Work Experience Is A Factor in Leadership Development and Diversity

Corporate values. Leader behaviors. Diversity and inclusion training. Hiring goals. High-potential training programs. Affinity groups. Mentoring. While these are all important practices for developing leaders and increasing gender diversity, they are not a substitute for one of the most important, but frequently overlooked, contributors to leader development and leadership diversity—ensuring that women in the pipeline are assigned to the high-impact, highly visible, challenging roles and project assignments that will prepare them for executive management.

EXPERIENCE-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) points to experience as a critical factor in executive development. In the introductory chapter to Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent, the book’s editors, Cynthia McCauley and Morgan McCall, define “experience-driven development” as “identifying people with potential, giving them challenging assignments, and holding them accountable for both results and growth.”

CCL has devoted an online publication exclusively to the subject titled Experience Driven Development. The organization states that despite being the most important element of the learning process, experience-driven development often gets scant attention in the workplace: “Individuals broaden and deepen their leadership capabilities as they do leadership work. In fact, there are good reasons to believe that learning from experience is the number one way that leader development happens. Yet this number one driver of learning gets the least attention in our leader development systems.”

Experience-driven development reflects the familiar CCL 70-20-10 framework for leader development stemming from the original Lessons of Experience research of the late 1980s. This model states that roughly 70 percent of development can be attributed to challenging on-the-job experiences; 20 percent to mentoring and other developmental relationships; and 10 percent to formal coursework.

The challenging job experiences can include such assignments as:

  • Starting something from scratch.
  • Turning around a failing or struggling business unit or initiative.
  • Special high-visibility projects.
  • Roles reflecting increases in scope and scale.
  • International assignments.

Ann Morrison, co-author of The Lessons of Experience and author of The New Leaders: Guidelines on Leadership Diversity in America, states that “such assignments involve autonomy, visibility, access to senior management, and control over considerable resources.”

She continues, “They are often used as tests and rewards for the people judged to have high potential; they constitute the ‘fast track’ in many organizations.”

Morrison stresses that to be effective, these developmental challenges need to be balanced by recognition (including pay, promotion, autonomy, resources, and respect) and support. She notes that organizations need to be aware of additional sources of challenges experienced by diverse leaders (for example, unconscious bias, higher performance standards, and family issues).

The sample in the original Lessons of Experience research, upon which the 7020-10 model is based, was made up almost exclusively of white males. Followup CCL research concluded that men had access to a greater variety of challenging job experiences than women.

THE CATALYST RESEARCH ON HIGH-POTENTIAL EMPLOYEES

Recently the Catalyst Organization has undertaken a global longitudinal study of 1,700 post-MBA high-potential employees in companies such as General Motors, IBM, Ernst & Young, McDonalds and UPS. In the research summary entitled “Good Intentions, Imperfect Executions? Women Get Fewer of the ‘Hot Jobs’ Needed to Advance,” authors Christine Silva, Nancy Carter and Anna Beninger refer to the critical job assignments for development and advancement as “hot jobs.” They conclude: “Highly visible projects, mission-critical roles, and international experiences are hallmarks of ‘hot jobs.’ They predict advancement, yet our findings show that women get fewer of these hot jobs than men.”

The authors point out that most global companies have embraced the cause of gender diversity and virtually all of them have established formal leadership development courses. “Despite these efforts, women remain under-represented at senior levels, indicating that these programs may not be paying off equally for women and men,” they note. “And past Catalyst research shows there is typically little accountability in place to ensure women’s equal access to development opportunities.”

The Catalyst study explored three of the most potent sources of experience-driven development: project leadership, challenging roles and international assignments. The results show that women lag behind men with similar education and organizational tenure in terms of their access to fasttrack development opportunities. The study found the projects that men worked on typically had budgets twice the size of the women’s projects, and the men’s projects had three times as many employees assigned to them.

SHARED ACCOUNTABILITY FOR DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP DIVERSITY

So, if high-potential, post-MBA women are getting fewer of the high-visibility and high-impact roles that are essential for their development and for increasing gender diversity in the executive ranks, who is accountable for changing the status quo?

According to experts at CCL, experience-driven development should be viewed as a shared responsibility involving the CEO and senior leaders, human resource executives, the immediate manager, and the individual employee. In their conclusion to Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent, editors Cynthia McCauley and Morgan McCall comment on the critical role of the CEO: “The potential contribution of the CEO cannot be overstated. We’ve seen how important the chief executive is in making leader development a fundamental part of the business strategy, in modeling expected behavior in developing others, and in holding managers accountable for the development of their people.”

