Fifty years ago, Terry Tomann started a machining company in his garage with the intention of bringing a new spirit of service and passion to the industry. His constant pursuit of innovation and quality, along with his insistence on putting people first, formed the foundation for an organization that now supplies precision machined parts for the largest medical device and aerospace companies in the world.
Tight quality controls, looming product launch deadlines, competitive pricing, and rising costs are just some of the challenges Ultra Machining Company (UMC) helps manufacturers in highly-regulated industries face. As a premiere manufacturer of precision machined parts and assemblies, the typical part UMC produces is one that can fit in the palm of your hand.
UMC’s end-to-end processes use ISO-9001: 2000, ISO-13485: 2003 and AS 9100:2004-01 certified systems. It’s 72,000 sq. ft. facility is FDA-registered, compliant with Quality Systems Regulation 21 CFR Part 820, as well as ITAR compliant. The company’s ability to not only comply with but also advise on those standards and requirements is of great importance to their customers, many of whom operate in the medical device and aerospace industries.
Named “Best in Class Midsize Manufacturer” in the 2015 Minnesota Business Manufacturing awards, UMC has grown and thrived over the past 50 years because of its unique ability to balance compliance and risk management with innovation. The company invests heavily in technology, allocating 10 percent of its total revenue in capital improvements over the past five years. Although the focus has been on automation, UMC looks closely at any opportunity to increase speed and accuracy in their processes. The company won the National Tooling and Machining
Association’s Technology Award for developing a software program that allowed its CMM machines to talk to the CNC machines, which decreased scrap and improved production.
That spirit of innovation and advancing ideas that bring value to the customer permeates the culture of UMC. “We work hard to understand the needs of our
customers and then add value that impacts their business,” says Eric Gibson, President of UMC. From prototype to production, UMC provides expertise in areas like designing for manufacturability, experiments, process characterizations, and gage repeatability. “Our focus on anticipating what’s next and being ready to lead the industry keeps us continuously striving to be a manufacturing partner that presents the solution that no one else has thought of, or is ready to try,” says Gibson.UMC also strives to lead in the area of workforce development and was recently named a finalist in the Made In Minnesota Manufacturing Awards in the category of Workforce Engagement.
UMC’s apprenticeship program was started 23 years ago and it, along with its engineering internship program, has served as a model for other companies. UMC partners with Wright Technical Center to offer youth apprenticeships, and recently launched a paid summer STEM Career Exploration program. The company regularly opens its doors to school and community groups to showcase the technology and opportunities in manufacturing, and annually sponsors STEM-related programs like robotics and Formula SAE. UMC’s employees serve as advisors on boards and committees for high schools, trade schools, technical colleges, and state agencies that are providing workforce development, and every year, the company donates thousands in cash and materials to local community and technical colleges. UMC offers education reimbursement and provides employees with access to courses from a variety of institutions onsite in their state-of-the-art training room. The company also funds a scholarship program for employees’ children and grandchildren.“The need for a strong pool of skilled employees is one we recognized early on as a company and have been dedicated to building and investing in, says Jaci Dukowitz, Director Human Resources, Training & Development, Sales & Marketing. “Our people have been and will continue to be the cornerstone of our success.”
The focus for the future of UMC is in many ways a reflection of the past. The company that was built on values and vision continues to strengthen both to bring more growth and opportunity to both its customers and its employees.
Photos and article supplied by UMC.
Market diversification has been a key factor in the continued growth of Glenwood-based, FAST Global Solutions, Inc. For over 35 years, FAST has been helping improve operational performance in the air transportation, material handling and agricultural industries with smartly designed and ruggedly built equipment.
The company was founded in 1979 as Watkins Aircraft Support Products (WASP), with a focus on non-powered ground support equipment for passenger and cargo aircraft, such as cargo dollies and baggage carts among a host of other equipment. In 1985, package conveyors was added to the product offerings, followed by munitions trailers for the U.S. military in 2002.
In May 2015, the company acquired FAST Manufacturing in Windom, MN, a leading producer of agriculture sprayers and fertilizer equipment, and, in September 2015, the name was changed to FAST Global Solutions, Inc. to better represent the diversity of markets served. This market diversification allows FAST to maintain a growing workforce and continue to realize revenue growth even when one of the three primary markets may be down.
To meet the unique requirements of global customers and partners, FAST Global Solutions, Inc. expanded domestic and international operations, adding new manufacturing automation solutions to help advance service, parts and engineering offerings. The company now has seven production facilities, including a newly secured European-based operation. Manufacturing space encompasses 1,000,000 square feet. Domestically, Minnesota operations are based in Glenwood, Windom and Mountain Lake. There are also plants in Falls City, NE and Gilbert, IL.
Customer focus is a key value and driver for everyone at FAST. Not only do the sales teams here and abroad work to solve customer-driven requests, engineers from the company also travel great distances to inspect equipment in the farmer’s field, on the tarmac at busy airports or in a warehouse where packages are quickly moved on FAST conveyor systems to reach customers overnight or within days.
“FAST Global Solutions’ mission is to Transform Lives Globally,” said Dane Anderson, CEO. “We feel that our mission begins at home, first through our 100% employee-owned ESOP, and then through what FAST and our employees do to support the local communities we live in.”
More than 700 employees share ownership in the company through the Employee Stock Ownership Program which is a significant benefit and differentiator for employment opportunities. Since inception, the share value has increased at a compounded annual growth rate of 13.5%. This past month employees cheered as a 24% increase in share value was presented for 2017. It’s notable the company contributes 25% of each eligible employee’s salary to the ESOP. This is the highest amount allowed under IRS rules.
FAST Global Solutions runs three shifts and the number of jobs has increased year-over-year to meet the high demand of customers. There is great emphasis put on continuous improvement and safety for both employees and the safety in design of products for customers. FAST Global Solutions is ISO 9001:2008 certified.