The struggle to attract and retain talent in manufacturing companies is evident. It’s exactly why the Strategy House team has started seeking out industry leaders to discuss how we can face challenges like this in manufacturing in Wisconsin and nationwide. One of the big questions we’re asking is: How do manufacturers in the modern age create an appealing culture for the next generation?
Our first Candid Conversation features Peter Rathmann, CEO of Allis Tool & Machine Corp. in West Allis, WI. We dive deeper into manufacturing culture and how it impacts attracting and retaining talent. He shares how Allis Tool & Machine Corp.’s dedication to quality and commitment to people are driving growth in 2018.
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Who Is Allis Tool & Machine Corp.?
Allis Tool & Machine Corp. is known as Milwaukee's most trusted provider of large CNC machining services. They help businesses building OEM equipment in a variety of industries such as mining, wind energy, health care and the food space.
The business model has seen a lot of change since the company began in 1957 and n the last two years the company focus has been to better understand their customers and employees as well as where they are a fit not only in Southeast Wisconsin but globally in supply chains.
Shifting and staying relevant
According to Peter, taking a good look at the customer base, examining what has been working and the skill set of existing employees, has been key in connecting the dots between where the market is headed, the industries that are growing, and finding out who their target market is.
The result? “The sales guys are having better conversations. We're not a quote shop so somebody that sends us something and says, ‘Hey can you quote on this?’ the answer is usually no because we’re taking more time to understand and listen.”
Where are they seeing the best results?
Peter is already well aware of the importance of relationship building in the manufacturing industry, both on and offline, as the company naviagates understanding their customers better.
“Milwaukee specifically is very relationship based. My rule of sales is that showing up is 80 percent of it. Where those leads come from can be started digitally and success can be communicated to share the stories of what we do. But most of it is feet on the street and organic - the old-fashioned go out and shake some hands. This space tends to be a little bit more old-school but it's no longer a marketplace of build it and they will come you have to actually go talk to clients,” said Rathmann.
Company culture and attracting talent
Talent is something that everyone in the manufacturing space seems to be challenged with. And just as relationship building is important in terms of attracting customers, it’s equally as important when attracting talent at Allis Tool.
In Peter’s words, “When I look at the last five or six hires that we’ve had it's really been somewhat organic. Telling that story to friends and family, the more people that know what you do and why you do it, it tends to get people excited - that whole idea of people buy ‘why’. Everybody that has joined us technically knew somebody here, knew the space or have family members working here.”
It speaks to true nature of the Allis Tool culture when people that are currently working there like it enough to tell a friend about it and recommend working there. That's the best showcase of culture that there possibly could be. Especially when it seems we hear so much in the media about culture like the big tech companies with pool tables and beer on Friday nights, but there's more to culture than that.
Overall Peter has noted, “we do have fun, we do have camaraderie, we get our laughs and giggles in but it comes down to ‘how are we getting the highest quality on-time?’ That's a shared mission that people buy into and want to be a part of.”
Looking forward for Allis Tool & Machine
Allis Tool & Machine Corp. has done a lot to tell the story of what they do and who they do it for. From real estate in Central Park to the first street bridge in Milwaukee, they’re a team who’s proud of the big projects they’ve been a part of and love sharing that.
As Peter Rathmann and his team look forward into the remainder of the year and where the company is headed he has this to say:
“Opportunity. The team has taught me what we're capable of and when I look at the marketplace and how it's growing and how you have entities looking for new solutions I know I've got the skill sets here to go out and have those conversations. It's fun to have these guys allow me to lead them into that space and grow together.”
Check back for more Candid Conversations where we'll learn more about the changing landscape of manufacturing today!