Shape Named Best Manufacturing Employer
Thanks to votes from our team members and community, Shape was voted the Best Manufacturing Company to Work For in the 2017 Grand Haven Tribune People’s Choice awards. After a month-long nomination process, the top five nominees are presented and move on to the voting stage. There were more than 100 categories for people to vote on. 809 people voted in the Best Manufacturing Company to Work For category and Shape took home the title with 364 votes, 100 more votes than the runner-up. Thank you to all who voted. We appreciate your pride in the Shape Family.
Grand Opening in Guangzou
The celebration was one for the books. The greatly anticipated Shape Guangzhou grand opening ceremony took place on Tuesday, February 21. This was an incredible milestone for Shape and the event was a huge success. Around 70 people attended the event from Shape US, Shape China, our customers DFL, NCIC and Toyota, and local government in Tanbu town, as well as all associates from the Shape Guangzhou plant. Before the ceremony, Mark White, president, shared our vision to build a unique and special company which improves and enhances the lives of our associates, our customers and the communities in which we live and work. Patrick Sullivan, general manager, shared Shape’s commitment to delivering the same level of performance from Shape Guangzhou as our customers have come to know and expect with Shape’s brand promise. The speeches kept flowing with sentiments shared by Sumi Li, deputy general manager from DFL and the Major of Tanbu Town. A traditional performance of drum and lion dancing opened the ribbon cutting. Mark White shared the honor with Patrick Sullivan, Nakayama-san, Purchasing SAO from RNPO, Haigan Wei, Deputy Purchasing General Manager from GTMC, Weiyu Zhou, Town Major and Wensheng Wang, Deputy Town Major from Tanbu Town. After the ceremony, attendees were invited to partake in a plant tour and luncheon to learn a little more about Shape. Congratulations to Shape Guangzhou on a successful event. This celebration truly displays your hard work and dedication to Shape.
Shape China Earns Government Award
With the pace of industry changes and improvements occurring in Kunshan, the local government recognized 10 companies who contributed to technological transformation and upgrades. Shape is one of the companies to receive the honorable award. Shape’s investments in robot welding to increase productivity was one of the key areas that aligned with the needs of government. This is another example of Shape’s THINKERS, BELIEVERS and DOERS making a difference in our company, our communities and the industries we serve. Congratulations Shape China!
Shape Wows at BAMA Bi-annual Conference
The Bluegrass Automotive Manufacturing Association (BAMA) bi-annual Learning Conference brought together executive level leaders from numerous tier-one Toyota suppliers. The conference highlights each region’s development and training packages over the last two years. Organizations can then adopt the new content, share it within their organizations and leverage the learnings to help to build momentum. Daric Morell, director of manufacturing, presented to five groups of roughly 25 participants regarding Shape’s lean journey. “It was great. We had a lot of attendance. It was really cool to see different people from different backgrounds and different companies go through the process of trying to find the problem we were able to create. It was really fun,” said Ryan DeBoer, 1900 plant manager. Shape received great feedback from attendees, highlighting that the problem solving activity in conjunction with Daric’s message about our transformation was eye opening to leaders of other companies. “I think everyone who took our training session saw how powerful it is to use moment by moment problem solving, and really finding the point of occurrence before you start down your five why problem solving tree,” said Ryan. The power of the SPS program at Shape keeps people engaged in our lean journey. Congratulations to Ryan DeBoer, Jay Blanchard, continuous improvement manager, and Daric Morell, director of manufacturing on the honor of being asked by the OMDD team to teach with them, side by side. This is definitely a feather in Shape’s hat.
Shape Explores SME PRIME Lab
We came. We saw. We benchmarked. On Monday February 6, Doug Peterson, vice president of human resources; Julie Davidson, talent acquisition,, manager; Mike Johnston, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturing Association; Mike Roberson, assistant principle at Grand Haven High School, and Jeremy Case, technical education teacher at Grand Haven High School, traveled to Wadsworth High School in Ohio to see a PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) lab and classroom in action. PRIME programing through SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) is a national organization that prepares high school students for skilled careers in manufacturing. Typically, local manufacturers consult and provide insights into the training and development requirements for their current and future workforce. This insures the curriculum is designed around the needs of the businesses. This trip marked a very important first step toward the possibility of a PRIME and Grand Haven High School (GHHS) partnership. After hearing from the principal, program director, instructors, students, the corporation that sponsored Wadsworth’s PRIME lab and seeing some demonstrations, the value of this program was apparent to all. Shape plans meet with MMA, PRIME, and GHHS to perform a gap analysis on the current GHHS technical education lab/program and evaluate what it would take to be compliant with the PRIME program. Whether if PRIME is the best path, or not, Shape is dedicated to preparing the future workforce and has committed to developing a partnership with GHHS, placing students in co-op opportunities and potential skilled trade roles. “I am very excited for what this partnership can do in preparing students for great careers in manufacturing,” said Doug Peterson.
Shape China Wins Training Award
After completing the challenging course design and development workshop in November, Shape China conducted delivery skills training for new trainers by master trainer Jerry Zuo. The training focused on adult learning theory, teaching skills (including verbal and non-verbal skills), as well as presentation and feedback skills to help the participants deeply understand how to be an excellent trainer. At the end of the course, the participants were encouraged to utilize a mind-map to summarize what they learned from the training. For the action learning, the participants were required to pass a teaching demo by using the skills they learned. Ken Zong and Nick Li attended the training and successfully passed the demo with valuable feedback from certified trainers, and finally were certified as internal trainers. Now, we have an internal training team with 19 people including 6 managers who lead the way in talent development.
Shape Achieves Veteran-Friendly Employer Status
We are pleased to announce that Shape has been selected as a Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency bronze-level status Veteran-Friendly Employer. This certification demonstrates that Shape Corp. has made a commitment to help better recognize and support veterans and the valuable skills and experiences they bring to the workplace. Thank you to all veterans who registered their status. We would not have been able to achieve this certification or make this commitment without your help.
