[M]Power Spotlight: Sean Stack of Aleris talks ownership

This is the second of the [M]Power Interview Series, highlighting the manufacturing leaders that will be featured at the [M]Power Manufacturing Assembly this Sept. 30 in Akron. A special thank you to Fathom Digital Marketing for their help!

It is no coincidence that manufacturing has continually been a driving force of Northeast Ohio’s economy. As Aleris CEO Sean Stack says, “it has that fabric, that DNA” of a strong manufacturing base. His enthusiasm for the NEO manufacturing landscape will be developed further during his keynote speech at the [M]Power event on September 30th.

Since becoming CEO of Aleris in July, Stack now has more opportunity than ever in ensuring that it continues to grow in a positive direction. There are several details he believes are integral to this—the first is their location in Northeast Ohio, the second is a culture of safety & accountability, and the third is following the zeitgeist of sustainability.

Speaking with the passion of someone who clearly feels that manufacturing is his vocation, Stack shared his thoughts on the industry during an interview on September 3rd.

VG: What topics were you planning on speaking about in your keynote at [M]Power and what do you hope the attendees will get out speech?

SS: The main focus will be how to drive ownership in a manufacturing organization. We have a major focus here on what our customers think. We want to be known in the industry as the best quality service and delivery and that’s really where you have to win at the customer level. The main enabler of all of that is best-in-class manufacturing practices and winning on the shop floor.

It’s about building the processes and having the training people need at their disposal. It’s about empowerment and whether employees feel like they ‘own it.’ They need to really feel like they’re having an impact and know that what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis has an impact every quarter and every year.
 
VG: What excites you about speaking at [M]POWER? Is there anything specific that you want to learn or you feel you will gain from attending and speaking at [M]Power?

SS: It’s a great opportunity for me in my new role as the CEO to get out into the Northeast Ohio marketplace and get to know more of the manufacturers. We’ve also got a lot of exciting things going on at Aleris. So I want to make sure the community hears that from me and sees where we’re taking the company and the effects that we’re making.

[I hope they] see us as not only a robust competitor but also as another company that has a lot of experience and can be a resource for other manufacturers in terms of global growth. This includes regional growth as well, in terms of driving what we consider to be world class manufacturing capabilities.  

VG: Can you tell us a little bit about your background in manufacturing?

SS: I originally started out as banker working with industrial steel companies [with] a very strong focus in metals and mining. I wanted to be in the corporate manufacturing world and moved to a food manufacturing company.

That took me to an opportunity here in Northeast Ohio in the specialty chemical area where I was part of a new management team, which gave me 4 years in the specialty chemical business. Then, ultimately, that business was sold to Lubrizol.

In 2004, our former CEO Steve Demetriou, myself, and a few others took the opportunity to create and develop Aleris.

VG: In the years that you’ve spent in the manufacturing industry, what are the most important or influential changes you've seen that are affecting manufacturing now?

SS: First and foremost—and this really came to light in the specialty chemical business—the environmental and safety standards that are required to be in this industry. Translating that into what we’ve done right here in Aleris has really helped transition our company into adopting word class safety and environmental standards. Overall, how you make sustainability impact your bottom line is very important for us and for our industry. I think we’ve been one of the leaders in driving that. A lot of others have followed along because they’ve seen our success.

VG: Is there anything about manufacturing in Northeast Ohio that attracted you to this area? You could’ve been located anywhere in the world, why did you pick Northeast Ohio and is there anything that excites you about the manufacturing environment here?

SS: When we formed Aleris in 2004, we had one company headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky and one company that was headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The new management team thought that moving the company’s headquarters out of one of those two regions was an important part of really changing the culture.

Northeast Ohio has a long tradition of manufacturing. You have a very good talent pool both in terms of manufacturing leadership but also the people that can get into our plants and make a difference.

In Uhrichsville, outside Canton, we’ve got one of our largest facilities. It is one of the most successful manufacturing plants we have in the company.

It’s had long-standing leadership, a long-standing employee base, and a tremendous amount of engagement with the employee base on the shop floor. Today, it is one of the most efficient aluminum mills in the world. So, that’s a good testament to Northeast Ohio, that it has that fabric, that DNA, in terms of the culture. It was really built on the back of a strong manufacturing base.  

