Manufacturing Summit focuses on challenges of change

·5 min read

May 21—TRAVERSE CITY — It was fitting the end of the Northern Michigan Manufacturing Summit featured two impromptu presentations.

From the "Change Like a Champion" keynote address from Gaylord St. Mary High School graduate Kurt A. David, a presentation from Kennith James Scott of Traverse City's Transformation Coaching, LLC and a panel discussion from a trio of business leaders — including a departure from the agenda — finding the focus of the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council event was easy to discern.

Leading and understanding change — plus communicating it in business — was the subject of the annual Manufacturing Summit Wednesday morning at Northwestern Michigan College's Hagerty Center.

That included Promethient Inc. CEO Bill Myers prompting Century, LLC President Tim Healy and JanTec Incorporated President Troy Curran discussing some recent developments with two Traverse City manufacturing companies before a networking lunch.

While change is far from a solo process and requires input, it is driven by leaders, David said. Change Like a Champion is an "edutainment platform designed to support business and sports professionals in transitioning through life's changes."

Of course, it all begins with the person looking back at you in the mirror, David said.

"If you want to start a revolution, if you want to start change, you first have to draw a circle around yourself," said David, who has authored several books and won an Emmy for best interview for "From Glory Days," which interviews professional athletes about their post-playing careers.

Scott followed David at the meeting and talked about the science of change in "From Thinking to Doing to Being." His presentation concluded with a statement that built on David's keynote.

"Most of these changes fail because leaders don't embody it," Scott said. "Start in your circle."

Scott said the neocortex, limbic and cerebellum are capable of adapting to any situation.

"While change is hard, we are innately adjustable and understanding this takes away a bit of the mystery," the former manufacturing engineer said. "You've already been going from thinking to being to doing many, many times in your life."

David talked about four types of "The Lens Effect" in business and how to we "move people from the victim lens to the follower to the performer and ultimately to be a leaser."

David went into his Nine Principles of Change and his Eight Vital Keys to Communicating Change in the bulk of his keynote. Several of those included subcategories and plenty of acronyms, fitting for someone who interviews former NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL players. His presentation featured video clips with former pro players like Ray Lewis, Cory Schlesinger and James Edwards.

The first principle of leading change is that it happens and must answer three key questions: Why? What? and How? David's five RULES for change included: Refocus, Use your network, Let go, Execute your plan and Someone (a mentor).

David said the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Adjust) process needs to be repeated.

"Change is rarely one and done," said the 6-foot-9 David, who played basketball at Saginaw Valley State University and two professional seasons in Europe before going through his own career change.

The other eight principles of leading change included character; priorities; growth; attitude (altitude, teachable, tenacity, intensity, teamwork, unselfish, discipline, enthusiasm); delayed gratification; servant's spirit; talent scout; and team work.

David's presentation concluded with eight keys to communicating change in a company. These sequential steps included:

* Address change ASAP

* Eliminate misinformation (gossip)

* Address face to face (when possible)

* Affirm relationships

* Seek to understand (listen)

* Seek to be understood

* Own the change

* Seek mutual agreement

"Continue to change and make other's lives better," David said at the end of his keynote.

The 2023 Northern Michigan Manufacturing Summit concluded with a "Celebrations and Challenges for Manufacturing in the Grand Traverse Region" with Promethient CEO Bill Myers, Great Lakes Stainless President Michael DeBruyn and Iron Fish Distillery partner Heidi Bolger. WTCM's Ron Jolly served as moderator.

Workforce shortages and housing challenges were at the forefront of the panel discussion.

Bolger said Iron Fish will house eight seasonal employees on property adjacent to its business in Thompsonville, which is undergoing a $1 million expansion. She said other businesses have had to take similar measures.

"We needed it sooner rather than later," Bolger said of the distillery, which employs between 35 to 48. "Not only does it have to be affordable, it has to be in proximity."

"Yes, obviously that's a major problem," DeBruyn added.

Great Lakes Stainless, which DeBruyn said has hired six to seven employees in the last month, also lost three of its 65-70 employees to Wisconsin.

DeBruyn said the address and phone number on résumés is often the first thing he looks at because of the difficulty of those from out of the area finding a place to live.

Myers said housing hasn't been an issue for his 12 employees yet.

"It hasn't, but it will be when we have to hire more people," he said.

All three of the panelists — and the two 'additions' — talked about expanding the educational pathways that already exist in the area for those looking to start a career in manufacturing sooner.

"We have to be more vocal and participate in the community," said Myers, who earlier mentioned "creating a culture that's sticky" to attract and retain a manufacturing workforce.