McCauley and McCall point out that senior leaders have development accountabilities similar to those of the CEO and must also “make sure that the boundaries among their parts of the business can be crossed for developmental as well as business reasons.” The authors point to immediate managers as an important focus, as they are the gatekeepers to challenging work assignments and often play a role in identifying high-potential talent.

Finally, they comment on the individual’s role in their own career development: “Ultimately, individuals are responsible for those aspects of development they can influence, most immediately taking developmental opportunities when they arise and proactively seeking them when they don’t, being open to learning from these opportunities, and taking actions (such as seeking out feedback and building in accountability) that increase the likelihood of learning.”

KEY QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

Experience-driven development. Hot jobs. Fast track. To increase leadership diversity, it is critical that the résumés of women reflect a variety of challenging, visible, high-risk, high-impact roles in preparation for top management positions.

The research project by the Catalyst Organization echoes early research at the Center for Creative Leadership and concludes that post-MBA, high-potential men are more likely than their female counterparts to be assigned to larger, more visible projects. The men are more likely than high-potential women to have profit and loss responsibility, as well as supervisory responsibility. Significantly more men than women are selected for international assignments.

The questions below may stimulate your thinking about leadership diversity and professional development in your organization:

  • Are you placing women in high-visibility, high-impact positions?
  • What role does “unconscious bias” play in the development of high-potential women?
  • Are women required to demonstrate greater readiness for a challenging role than their male counterparts?
  • Do your organization’s diversity metrics reflect experience-driven development?
  • What role will you play in bringing about needed change?

ATAS International Receives Top Workplaces Award

ATAS International Inc. has been awarded a 2017 Top Workplaces honor for the second consecutive year by The Morning Call. The organizations who receive a Top Workplaces award are determined solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics LLC, a research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. Several aspects of workplace culture were measured, including employee engagement, leadership, alignment, and connection, just to name a few. Engaged employees are known to drive productivity and results at work, which benefit the organization’s own team members, as well as their customers.
 
“The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And often times, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits.” says Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics. “But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees. Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s important to them is a belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together”. Claffey adds, “Without this sense of connection, an organization doesn’t have a shot at being named a Top Workplace.”
 
ATAS International is honored to once again receive this award.  Comments made by ATAS employees while completing the survey were not only shared with the owners and managers at ATAS, but with all the employees.  Some of the survey comments made anonymously by the ATAS team members include:

  • “Employees are kept informed on how well the company is performing.”
  • “There is a high level of commitment and respect that each employee shows to one another.”
  • “ATAS is fully invested in our training and personal growth.”
  • “I appreciate the honesty and integrity of the company and the employees.”
  • “ATAS values all of their employees, and it shows.”

Along with the positive feedback were suggestions on areas for improvement, which will be reviewed and considered for implementation.
 
Anne Hicks, executive assistant at ATAS International, who facilitated ATAS’ involvement in the Top Workplaces employee survey says, “I’m excited that ATAS has earned this award again in 2017.  Our company is growing and we are always evaluating how we can continue to meet and exceed the needs of our customers.  Without our dynamic team of engaged employees, we would not be able to achieve our goals.  We are excited about the future of ATAS as we continue to expand and develop, and I am proud to be part of this team.”

Gaco Western Promotes Jason Loftus to Director of Sales

Gaco Western promotes Jason Loftus to director of GacoFlex sales.

Gaco Western promotes Jason Loftus to director of GacoFlex sales.

Gaco Western is pleased to announce the promotion of Jason Loftus to director of GacoFlex Sales. Jason came to Gaco in 2011 as a distribution manager and later became the national distribution manager leading the distribution sales team. Jason will now provide leadership over the entire GacoFlex Sales organization.
 
Chuck Skalski, president of Gaco Western, is excited about Jason’s new role. “Gaco Western is pleased to elevate Jason to the director of GacoFlex Sales position. Since Jason began his tenure at our company, he has displayed industry knowledge and relationships that have been a major benefit to Gaco Western. Jason has also shown leadership qualities that will help guide the GacoFlex Division to the next level of excellence.”
 
“I am honored to continue my career with Gaco Western as director of GacoFlex Sales,” says Jason. “I look forward to the years ahead, working alongside our group of talented Gaco family members.”

