This is our first guest episode of the podcast! The folks over at Renew Rural Iowa were kind enough to allow us rebroadcast rights for the interviews they do with their monthly Leader Award winner.

LoriIn this episode, Bob Quinn of WHO radio visits Fairfield Iowa to talk to the founder of Agri-Industrial Plastics, Dick Smith. Also featured in the episode is President of the company, Lori Shaefer-Wheaton.

Agri-Industrial Plastics has been around for nearly 40 years and they make some incredible products. From fuel tanks, to kayaks, canoes, playground slides, and pig feeders, they do it all.

Their operation, located in Fairfield, Iowa, employs around 200 people and, like many in the manufacturing industry, is looking to continue to grow. Automation plays a key role in their company as unemployment in Jefferson County sits below 3% making finding workers a challenge.

This episode was made possible by the folks at Renew Rural Iowa.

The Iowa Farm Bureau has an innovative program to enhance and improve economic growth across the state. It’s called Renew Rural Iowa. Renew Rural Iowa is designed to help increase the enterprise value of new and existing businesses in Iowa’s small towns through a program of business education, mentoring, and the financial resources to help businesses grow. By bringing together seasoned business experts and critical resources at each seminar, business owners can tap into an array of services – all at one time.

 

Continue reading “Agri-Industrial Plastics” »

Steve SukupIn this episode of AMP I traveled to Sheffield Iowa to tour a household name in agricultural manufacturing, Sukup. Sheffield is a town of just 1,200 and Sukup employs around 600 people! Sukup is a family-owned global manufacturer with products sold in 81 countries.

What began as an idea for keeping the “crust” off of grain in grain bins, has turned Sukup into a global powerhouse. In this episode I get the pleasure of speaking with Steve Sukup and pick up the conversation from where I left off in Part 1, with his daughter, Emily.

IMG_6238Steve shares some fun stories about the early years of the company and his love for the family business that grew with him over the years. He also shares a great story about how he became friends with the manager of the New York Yankees, Joe Girardi.

In addition to the amazing products they put out at Sukup, they also have a strong sense of corporate philanthropy. Following a horrible earthquake in Haiti, Sukup began to design and build homes for impoverished areas of the 20120906_155522lrcrumbling country. With over 200 Safe T Homes in Haiti, they were able to provide some much needed shelter when hurricane Matthew struck the country in 2016. Every one of their Safe T Homes survived the storm.

This episode has special meaning to me as a friend of mine is on the island of Culebra, just off of Puerto Rico. his community is devastated after the recent hurricanes so seeing what the folks at Sukup are doing to protect people from natural disasters is even more meaningful for me now. Thank you, Steve, and to everyone at Sukup who made my visit special!

Continue reading “Sukup – Part 2 Compassion and Manufacturing” »

Wow, where to begin??? Basecamp 2017 was a smashing success. a dozen middle school-aged kids for the second year in a row took over Summit Products in Altoona, Iowa, for a weeklong summer camp focused on manufacturing. But it’s so much more than that.

The campers get to go hands-on with welding, bending, cuttings, cnc, plasma torches, Solidworks, and everything in between. It’s a camp about problem solving, building, creating, and working with your hands to create something amazing.

In this episode I chat with a couple of the base camp students about their experience, what they think about manufacturing now that they’ve had some experience, and also what they want to do with their future. I also sit down with the founder of Basecamp, Albert Marasco, to learn about why he started the camp and what the future holds.

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It was such a rewarding experience to spend the week with these young people and see just what they are able to come up with and create when they have the freedom and tools at their disposal. One of the most rewarding things was the project itself. This  year the project was for the kids to design a solution for a wheelchair-bound individual whose goal was to remain in their manual wheelchair as long as possible. The creative solution they came up with was really flippin’ awesome.

This year we also incorporated a “Shark Tank” element where the kids got to pitch their product to a panel of “sharks” to try and get them to invest in their invention. Throughout the week various speakers from many different industries, including, virtual reality, electronics, batteries, business coaching, patenting, and more, came in to help teach the kids and work with them on their project.

 

Continue reading “Basecamp 2017 – Manufacturing Summer Camp” »

emilyIn this episode of AMP I travel to Sheffield Iowa to tour a household name in agricultural manufacturing, Sukup. Sheffield is a town of 1,200 and Sukup employs around 600 people so they’re certainly a staple of the community. Sukup is a family-owned global manufacturer with products sold in 81 countries.

What began as an idea for keeping the “crust” off of grain in grain bins, has turned Sukup into a global powerhouse. In this episode I get a chance to sit down with a third generation owner, Emily Schmitt. Emily is one of 8 family members working day to day in the business and also has the distinction of being the first ever female guest on our show.

IMG_6238Emily shares with us what it was like growing up at Sukup and how her dream of becoming an attorney didn’t mean she had to go outside of the company for employment. Emily is a mother of 2 and, counting nieces/nephews, there are 5 young family members that make up the 4th generation.

In addition to the amazing products they put out at Sukup, they also have a strong sense of corporate philanthropy. Following a horrible earthquake in Haiti, Sukup began to design and build homes for impoverished areas of the 20120906_155522lrcrumbling country. With over 200 Safe T Homes in Haiti, they were able to provide some much needed shelter when hurricane Matthew struck the country in 2016. Every one of their Safe T Homes survived the storm.

I hope that you enjoy part 1 of this 2 part series with Sukup!  Thank you to Emily Schmitt and Steve Sukup for the amazing hospitality and stories!

