Jim Zaiser, President of Hydro-Thermal Corp.

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?

“We made several strategic decisions including purchasing a new ERP system that fully integrates into our CRM system. It took some time to integrate the new system into our process and there is always a learning curve, but overall the change was great. The program links our customer database to our manufacturing and accounting functions, which allows for more accurate record keeping and insight into the entire enterprise.”

What’s new at your company?

“We are working on new product development and have several new patents pending. These improvements translate into our heaters being quieter, heating more effectively in different types of slurries and solving our customers’ issues.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

“We are always looking for talented people. In the past year, we hired eight new employees, about a 10 percent increase, including three full-time engineers, increasing our engineering department to be about 25 percent of our total staff. We are always looking for qualified manufacturer’s representatives to present our heaters to the manufacturing public. We’ve also added second shift personnel in our plant to keep up with order demand without having to increase our manufacturing lead-time. The plant is also adding machinery such as a new CNC lathe and welding work-cells to keep up with our demand. In addition to that, we are preparing for major renovation to our office this spring which should be inspiring to our employees.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?

“Due to the office reconfiguration, we are considering moving to a secondary location for a few months. It will be difficult for half of our staff to be in one facility and the other half to be in a different location, but it will be a necessary challenge to achieve our goal.

“Staffing is also a challenge. Trained and qualified machinists and welders are always a challenge to find and train for our facility. Thankfully, our turnover is very low, but with natural attrition and growth, our need for talented manufacturing personnel is an ongoing problem. That’s why we have a robust internship program.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“Sustainability is a big trend among manufacturers. Sustainability goes beyond ‘being green’ although it is a factor. We pride ourselves on improving through lean manufacturing, using our resources wisely, and serving our community. Our customers improve their sustainable position by using our products because they use energy and resources more efficiently, maintain the quality of their product and better control their process.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“I learned a saying in college – ‘Work hard. Play hard.’ I love my job and so I give it my best effort every day. After doing your best, you need to enjoy the rest of life also.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?

“Milwaukee has been an excellent city for developing professional friendships and mentors. I look up to the men and women here who are very generous with their time, help, and advice, support and good suggestions.”

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