ATAS National Sales Manager Receives Award

Mark Bus, national sales manager of ATAS International, received a Metal Construction Association Triumph Award at METALCON in Baltimore.  He was recognized as being someone who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in his or her business or profession.
 
Jim Bush, vice president of Sales and Marketing states, “I have had the pleasure of watching Mark mature over the years to a young and emerging professional; not only within ATAS but also in the industry.  He has earned the respect of the ATAS sales team, as well as peers and management, through hard work and a sound decision making process.  Mark is also aware of industry initiatives and association activities and brings those into daily communications with staff and customers.”
 
An ATAS distributor, Allan Brock of Brock Associates, says, “During my forty year tenure in the commercial metal roofing and siding industry, I have rarely crossed paths with a young professional like Mark Bus.  I have seen Mark evolve from an inside technical sales person, to a regional product representative, to management.  At each level, he radiated professionalism along with product and technical knowledge.  It’s been a pleasure dealing with an individual as capable as Mark.”
 
Robert J. Bailey, AIA, CSI, CCS, LEED AP, specifications and constructability specialist with IKM Inc., also recommended Mark Bus for this award.  “Mark makes it a point to understand the people who are specifying and purchasing ATAS products.  As a new product rep in western Pennsylvania, he became involved in various CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) chapters.  It was clear to me that Mark knew in order to be prepared for a leadership role in ATAS, he first needed to understand the industry itself and establish important contacts and relationships there.  Mark is an example for other young sales professionals.”

NRCA’s ProForeman Certificate Program Helps Field Leaders Become Excellent Foremen

Brian Draper completes the ProForeman Certificate Program.

Brian Draper completes the ProForeman Certificate Program.

When the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) debuted its ProForeman Certificate Program in 2014, Brian Draper, Superintendent at Queen City Roofing, Springfield, Mo., was the first to apply for the program.

Because he was the only participant from Queen City Roofing, Draper navigated the elements of the program completely on his own. He enjoyed the support of his boss, the company owner, Larry Stock, who is a big believer in training and education. It was no small undertaking for either of them.

The ProForeman Certificate Program is a robust, multi-faceted program aimed at helping field leaders become excellent foremen. It also enables them to become company ambassadors, as well as well-rounded and knowledgeable employees within the roofing industry as a whole. The six areas of emphasis are general education, roofing technology, construction/business practices, leadership, safety and training others.

Roofing Technology

The roofing technology portion of the certificate program required Draper to complete two programs about codes, write a recent job report and watch a technical issues webinar conducted by Mark Graham, NRCA’s vice president of technical services. The purpose of the codes programs is to expose field managers to their complexity and purpose rather than for participants to learn all the codes that affect roofing. Similarly the technical webinar is a snapshot of issues roofing contractors have to deal with every day. Each of these three programs help turn field managers, like Draper, into better-educated employees who can appreciate the complexities of their industry and, therefore, be better representatives of their companies and more understanding team members.

Draper’s recent job report discussed aspects of a TPO installation. He was required to anticipate methods, safety concerns and common problems, as well as share specific concerns for one job. Because he is a more experienced field manager, he was able to accurately demonstrate his knowledge and experience.

Construction/Business Practices

This segment of the certificate program is designed specifically to help field managers appreciate the roles and concerns of management. Draper reported aspects of these segments to be helpful to him and some others in the office. Three elements comprise this section—a webinar about customer service, a webinar about foreman daily planning and a company-based activity during which participants shadow several key management employees—from which participants learn the responsibilities and concerns of many office employees. For instance, a “daily huddles” webinar helps field managers appreciate the financial picture of the company, seen through the lenses of a job. It explains the impact a field manager’s leadership can have on a job and the company’s bottom line.

Leadership

ProForeman leadership components are the heart of the program. They are comprised of two day-long, in-person programs and two follow-up webinars. Each of these elements is aimed at teaching leadership awareness and skills.

NRCA’s premise is that most field managers already are excellent managers. They know what it takes to successfully install a roof system and are drive to achieve goals. Where roofing industry field managers often lack awareness is how to effectively influence the people who work for them.

Queen City Roofing is lightyears ahead of many companies. According to Draper, Stock is committed to creating an atmosphere in which people enjoy their jobs and want to come to work, and he wants people to be committed to customer service. To that end, being part of the ProForeman Certificate Program was not Draper’s first exposure to leadership concepts. He has been talking to the foremen at Queen City Roofing about concepts like this for some time. NRCA’s For Foremen Only programs, which are part of the certificate program under the leadership section, helped provide Draper with additional material to discuss with the company’s field leaders. Draper notes that over time he has seen foremen come to treat their crews differently, and he reports that hardly anyone manages by yelling anymore.