Shape Takes Steps Toward Innovation
With the automotive industry heavily focusing on lightweighting for improving fuel economy, Shape as always, is eager to support our customers with innovative, lighter weight components. For years we’ve been developing bumper solutions that are some of the best in the industry, utilizing ultra-high strength steels, unique aluminum alloys, and patented cross section designs. Still the need to do even better continues. Shape is now developing a unique technology to bring carbon fiber bumpers to our customers. Carbon fiber is an extremely lightweight, but expensive material, not traditionally suited for automotive high volume programs and the common car. However, Shape’s roll forming process and design experts have found a way to market and manufacture one nonetheless. Zeroing in on pultrusion (due to its relative speed and likeness to roll forming) as the best process for the job, Shape, with a partner in Germany, has already made and tested production-intent bumper beams. “This is a great demonstration of Shape innovation, but it takes foresight, innovation and partnerships,” said Danni Schertzing, commercial manager. “One significant partnership was officially formed last month with a signed commercial agreement allowing us to use a patented process owned by Thomas Technik.” Thomas Technik is a family-owned German pultrusion company with several process patents around curved pultrusion, a few of which are key to furthering our development. There have been many teams involved in the development, maturation and commercialization of this new technology. It is an exciting step that demonstrates our connection to industry demands, customer needs and innovative Shape capabilities.
Shape Shocks Toyota at SPS Checkpoint
It is not often that Toyota finds a supplier who actively pursues their mentoring. Shape was one of the unique companies who reached out for Toyota’s support nearly 18 months ago. After a few phone conferences and a formal meeting at Shape, Toyota took the plunge to help us continue our lean journey. Through intense training, checkpoints, and support, we have grown. In the spring of 2016 the Shape team presented final reports to numerous executive level leaders from Shape and Toyota. As Toyota left, Shape continued the learning process. Six months later another checkpoint meeting with Toyota brought Melvin Sullivan, general manager, and Terry Horinouchi, vice president, who wanted to see what Shape had done for themselves and understand our continued leadership commitment. In preparation, Peter Tornga, manufacturing engineer, Andy Tanner, manufacturing engineer, and Jeff Salisbury, manufacturing engineer, worked copious hours reviewing their own internal presentations and preparing them for Toyota. Melvin and Terry spent time on the floor with each engineer and a group of Shape leadership asking intuitive questions about our process and journey using the tools Toyota shared with us. After time on the shop floor the leadership teams reconvened to discuss next steps. Daric Morell, director of manufacturing, shared with Toyota elements of our strategic plan, tactical deployment strategies of the tools that Toyota taught us in late 2015, and our commitment to support Toyota moving forward. Part of this commitment is to provide a place where Toyota and BAMA can send team members for their own development. Terry proclaimed, “I am shocked,” Shape team members hung in suspense, “pleasantly shocked at what you have done in the last 6 months to take the tools we provided and continue to share them with your team.” He further went on to thank Shape for their willingness to provide time and resources for development indicating that Shape, “would be a shining light for team member development.” Melvin and Terry bid farewell with numerous open actions for team members from both Shape and Toyota to begin rallying around the energy developed during the meeting and discuss next steps for 2017 and beyond.
Shape Wows Nissan at Tech Show
Last Wednesday 65 engineering and purchasing professionals attended our Tech Show at the Nissan Mexico Technical Center. Shape’s Nissan business unit intrigued the attendees with banners, videos highlighting our plastic capabilities, roll forming and pultrusion technologies, as well as a selection of parts on display. Nissan engineers and purchasing members were eager to learn more about Shape’s products and processes. They showed great interest and began discussing a visit to one of Shape’s plants to learn more. Specifically there was great excitement around the swept carbon fiber bumper. The Nissan attendees highlighted and showed appreciation for the support that we bring to our customer, including our regional teams in France, Japan, US and Mexico. This tech show yielded many new connections, teaching moments, and some lessons learned for future shows.
SPE Innovation Award
Society of Plastics Engineer’s (SPE) Automotive Innovation Awards program is the world’s oldest and largest recognition event in the automotive and plastics industries. Each year the combined ingenuity and creativity of the automotive engineers, designers, and their suppliers yield the latest and best results of the dynamic nature of the automotive industry. Many teams submit nominations describing their part, system, or complete vehicle module and why it merits the claim as the year’s Most Innovative Use of Plastics. This year Ford took home the SPE award in the Body Exterior category on the 2016 Super Duty pickup partly in thanks to the injection molded, all-composite GOR/front-end module bolster, supplied by Shape Corp. “We are very excited and pleased to be recognized for this award. This is a great example of both up and downstream collaboration and partnership with our material supplier, and customer, to come up with an award winning product. This win demonstrates how Shape can showcase our expertise in this type of product, from design, to analysis, to manufacturing,” shared Mark Liberatore, director of the Ford business unit. The application featured Celstran 40-20 black long-fiber thermoplastic (LFT) polypropylene (PP) and was produced via injection molding. This all-composite design, without metallic reinforcement, is the first active grille shutter (AGS)-capable, injection-molded LFT-PP front-end module (FEM) bolster used on a heavy-duty pickup platform. Replacing steel and plastic-metal hybrids, the design offers part consolidation with locating features that aid fit and finish, improve airflow, while meeting structural requirements. Congratulations to the Ford team, the Comstock plant and all who were involved in this accomplishment.
Committed to Ethical Practices: Introducing Ethics Point
Shape is committed to conducting business in accordance with the highest ethical standards. As an organization, we hold high expectations for ourselves, as do our customers, communities and team members. We hold an open door policy, and want to ensure that there are appropriate channels available for our team members, suppliers and customers to securely, confidentially and safely report concerns or issues. This policy is available and updated within our associate handbook on ShapeWeb. At no point will there be retaliation on any individual who is reporting an unsafe, illegal or unethical situation. Team members are highly encouraged to report concerns or issues to their supervisors first, followed by human resources. If there are issues you are not comfortable sharing with your supervisor, please contact your HR leader. Should significant issues arise, Shape has established a new channel that offers an anonymous and secure reporting system called Ethics Point. Ethics Point is a third party system designed to ensure anonymity. This site is to be used in extreme circumstances only. An extreme circumstance includes the following scenarios (complete definitions are available on the Ethics Point ShapeWeb resource page and on the direct website: Accounting and auditing matters Conflict of interest Discrimination or harassment Embezzlement Environmental protection, health or safety law Falsification of contracts, reports or records Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations Labor issues Misconduct or inappropriate behavior Sabotage or vandalism Substance abuse Theft Time abuse Unsafe working conditions Violation of policy Violence or threat The Ethics Point website is to be used for the scenarios above, and/or in the following circumstances: All normal reporting channel efforts have been exhausted Significant concerns or discomfort in reporting through normal reporting channels Concerns of remaining anonymous This website is a safe place to report and allows individuals to make a report anonymously or not by completing the online form. In both circumstances, follow up will take place electronically ensuring your confidentiality.
