Developing Your Farm System: Ulbrich Steel

Developing Your Farm System: Ulbrich Steel

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Developing Your Farm System: Ulbrich Steel
Whether you consider yourself a baseball fan or not, I don't think one can argue about how vitally important it is to constantly look to the future. Who will be my leaders of tomorrow? (It's also tough to argue the fact that two of the best teams right now also happen to have the best minor league systems, according to That's right, the Chicago Cubs and my beloved Boston Red Sox have done the best job of preparing for the present and the future).   

Peter Drucker talked about how recruiting and developing leaders is a primary role of management in his 1973  classic, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities and Practices, and a common expression heard around Toyota is “we do not just build cars, we build people.”  

Competition for talent for small to mid-sized manufacturing companies has never been fiercer. In many cases, there seems to be more openings than candidates. Parents don't always think of manufacturing as a viable, satisfying and prosperous career option due to out dated perceptions. Very large companies seem to have an advantage due to huge resources dedicated to recruiting and long standing relationships with large universities. It has never been more important for small and medium sized manufacturers to take a hands on and innovated approach to building their own farm system.

Which brings me to Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals (North Haven, CT). Ulbrich is an extremely successful, 92 year old family business with over 600 employees around the world. If you have a couple of minutes, check out the Ulbrich Story:

Not sure if I've ever met a company with such a deeply rooted sense of pride and loyalty in it's workforce.  More often than not, employees retire from Ulbrich with 25, 30, 35 or 40 years of experience and knowledge. No doubt it is an enormous challenge for any business to systematically and steadily replenish decades of brainpower at every level. More retirements are coming.

What if we could expose young people in our community to the advantages of a career in manufacturing? What if we could develop our own farm system by helping develop manufacturing curriculum in our school systems? What if our COO and Superintendent of Schools were working together to expose 15, 16 and 17 year olds to a rewarding career option while teaching them skills that will make them attractive candidates for employment immediately upon graduation?   

What if I told you all of these what ifs have become reality? Ulbrich Chief Operating Officer Jay Cei and Wallingford (CT) Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Salvatore Menzo have worked together over the past couple of years to build an advanced manufacturing course of study that kicked off this Fall that combines the resources of both entities for the benefit of both.  In my own business, Duraflex, I oversaw several outreach programs and tours with local schools, but never dreamed it is possible to help build actual curriculum! 

Developing your farm system. "If you want results others don't get, you need to be willing to do things others won't do."


By: Bill Greider
Posted: October 9, 2016, 10:44 pm

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