Safety

It was the position of NRCA legal counsel that no one should be able to earn the ProForeman certificate without having expertise in safety. To that end, there are more requirements in this section than any other. When the program first debuted, NRCA required a roofing-specific OSHA 10-hour card, which could be substituted by a non-specific 30-hour card. There was lots of confusion over the way this was worded, so the requirement was changed to simply require an OSHA 30-hour card. Although a roofing-specific 10-hour can still satisfy, the idea is that ProForeman certificate holders be “above and beyond” when it comes to safety.

Other elements in this section include a webinar about what it means to be a competent person, a fall-protection video and assessment, job-site inspections of current jobs and a full-day NRCA program about fall protection: Roofing Industry Fall Protection A to Z.

Draper successfully completed all the requirements. In a conversation with him, he stated that Queen City Roofing experienced a transformation in its safety culture four to five years ago. Since that time, leadership and safety have taken a front seat. Draper has embraced learning and training as a way to keep these things in front of the employees at Queen City Roofing.

Training Others

The final section of the certificate program focuses on helping field managers to become excellent trainers for their employees. Not many companies have someone skilled in being a trainer, though all foremen fill this role to some extent. The intent behind these elements is to help foremen be more comfortable in their role as teachers, which is a huge advantage to the individual and the company.

The three items Draper was required to complete in this section were the following:

  • Watch an online module about what it means to be an excellent trainer.
  • Record a video of himself doing a teaching demonstration, such as part of a safety talk (a participant who is a current authorized CERTA trainer does not need to do this exercise).
  • Teach an actual classroom training session.

The classroom training exercise is an opportunity to train new (or newer) field employees on the basics of roofing. The session includes classroom time, demonstration and hands-on activities. NRCA recognizes roofing involves a lot of on-the-job training but does not believe sending new employees up on to the roof right away to learn everything is the best approach. It often frustrates busy foremen, slows down crews that need to work around what they perceive to be dead weight, and tends to weed out workers who might be highly successful if they were provided with a more structured or methodical way of learning a new skill.

Draper reported this classroom training experience to be positive for him and those who participated in the class. Queen City Roofing celebrated participants’ completion by awarding certificates and making a splash of their successes. The company is committed to using this program with future new employees.

First of Many

Draper was the first person to complete the NRCA ProForeman Certificate Program and it helped solidify and improve his skills in many existing Queen City Roofing initiatives. In many ways, Draper was ahead of the curve, coming from a company with an existing commitment to leadership development and a thriving safety culture. It was NRCA’s pleasure to award the jointly held certificate to Draper and Queen City Roofing. NRCA mailed the certificate and, with it, some award items to Draper, such as a Carhartt vest and Thermos mug with the ProForeman logo. NRCA does not expect certificate holders to attend the International Roofing Expo, but finishers are recognized at the award ceremony by name and company.

Learn More
To learn more about the ProForeman certificate program, email Janice Davis at jdavis@nrca.netor Amy Staska at astaska@nrca.net.

MBCI Appoints Viechnicki President, Green Vice President of Sales

Joel Viechnicki is appointed president of MBCI.

Joel Viechnicki is appointed president of MBCI.

MBCI has announced that Joel Viechnicki will succeed Bill Coleman as president of NCI Building System’s Components group. In this position, Joel will serve as president of MBCI, in addition to overseeing the commercial organizations of American Building Components, DBCI and Metal Depots.

In an effort to further improve collaboration and operations across the NCI family, Bill Coleman has accepted the position of president of NCI Building System’s Buildings group.

Joel has 25 years of experience in the metal building components industry, and most recently served in dual roles as vice president of MBCI and president of American Building Components (ABC). He began his tenure in 1993 and has worked in various progressive positions across both MBCI and ABC since.

“I have worked side-by-side with Joel for many years and have confidence that he will fulfill our brand promise to our customers and drive the organization,” says Bill Coleman.

Bill Coleman accepts the position of president of the NCI Building System's Buildings group.

Bill Coleman accepts the position of president of the NCI Building System’s Buildings group.