VG: You have been CEO of Aleris since July. What have you learned in that time?

SS:  When our manufacturing people go home and they think to themselves whether they had a good day, I want them to be able to articulate what it was they did to drive that good day. I want to make sure that can translate all the way out to the accountability I have with my board. Ownership from the CEO down to the shop floor is a big part of what I’m trying to do.

[Making sure that] that we are putting the right culture [in place] for our employees, [maintaining] the right level of employee engagement, and building the right culture where people feel like they have an impact on our performance, and also feel like the company is moving in the right direction.

 

Interested in hearing more from Sean Stack on manufacturing essentials? Register for [M]Power today to hear his keynote address.

Print
Posted by MAGNET Ohio in Events, MPower

Most Recent

Boosting Business through Responsible Growth

May 02, 2018 by MAGNET Ohio

Article submitted by Bank of America For mid-market companies, business success and responsible growth aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, prioritizing responsible growth is becoming increasingly important, and successful companies are making sustainability central to their growth strategies. Beyond good corporate citizenship, they are recognizing the intrinsic link between the strength of their business and that of the communities and economies in which they operate. Leading your growth with those goals in mind builds resilience and better solutions for the future. Consider the following: Responsible growth companies perform better. Companies that consider the impact of risks and opportunities on the environment, local communities and society may produce better financial results than those that don’t. Additionally, 90% of companies believe a sustainability plan is important for remaining competitive. Responsible growth companies attract investment. A 2016 study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group surveyed 3,000 executives and managers from more than 100 countries. Findings revealed that 75% of senior executives in investment firms agree that a company’s sustainability performance is materially important to their investment decisions, and nearly half would not invest in a company with a poor sustainability record. Ninety percent of executives see sustainability as important, but only

MAGNET’S 2018 NORTHEAST OHIO MANUFACTURING SURVEY: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

February 22, 2018 by Sam Wasylyshyn

HEADLINE The survey definitively shows that product innovation leads to more growth, while “grow your own workforce” strategies will be needed to fill the major labor shortages hampering small manufacturer growth. Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digital manufacturing are beginning to enhance innovation and productivity, but still have significant room for adoption amongst Ohio’s small manufacturing businesses. ABOUT THE SURVEY Under the direction of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Ohio MEP), MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network conducted a thorough survey of Ohio’s manufacturing base. Contributing approximately 20% of Ohio’s jobs (and driving in some regions up to 50% of Ohio’s economy), and generating a disproportionate amount of export revenues and Gross Regional Product, manufacturing is critical to Ohio. Greater than 95% of Ohio’s manufacturers are small (under 500 employees), and these manufacturers need to remain competitive both nationally and internationally to ensure our economy’s health. Ohio’s Development Services Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the MEP, recognizes the importance of this sector and fuels MAGNET and the Ohio MEP program to directly serve and support innovation, efficiency, and growth in small and medium manufacturers. What manufacturers need

Manufacturing is Facing a New Reality

February 06, 2018 by Sam Wasylyshyn

How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Can Help Keep Our Engineers Safe and Our Manufacturing Strong Recall how difficult it was to put together complex LEGO creations when you were a child or helping a child. Now, picture assembling a fighter plane from a room full of parts. Even highly trained engineers can benefit from technology to help improve consistency and quality. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making near-perfect assembly a possibility in the manufacturing space. By wearing AR glasses that use cameras, depth sensors and motion sensors to overlay images onto the real working environment, engineers and factory workers can visualize the exact bolts, parts, part numbers and instructions on how to assemble a particular component correctly. Lockheed Martin began using AR goggles and improved F-35 assembly time by 30 percent, in addition to increasing accuracy to 96 percent[1]. In order to remain competitive, businesses should consider the ways VR and AR can improve efficiency and supply chain productivity. According to a recent BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report[2], AR platforms can provide companies up to 25 percent in cost savings on installation of equipment. Here are four ways VR/AR is disrupting the mid-market manufacturing space: