Blog

[M]SPIRE 2017 Winners Announced

July 26, 2017 by Liz Fox

MAGNET has revealed the names of six entrepreneurs, startups, and small manufacturers who will receive an array of services and connections through the second-annual [M]SPIRE pitch competition. Announced in late July, the winners span many different areas, backgrounds, and industries. Over 40 applications were received from individuals and companies across Northeast Ohio, including submissions from Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron, Elyria, Lorain, and Canton. “Entrepreneurship is an essential and irreplaceable component of Northeast Ohio manufacturing, and MAGNET is thrilled to help these individuals and small companies achieve their potential by connecting them to the funding and resources necessary for success in the long-term,” said MAGNET President and CEO Ethan Karp. Sponsored by Bank of America, AT&T, and Jumpstart, the submission period was held through the month of May. 11 finalists were selected to meet with an expert panel of judges comprising area entrepreneurs, engineers, consultants, and more. The six winners will receive varying types of assistances from MAGNET and MAGNET partners, including grant funding, product development, market research, and specialized consulting services. These winners include: Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce – a local manufacturer of 100%, all-natural applesauce Karis Doll Collection – a line of dolls that aims to help young girls adapt to

Read More

MAGNET featured in guest spot on Canton radio program

July 25, 2017 by Liz Fox

MAGNET Manufacturing Liaison Steven Katz recently made an appearance on WHBC's The Gary Rivers Show to discuss the state of manufacturing in Stark County. Recorded Friday, July 21, the program features insights from individuals about what's made in the Canton area as well as why small manufacturers are so important to the U.S economy. Also included in the discussion is Eric Smer, Director of Community and Workforce Development at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce. Listen here (MAGNET segment begins at 47-minute mark):

Read More

How Critical Assumptions Can Make or Break Your Business

July 24, 2017 by Brandon Cornuke

“Am I working on the things that matter most?” “How can I get more traction?” “Do I have enough cash to keep going?” These are just a few of the questions that keep entrepreneurs up at night. Unfortunately I'm not here to give you a magic way to erase all those worries. But I can give you one piece of advice that'll make organizing and prioritizing your questions a little easier: work on your critical assumptions. Here's how: Find the guesses that absolutely have to be true for your business to succeed. Every entrepreneur makes guesses. What they're doing hasn't been done before. Ask yourself, "what do I think is true about my customer, their problems, my product, and my team?" Write down things like "I believe my customer is ____" or "I think _____ is a problem that _____ is trying to solve." Make a long list. Then rank each guess based on how detrimental it would be if you're wrong. Take the top of your first list and rank those assumptions by how much or how little you know about each. The most important word in that sentence is “know”. You need concrete evidence to know something is

Read More

Big Data, and Why it Matters to Manufacturers

July 17, 2017 by Bob Baxendale

“Only when businesses create a culture that empowers everyone to have access to data and insight that drive actions will they be positioned to truly transform.” – Colin Masson, Global Industry Director for Manufacturing and Distribution at Microsoft As technological advancements are made in manufacturing, companies are embracing data as a key component of their business strategies. In fact, according to a 2016 Honeywell study, 68 percent of manufacturers are currently investing in data analytics, while 46 percent say implementing these processes is no longer optional in our fast-changing world. But does big data bring real benefits to the table, and is it really worth your time and money? Absolutely. Analytics often come in the form of dashboards, which can provide information about nearly every aspect of your business, including supply chain, quality management, sales and marketing, and administration. Having this information at your disposal equips you with tools necessary to make better, more well-informed decisions – not just in six months or one year from now, but often in real time. For example, with the appropriate systems in place, a single dashboard is capable of detecting and analyzing product defects by type, time, region, and other factors. Think of

Read More

The Perks of Punting, Pivoting, and Persevering for Entrepreneurs

July 10, 2017 by Brandon Cornuke

If you're starting a business, there's a good chance an assumption you've made will turn out to be wrong. You can hope that day never comes but, trust me, it will. Startups, after all, are full of risky bets and guesses (that's what makes them startups). But even if you know it's coming - even if you're looking for your own weak assumptions - it's tough to absorb the blow of being wrong. Sometimes it's even harder to know what to do next. We're here to help. First, congratulate yourself. As we've discussed, entrepreneurs don't look for evidence that refutes their ideas often enough. If you've discovered a flaw in your plans - say, your customer target was off - that's actually great news. It means you've saved yourself a lot of time and money. Now you have three options: Punt - It's never fun to admit your idea won’t work, but the end of one entrepreneurial journey can be the start of another. Consider whether the circumstances are right to keep going. Do you have the cash? Are the rest of your assumptions still solid? Does your team have the energy to keep going? When you're at a crossroads,

