know, get your job done and, and I think that is one thing, good thing that's come out of the pandemic is the need to be competitive and to have some type of flexible work arrangement.
I'll piggyback on that to say that's something that I'm noticing from all my conversations with the manufacturers across Connecticut is the, there's a lot more openness. Now than there would've been. By the way, I'll take it one step back and say even since, you know, before I started, you know, the podcasting, you know, three and a half, four years ago, people were talking about workforce, right?
We needed more people in manufacturing that certainly got. Did not get better, let's say over the last couple of years. But one thing that I think we've, that we've seen and Mark just highlighted in his own personal example, there is a lot more openness in manufacturing to kind of think outside the box.
You know, I think it had been a certain way for a long time, and we've talked long and hard about, it's not the dark, dirty, dingy days of yesterday year. It's lean, green and clean, and certainly the manufacturing floor has changed, the work type has changed the excitement, the innovation. I think a lot of that has, But somehow the innovation around working hours and working flexibility hadn't quite changed as much, and I'm hearing a ton about that right now.
And you know, mark talked about one example. I've heard a number of places that have been trying for the four day work week, which has kind of two advantages. Everyone gets a. It's not a short, it's not less hours. It's packing them into four days, right? So everyone's, you know, working four tens or sometimes you know, a little more than that to get it all done.
Some businesses they found, you know, what the savings and sort of the setup and shutdown that you do every day. If we only have to do that four times a week instead of five. When it comes to production, we can sort of get some flexibility in the production, even though maybe customer service, you know, sales and, and you know, executive management may work five days or some version there.
We also talk to somebody who was looking at, you know, daycare's been a huge struggle and you know, sometimes people wanna work but they can't because they're kids. That tip that affects everybody, but probably more so affect has affected women more, more typically. And we know of a manufacturer that.
Piloted a program where they created a 30 hour work week, gave someone the ability to sort of come in after kids, go to school, be home when they get there, but still, you know, still work, you know, at a, it's continuous, but sort of being flexible, obviously not paying for 40 hours and getting 30, but still given them benefits and that's been, you know, successful pilot program.
So I love to see the innovation. I think I really encourage manufacturers to innovate. We think about innovation and continuous improvement on the production line. But I think taking that to the employees and to how we think about recruiting and retention will only benefit us going forward.
I couldn't agree more.
Flexi time is an absolute winner for so many people, particularly families, as you pointed out, Ari. You know, and I think we are missing a trick potentially by not being open-minded with how we approach working hours. And uh, it's one of the good things that came out of the pandemic. That I can see is that we have moved on remote work and this, this idea of where and how we work probably 10, 15 years in the space of a global pandemic.
So thanks ever so much Covid, .
Yeah. Well, can I actually, if I, if you wouldn't mind my doubling down on that Mark and I, and, and I'll, I'll look to you to maybe outline some stuff you thought about, but, you know, one thing that, into thinking about recruiting and retention, which is so important, you know, talking about some of the innovation, I think the biggest thing.
Meeting people where they are. And I think that's a theme that manufacturers have begun to embrace, you know, more and more. And so we, we wanna engage young people. You know, but we don't think about getting on the platforms that they're on. We're not on TikTok, are we on Instagram the way that we should be with young kids?
And I'm seeing more manufacturers, you know, you know, doing that. I did a keynote at SMA last year and I challenged people to get on TikTok if they wanted to meet people. And I've had multiple manufacturers send me links. To videos that they're doing, you know, to get on there. I think that that's, you know, super important.
I see so many people, you know, getting involved, you know, internship programs, you know, and other programs to sort of find people apprenticeship programs. You know, really trying to lean in and saying, Hey, I gotta do something differently. And Mark, I know you guys have been heavily involved with University of Hartford.
Maybe you could speak a little bit. I think you guys have experience, meet them where they are. If we wanna. Yeah,
absolutely Ari. We've had great success with our engineering internships, but the reason is because we go to the University of Hartford a couple times a year. We meet with the students during a resume bootcamp.
They get to know us, we get to know them. We invite 'em over to Bauer for a tour, and next thing you know, They're spending the summer with us, and then hopefully they're spending their career with us, right? Mm-hmm. , we bring 'em on full-time, but last summer we had five engineering internships here at Bauer.
We'll do it again this coming summer, but also to your point, it's also reaching out to students at a younger, we've done it with high school students over the past six months. We had Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central High School students come to Bauer. They spent a couple of hours with us. And boy, just their eyes opened up.maybe what it was like in the:
But I think it's important that students probably not only high school, but even younger, seventh and eighth graders, give them visibility to manufacturing, engineering, STEM at a young age. And college isn't for everyone. You know, big, big proponent of trade schools, tech schools, and you can have a really good career with
any one of those.
