Dave Crysler is the principal operations consultant at the Crysler Club and host of the Everyday Business Problems Podcast. Entering entrepreneurship after having spent nearly 20 years working for a publicly traded corporation, Dave quickly realized there was a tremendous need within mid-market manufacturing and distributions businesses to leverage systems that optimize planning, people, processes, and technology. Dave developed his operations framework to create systems that reduce friction and free up resources to maximize profitability.
Given all of your experiences and in so many different environments, what have you seen lights people up? And then the inverse of that, what freaks people out the most?
I would say kind of as a general answer to both of them, the thing that really lights people up is when you listen to 'em. And that sounds so simplistic, but that is the reality. Oftentimes from a leadership perspective, we think that we're listening to our teams. But the reality is that we're not. And when I was going into these organizations, and even today, if I go into an organization today, that is still kind of the number one thing that I hear from folks that are doing the heavy lifting.
“Nobody's listening to us. Nobody's listening to what is really slowing us down. Nobody's listening to us to remove those roadblocks.” And so I would say, very simplistically, that is the thing that lights people up. By and large, people don't want to come in and have a bad day, right? People don't want to come in and make mistakes.
Is there anything that's really exciting for you with where the future might be taking us? I'm thinking of AI automation and all of the other things that are happening in the space of technology. Is there anything you can predict or something you're really excited about?
There's a lot of buzz right now, not just around AI, but around the kind of no code or low code connectivity and automation.
You've got tools like Zapier which has kind of been a market leader for the last few years, but one that I really love beyond Zapier is called Make. It's just make.com. There's a lot more flexibility and it actually has connectivity to a lot more kinds of platforms natively. You also have the ability to do webhooks and custom APIs and all kinds of stuff.
I would tell people as a general rule of thumb is don't go backward, right? Start in the correct direction. And what I mean by that is don't look for ways to automate until you've already gone through, documented your process and looked for things you can eliminate.
Because why are we going to automate something that ultimately we could have eliminated? It's one of those areas where I see people saying they want to implement this particular technology, but not thinking about it from the standpoint of efficiency. Then let's look for the tool that is the best to automate the execution of that process flow.
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[00:01:13] Erin Courtenay: Hello Kris.[:
[00:01:15] Erin Courtenay: You know, fine. My brain just reminded me of that thing, and I, it's not you know, safe for the airwaves, but what's fine stand for FI? What is it? Have you guys heard that FI haven't heard it. Emotional. Something. I don't know. It's got some, that's the kind of fine I am, yeah.[:
[00:01:38] Erin Courtenay: I'm that kind of fine. Yeah. I'll look it up.[:
[00:01:56] Erin Courtenay: Oh, pumpkin spice lattes? No, kidding. That's a hard no on that. We have, our leaves are turning and I have to tell you, it's just so exquisitely beautiful that it just, it just gets me every year. The leaves. Yeah. And you know, I'm from New Mexico, so it's kind of new still. I've been here a long time, but it's just every time. How about you?[:
[00:02:45] Erin Courtenay: Oh, October is such a great time to welcome people to Wisconsin, right? Yes, it is. It's a great time.[:
[00:03:02] Dave Crysler: Yeah. Thanks so much, you guys. I'm excited to be here with you.[:
[00:03:08] Dave Crysler: Oh, they certainly do. Yes, they certainly do. So I'm just outside of Detroit in Michigan, but yes, we've got a lot of beauty around here with changing leaves and it's much better up north than it is where where I actually live, but it's still very, very nice to see.[:
[00:03:41] Dave Crysler: Yeah, like I feel like David's a bit too formal.[:
[00:03:47] Erin Courtenay: Sir David.[:
[00:03:53] Kris Harrington: So Dave is the founder and principal consultant of the Crysler Club, where him and his team help leaders in manufacturing unlock sustainable growth by creating systems that reduce friction and free up resources. Yeah. I mean, this is, if you're, you know, if you're bogged down with processes or you're looking for opportunities for efficiencies and you want to leverage the, the, the methodologies around continuous improvement, I don't know a better person than Dave Crysler, but Dave can...[:
[00:04:31] Kris Harrington: Yeah. No. Thank you. Share a little bit about your history in manufacturing and kind of what brings you into the Crysler club today.[:
My parents owned, you know, two different manufacturing companies as I was growing up, both in the print manufacturing space. And you know, my professional career, I spent nearly 20 years working for a, a large publicly traded company that was based in and around manufacturing. You know, in that business, they grew through acquisition.
So I was very fortunate to have been You know, one of the, the kind of transition folks and what that generally meant was you know, as businesses were acquired, as there were some sort of organizational or operational change happening within those businesses, I was often tapped while I would never tell you at the time, I could say looking back, I'm very thankful to have been tapped for a lot of those opportunities because going into a, an environmental manufacturing facility that you don't know the people, you don't know the products, you don't know the equipment, but you knew what you had to do.
And that was kind of maximize profitability, look for opportunities to increase you know, efficiency kind of drive the company culture forward. You know, I knew that was what the goal was, but I really had to figure out kind of from a hands on approach. How do you tap into the planning people process and, and, you know, technology to be able to not just drive you know, initiatives forward, but to grow that business with not a lot of additional capital because we've already deployed that to purchase the business.
And in generally a declining product segment or a commoditized product segment, and a lot of manufacturers face those things. So. You know, there's a lot of challenges in and around those those kind of key things. And that was the training ground. That is kind of what I bring into my business today to work with you know, leaders across various manufacturing industries kind of, of all company sizes to to help them leverage systems and you know, maximize profitability.[:
[00:07:28] Erin Courtenay: Yeah, I mean, who doesn't want to learn how to be more profitable? So we're, we're very excited. I'm sure everybody's eager to hear. So I kind of want to jump in with a question that walk me back if, if it does, like, kind of out of left field for you, but I'm wondering. Given all of your experiences and in so many different environments, if, what do you see, what have you seen lights people up?
Like they're like, aha, that light bulb goes off most often. And then the inverse of that, what freaks people out the most?[:
You know, nobody's listening to us. Nobody's listening to what is really slowing us down. Nobody's listening to us to, you know, remove those roadblocks. And so I would say, you know, very simplistically, that is the thing that lights people up. You know, by and large, people don't want to come in and have a bad day, right?
People don't want to come in and make mistakes. People don't want to come in and kind of rock the boat or slow things down. Right? Right. Now. You will find some people that make an argument to that and say, you know, well, you know, Joe over here, you know, and the reality is just look, there are always going to be grumpy people that we run into, right?
But by and large, people want to come in. They want to do their their work. They want to contribute to the goals of the company, but they want to do it, you know, from the standpoint of of kind of... I don't also want to, you know, incur all of these additional steps and touch points and all these other kind of things that I need to do to accomplish, you know, the goal.
So I would say that's the thing that lights people up the most. And, you know, the inverse of that is, is kind of what I already said, right? It is the, the roadblocks that we often put in front of people. And, and one of the easiest ways I can say that is very often when I am looking at a system, right?
So a series of processes that may or may not be executed through technology. Generally speaking, you will find technology that is in place where the processes have been defined kind of after the fact. And what happens in that scenario is that you require people to execute process in a very inefficient manner, because that's what the output is that we're requesting.
And so that's the inverse of it, right? It's, it's beyond just not listening to your team and saying, Hey, this is really a pain for me, or this isn't working for this specific reason. Kind of goes to that next layer down where we've kind of done things in reverse. In an effort, which is crazy, right? In an effort to streamline things because we've attacked it from the wrong direction, we're actually slowing down our own progress.
