“Company Expands FABTECH Experience” – FABTECH Show Daily, November 11, 2015
Published in FABTECH’s official Show Daily Publication, on November 11, 2015 (Text and photo’s taken directly from published article)
“For any manufacturing company, but especially one in transition, a visit to FABTECH can provide team members with an invaluable source of new ideas and an awareness of state-of-the-art industry products, services and technologies.
In the case of Lakewood Fab Tech, LLC of Holland, Michigan, more than just a few company representatives made that visit. On Monday, the company bussed nearly all of its employees to McCormick Place to spend the day at FABTECH, with about 35 staff members making the two and a half hour journey. The company also provided lunch vouchers for everyone and reserved tables for employees to share early impressions during the break.
The reason for the event, according to Lakewood Fab Tech president Mike Miedema, stems from the company’s recent changes and shift in emphasis.
“Our business is in a major transition in terms of market focus,” Miedema explained. “We operated under a different name until March, when we sold a product line of machines that we used to design and build for the produce industry. We sold that to a competitor, and we are still doing a little bit of building of that equipment, but really we’re transitioning to more of an industrial market of metal fabricated products and machine building; more service-based instead of product-based. So as part of that, this is an opportunity to show everybody more about the industry as a whole – what the capabilities are and what some of the potential capital expenditures are that we may need to make in the future to expand our service capabilities.” “Part of it is trying to answer the question, ‘What does best-in-class look like for Lakewood going forward?’ You can’t answer that if you’re not aware of what’s going on in the industry. So this is a way to get the whole company aware of what’s out there.”
The company is also working to become established in an FMA user’s group as an additional way to increase industry awareness.
Miedema said he and a few others from the company have attended FABTECH in the past, but this is the first time the company has brought all its staff members. “I think we’ve got a couple people that aren’t riding the bus and are going on a different day so we’ve got some phone coverage, but everybody’s pretty much here,” he said.
While the company didn’t make specific assignments for employees as they explored the FABTECH show floor, they did publish a list of some particular areas of interest for staff members to focus on, covering a broad spectrum of availability at FABTECH. “Currently, we don’t do any finishing in-house, so there are some guys who are looking at the finishing side. It’s part of a future possibility of what we might want to bring in-house,” Miedema said. “On the welding side, it’s a good opportunity for our guys to get a broader view of what’s out there in the welding world. We have a couple specific pieces of equipment in the forming side that we’re going to be looking into. We’ve got a group looking at software. It almost seems like we’re touching most of what’s being shown here – not everything, but there’s a lot of connection points.”
Following the visit, the company plans to have team meetings or focus groups to ascertain and discuss “what they saw, what they learned, and what ideas we need to consider going forward,” Miedema said. He summarized the company’s goals for the experience as an effort to create a broader industry awareness among all employees as well as seeing it as a team building event, adding, “One of the follow-up questions, again, is, ‘What does best-in-class look like for Lakewood, and what did we see that challenges our paradigm to be able to answer that question?’”