Your percent. Mark. I, I love it. And I mean, you guys are just terrific for you to be leading by example, you know, every, yeah. We can sort of talk the talk here, but you really walk the walk and I just, it's really impressive. I think a lot more manufacturers. our following suit. You guys have been doing it for a super long time and it's just been really great to see them do it.
I see the, you know, I was at the ACM trade show this year and you see literally like over a thousand students who are coming through and you know, seeing over a hundred manufacturers. I mean, you know, that's obviously a once a year and mass, and that's one way to generate interest. But what we really need is every manufacturer to.
What you guys are doing at Bauer, which is tour with the local high schools. Do those internship programs let people kind of get in there and see what it's like and it's a real mutual benefit, right? I mean you get to sort of try before you buy and they do too. And, and hopefully, you know, that sort of like, you know, if I can say dating experience, hopefully let's the marriage last a lot longer than that's a normal hiring experience.
So I think that's, uh, I think that's really.
Love that manufacturing, speed dating with Mark and Bauer. Love that. We should, we should trademark that. Now,
I don't, I dunno that we wanna call it that, Claire, but hey, listen, we
need to get you on TikTok and Insta .
See, that's true. There's an opportunity there, but it was, it was a visit that I made over to Bristol Tech.
And met the, uh, instructor for the, their electrical department. We had an opening for an electrician here at Bauer and called him up and had a relationship with him. And I said, send me your top two students. And one of 'em came over, visited us, and ended up doing a work study program for 10, 20 hours a week.
He graduated Bristol Tech. We brought him on full-time and then, Ari talked about the a AC M show. Gosh, I forgot about that. Over a thousand students, high school students coming through. It was actually one of the instructors from Southington High School that I met at that show, and he said, can I bring the students over?
I said, of course. So I always say yes, anytime anyone wants to come tour. You bet.
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Absolutely love it.
I just wanna throw another thing out there that I've noticed has been, it's something I think has happened, but I think it seems to me to be happening more. It relates, I think, really tightly to manufacturer ct. We've been really lucky in Connecticut to have a number of manufacturing trade associations that have helped people sort of learn and grow, uh, together.
But I think. I don't know if it's in part the, the pandemic or there's also been maybe a changeover in, in sort of a new generation taking over leadership in manufacturers. But I see so many more people engaging and engaging so much more. You know, I go to some of these events. I was at the manufacturer CT holiday event just the other week, and you know, they're really well attended.
People are really committed to going. Lots of manufacturers. I mean, I just had Jamie Lasette, C O O of Athletic Brewing Company, you know, on the Main America Podcast. You know, he was talking about. Previous career, you know, in finance. He never would've never joined any of those groups. Never spent time doing that.
And now that he's an operator, you know, joined manufacturer CT and he was effusive in his praise of just how great it is to have this like built in network. And he's like, it could be something as silly as. I don't, I need some emergency pallets. I don't know where to go. I pick up the phone, I call someone and everybody's got a guy, you know, oh, I got a guy and he is like, next thing I know, two days later I got pallets.rn and grow. Seems to me that:
Are you, are you seeing the same?
Yeah. And of course I'm biased toward manufacturer ct. And I, I listened to that podcast that you did with Jamie Lasette and it was great. And you know what a fantastic organization they are. And I toured their facility in Stratford just a couple weeks ago as well. So I, and, and now I'm hooked on athletic brew, you know, beer.
Yeah. I'm not just making that up. I attended just this weekend. I attended a couple holiday parties and I had two regular beers and two non-alcoholic beers. And I don't, I wouldn't have done it if I didn't taste athletic brew because it's that good. Their beer is
that good. I'll throw an athletic brew plug out there.
I actually gave me a hat, so I was, I was just down in in Miami and flying back home and I was wearing the hat. And, uh, somebody stopped me in the TSA line and was like, Hey, do you know that place? I'm like, yeah, well, you know, I got the hat. I've, I've, I've heard of it. He's like, oh, their beer amazing. You know, he's like, I just started distributing it in Tennessee, and he was like, it's terrific, blah, blah, blah.
So anyway, I I thought I'd just throw that out there. Yeah, it's good.
And where and where can you go take a company tour and leave with a six pack, right. That's exactly right. It's a beautiful. But, but manufacturer ct, to your point, Ari, it, it's, there's something there for everyone, whether it's Jamie Ette being on the executive peer group and trying to find pallets, or, we have our young manufacturer professionals, and they're, you know, they do socials, they do company tours, but they do also do ax throwing because they're a younger crowd.
And that's kinda the way they like to network right then. Mm-hmm. , you know, if you're interested, if your passion is government affairs, well there's a committee for that if, if it's workforce and a lot of great things they're doing with the underserved and underemployed in the organizations within New Haven and Bridgeport and Hartford.
I think it's a, it's a tremendous, very engaging group of people. And look, we had 200 people at our golf tournament. We had a hundred people at the, the holiday party that we were at last week. We had 300 people at our annual celebration. So there's something going on there, and it's working. I think it's working for.
The association, but it's working for all the employers asme. You know, thinking about: but you know, doubles down in:
That's exactly what I was gonna say, is that it's a community that that coming together and the sharing of knowledge and information is what makes, you know, as an organization, it's so powerful and so useful to so many businesses.hat have you found throughout:
A lot of it is, you know, now that we're back in person, it's a lot easier, I think, to share best practices. You can do some of it virtually, but it's a lot easier when you're walking the plant floor or someone else's. Factory and you pick up on best practices and you know, whether it's some kind of suggestion, employee suggestion board, or all these things that you just stumble on.
So I think that's been good to see that come back. Local suppliers comes to mind again. , it's, it's getting in person. There's a company across town here in Bristol, Novo Precision. Bill Haard, great guy. And I was over visiting his plant and I said, who makes that for you? And he said, some company in Indiana, but you know, the quality's kind of not so good.
A lot of problems. I said, we can make that for you. And then he's over at our shop and you know, he sees these extruded aluminum chambers, 80 20 chamber. And he asked the same question, who makes those for you? And I said, well, we get 'em from Massachusetts, but every one of them that comes in comes in damaged
And he said, wait a minute, we're a mile away. I can guarantee you it's not gonna get damaged in shipment cuz we're gonna bring it over in our own truck. Right. So it's that working, you know, supplier to supplier, business to business relationship. That is pheno in a huge opportunity. I know the state is launching a new website or a new tool to connect businesses, so I see that as being really instrumental in, in terms of keeping business locally, keeping business here in the state.
There's certainly a lot of training opportunities. You know, we've introduced a lot of companies will come to manufacture CT just as a. And they need training for, you know, it doesn't matter manufacturing or it could be someone in engineering. It might be something around cybersecurity or lean or what have you.
And we can at least point them in the right direction because those resources are out there. They're out there from concept, they're out there from c a, all these great resources, but people have to know how to access them. I think it's all about kind of connecting those to the right.
kind of connecting and reconnecting.
Yeah. I guess post pandemic.
Yeah. You know, mark, you, you touched on, obviously this was a bit of a story there, you, your, your own little supply chain challenge with those tubes. But I wonder, one of the things that is a challenge that sort of, I think hits everybody differently. There's been some, I think some positive sides to the supply chain challenges.
I e some nearshoring, reshoring. I think we've got some new opportunities to bring stuff closer to home, which I think is a, is a positive trend, but certainly. Some of the, you know, the changes in the cost if it comes down to, you know, the supply chain items, whether it's metals or other things, either hard to get or the pricing's gone way up.
I thought that by the end of 22 we'd see that abetting a bit more. It doesn't seem that it has abated to the degree that I thought it would. I'm wondering if you see the same thing or if you see it differently.
So it's still a huge problem, especially with electronics. Anything that's electrical, electronic where it requires some chip, you know, and it, and it can be embedded in some other product or equipment that we're buying.
But it all goes back to probably something in Southeast Asia where there's such a demand for that. So that's a huge problem. The one thing that maybe has, and I, and, and I don't see that changing probably for another year, the forecast, I won't mention any brands by name, but something that we used to get in 16 weeks is still 40, 50 weeks lead time.
It's just remarkable. I mean, it's not even close. And here we have to deliver our test stand. The million dollar test stand in 40 or 50 weeks and we can't be getting the parts in in 40 or 50 weeks. Right. It doesn't add up.
It's not, yeah, it does not add up. It's sort of one of the things you sort of. Fear, right?
It's a little bit like the run on toilet paper that people probably remember from back in the day. It's a little bit self-reinforcing cycle, right? Like you're realizing it's gonna be 50 weeks, so you've to kind of over order to get some stuff in, which then stretches it out further. At some point there's a glu.
That seems to me there would be a glu. So I just wonder, I've been here predictions about it abetting over and over again and you know, while you're at that, and maybe you wanna speak to sort of raw material, I dunno where you guys are sort of on more of the specialty metals and whatnot, but certainly I've seen prices on that I think have been bouncing around.you think it's gonna abate in:
Okay, sounds good. The raw materials were a, a bigger problem I would say even a year ago.
So we. Buying specialty metals per se, but steel, stainless steel, all those were sky high. They've kind of normalized. Now they've come down and I think maybe what's helped is just logistics are better. You know, you don't have cargo ships sit sitting out in the harbors. Mm-hmm. 40 or 50 of them so much anymore, and you don't have, you know, quite the shortage of truck drivers.
Right. They're just getting the goods from. Place. Mm-hmm. . So I think that's fine. Where we still run into a problem is with back to the electronics. And if we have to take, you know, you can get your hands on that specialty device, but at a cost. So, you know, we, we've even had to go out to eBay to find that something or ask our engineer to look for an alternate part because there's more than one way to skin a.
