When it comes to business networking, we all know the tried-and-true approaches, from structured networking events and social gatherings to online resources such as LinkedIn. But did you ever consider that your business advisor may actually be one of your most valuable networking assets?
This revelation came to me rather unexpectedly earlier this spring when a colleague of mine asked me to reach out to one of our firm’s clients. Specifically, I was asked to assist their team with cycle counting (daily or weekly counting of on hand inventory which serves as an alternative to counting all items on hand at once), which included talking through its benefits and risks, and setting up some basic parameters. When I contacted my client’s operations manager, the dialogue quickly turned to LEAN process, and before long, I was asked if I could I assist them with opening their eyes to the benefits of LEAN/Six Sigma in their operations.
I am not an engineer by trade; but I am very familiar with LEAN/Six Sigma, and I am currently pursuing my “Green Belt,” as it’s called in LEAN parlance. Immediately, I knew that the true benefit of LEAN/Six Sigma would be provided to their team not through my words, but rather by introducing them to Avery Dennison, another manufacturing business in the area that lives and breathes LEAN/Six Sigma. Avery Dennison is a Fortune 500 company and tracks and reports immense amounts of production data to ensure that throughput, efficiency and scrap are all within acceptable levels.
And so, I reached out and set up a plant tour for my client at the Avery Dennison Cleveland Films facility with one of the company’s quality/continuous improvement engineers with whom I have a very good relationship. I asked the engineer if he would host a small team of production engineers from our client with the goal sharing process information and hopefully, creating takeaways for them to implement within their own manufacturing operations.
This connection turned out to be a huge success, and even though it seemed initially like a David and Goliath-type encounter (i.e., middle-market company receives shock and awe treatment from Fortune 500 behemoth), both teams benefited greatly.
How, you ask? The engineer at Avery Dennison was intrigued by the thoughtful questions that my client posed. He valued hearing different perspectives on shared manufacturing issues. And now, he’s even considering a pilot program of rotating engineering plant tours in Northeast Ohio in order to share ideas and approaches—all with the goal of improving production metrics at Avery Dennison.
Likewise, our client, Mark Vondrak, MBA, Inventory Control Supervisor at Quality Electrodynamics, LLC, gave me terrific feedback following the tour: “It really opened up the eyes of our team, and got us on the right path regarding continuous improvement. One of the things we picked up from them and started doing here is how they have metrics posted on the floor directly where the work happens that are updated every day by the people doing the work…not by the manager or supervisor. This has driven home the point of ownership. and also makes it visible to what is going on daily, where any gaps are or when we exceed a goal or expectation. One of the biggest things I got out of it was noticing how often the Avery staff asked “Why?””
Hopefully, this story illustrates that, while you may not have previously thought your CPA could help you with “shop-floor matters,” in reality, we can and do help in various business advisory circumstances. Oftentimes, this ensures that our client continues to build and grow their business. It can also provide benefits to other businesses within that circle of connections—and in this particular example, it may lead to even bigger things.
This is one example of how Skoda Minotti Delivers on the Promise to our clients. I hope this story helps you expand your own networking opportunities.
Expand your connections by contacting Jon Shoop, CPA, at 440.449.6800 or email Jon.