Hard Work and Dedication Earn 1835 and 1820 Honorable Award
They came into work each day producing quality parts, solving problems and never missing a shipment. Last week the team members at 1835 and 1820 celebrated after receiving the General Motors (GM) Supplier Quality Excellence Award. With hard work and determination, these teams each earned the recognition that is limited to GM’s top 2.5% of suppliers. With more than 30,000 organizations in the running for the honorable award, it was a great win for Shape. Facilities are given the award by meeting a list of criteria that includes; no missed shipments, being TS16949 certified, no problem reporting/resolutions (PRRs), no field actions and more. This accomplishment reinforces our strong relationship with GM, which in turn will help us win future programs. “I just want to thank all of our team members for their dedication and diligence, ensuring our customer receives a quality product,” said Mitch Buikema, plant manager at 1835. “This award wouldn’t have happened without the commitment of team members from the early launch stages to the daily execution of the production. They are an integral part of our success and why we won the award. I can’t thank them enough for all that they do.” Thank you team members of 1835 and 1820 for being THINKERS. BELIEVERS. DOERS. each and every day. Keep up the hard work!
Talking Talent at #MfgTalentSummit
Across the country, the unemployment rate is at 4.9%. In the state of Michigan it’s at 3.7% and Ottawa County sits at bottom with 3.1% – the lowest in the state. Low unemployment rates, as we know, makes it very challenging to recruit talent for a growing company. Impressed with our recent recruitment efforts in the West Michigan area, Michigan Manufacturers Association invited Julie Davidson, talent acquisition manager, to discuss recruiting challenges and solutions at their annual Manufacturing Talent Summit. Through extensive research, Julie broke down generational wants and needs in employers, followed by insight into potential promotional strategies. Over the past few months, Shape has had television ads in the Grand Rapids/Muskegon markets, radio spots with strategic stations and Facebook advertisements to attract potential team members. To build a long-term talent pipeline, Shape is educating local high school students on career opportunities, and continues to foster a long-time partnership with Grand Valley State University. The attendees, including many executive HR Leaders in Michigan, were impressed with Julie’s extensive knowledge in recruiting and left feeling inspired. If you know someone who would be a good fit for Shape, refer them today to Julie Davidson at 616.844.3226.
Inspiration from U of M: Autonomous Vehicles, Robots and Engineering Students
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career opportunities are on the rise, while the qualified workforce is projected to decline. Last week a team visited the University of Michigan to explore the different options to partner with the elite university and tap into the talent of the next generation of workers. Gary Verplank, CEO, Jeff Piper, VP of strategy and innovation, Tom Johnson, director of engineering, Danielle Smith, HR director, Joe Matecki, APD product manager, Jeff McHenry, advanced product engineer, Kannan Ramamoorthy, CAE engineer IV, Helen Weykamp, APD product manager, and Danni Schertzing, APD commercial manager were all in attendance. The team learned more about Michigan’s Multidisciplinary Design Program (MDP), where companies, like Shape, partner with groups of engineering students to work on a project for that company. They were also taken on a tour of the robotics lab and participated in a deep discussion on Autonomous Vehicles, including Michigan’s research behind them. Shape associates had the opportunity to tour Mcity, the world’s first full-scale simulated urban environment designed exclusively for testing the performance and safety of autonomous vehicles in realistic road conditions. This is just one opportunity that we are looking into to connect with the next workforce and recruit the next generation of engineers. We are continuously engaging local high schools, tech centers and colleges to increase interest in working at Shape.
Becoming a Strategic Partner with Toyota
Open. Honest. Humble. Transparent. “We’ve only strengthened Toyota’s opinion of us as a strategic partner,” said Daric Morell, director of manufacturing, as he talked about his recent presentation at Toyota’s Fall Supplier Event. “Our philosophies regarding people, production and products align closely.” After impressing attendees and Toyota at Bluegrass Automotive Manufactures Association’s (BAMA) annual conference in February, Toyota invited Daric and Mark White, president, to speak at their Fall Supplier Event. Shape was the only supplier to speak at the event which was limited to their top strategic suppliers. Daric spoke to attendees, many of which were CEO’s or Presidents of other Toyota suppliers, about Shape’s lean manufacturing journey on September 22 in Tucson, Arizona. Toyota was impressed with our discussion that spoke to our leadership’s commitment to continuous improvement. Attendees were also interested with our most recent monozukuri (advanced continuous improvement), that dives deeper into reducing waste at the front end of production, Design for Manufacturing. After the presentations, Mark and Daric were able to talk with key leaders within Toyota about our partnership and the next steps of improving our production systems. In February, we will be speaking at BAMA again to continue the conversation.
Shape Corp. Announces New President
We are pleased to announce that Mark White will take over as the company’s president, effective October 1, following the retirement of former president, Bob Currier. “I want to thank Bob for his 35 years of service to Shape. His professionalism and support has been outstanding. He will be missed, and we wish him the best in his retirement,” said Gary Verplank, Shape CEO and Chairman of the Board. “ Looking ahead, I believe Mark will lead the company well and I am confident in his abilities to keep Shape driving in the right direction.” White has worked closely with Currier this past year, serving as interim president to fully prepare him for the new role. He joined the Shape Family in 2000 as the vice president of former sister company NetShape International, and was integral to the formation, integration and strategic development of Shape’s plastics business. Beginning in 2008, White held leadership roles supporting the growth and development of Shape’s international business. Of White’s sixteen years with Shape, six of them were spent leading European operations on expat assignments in Germany and the Czech Republic. White has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry, including working in chemicals at Dow Corning and plastics at General Electric. White obtained a master’s degree in integrative management from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Western Michigan University.