Read More

Improve Safety in Your Plant with Lean

July 05, 2017 by gwido.dlugopolsky

In an average manufacturing plant, the presence of old industrial equipment, bad systems, or untrained workers can mean a higher risk of workplace accidents. In fact, studies show 94 percent of accidents occur because of unsafe actions, at-risk behaviors or poor decisions, while only 6 percent happen as a result of unsafe conditions, OSHA violations, and dangerous machinery. This shows that while compliance is necessary, it does not guarantee things will operate as smoothly as they should. Safety is about people, which means correcting behavior can be a challenge. But it’s possible to steer your employees in the right direction by engaging them during the continuous improvement process. The OSHA Safety and Health System Model consists of four categories: Management Leadership and Employee Involvement: Processes that involve the company coming together to brainstorm and implement solutions to plant issues Worksite Analysis: Periodic inspections and infra that track near-misses, safety incidents, and accident investigations Hazard Prevention and Control: Preventative maintenance performed to ensure the operation of a clean, organized facility Safety and Health Training: Information on how to keep the workplace safe Many lean manufacturing tools and techniques are designed to support these efforts, including audits, safety metrics, and systems that

Read More

Combating Confirmation Bias Could Spell Success for Your Startup

June 26, 2017 by Brandon Cornuke

Entrepreneurs are a self-confident bunch, and for good reason. The old perception of nine-in-ten startups failing remains as true as ever, and you have to have deep faith in yourself and your idea to face down such long odds. But the gift of self-confidence can also be a liability. As human beings, we're already programmed to find evidence that supports our beliefs. Psychologists call this “Confirmation Bias”, and in ultra-confident entrepreneurs, that bias is often turbo charged… sometimes with expensive consequences. Building a successful startup in today's economy requires a willingness to learn from mistakes and, when necessary, make major adjustments. When you're starting a business, assumptions that once seemed unquestionably true can quickly turn into big misses. As author and entrepreneur Steve Blank famously says, "No business model survives first contact with the customer." Here are three ways entrepreneurs can overcome the confirmation bias and let evidence drive their decisions: Look for disconfirming evidence. It's not easy and it sounds counterproductive, but the best thing a founder can do is look for reasons a new idea won't work (yes, you read that right). If nine out of ten startups fail, assume your first, second, and tenth idea has a

Read More

Build Communication by Going Gemba

June 21, 2017 by gwido.dlugopolsky

In many cases, managers spend too much time at their desks, in meetings, and on their phones, which means they often rely on others to tell them what’s going on in their factories. Not having the necessary knowledge of day-to-day occurrences on your shop floor can not only lead to misinformed decision-making, but also an increase in safety hazards and apparent miscommunication between you and your employees. Thankfully, there are multiple ways of finding out what’s going on, one of which is known as “Gemba Walking”. Developed by industrial engineers Taiichi Ohno and Eiki Toyoda in the 1950s, Gemba is part of the famous Toyota Production System and stresses the importance getting you right where the action is, and meeting the people doing the actual work so you can see what’s happening for yourself. To start, pick an area of the factory and stand there for a prolonged period of time. Observe how your employees interact. Take notes and record questions that come to mind, some of which may include “Why are using this process for this task?” and “How can we improve on it?” These can be used in discussions later, especially those centered on devising improvement plans that

Read More

MAGNET collaborates with national consortium to support regional manufacturers, implement internships

June 14, 2017 by Liz Fox

As innovations in lightweight technology continue to shape manufacturing competitiveness and growth, MAGNET and LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) have partnered with three local companies to build awareness of how internships and work-based learning can pave the way for a new skilled workforce. These manufacturers, which include Nordson, Swagelok, and Exact Tool, are sharing how they have integrated high school and college level interns into their daily business operations, which has assisted with their long-term strategy in growing their talent pool and providing students with an opportunity to apply their learnings in a real-world setting. Spanning five states, LIFT is a federally funded manufacturing initiative targeting the use of newer, lighter technologies, which have been shown to boost performance of components used in the automotive, aerospace, biomedical, and defense industries. Through this partnership, MAGNET also provides students with work-based learning opportunities (including paid internships) in companies that utilize lightweighting throughout their supply chains. Those enrolled in programs focused on machining, welding, and pre-engineering are now available for summer internships, where they are paid an hourly wage and, depending on performance, can be retained for part-time employment. Participating companies also receive a partial wage reimbursement through the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Read More

What's next for the automobile industry?

June 13, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

In the almost decade since the worst economic recession of the 21st century, several industries have shown resilience. Foremost of these industries is the automotive market. Not only have global sales reached a record high in 2016, but the operating margins are growing quickly as well. According to research presented by Capital IQ, average operating margins for the top 100 automotive market suppliers were able to jump above pre-recession levels by 2010, just a year from their record low. The problem with this success is that the view from behind the curtain is very different. A report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the trends within the automotive industry for 2017 mentions some careful considerations for both investors and manufacturers. Many Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers are fighting to earn back the cost of capital. Returns to investors have been noticeably below index standards. The companies that have survived were able to grow by the distribution of market share owned by those companies who were forced to tap out. The PwC report acknowledges these hardships while presenting encouraging solutions for OEMs and suppliers. Innovation to the Rescue Suppliers for leading automotive brands come in all shapes and sizes, from large mechanical

Read More