So we're getting in our own way of, you know, really moving the needle within our business.[:
Okay. So standards. Processes, continuous improvement, quality control, increased efficiency, aligned work structures, strategic planning, right? These are words that we hear all the time in manufacturing, and I think we all understand that when we do these things well, or we put the standards in place, we have quality control, things will work better.
Our system systems are going to work better. But why an application? Is it absent? So when you ask for the standards, they're not there or they have to really go search for them because they're, they're not easily available or they have work structures defined, but again, it's all dusted and it's in a paper manual somewhere that they can't access.
So, can you just talk about this because we do, we talk about these words. I know these for our listeners, the audience is going to understand that, but why did they just go, why is it absent?[:
We talk a lot about, you know, root cause, okay? Manufacturers love to talk about root cause, you know, and lean folks and ISO folks, everybody loves to talk about root cause. And when you break down a lot of the things that we see on any given day basis, whether that is, you know, quality defects, whether that is inconsistency you know, out on the shop floor through customer service, right?
Whether we're talking about inventory discrepancies, there's all these different examples to pull from, but when you dig into the root cause, 99 out of a hundred times, you're going to find process being the root cause. And so, you know, It's not enough to kind of gloss over and say, to your point, Kris, that, well, we do have SOPs, you know, we, we have them over here. Here, let me grab this binder, you know, under, under the workbench or up on the shelf. You know, we need to be able to not only provide SOPs, But we have to provide them when, where, and kind of how people need to utilize them.
Right. So how often have you been into a, an environment where you say, you know, an, an SOP manual, but that's just it. It's, it's a manual binder. It's a bunch of printouts. Are you really going to pull that over when you need to do a specialty dye change or something like, no, heck no, you're not going to go reference that because I've done this a hundred times, you know, what happens when you forget, You know, the one bolt that needs to be torqued down to X back.
And so that I think is the big mess. People talk, kind of talk, Hey, this is important. But when we get down into the weeds of it and you start to look at what that documentation is, how can we access it? How can we search it? How are we making it helpful for our folks to execute against it? It's not good enough that it just exists, you know?
And it most, most organizations, it doesn't even exist, you know. So let's just kind of be real about it, you know, and that's okay, right? Because, you know, the first, the first way to address the problem is to say that I have a problem, so, you know.[:
I'm curious about. Just nuts and bolts, using that term again, what are some tools, tools that you like that are some of your favorite things that can get people to that point? You know, maybe mention some technology, some techniques, what are tools you really dig?[:
So, I'll, I'll certainly share some to answer your question, but I do want to put that kind of caveat around it, because tools are there to execute process. And they execute process to increase efficiency and eliminate errors, right? So that's very important to understand. So having said that and giving that disclaimer you know, one of the tools I love, love, love for process documentation is Notion right now.
Notion is Notion. Yep. Notion is a free tool. It's a paid tool if you want to employ kind of team methodology within it, but you can get you know, in an account for free. And it's basically a database tool. And so with that database tool, it allows extreme searchability. Searchability that is kind of from the tools that I've seen across the landscape far superior to any other searchable tool.
So that means that When you have your processes loaded in there and you have a keyword, you don't have to identify the keyword. You can type in, into Notion, in little search field, and it pulls up all of the references for that specific keyword. You don't have to highlight what the keywords are. A lot of, you know, LMS systems, a lot of other kind of you know, Specific systems for process documentation require you to load in the keywords.
Well, that's great if you know what people are gonna search for, but what happens when you have somebody new, you know, out on the shop floor? Right? So Notion is one of them that I love. Okay. The searchability, as I mentioned. The other thing that you can do with Notion is you can access it everywhere.
So you can access it on your phone, you can access it on a tablet, you can access it on a pc, on a Mac, it's a, you know, a SaaS product, so you can access it everywhere. Not only can you access it everywhere, but you can edit and you know, create things as well as just view them. So I love that. So that's kind of from an infrastructure standpoint.