Celebrating 4 Years Injury-Free, Tech Center
Accountability, awareness and dedication helped the Tech Center team celebrate four years of being injury-free on Saturday, September 10. This accomplish takes a lot of diligence both in the prototype shop and testing lab where many different associates and guests visit throughout the year. Wearing the correct PPE, being aware of your surroundings and being accountable for your own and peers’ actions play a large role in being safe. What makes this accomplishment unique is that the Tech Center does not perform as much standardized work as the main manufacturing areas because tasks vary from day to day. Research has shown that manufacturing facilities that have no standardized work drastically increases the risk for injury. This requires extra attention to detail from all team members to ensure a safe working facility. “Working safe is very important. We have enough aches and pains from life itself without adding unwanted pain from injuries,”Duane Tisdel, prototype tech II. “Finding ways to do our jobs safely is a primary focus for me. Too often you can be in a hurry to complete a task, cut some corners and that’s when an injury occurs.” All of the associates in each department are very careful at ensuring a safe working environment. One way they do this is to make sure every new piece of equipment is checked out by the safety team. They also participate in safety audits to ensure they are complying with safety standards. “We strive to be proactive with our safety measures,” said Tom Johnson, director of engineering. “I’m very proud of these teams putting safety first every day and accomplishing four years of being injury-free.” Congratulations to the Tech Center for remaining injury-free for four years! Keep up the hard work!
Comstock Facility Goes for Gold
Congratulations Comstock Facility! In August 2016 the Shape Corp. Comstock Facility was awarded the MIOSHA Gold award from the Consultation Education and Training (CET) division. The Gold Award is the highest award in the MIOSHA CET awards. Awards are given to companies who have implemented an effective safety & health management system (SHMS), and who have achieved great safety & health records. There were only four awards given in the entire state, two of which were Gold. The Gold award is based on the following criteria put out by MIOSHA: “Awards are given to companies who have achieved outstanding safety and health records and have implemented an effective safety and health management system (SHMS). The revised awards criteria places greater weight on proactive safety indicators (e.g., participation on safety committees, conducting self-inspections, reporting near-misses, thorough root cause analyses, etc.) and the elements that comprise a SHMS and allows for slight variance in meeting the revised criterion of achieving a better-than-average industry illness and injury rate.” MIOSHA will be presenting the award to the Comstock Facility in September. In the meantime please see the link below to the article published by the state of Michigan regarding the awards. http://www.michigan.gov/som/0,4669,7-192-47796-393256—,00.html
Technology, Tesla and More: MIBiz Roundtable
Technology, autonomous vehicles, Tesla and more were brought up at MiBiz’s automotive roundtable with local executives. Read more about what Mark White, incoming Shape president, has to say about the future of the automotive industry.
Connecting with the Next Workforce: FuturePrep’D
Seven middle school students arrived at Shape last week, most unaware of what we produce, but ready to take on a challenge. FuturePrep’D is a program ran through Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, that challenges students to get out into the “real-world” and solve problems. Students from the area have the opportunity to learn more about local companies and test their problem solving skills. This is our second year and third session that we’ve held at Shape. The students were challenged with finding a solution for a real Shape problem: How do we reduce the expenditure on gloves, without compromising safety? Quickly after arriving the students learned firsthand what safety means here at Shape. They broke off into pairs to participate in a relay-style race that required them to dress in personal protective equipment (PPE) for different work areas. The students didn’t waste any time getting started on their problem. They visited 172nd and 1835 to silently observe the glove exchange process. Additionally, they interviewed key associates to learn more about where the pain points were, including our glove supplier. After a week of problem solving, they came up with a few great solutions and presented their findings in front of judges at Haworth and then a group of Shape associates on Friday. Their solutions included: • Personal accountability of glove inspection • Easy/simple protocols (rotation-style morning huddles) • Team leads and supervisors would take accountability on inspecting gloves • Consistent communication and education, including temps While the students were here they learned a lot about what we do and how much we value safety. One student said, “I enjoyed getting real-life experience of issues and problems that a company has. You tend to think, they [companies] will only have problems with one thing, but there’s a lot more than that.” The students agreed that they all enjoyed working with each other and were very thankful for all of the help associates provided them throughout the week. “Participating in this program is another way to give back to our community and build stronger connections among our team,” said Patty Weed, account financial manager. “Real-life work isn’t much like their classes at school. The sooner students can get out and experience project-based learning, the better problem solvers they’ll be when they enter the workforce.” Thank you to all of the associates who took time out of their week to make this event successful for the students!
Celebrating 10 Years of Giving Back at Coast Guard’s Kids Day
Shape associates headed out to the Coast Guard Festival on Tuesday, August 2 to help volunteer. The purchasing and packaging departments took the day to volunteer at Kid’s Day. This event is held every year for the children during Coast Guard week. There are games, jump houses, crafts and more – all free. It was a milestone year for Shape Corp. as this was the 10th year for our participation as volunteers at this event! During the day Shape associates manned the parking lot entrances to direct the traffic in and out of Mulligan’s Hollow. They also ran the game tent and gave out prizes. Thank goodness for the fire truck making a very large sprinkler to cool things down! Thank you to the cooks who endured the heat over those grills volunteering to keep the food prepared for those hungry tikes. A huge thank you to all who participated to make this event great for the kids – large and small!
We are Thinkers, Believers and Doers
We are Thinkers. From the very beginning of Shape, we had to think outside of the box to obtain customers. We were first in the industry to utilize 1700 martensitic steel. Others said it was too strong to stamp or roll form, but we did it and continue to do it today. We are Believers. We believe in our people and the communities we work within. With resources like our tuition reimbursement, tech classes, wellness program and more, we strive to give our associates nothing less than the best. Our partnership with United Way has impacted many, many lives in the Greater Ottawa County. Through volunteering and donations we continue to give back to the community in which we work, live and play. We are Doers. Every day, around the world, our actions speak louder than words. We have associates becoming more efficient at their positions through problem solving and creating great products for our customers. Shape is known for doing things that can’t be done. We are the ones who push the envelope and deliver innovative solutions to customers every day. We believe in our people and each other. Together we can grow an achieve greatness. We are Thinkers, Believers and Doers. We are Shape Corp.
