Steve Richman, group president at Brookfield-based Milwaukee Tool, spoke recently at BizTimes Media’s annual Next Generation Manufacturing Summit. In a keynote conversation with associate editor Arthur Thomas, Richman discussed the company’s explosive growth, managing supply chain challenges and recruiting people to southeastern Wisconsin.
“We have a lot of people who are really passionate and put their blood, sweat and tears into the business every single day, and sometimes they need to be told to turn it off.”
“We’re a pro brand. The day the user believes that our brand is not a pro brand and the day that we deliver junk to that pro is the day that we lose equity. The day that we lose equity is the day that (the company’s) 20% growth for 14 straight years goes away.”
“From a region standpoint ... what the Bucks have done, the growth of downtown Milwaukee has clearly changed the perspective of bringing people into Milwaukee. Before the Bucks did that, I’ll say 14 years ago, when we brought people on a tour of Milwaukee, it was difficult; it felt almost impossible to get young people to want to come. It’s turned since then.”
“We made some big mistakes early and some of those big mistakes were (based on) trying to do what a lot of people do in their facilities, and that is drive new product development at the same time as manufacturing. We have separated those two.”
“Diversity is a roadblock. We have a challenge. We have 150 ex-pats that work for us in Brookfield today at the headquarters. Making Wisconsin a place where everybody feels comfortable and a part of the community is absolutely essential to be able to recruit the best and the brightest.”
“Most people talk about strategy and how strategy changes a company. Our belief is that everyone can create a strategy, but if you don’t have the people and the culture to be able to drive that strategy, then you’re not going to win and you’re not going to be able to change the game.”
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