Additionally, Bruce Green has been appointed to the position of vice president of sales for MBCI. Bruce began his career with MBCI in 1989. He has grown within the sales organization, most recently serving as general manager of sales for the South Central Region.

“Bruce has demonstrated our values in his leadership, dedication and commitment to providing quality customer experiences,” says Coleman.

He concludes, “MBCI invests in creating relationships with our customers. Our commitment to serving you is in every aspect of our organization. This is our true differentiator, and while our leaders may change over time, that will remain constant.”

Reid Ribble in Talks to Become New NRCA CEO

I just returned from what easily could be described as the best International Roofing Expo in recent memory. Attendance at the 2016 IRE, held Feb. 17-19 in Orlando, Fla., was up, exhibitors were happy and conversations centered around very positive business conditions.

The show’s energy was not lost on me, especially because I’ve written many editor’s columns since 2010 wondering whether it’s yet the year the construction industry returns to positivity after the housing crisis. Instead of searching for economists to support a rebound this year, every meeting I had at IRE assured me roofing—and construction in general—is on an upswing.

This momentum was further underscored by an announcement made during the show by the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association: Reid Ribble, a U.S. Congressman for Wisconsin’s 8th District, currently is in negotiations to take over for William A. Good, CAE, NRCA’s CEO, who will retire Dec. 31, 2016. Good has faithfully served NRCA and the industry, and he has a very loyal following. I personally am grateful to Good and members of his staff—Ambika Puniani Bailey and Carl Good. They gave me my first job in publishing back in 2000 and were integral in making me the editor I am today. Therefore, I certainly don’t want to take away from what Good has done for roofing, but I can’t help but be excited about the possibilities his successor could bring.

Ribble is a roofing contractor by trade. He joined his family’s business—Kaukauna, Wis.-based The Ribble Group—in 1975 and became its president in 1980. Ribble served as NRCA president in 2005-06 and NRCA senior vice president from 2004-05, as well as held a number of other leadership roles within the organization. He also was president of the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress’ Board of Trustees from 2008-10.

Ribble was elected to Congress in 2010 and has been re-elected twice. It may be a bit difficult to see why I’m excited about a politician taking NRCA’s helm—especially when I would describe our country’s current presidential race as wackadoo. However, I can’t help but focus on the positive traits of (some) politicians and Ribble’s in particular: He obviously is a leader. He is dedicated to public service. He knows how to build a constituency. And, in January, when he announced he would resign from Congress, Ribble noted his commitment to his family. In addition, according to NRCA’s “RoofScoop” blog post, “In Congress, Ribble has earned the reputation of being honest and able to work with representatives from both sides of the aisle.”

I hope he brings these traits to his new role with NRCA. I hope he surrounds himself with construction experts—even those he disagrees with—who will provide new levels of insight about the issues facing the construction industry as a whole: durability, energy efficiency, materials transparency, renewable energy, resilience and sustainability. I think Ribble has a wonderful opportunity to make the roofing industry the leading construction voice on these matters. After all, we know a roof is a building’s first line of defense. Shouldn’t roofing be the first industry called upon to assist in meeting the current and future needs of our buildings?

NRCA Is Accepting Applications for Its Future Executives Institute

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) now is accepting applications for its Future Executives Institute (FEI), a comprehensive, powerful three-year program focused on leading and managing a successful roofing business. FEI’s first session is slated to be held Sept. 28 — Oct. 1. Classes will take place at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management campus in Chicago.

FEI, which is taught by Kellogg professors, industry leaders and field experts, offers participants an in-depth look at management theory and practice. Those who attend also benefit from unique industry networking opportunities while developing their leadership and communication skills.

“It is rare to have access to such accomplished and insightful minds in such a focused setting,” says 2013 FEI graduate, Marc Farrell, manager at A.W. Farrell & Son Inc., Salisbury, N.C. “NRCA has done an excellent job providing us with the opportunity to make improvements to ourselves, our companies and our industry.”

FEI provides basic business information, current industry topics, leadership and personal development opportunities, and team building exercises. Class size is limited to 30 roofing professionals to allow for in-depth conversations and class relationships during the three-year program.

The deadline for early-bird applications is June 1, 2014. Those who apply by this time will receive notice if they are accepted by June 16. The regular application deadline is Aug. 1.

Learn more about FEI or apply for the program.

NRCA Names 2014-15 Officers and Directors

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) announced its 2014-15 slate of officers and directors at its 127th Annual Convention held Feb. 26-28 in Las Vegas.