Stampings Earns Distinctive Community Award
Shape’s Stampings facility includes: 110 associates, 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 10 stamping presses, 18 welders and produces more than 400 different parts. On June 15, they added the 2016 Business Recognition Award to their identity, in acknowledgement of having a significant impact in the Spring Lake community. “Shape is a great asset to our community and we are proud to have them as a neighbor,” said John Nash, supervisor of Spring Lake Township. “Today, we want to recognize Shape for being a good employer, neighbor and business in our community.” The award ceremony was held at Grand Haven’s Community Center and put on by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce to honor businesses from Grand Haven Township, the Village of Spring Lake, Grand Haven, and Ferrysburg. Local and state government officials were present to give a big thanks to everyone’s hard work. “I’d like to thank the Chamber of Commerce and Spring Lake Township for awarding us with this distinction,” said Andy Rosenberg, plant manager at Stampings. “We’re really honored and humbled to receive it.” However, it’s not the products that make Shape great, it’s the people. “We’re family owned and the welfare of our employees and community is paramount to what we do every day,” said Andy. “Each day I see examples of team members going out of their way to help each other” expressed Andy during the luncheon. “Whether it be formal mentoring programs at work, or tuition reimbursement programs. Sometimes it’s helping those at work in need through our Helping Hands fund or in the community through our United Way campaign. And some days it’s Chuck Michael, our community liaison, stopping into each plant every morning just to give our folks a pat on the back or talk about what’s going on in their lives. We make it a priority to treat each other with honesty, dignity and respect through our commitment to core values. It’s just what we do and who we are, the Shape Family. Thank you to my team at Stampings for working hard each and every day,” said Andy. “Without you, this would not be possible.” Great work, Stampings team! Thank you for living the core values every day and being a great community neighbor in Spring Lake.
Showcasing our Innovation to the University of Michigan
We’re known for our innovation, complex designs and flawless execution. Recently, University of Michigan’s Alec Gallimore, dean of engineering, came to visit and was impressed with what we had to present. Shape’s relationship with U of M began more than 60 years ago with Midge Verplank, CEO of Verplank Trucking and co-found of Shape, completing his MBA from U of M in 1955 and Gary Verplank, CEO and chairman of the board, graduating from U of M’s engineering school in 1963. On Thursday, May 19, Gallimore and two associates from the Development Office, Allison Effler and Joe Gagliardi, came to learn more about Shape’s engineering capabilities. Their visit began at 172nd, touring the floor and learning more about our products and processes. Afterwards, they toured the Tech Center where Tom Johnson, director of engineering, Justin Mileskiewicz, test engineer manager and Scott Glasgow, technical manager showcased how we are advancing our products both in geometry and material. “For me, their visit creates engagement between Shape and a top engineering school in Michigan,” said Scott Navarre, director of central manufacturing engineering. “University of Michigan is a large research university that has several projects in the automotive market. It’s great for us to sit down and chat with them about where they are going and how Shape can get involved and stay in front of the industry.”
Leading the Pack: Shape China Earns Three Customer Awards
400+ suppliers. 32 recognized. 3 awards given to Shape. At Nissan China Investment Co.’s annual supplier award ceremony, Shape China walked away with three awards, more than any other supplier on April 26. • Quality Improvement • One Time Delivery • 333 Activity Improvement Associates at our China facility have greatly improved their quality by improving their touch point effectiveness, reducing rust and improving the location and information found on labels to reduce the number of miss-shipped parts. During the 333 activity they were able to investigate the root cause of some issues and create an action plan to change where they were getting some of their materials, as well as restructuring a few processes. These awards showcase to customers everywhere that Shape is innovating and problem solving every day to exceed our customers’ expectations. “These awards will bring us more business opportunities in the future,” said Lee Li, sales account manager. “In the Chinese automotive market, a company who has cost competitiveness, local development capability, and willing to be innovative is indispensable to them.” Congratulations, team! Keep up the good work!
Unanimous Vote: Shape is the Most Innovative
“When we put everyone on the table and asked, ‘Who was the most innovative?’ Shape was the unanimous vote”, said Jimmy Seacrist, director of quality at Futuris Automotive. We currently make seven products for Futuris, a leader in automotive seating components. These products are components to structures on Tesla’s Model X second row seating. This complex piece has received rave reviews from Tesla and even the owner, Elon Musk himself. Jimmy Seacrist, Allan Yageman, senior project manager, and John Wehrenberg, chief operating officer of Futuris Automotive, made a special trip from California two weeks ago to present associates with an award in innovation. “You are the only one ruling the innovation category,” said John Wehrenberg. “We need [and want] to be working with customers like you every day.” These seat structures were a hard piece to manufacture with the very tight tolerances. However, the most difficult challenge was the time-line of the process. Many major OEM’s start product development two to three years before the product launches. Tesla’s Model X process was just a few months long from concept to production; 11 months to be exact. “Our team supported early DFM (Design for Manufacturing) processes. Every Monday night at 9:00pm we had a call with the Futuris design team, to stay on-top of the technical challenges for both Shape and Futuris members,” said Ryan VanderWeele, program manager. “This was both rewarding from a relationship stand-point working with our customer, and it supported Shape’s internal success to follow our systems to execute change-management.” What makes the seating structure unique, and very innovative was our abilities to take out mass, while strengthening the component, and deliver on time. Automotive manufacturers are consistently being pushed to make their cars lighter, and safer. These demands often fall on their suppliers, like us, to execute. “Shape’s experience and capabilities roll forming martensitic steels provided Futuris the confidence that our team would hit a “home run” on this program,” said Pete Klahorst, director of Diversified products business unit. “There wasn’t much wiggle room in the time line so a home run was needed! “When a customer hands an award to me, I accept the award on behalf of the entire team that made the accomplishment a reality. In this specific case, there were a number of teams involved in the execution of this launch. Obviously, the manufacturing and program launch teams were working closely together. But we also needed a ton of support from the corporate maintenance, supply chain management, and shipping teams as well. A true team effort!!” We want to thank and congratulate those who worked very hard on this project! Thank you for being innovative in every way, creating great quality products, and exceeding our customer’s expectations.