That is one of the tools that I love and recommend. Beyond that, some of the things that we can do to really amp up the effectiveness of our SOPs. Taking videos. Taking pictures. Creating diagrams. Kind of think about it from the standpoint of not everybody learns by reading long form sentences and paragraphs, right?[:
[00:17:21] Dave Crysler: Who's got time for that. Okay. It's still valuable because you know, it's, it's where we understand what all, what all of those key steps are, but we need to, we need to supplement that. We need to supplement it with short form video. We need to supplement it with diagrams and pictures, whatever is kind of appropriate.
And again, going back to Notion, one of the things I love is that you can create your process documentation with all of those pieces integrated. So you're not having to go and call out to YouTube or call out to another internal you know, database system. You can house all of the videos. You can house all of the pictures, all of the diagrams, right in your process documentation.
You know, same thing from a kind of an auditing and a checklist standpoint. And I talk about. process prompts. You know, but basically just process checklists. You can create those and have those with a one click touch from your process documentation to your checklist. So everything is tied together.
You've, you kind of get, you know, a full visible picture of the things that, that you need to do in order to execute, you know, these set of tasks to achieve this specific outcome. So...[:
[00:18:38] Kris Harrington: Yeah. And there's some great ideas in there for people that whatever tool they use, how they can better their processes. So they're more widely used as well. I'm curious Dave, if, you know, you've talked about efficiencies and reducing errors and then the profit of the outcome being profitability. Is there anything that's really exciting for you with where the future might be taking us with respect to all of that?
You know, I'm thinking AI automation you know, all of the other things that are happening in the space of technology. As you kind of look out, what, is there anything you can predict or just something you're really exciting about, excited about?[:
So, you know, you've got tools like Zapier which has kind of been a market leader for the last few years, but one that I really love beyond Zapier is called make. It's just make. com. There's a lot more flexibility and it, it actually has a connectivity to a lot more kind of platforms natively, but you, you also have the ability to do, you know, web hooks and kind of custom APIs and all kinds of crazy stuff.
The, the thing I would, I would tell people as a general rule of thumb is. You know, again, don't go backwards, right? Start, start in the correct direction. And what I mean by that is, you know, don't look for ways to automate until you've already gone through, documented your process and look for things you can eliminate, right?
Because why are we going to automate something that ultimately we could have eliminated? Yeah, it's. It's one of those areas where, you know, again, I see people saying, I want to implement this particular technology, but not thinking about it from the standpoint of let's get it as efficient as we possibly can, and then let's look for the tool that is the best tool to automate the execution of that process flow to, again, do two things.
Increase efficiency, reduce the amount of potential, you know, error within that process flow, right? And that, that may, you may find that you need, you know, that could be part of your ERP architecture. So you might not be able to tap into something like one of those. You know, low code or no code solutions.
You may have to pay for a custom integration, but once you've gone through and optimize that process flow and eliminated the things that you can and, you know, increase the efficiency where you can, well now it's money well spent, right? Your investment is a bit more sound because you've done the heavy lifting on the front end of that versus finding out.
Geez, we didn't need to, we actually didn't need to connect those two things because if I just changed this Yeah. You know, this, this thing over here is, you know, kind of a non-issue, right? Yeah. And I see that a lot.[:
That is, that's such a good way of thinking about just technological adaptation. Generally, I think we do tend to think that all once we introduce a new piece of technology, that'll solve our problems instead of recognizing that the problems then become embedded into the system and the technology just sort of, they become exponential at that point sometimes if you're not careful about when you introduce systems of automation and other types of technology. And so look, take a good, cold, hard look at what you got. Do that assessment and then go in for the big hooks. So that's good. I like it a lot.[:
And the reality of it is the people doing that task on any given day basis, they are the ones that understand what's slowing them down, what additional information they have to go seek from outside sources or outside, you know, systems or resources. And so if we start there and, you know, document and, you know, create process maps and then look for those ways that we can, again, eliminate things or streamline, then once we have all of that, look for that piece of technology that is going to, you know improve that, that execution of process flow. I would guarantee that that failure and adoption rate would be significantly lower even at the enterprise level. We often go about things backwards.[:
[00:23:47] Dave Crysler: It's certainly more expensive.[:
Not in my experience, right. It's painful, but in this world where we want to go fast and we want to be able to respond to market conditions and things that are happening, or we want to take that next acquisition because we see it could add to our business or add to the value we deliver to customers.