That's time and, and money. So costly to find alternate parts and do a redesign. And unfortunately that's what we've had to do to satisfy a customer
commitment. Yeah, it's funny. We don't wanna do it too, too much in, in my business, but we did have an issue this past year where we, someone had an older something, we couldn't get the part itself.
And I thought, well, someone I shouldn't take wasn't my credit, but someone thought, what? I wonder if we could find an old completed system on eBay and just take it apart and get the piece we need out from inside of it. That's what we did. So there you go.
Hey, it's recycling at its best. You know what I mean?may, as we look then ahead to:
Three hot potatoes.
I'll throw out some hot potatoes. We'll, we'll maybe try and combine for a few, but you know, I'll, I'll take the layup hot potato, which is continued workforce, you know, challenges. And I think that, you know, I'll make this a plus and minus, I guess. You know, I think the challenges with workforce, meaning finding enough supply to meet the demand, it's just gonna take some time to work that through because there is no silver bullet.
There is no panacea. It's gonna be a combination of things that we've talked about before. It's gonna be meeting them where they are, which means. Getting on TikTok, it means going to the schools, taking tours, getting interns, you know, embracing apprenticeship programs, all that, you know, graduating more people from the tech schools, graduating certificate programs, et cetera, et cetera.
That's gonna take time. And so I hope that the demand stays high and that we have to feed the problem from the backend and, you know, hopefully we'll maybe open up some more immigration opportunities to, to try and do some short term fixes. You know, I think that's a hot potato, big time for next year. I also.
That the supply chain stuff is gonna continue to be a bit of a challenge for, for next year. Hopefully AB bathing towards the end of the year, but certainly next year. Those are certainly two hot potatoes I think about. I got one more, but Mark, let me throw it to you before I throw out anything
The other one that I am excited about is technology, so just emerging technologies. I look at what we're doing. Bauer. We're working in partnership with the folks at ccap, Ron Angelo, and Team, great organization. We were there a couple times last week. He's probably tired of seeing me, but 3D printing, 3D scanning.
Boy, they are just bleeding edge when it comes to technology. At Bauer, we just invested almost a million dollars in new fabrication equipment. Bought our very first laser, bought a new press break, but it's equipment like that, taking the solid works files, feeding them right into this new equipment. Boy, the efficiencies are unbelievable and we'll be doing the same with 3D printing and scanning.
Yeah. Amen to that. I, I think, you know, again, we'll start moving into some positive stuff here. The technology, I think is a huge opportunity, you know, for the future. Couldn't be more urgent and excited about, you know, industry 4.0 related items. I mean, a, I'm a technology guy, so it's easy to get really hyped up about that, but I just, I think there's a lot of wood to chop there.
And I, you know, I, I've said it many, many times. I think, you know, when we fast forward 10 years from now, we're gonna see that the companies that didn't embrace that part of technology, Are either gone or way, way far behind and on the way out, just the same way that we looked, you know, in the two thousands around companies that didn't embrace, you know, lean, right?
I mean, people that just never got into that, they're not really around anymore. So I think we're gonna see that, you know, the flip side of that, just one more hot potato. And something that, you know, Paula Lavoys been talking about, and Ron Angelo talks a lot about is cybersecurity. You know, I think from two, two fronts, right?
I mean, number one, the push to C M M C is just getting har, you know, stronger and stronger and, and rightfully so. And we're certainly seeing, you know, whether it's, you know, the issues with Russia or competition with China, but cyber attacks kind of at a, at a level that are. You know, sort of never seen before and continuing to grow.to focus on Omega priority in:
And to that point, Ari, so cons step, Beatrice Gutierrez and her team at Cons, topnotch, really experts when it comes to Industry 4.0 cybersecurity, digital.
We're working with them on a number of initiatives and anyone listening to this podcast, just call them up con step if you need help in any of those areas. And then some lean training and the list goes on and on. It's a great
resource. Yeah. You can call Compass too, but we gotcha. Yeah. .
Well, there we go.
that's,o be exciting for Manufac. In: s really exciting. So I think: place next year, let's recap:
I will of course, put links to both Compass. And con step in the show notes and Bauer, of course, and manufacture ct. It's been an absolute privilege and a pleasure. Jenz, thank you for your time and being a part of Meet the Manufacturers. Appreciate
Yeah, thanks, mark. Thanks Claire. Really appreciate you guys having me on.
Looking forward to a recap of next year.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode of Meet the Manufacturers brought to you by Manufacture ct. If you would like to find out more about manufactureCT. Or you would like to join the organization, visit the website, manufacture ct.org. This podcast is sponsored by CohnReznick Advisory Assurance Tax.
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