Shape’s FuturePrep’D Students Take Home Scholarships
After 14 weeks of deep problem solving, students from Grand Haven and Spring Lake High School presented their findings at the annual FuturePrep’d Academy final event. In January, 11 students came to Shape to learn more about what we do, the manufacturing industry, and career opportunities that fit their interests. Throughout the 16 weeks, students met with their Shape mentors to discuss a chosen problem and possible solutions. “It was fun working with the high school kids,” said Amy King, engineering technician – process. “I enjoyed sharing with them what we do at Shape, and helping them develop solutions to the problem they were trying to resolve.” Students Isabella and Natalie from Grand Haven focused their deep dive on Julie Davidson, talent acquisition manager, to investigate more about her career. When interviewing her they found that there was a need for testing potential associate’s skills during interviews. Through external and internal research they came up with their solution: implementing a dexterity test, problem solving questionnaire, tool recognition exercise and a standardized work test using Legos. Students from Coopersville high school, Ally and Grace, were interested in helping Justin Mileskiewicz, test engineer manager, train his team on how to use a new piece of equipment, Intron 3385H (or known as the DIC Imaging Machine). They found that training associates on this machine can (and does) take a lot of time, so they wanted to find a solution to make training more efficient. Ally and Grace created a step by step video and a pamphlet with written instructions to go along with it. Other students from Grand Haven and Spring Lake chose other mentors from Brilliance Audio and JR Automation Technologies to interview. One of those teams mentored by Shape associates, Michelle, Emily and Trevor, created the most innovative and feasible solutions for Brilliance Audio, and each won a $500 scholarship from FuturePrep’D! Shape mentors: Patty Weed, account financial manager Sarah Schaible, corporate communications specialist Toni Sayers, plant quality mananger Brad Butler, machine repair I Ron Charles, program manager II Amy King, engineering technician – process Jay Blanchard, continous improvement manager Kelsey Juergens, coporate communications coordinator Justin Mileskiewciz, test engineer manager Dave Garwood, roll form expert Ed Szymanski, manufacturing engineer Eric Dudek, manufacturing engineer Thanks to all of the associates who took time to mentor these students and work through their solutions!
Sharing for Global Success
“There’s been so much pull from the other regions to learn about the processes,” said Jay Blanchard, continuous improvement manager. “Before the week was done, I had leaders from other regions asking when I could come to their facilities to teach more of their team members.” Eager to start learning and applying the Toyota Production System learnings, associates from our India, Japan and China facilities along with members from TS-Shape jumped into a week of SPS for Leaders training. But the preparation started well before Jay set foot in China. As a strategic approach to the goals of the company, he’s been bringing in associates from different regions to the trainings at Grand Haven for a while. “It takes multiple encounters with the training and philosophy to fully understand it,” said Jay. “A single one-week immersive course is not enough. We need to continuously practice the trainings in order to be effective.” We’ve been teaching team leaders, production leaders and managers about the four capabilities, how to effectively Kaizen, and how to solve problems. One of the four capabilities is sharing knowledge, which is what Jay, Andy Rosenberg, plant manager at Stampings and Casey Turner, plant manager at 172nd, were doing during their stay in China. One of the strategic goals of our company is to fully embrace innovation and this continuous improvement philosophy globally. Teaching our regions will allow us to all work together to achieve our common goals to strengthen competitiveness in the market and continue Shape’s success. “We have worked to implement the system here for a while and learned a lot about what works well and what does not,” noted Jay. “And we’re now going around to the regions to share this knowledge.” The week in China was a success. Associates were excited to learn and eager to put their knowledge to the test. They created countless Kaizens and had many positive solutions to their findings. The next steps for the regions will be a certification from trainers to teach to others and begin supporting localized Leader Boot Camp. “Feedback from the team was very good,” said Jay. “They walked away with a better understanding of the philosophy, an ability to implement their ideas, and share their new learnings with others.”
MIOSHA Takes Notice of Our Best Safety Practices
2015 was our safest years to date, and even MIOSHA took notice. Safety is our top priority here, and we have many resources to make sure everyone goes home in the same condition that they came into work. One of the resources we have available are GroPros, compact video cameras, used to look at issues within a piece of equipment. Just a few years ago we introduced GoPros onto the manufacturing floor to help associates solve problems, safely. MIOSHA was so intrigued by this that they selected us to share our best practice with others. “It allows you to be “inside the equipment”, without actually being physically inside the machines and potentially putting yourself into a risky or dangerous situation,” said Dan Tlachac, lead electrical engineer. “It also gives you vantage points you could never get without a remote viewing system.” “People realize they are great not just for troubleshooting equipment failure but also for identifying how quality issues are happening, or how cycle time might be changing part to part,” said Dan. “We have had everyone from maintenance, manufacturing engineers, electrical engineers, process engineers, and process experts using them.” Not only is this a great tool to use for a variety of things, it also helps keep associates safe when working on the equipment. “If we can prevent just one traumatic injury with these systems, they will be worth every penny,” said Mike Westbrook, safety and environmental manager. MIOSHA visited Shape on Thursday, April 14 to do some videotaping for their new web series that will soon launch. Stay tuned for more information regarding the completed video in the next couple of months!
Living United: The Verplank Family
When Gary and Midge Verplank started their companies, they made a promise to give back to the community where they were founded. Over the years, Gary and Midge have helped give back to different causes in the West Michigan area, including United Way. “We are not the singular reason for the success of our companies,” said Midge. “We owe something to the community and those associates. One way we can do that is making sure that our companies and ourselves participate in the well-being of the community that we live and work in.” On Thursday, March 24, the Verplank family received the G.W. Haworth Strength of the Community Award for recognition of everything they’ve done for the Greater Ottawa County communities and the differences they’ve made over the year. The legacy of the Verplank family continues with Tony, president of Pliant Plastics, and Kyle Verplank, general manager of Light Corp., and their families who are very involved with United Way. Tony and his wife, Monica served as the campaign chairs last year for Ottawa County United Way and continue to volunteer on many different boards throughout the West Michigan area. Kyle and his wife, Samantha donate a lot of their time to local organizations, including the People’s Center, they also served on the board for the North Ottawa Community Health System Pulse ER campaign cabinet and more. Thank you to Gary and Midge who have provided lots of opportunities in the community, and thanks to all of the associates who have helped give back along the way.
