IMG_8118This episode is something special. I was honored to be asked by a former guest of the show, Albert Marasco, to participate as a counselor for his inaugural manufacturing camp, called Base Camp. They has selected 13 students to participate via an online application and they rented in age from 11 to 13 years old. During the week the campers learned how to start a business, design a product, and then manufacture that product that would be customized for a local small business. In this episode I ask them about their views of manufacturing and their experience with the camp. Here’s a little background on what how the camp went…

CampersThe week began with students hearing from 5 local business owners about the features they would like in a custom bicycle. The business owners also silently wrote down a bid they were willing to pay if they were chosen by the students to be the one to receive the custom bicycle. The campers then broke down the features requested and determined how long it would take to build each of the custom bicycles. In the end they chose to do a custom bike for a local brewery, Reclaimed Rails Brewing Company.
Camp1Before getting hands on the kids had to do some planning around the process of designing and building the custom bicycle. They toured the facility so they could get an idea of the resources. They were also provided with many “reclaimed parts” from old projects and scrap in order to match the customer’s brand and belief in up-cycling.


IMG_8261As the week wend on the kids were able to learn a variety of new skills and use a wide array of tools. They learned how to weld, plasma cut, bend, CAD design, laser cut, drill, mill, powder coat, and more.

Throughout the week there were several other local business owners lined up to come in and serve as mentors for the kids. There were several Q&A sessions but they also worked hands on with the kids as they worked on their project.



IMG_8252In addition to the mentors, several other folks came in and spoke with the kids on topics such as servant leadership, product liability, and entrepreneurship. They group also engaged in discussion on building confidence, a personal philosophy on life, and ways other than money to define a successful life.



IMG_8305The week finished with a massive hog roast celebration with nearly a hundred folks in attendance. The bicycle was unveiled to the crowd that included the business owners from the beginning of the week. The students took a few minuted explaining what had been done to create the bicycle and the challenges they had to overcome throughout the week. Every single camper said they wanted to come back and participate in the future.
Continue reading “Episode 5 – A Week With Kids At A Manufacturing Summer Camp” »

In this episode of AMP we talk with the owner of Kreg Tool, Mr. Todd Sommerfeld. The story of Kreg Tool is incredible. With the advice of an uncle this global tool manufacturer was born back in the 80’s. Todd’s journey began by helping his father with the business in his back yard when he was just a boy but at the age of 15 a trip to St. Louis cemented his passion for the company and the industry. Like most young men, distractions like cars, girls, and college pulled him away from the family business.

Todd received a degree in Accounting and after just 7 months in public accounting his father asked him to join him back at Kreg Tool. When Todd made the move he was just 23 years old and Kreg Tool employed just 12 people. Todd’s approach to leadership led him down the path of wearing nearly every hat in the company before he took the reigns. He credits his abilities to his faith in Christ, thirst for knowledge through reading, and peer groups such as the CEO roundtable that he joined early in his career.


Today, Kreg Tool has roughly 200 employees and ships products around the globe. You’ll find their tools in stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Their recognizably blue tools are the standard for most woodworkers and the raving fans that use their products can be found by the hundreds of thousands on many different social media sites.

Continue reading “Episode 4 – How A Major Tool Manufacturer Created Raving Fans” »

In this episode of AMP we talk with the Senior Engineer for EMC Insurance, Chris Murphy. Chris’ life journey, like so many, was impacted by the events of 9/11. After college he found a home for his engineering skills in a very unlikely place… insurance.  In our conversation Chris shares with us some stories from is 14+ years of experience in the field and shares some practical ways to make an immediate impact on risk exposure in a manufacturing facility.

Chris graduated with honors from Iowa State University with a BS in Industrial Engineering. He has over 15 certification designations and volunteers for both the American Society of Safety Engineers and the Iowa CPCU Society Chapter. Some of his day to day activities include maintaining effective relationships with large accounts and agents through continued loss control services. Completing traditional loss control underwriting surveys for property and casualty risks. Developing loss control tools and services available to policyholders through company website and providing safety training programs on general industry and construction topics.

EMC Insurance Companies is among the top 50 insurance organizations in the country based on net written premium, and we have more than 2,100 employees. The company was organized in 1911 to write workers’ compensation protection in Iowa. Today, EMC provides property and casualty insurance products and services throughout the United States and writes reinsurance contracts worldwide.

Continue reading “Episode 3 – Why An Insurance Company Has An Engineer On Staff” »

In this episode of AMP we explore the future of manufacturing, nano technology, challenges in education, being “anti-fragile”, how to motivate your workers, and how to embrace failure. We cover a ton of ground in this episode so strap in, it’s a wild ride. My guest is a longtime friend and extremely accomplished individual, Albert Marasco.

Albert is the founder of Summit Products and in addition to being a brilliant engineer he holds many patents and trade secrets for the products they create at Summit. Albert took an operation from the basement of his parent’s house to the thriving manufacturing business that it is today.

Summit Products designs and manufactures all types of custom products for clients in a diverse set of industries. Welding, bending, laser cutting, and painting are just a few of the daily activities happening on their manufacturing floor.
Continue reading “Episode 2 – A Journey Into The Future” »

In the inaugural episode of AMP we kick things off BIG with a conversation with Aaron Johnson, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Strategy for Accumold. Accumold is one of the worlds leading micro manufacturers and Aaron travels the globe helping customers in many industries. Aaron shares his thoughts on some mind-blowing technology that he encountered on a recent trip to Munich, Germany for the Wearable Technologies Conference as well as some fantastic advice about taking your company international. You don’t want to miss this episode!

Aaron JohnsonAaron is an experienced communicator with a unique background in technology, design and marketing communications. His previous work in radio and as an award winning video producer have all fed into his approach to communication and marketing.

Accumold® is a high-tech manufacturer of precision micro, small and lead frame injection molded plastic components. Utilizing processes developed from our Micro-Mold® technology, we design, build and produce unique molds and parts efficiently for markets that include Micro Electronics, Automotive, Fiber Optics, Medical, and Military Applications. Continue reading “Episode 1: Micro Manufacturing, Wearables, and Going International” »