What Makes Your Company Great? KCMN June Meeting Summary

KCMN’s June meeting focused on how to build a competitive advantage for your business,
by considering your company’s best aRick Tirrellreas of focus.  Speaker and author Rick Tirrell challenged the audience to be able to answer the question, “What makes your company great?”  Rick used numerous examples, both from his book, The Wisdom of Resilience Builders and from his work with a variety of companies in many industries, to discuss four competitive platforms:

Relationship platform – These companies are fanatical about customer service – Mckinsey & Company, USAA, and Brooks Brothers all spend tremendous resources to know, understand and serve their customers.

Efficient Platform – The bottom line for these companies is to wring every dime from every expense and to pursue efficiency in everything they do.  Walmart, Amazon.com, and Dell in their early days, all make their mark by seeking better, faster, cheaper ways to deliver.

Creative Platform – For these companies, the development of continual innovation and new ideas is paramount.  Pixar, Apple and Cisco all focus on this platform.

Marketing Platform – Branding and image are what drives these companies. While their products may have some differentiation from the competition, trust in the company and a positive image for the brand are key drivers.  Examples include Pepsi, BMW and Proctor and Gamble.

While large companies may have the budget and resources to be single platform companies, Rick in his research has found that smaller companies are more successful in seeking two platforms as differentiators.  Manufacturers often seek to be efficient in all of their processes and procedures, but efficiency alone is not going to give them a lead over global competitors with much greater scale. 

Robbie Fantastic Flexibles   Pepper Stokes, COO of Robbie Flexibles, explained how Robbie has been successful by focusing on all of the competitive platforms, but placing special emphasis on the Relationship platform and the Creative Platform.  The   platform approach has helped guide the company to place focus on the areas where they feel they can make the most   difference.

   First and foremost, the company makes sure that their mission and customer service values are known and can be   communicated by every single employee.  The company has a set of core values: passion, idealism, commitment,   optimism and achievement; and even names conference rooms and offices after some of these values, such as the passion room.

In the relationship platform, Robbie provides a wide variety of services to their customers, sometimes even at no charge, in order to better understand their customer’s needs.  They send out roll out teams to make sure all team members understand the value of their products, and report problems and issues as an extra set of eyes to their customers. 

The relationship platform is a perfect complement to the creative platform.  In knowing their customer well, the team can then seek creative solutions to their customer’s problems.  The commitment to the creative platform drives decisions to innovate, and to invest in new processes and equipment that gives them additional opportunities to come up with new and better solutions for their customers.

While the efficient platform is not a key driver to the decision process, it is a key driver to remaining competitive in the global marketplace. Robbie excels in their pre-production process, and considered marketing the process to others, but decided against it as it was not part of their overall mission and focus.  The need for short runs means continuous improvement in their changeover times, with much success, and more work to do.

The marketing platform is not ignored, but is a key supporter to the relationship and creative platforms. Robbie outspends many of their competitors on marketing, and attends tradeshows and events to build relationships, not just sell solutions.

Overall, Pepper told the audience, that the secret to success was to “Figure out what you do great and do it on purpose.”   Rick challenged everyone to make sure that regardless of the platform or platforms, that having everyone singing from the same sheet music is a key driver to making your platforms successful. 

Wrap up your summer by making some new connections!



Following our sold out successful event last summer, we are making this year’s summer networking event even bigger and better. Join:

Kansas City Manufacturing Network,

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers,

Institute of Industrial Engineers, and

American Society for Quality

at our members-only event at the Dark Horse Distillery in Lenexa, KS from 4-7 PM on August 20, 2013.

Located just west of I-35 off of 87th Street in Lenexa, the Dark Horse Distillery is a family owned and operated distillery launched in 2010 with a complete unique event space.

Admission includes your choice of beverages, including Dark Horse Rider Vodka, Dark Horse Long Shot White Whiskey, well spirits, beer, wine and soda, complements of our drink sponsor, Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP. We will also have sandwiches and appetizers catered by Dean & Delucca.  Learn more about four great organizations who provide resources and support to the area’s manufacturing community, and participate in discussions to help you get to know your fellow manufacturers – all for only $20.

Attendees must pay online or by cash or check at the door.  Due to multiple organizations participating, there will be no invoicing.  Sign up today by clicking here!

Attendance is open to members only of the 4 participating organizations and invited manufacturing company guests, and will be limited to the first 100 to sign up.  If we are able to secure additional sponsors, proceeds from the event will benefit SME and IIE Scholarship funds.  Contact Brian Crawley from SME for more details if you’d like to help sponsor the event.

Your choice of beverages, thanks to our sponsors:

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At Spencer Fane, we take pride in our ability to work in partnership with our clients to achieve their goals. Our client engagement philosophy highlights three critical steps: We identify achievable goals. We work to find the best strategy for achieving those goals. We implement powerful legal strategy in a skillful, aggressive and cost-effective manner. We believe our success is measured by our results. Spencer Fane has a wealth of experience representing regional, national, and international manufacturing companies. We have guided our clients through the complex legal issues that arise including contracts, employment issues, asset protection, and environmental requirements.

Thanks to our additional supporting event sponsors:

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Who we are:

The Kansas City Manufacturing Network (KCMN) was established in 1993 as the central resource for manufacturing company managers and owners who are working to grow and improve their businesses. KCMN’s educational and networking opportunities create opportunities for manufacturers to learn through real world experiences such as plant tours, presentations by local subject matter experts, and panel discussions that share lessons learned from fellow manufacturing professionals.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education and networking. Through its many programs, events, magazines, publications and online training division, Tooling U, SME connects manufacturing practitioners to each other, to the latest technologies and to the most up-to-date manufacturing processes. SME has members around the world and is supported by a network of chapters and technical communities. A 501(c)3 organization, SME is a leader in manufacturing workforce development issues, working with industry, academic and government partners to support the current and future skilled workforce.

Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) is the world’s largest professional society dedicated solely to the support of the industrial engineering profession and individuals involved with improving quality and productivity. Founded in 1948, IIE is an international, nonprofit association that provides leadership for the application, education, training, research, and development of industrial engineering.  Our members can be found in manufacturing, distribution, service, consulting, education, and even retirement!  In addition to continuing education opportunities, we provide exposure to an excellent network of fellow Industrial Engineers.

American Society for Quality (ASQ) is a global community of people passionate about quality, who use the tools, their ideas and expertise to make our world work better. ASQ: The Global Voice of Quality, was founded in 1946 and has over 78,000 members worldwide.  We offer technologies, concepts, training, solutions, and an active network of quality practitioners, leaders, and innovators second to none.