Leadership is Everywhere
“Leadership is right here in this room,” explained Mark White, executive vice president of Asian and European operations. “You don’t need to have direct reports to have leadership skills – you can lead yourself to success.” There are tens of thousands of books, programs, classes, articles, speeches, and videos that discuss leadership. It’s an important topic and the skills that encompass leadership have been a point of discussion for many, many years. In order for the North to defeat the South in the Civil War, or the Chicago Bulls winning the 1998 NBA championship they needed to have good leadership skills to drive results. Here at Shape we have a number of avenues to access leadership development skills. From SPS for Leaders, Boot Camp for Leaders, a Mentoring Program and more, it all goes back to Shape’s investment in the associates. Shape Professionals Group is another program that aligns with the corporate strategy to allow associates to grow within the company and professionally. On Friday, Mark spoke to a crowd of more than 100 associates about leadership. While he claims he’s no expert (we beg to differ), Mark honed in on several factors that we need as Shape associates to keep our company moving forward. All giving great insight to what it takes to succeed as a professional and a member of the Shape Family. Mark noted that there are several different characteristics that make an associate stand out at Shape: their energy, ability to energize others, their competitive edge, how well they execute, passion for Shape’s success, ability to work well in a team and collaborate, and last but not least, humility. We also learned about his “secret sauce”, the underlying need for any good leader: transparency and trust. Without transparency and trust, nothing else matters – it’s only half baked. A big thank you to Mark and everyone who attended Friday’s professional development luncheon. Shape Professionals Group is looking forward hosting a variety of other events this year including networking, volunteering, and more professional development classes.
Breaking Ground in Athens
Southern hospitality is alive and well, just ask Shape CEO Gary Verplank and President Bob Currier. Both were on-hand for Friday’s dedication ceremony in Athens, Alabama to recognize Shape’s newest manufacturing facility. Representatives with the City of Athens, Tennessee Valley Authority, Limestone County Commission, Alabama Department of Commerce, Limestone County Economic Development Association and JESCO Construction were also in attendance. “We’re proud of what’s happening here,” said Athens Mayor, Ronnie Marks, to a crowd of nearly 50 during the dedication ceremony at the Shape construction site. A common theme among the number of city, county and state officials who spoke was the collaboration that goes into bringing a company like Shape to Alabama. The 100,000-square-foot facility is the latest addition to a booming industrial park that already includes Michigan-based Steelcase and Asahi Kasei Plastics, a Shape supplier. In honor of the event, several speakers presented Gary with commemorative items including a framed plaque, a silver ground-breaking shovel, and the Great Seal of the State of Alabama. With construction already underway, a ground-breaking didn’t make sense. However, in a light hearted moment, Gary was given the opportunity to christen a steel beam, that will be used in the construction, with a bottle of champagne. As for the construction, crews on the 34-acre site have been slowed recently due to a stretch of rainy weather, but they are close to finishing the roof and outside walls. Once completed, work is expected to speed up to meet June’s equipment delivery date and August’s start of production. “It’s been a great experience so far,” said Gary. “We’re very excited about coming [to Athens] and growing.”
Global Leadership Development Program
Last month we achieved a Training Top 125 award, coming in at #12 on the list. People are the biggest asset to Shape and our efforts on employee development and training are a critical part to our continued success. Recently, our global training and development program was featured in Training Magazine. Read more about our Global Leadership Development Program at their website https://trainingmag.com/shape-corp%E2%80%99s-global-leadership-development-program.
Higher than Ever Before
Getting onto Training Top 125 list is no easy feat. Companies are graded on training programs, metrics, human resources, training infrastructure and more. This year, Shape beat out some tough competition and was ranked #12 – the highest in our history. Training Top 125 is a worldwide ranking of organizations that excel at training and associate development. This looks at the entire corporate training overall, not just single programs. In 2015, we beat out companies like Edward Jones, McDonald’s, Quicken Loans, MasterCard, AT&T, CVS, and more. Training and development became a business strategy and a necessary part of everyone’s employment experience here at Shape in 1996. Formal, corporate-wide needs assessments are conducted on an annual basis. For the past eight years, Shape has earned a spot on Training’s Top 125 list and we look forward to what’s in store in the years to come. Congratulations, team!
Sharing the SPS Journey
The room was packed with fellow Toyota suppliers at the annual Bluegrass Automotive Manufacturers Association (BAMA), sponsored by Toyota, conference last week. Daric Morell, director of manufacturing, walked up to the stage to speak in front of hundreds of people about Shape’s journey with the Toyota Production System. BAMA reached out to Daric, Jay Blanchard, continuous improvement manager, Craig Arends, 1900 plant manager, because of the unique story behind Shape’s journey. Usually when Toyota comes into manufacturers to help them with their production systems, it’s because the supplier is in crisis mode – meaning that if they don’t change their ways, they could ultimately shut down Toyota. But this wasn’t the case for us. Shape reached out to Toyota because we wanted to learn from one of the best manufacturers in the world. This was the first time that a company has reached out to Toyota to engage in a learning experience and not because of a crisis. For this reason, and the great success that Toyota has seen with Shape’s commitment, they wanted us to share the experience in hopes that other suppliers would seek out this benefit as well. “It was privilege to present our lean journey to BAMA. Part of a lean culture is sharing what you learn. So the opportunity to share both where we are having success, and some of the problems that we have had in the past, with other organizations felt good,” said Daric. “The feedback after the event from Toyota and other BAMA member organizations was very positive.” Our journey started last fall, when Toyota VIPs visited Shape to learn more about our production system. Over the course of the following months, Toyota sent representatives to guide us through improving our production system by using their finely tuned tools. The changes have been small, but the results have been big. Our production system continues to use the tools that Toyota taught us. Over the next several months, Toyota will be stopping by to see how we’re progressing and continue to strengthen our Shape Production System. “Using the TPS tools is still fragile, however we are making strides daily to better understand where we are, what we have to accomplish, and what lies ahead,” said Jay. “We have quite a bit of momentum at this time and we are actively cascading the philosophy to numerous team members at all levels of the organization. Cultural development is paramount, we have to build a culture that sees the value in work done at this level.”
Toyota Shares our “Work Safe, Have Fun” Campaign Nation-wide
What started out as an internal campaign to raise awareness about safety, has turned into an opportunity to share our best practices with the entire Toyota supply base. Our “Work Safe, Have Fun” campaign focuses on being safe so you can enjoy your favorite activities outside of work. The iconic logos and tag-lines have been placed throughout the facilities to reinforce good safety habits. After the BAMA Safety Committee meeting this December, in Franklin Tennessee, Toyota requested attendees to share some of their best safety practices. Mike Westbrook, safety and environmental manager, sent in our “Work Safe, Have Fun” campaign to the group. Toyota liked the campaign so much that they will be sharing this best practice with their entire North American supply base. “It’s a very simple idea, but has the potential to create a big shift in the culture. It’s very visual, which is one of our favorite things to see about safety,” said Josh Speer, Toyota purchasing analyst. Toyota plans on sharing the campaign as a way to advertise best practices with other suppliers later this month. “I hope that this inspires a company, or associate to work more safely, like it has for Shape” said Mike.