Richard Nugent, CEO of Nations Roof LLC, Lithia Springs, Ga., has been elected NRCA president, and Lindy Ryan, president of Tecta America Southeast LLC, Sanford, Fla. was elected senior vice president. Dennis Conway, principal and vice president of Commercial Roofers Inc., Las Vegas; Scott Kawulok, executive project manager at B&M Roofing of Colorado Inc., Frederick, Colo.; Rod Petrick, president of Ridgeworth Roofing Co. Inc., Frankfort, Ill.; and Nick Sabino, president of Deer Park Roofing Inc., Cincinnati, were elected vice presidents.

Additionally, the following were elected NRCA directors:

    Bill Baley, president of C.I. Services Inc., Mission Viejo, Calif.
    Jim Barr, president of Barr Roofing Co., Abilene, Texas
    Suzan Boyd, vice president of Academy Roofing Inc., Aurora, Colo.
    Pat Dorsey, project manager at Tecta America Kentucky, Louisville
    John Embow, president of Grove Roofing Services Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.
    Steve Harvey, president of J & S Building Exteriors Inc., Attleboro, Mass.
    David Hesse, vice president of Kalkreuth Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc., Frederick, Md.
    Joseph Lancaster, vice president of Metalcrafts Inc., Savannah, Ga.
    John Miller Jr., president of Acme Roofing & Sheet Metal Co. Inc., Dothan, Ala.
    Kyle Redd, project manager at Redd Roofing Co. Inc., Ogden, Utah
    Brad Sutter, executive vice president of Sutter Roofing Co. of Florida, Sarasota
    Jayne Williams, chief financial officer of KPostCompany, Dallas
    Robert Willis, general manager of Tecta America Zero Co. LLC, Dayton, Ohio

Metalforming Names David Prokop Executive Vice President

MetalForming Inc. (MFI) has named David Prokop its new executive vice president.

Prokop brings more than 25 years of experience as a sales, marketing and operations executive in the sheet metal machine industry. For the past 10 years, he has been a co-owner of International Technologies Inc., Schaumburg, Ill., which imports metal folding, forming and welding equipment.

“David will be running both our hardware and business services side,” says MetalForming CEO Geoff Stone. “I’ve known him for 30 years, and without question he is one of the single best machine tool salesmen in North America. He has an enormous amount of expertise. He has broad experience selling European-made high-tech machine tools. He knows everything about our business on the technical side, and he actually began his career as a high precision sheet metal service technician. We’re fortunate to have him.”

MetalForming Inc. is the largest supplier of high-end architectural sheet metal machines in North America. In recent years, the company has also been developing software, communications, training and consulting services that enable customers in the metal roofing industry to network their machines on a factory floor and/or at the job site to reduce waste, increase productivity and respond to “just-in-time” needs of the construction business.

MetalForming’s advancements in lean manufacturing and factory automation are key reasons Prokop was eager to join the MetalForming team.

“What really excites me is the explosion about to take place in this industry to harness technology to combat market pressures and competition,” he says. “Particularly on the software end of the spectrum. Shop floor control, production control, call it what you will, similar software has been around for a long time in other industries. Those industries today could not function without it. But this is just starting to be adopted in our manufacturing world.

“At the same time, I have always been a huge advocate of lean manufacturing. To now be part of bringing these new technologies and solutions to the metal fabrication industry, I don’t know what can be more exciting than that.”

Prokop has been working in the machine tool and metal fabrication industry since 1986, shortly after getting his bachelor’s degree from the College of Industrial Technologies and Engineering at Southern Illinois University.

He says that given the huge opportunities that metal companies have to increase profit and efficiency by embracing new technologies and processes, he expects the adoption rate for new machine technology to pick up a lot of speed.

“Investment will become a natural component of increasing margins, not a cost,” he adds. “I mean, if it costs a billion dollars, but you save $500 million every year, who wouldn’t go out and borrow a billion to invest?”

Prokop says he has long admired what MetalForming has brought to the industry. “I’ve always had great respect for the team that they had built here. But until I became a part of it, I never knew the extent to which each and every person here truly does everything in their power to make things better for each customer they take care of. No one here really talks about this, or has procedures or processes that say ‘take care of our customers,’ they just do it. It is part of MFI DNA. It is commonly referred to here as the MFI family, and this extended family includes, first and foremost, all of the customers we are employed to take care of. That focus is very special.”