Let's take the time to do this work.[:
And I think one of the things that's exciting about process people and who would ever put those words together, right? Is that, is that they, they see that as a challenge that's really energizing. And I, I imagine that's something great about working with somebody like you, Dave, because when, when the responsibility is yours and your organization and your company, it can feel like such a burden.
And then to have a partner who sees, you know, the joy in doing it and the pleasure and the excitement of finding all those inefficiencies, that must be a great partnership.[:
You know, and it, and it doesn't matter the size of the business either. You know, I've, I've worked with some smaller companies who, you know, kind of say, well, why, why do I really need to do this? You know, we've, we've got a small team of people, maybe they're, you know, five people today. It's like, well, the next question is, well, what do you want to grow this business to be?
Do you always want it to be five people? Do you want it to be 50 people? Yeah. And if you don't start getting in the habit today is going to be very challenging for you to, you know, to implement that when you are a team of 50 and it's going to be chaos and people are going to cycle through this facility because generally speaking, people want kind of order in their daily activities.
And if you can't deliver that through process excellence, you're really going to struggle to kind of build a culture where people feel empowered to contribute on any given day basis. And the bigger the company you know, work with enterprise level companies, it's the same issue just with extra people and extra zeros, right?
It's the same challenge. They are doing manual things at scale at scale that people would not even comprehend unless you saw it. They're doing those things manually, and it's it's literally because we've not sat there mapped out what we could do, taking a look at our existing tech stack and said, how can we do this in a more efficient manner?
What are the triggers we need to do? What are the steps we have to take to get this process flow implemented in this system? We are paying tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for on an annual basis. How can we do that? Cause we're spending money already, you know? So yeah.[:
[00:27:50] Dave Crysler: That's a great question. I, you know, I'll throw, I'll throw out a really fun fact that I would almost guarantee nobody would think about if people that know me might know but, you know, even in my close circle of friends, I would, I would guess that most people would never guess this about me. And that is, I love 50s and 60s music.[:
[00:28:14] Dave Crysler: Yeah, it's, you know, if you go in my car right now on Sirius XM, it will be tuned to the 60s radio station. And yeah, so, you know, like, and it's kind of a wild story of why I love that music. But when I was a kid and we'd always go up north to our cottage you know, it's like a three hour drive.
And my parents would always play that music because that was their music when they were growing up and it like got ingrained in me. And so now I, that's pretty much the only radio that I listen to is that style of music. And I, I tease my wife about her boom, boom music that she listens to, you know, and now she's got my daughter listening to this boom, boom music.
And I don't understand any of it. So I'm an old soul.[:
[00:29:16] Dave Crysler: I said the same thing. It makes no sense to me. There's, there's no, you know, oldies are not from the 80s. I'm sorry. You know, that's the way there's a whole channel dedicated to that. And it's certainly not oldies.[:
[00:29:40] Dave Crysler: That's right. Yeah. Yeah. Guarantee I'm gonna see some some dms from that one. So ,[:
[00:29:49] Kris Harrington: Yeah. Well, you know, this has been just such an enjoyable conversation, Dave. I know there's gonna be people that wanna reach out to you after hearing about this. Where can they best find you and connect with you?[:
[00:30:19] Kris Harrington: All right, great. Well to our audience, thank you for listening. And this is a couple broads signing off with one Dave Crysler, and we'll see you for the next episode.[:
[00:30:33] Dave Crysler: Thanks so much, you guys.[:
[00:30:35] Kris Harrington: See you.