Inspiring the Future Workforce
Shape is partnering with FuturePrep’D again, to inspire and educate students about the manufacturing industry. Students received the opportunity to learn more about Shape, the manufacturing industry, career opportunities that fit their interests. During this program, they will also obtain more confidence going into secondary education and workforce. The program allows students to explore different career opportunities within Ottawa County. These students will spend several weeks visiting the locations and investigate problems that they could help solve. They will be paired with a Shape associates who will help mentor them through the problem solving process and ultimately prepare them to speak in front of Shape and a final competition.
Shape China: Coming Out on Top
More than 600 suppliers make products for Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Company (DFL), and Shape China just topped their list, earning an honorable supplier award. DFL is a joint venture between Japan Nissan and China DongFeng Group. On December 22, on behalf of Shape China, Michael Wang, sales director and Lee Li, sales account manager, traveled to Panyu (near Guangzhou) to attend the 2015 DFL supplier meeting. Only 15 suppliers out of 600 received this special award. Congratulations team!
Shape Earns Honorable Nissan Award
Nissan held their 2015 Annual Supplier Conference on October 28 and 29 in Franklin, Tennessee. Rebecca Vest, vice president of Nissan Purchasing for North America, presented Shape Corp. with the prestigious Nissan Monozukuri Spirit Award. Shape was one of only three suppliers that achieved this high recognition of Monozukuri Spirit for 2015. In Japanese, Monozukuri is a compound word comprising “mono” which means “products,” (literally, “thing”) and “zukuri” which means “process of making or creation”. However, the concept embraces more than the literal meaning. It offers the idea of possessing the “spirit to produce excellent products and the ability to constantly improve a production system and process”. The concept carries “overtones of excellence, skill, spirit, zest, and pride in the ability to make things good things very well. Monozukuri is not mindless repetition; it requires creative minds and is often related to craftsmanship.” According to Mark White, executive vice president of European and Asian operations, the Nissan Monozukuri Spirit Award is recognizing Shape’s commitment to total customer satisfaction with our Nissan-Renault business. “I am extremely proud of our global Shape team. Monozukuri Spirit symbolizes our commitment to servicing the customer throughout the entire business cycle from new business award, design-development, launch execution, manufacturing, quality, delivery and continuous cost improvement,” said Mark. “Thank you to everyone who supports our Nissan-Renault business and keep up the great work.” Shape was also recognized as a 2015 Regional Supplier Quality Award finalist for Shape Corp. Grand Haven and for Shape Corp. Mexico operations based on quality performance and responsiveness to resolve issues. “This award once again exemplifies the four pillars of our brand image with Nissan/Renault; People, Engineering, Passion, and Customer Service,” said Jason Bricker, business unit vice president. “Thank you for the extreme dedication and sacrifices over the past year!”
Diversified Business Unit Goes for Gold
Out of 103 suppliers at Herman Miller’s Supplier Day event, only eight were recognized as a Gold Supplier and Shape was one of them. During the event held on September 24, Herman Miller wanted to properly recognize suppliers who went above and beyond. Shape was recognized as a Gold Supplier for our performance in quality, delivery and cost. This puts Shape in a strong position for growing business with Herman Miller. “Congratulations to the entire team, but especially to the 1900 manufacturing, material planning, and shipping teams as they make it happen on a daily basis,” said Pete Klahorst, director of the Diversified business unit. On behalf of the rest of Shape, congratulations Diversified business unit! Your passion for Shape’s success can be seen by the hard work everyone has put in.
Celebrating Two Years Injury Free
When Ryan DeBoer, Comstock plant manager, started at Shape just three years ago, the Comstock facility had the worst safety incident rate in the company. Since then, Comstock has turned their safety incident rate around and have now gone two years without an injury. It wasn’t easy getting there. It took an entire team to accomplish something as big as this. Ryan notes that the creation of their safety team has had a big impact on their safety success. “The consistent focus and drive to resolve safety issues has made a big difference,” said Ryan. The safety team meets twice a month and includes all shifts. During their meetings they focus on a variety of findings to help keep their workplace a safe environment. 1. Review corporate and plant safety measures. 2. Review any injuries that happened at the plant and any injuries around the other facilities. Then discuss if or how that injury could happen here so preventative actions can be taken. 3. Review safety audit findings. 4. Review open safety issues and work orders. 5. Take a section of the plant and perform a safety walk. The team then writes work orders to address any issues discovered on the walk. “Everyone on the Comstock team should be very proud of this accomplishment,” said Ryan. “Their daily focus on safety is what has gotten us to this point.” On September 25, the two year anniversary of remaining injury free, the team had a pizza party celebration. The Comstock team will be having a larger celebration later in October, where Ryan will be shaving his head; an agreement he made with the team if they made it another year without an injury. Congratulations Comstock on all your continued hard work to stay safe!
Hitting a Milestone
If there’s trash in your yard, you probably pick it up and dispose of it. However, picking up trash on the side of the highway is a little different and much more dangerous. You need reflective safety vests, reaching tools, appropriate highway pick up bags and gloves-because you don’t know what you might find. Last Monday, the HR and corporate service teams went out to Shape’s stretch of US-31, between Ferrysburg and VanWagoner Road. Associates picked up many things that had either been thrown out of a vehicle, or had blown out of it. A half dozen butternut squashes were found, gloves, car parts, plastic bags, Styrofoam cups and much more. After it was all said and done, associates counted their bags, totaling 41 bags of trash picked up and the highway looked clean again. Since joining the Adopt-A-Highway program in the fall of 2006, Shape has picked up a cumulative of 1,006 bags of trash throughout the past 9 years.
Cleaning For Good
The Robinson Township Park is a beautiful place to take the family for an afternoon of fun. Many residents use this area year-round for walks, football games, family gatherings and much more. On September 11, the electrical engineering group headed over to the park for a day of giving back. The park was in need of some improvements. The team completed several different projects including rebuilding the scorers shed for the football field, replacing the mulch on the playground, replacing bench seating, and cleaning the long walking path. Although the day was long, and a bit rainy at times, the team was glad to give back to such a great resource in the community.