Continue reading “Sukup – Part 1 Compassion and Manufacturing” »

IMG_0564This episode of AMP is a vast departure from our normal Q&A with a guest. Host, Gabriel
Glynn, gives you an introduction to his trip around the eastern half of the US with the folks from GE Corporation. This incredible opportunity gave Glynn a glimpse into what the future of manufacturing looks like through the eyes of a giant, GE.

In the introduction episode, Gabriel shares his journey to NYC and meeting the fellow journalists invited to join in on this Manufacturing Showcase. Folks from The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, CNBC, and a few others. Gabriel shares his apprehension of the trip and fear for joining such a prestigious group to visit some of the most mind-blowing facilities he’s ever been in.

Gabriel talks about his chance encounter in the mens room that led to a conversation with top GE executives about his startup, MākuSafe and how it fits into the vision of manufacturing that GE was showcasing on this trip.

In the second part of this two part series, Gabriel will take you into the factories he toured and share some of the incredible things he was a witness to on this adventure so toon back in soon for part two!

Continue reading “GE Part 1 – Introduction To My Trip” »

In this episode of AMP I get a chance to visit with a great friend and advocate of the podcast, Mike Ralston. Mike has been the president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry for the last 12 years, but his story is far deeper than that. An champion of Iowa business, Mike began his story in a unique way, becoming Mayor of his Iowa town at the amazingly young age of 18. From there his path took him to many corners of politics and business before landing him in the position he has now with ABI.

Aside from the many stories of his time as Mayor, which include dead cats and letting go a police Chief, Mike shares his many encounters with some of the most influential people in business and personal motivation. We talk about his encounters with Mike Rowe, Patrick Lencioni, Jim Collins, Dick Vitale, Ken Blanchard, Joe Theismann, and more.

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) has not only been a huge promoter of the Advanced Manufacturing Podcast, but they have been a role model for other states around the country when it comes to promoting business and especially supporting manufacturing and trades. ABI has evolved a lot in their 114 years of existence and it was great to get to understand a bit about the transitions that have happened over the years and the stories that come with an iconic organization, like ABI.

I hope that you enjoy this episode of AMP and thank you to Mike for coming to the studio to share his amazing story!

Continue reading “Mike Ralston – The Journey From 18 Year Old Mayor To Visionary Leader” »

In this episode of AMP we have a call with Dave Opsahl, VP of Corporate Development for Tech Soft 3D. Dave is passionate about manufacturing and how their technology can dramatically improve operations in the industry. He shares something called Model Based Definition and what this means for the manufacturing industry. We get beyond 3D PDF’s and into augmented reality and virtual reality a bit as well.

Tech Soft 3D is the leading global provider of development tools that help software teams deliver successful applications, as well as the creator of the 3D format that is part of the PDF standard. Established in 1996 and headquartered in Bend, Oregon, Tech Soft 3D also has offices in California, France, England and Japan. The company’s toolkit products power nearly 500 unique applications running on hundreds of millions of computers worldwide, while the tetra4d brand of end-user products are used by many of the top manufacturing and construction firms for converting CAD data into 3D PDF.

I hope that you enjoy this episode of AMP and thank you to Dave for coming on the show!

Continue reading “Tech Soft – Using 3D PDF Technology For Manufacturing” »

In an unsuspecting building in downtown Cedar Rapids some really cool things are being made. In this episode of AMP we travel to BeraTek Industries to hear the story of how this startup manufacturing company is making waves in the product world. We hear about their unique approach to marketing new products and how they pilot new products by 3D printing. We also learn about how their team comes up with new product concepts. It’s a fascinating new approach to product manufacturing, growing a company, and building a brand!

Gerald Beranek, founder and CEO, has an interesting past that began with tinkering in his garage with his father. It escalated when he bought his own CNC machine, and then his own 3D printer. The day he picked to quit his job and give manufacturing a try?… the day his first child was born!

 

 

Continue reading “BeraTek – The Future Of Product Manufacturing” »

In this episode I travel to NW Iowa to a town called Rock Valley, to see something truly uniqueScreen Shot 2017-02-19 at 4.55.44 PM and interesting. Do you remember shop class in high school? You know, where you got a chance to use a drill and perhaps you built a birdhouse or picture frame? Well, in Rock Valley they go BIG! They built a full size manufacturing facility onto the high school and they call it Rocket Manufacturing! That’s right. Students get hands on welding, machining, CAD design, and more!  These students are getting hands on manufacturing experience by creating real products for local companies and the program uses the money generated from that for new equipment, raw materials, and other operational costs, just like a real business would.

Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 4.53.23 PMI get a chance to sit down with school Superintendent, Chad Janzen, and he shares his journey that took him from farm fields to big city light s in LA before coming back to the midwest. He shares the challenges and the resources that it took to pull off something like Rocket Manufacturing and how the community just poured out support.

Now in their second year, Rocket Manufacturing is making a real impact for local businesses. Not only do they have an outlet for outsourcing some of their work, but even some of the students have interest in going into the trades after high school.

Don’t miss this fantastic conversation with Superintendent Janzen as he takes us on a journey through the making of a truly unique company, Rocket Manufacturing.

Continue reading “Rocket Manufacturing – A High School Manufacturing Facility” »

Part 2 of our conversation with surfboard maker, Donny Brink, takes us down several paths. We start out learning about the business side of Brink Surf and how surfboards are made. Materials, the process, the…