Wisconsin Metal Parts incentivizes quality

Daniel Erschen holds his employees to a high standard and rewards them for it, which has helped his company thrive.

The owner and president of Wisconsin Metal Parts Inc. in Waukesha put in place rewards programs in 2011 to help the custom metal parts manufacturing company meet its targets.

Erschen tracks key performance indicators like turnover, attendance, customer satisfaction and on-time delivery, and then rewards employees with $10 for each of the goals met in a month.

If the company hits its financial goals for the year, each employee receives a 7 percent bonus. There are also rewards for meeting wellness and personal development targets.

The company operates on a servant leadership model, and offers training in the concept.

“We try to promote and build the whole person and not just the working person,” Erschen said. “If you can help people succeed, you help yourself.”

The systems Erschen has put in place help keep employees engaged, make them feel important and let them know company leaders are listening, he said.

“Business has to be somewhat like a sporting event where if you have some statistics with it and some control, then it’s fun,” Erschen said.

The unique culture also keeps customers and employees happy, and sets WMP apart from competitors in an industry with many players.

Erschen started the company, which originally focused on building dies, out of his basement in 1988. It eventually expanded into its current 32,000-square-foot building on Bluemound Road in Waukesha.

In January 2010, the company changed its name from Die Concepts to Wisconsin Metal Parts to reflect its expanded capabilities. WMP now offers metal fabrication, CNC machining, metal stamping and die making.

In this way the company can offer a complete process, from prototyping to production. It designs and builds the dies, works with customers to perfect the part and then produces the parts.

In March 2011, it expanded into a second building, an 18,000-square-foot facility two blocks away where its metal fabrication work is done.

“Our ultimate goal is to come back under one roof with both of them,” Erschen said. That will probably happen in the next three to five years.

WMP added six employees in 2012, and is always adding employees as they’re needed, he said.

He attributed WMP’s growth to its ability to meet very tight tolerance specifications and its customer service.

“We do stuff that other people won’t even quote and we really bend over backwards for our customers,” Erschen said.

Wisconsin Metal Parts serves as a tier 2 supplier for the industrial market, and many of its parts end up in the defense sector. About 90 percent of its customers are in Wisconsin.

Employees use CNC machining, surface grinding, turning centers, wire electric discharge machining and a variety of other processes to make custom parts that can be smaller than a fingernail.

Some of its presses can put out 600 parts per minute.

Erschen reinvests in machines each year as technology advances. Last year, the company spent about $500,000 on three new machining centers.

WMP had about $8 million in revenue last year, and hopes to reach $9 million in revenue for 2013.

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