Manufacturing leadership and public policy

Valuing Plant-floor Production Staff Pays Dividends

Feb. 3, 2014
How production staff can boost your bottom line. Hint: It takes leadership.

I hope you had a chance to read Building a Harley Faster in The New York Times Magazine. In addition to a shoutout for the IndustryWeek Best Plants Award -- which was called "the Oscars of manufacturing" -- the story tells at least part of the tale of what it takes to succeed as a U.S. manufacturer today: Valuing the plant-floor production staff can yield bottom-line dividends and a competitive edge.

Though the author gets the conclusion only partially correct, I'm hoping the article will cause at least a few manufacturing leaders to take another look at their plant-floor employee practices. They'd do well to explore our brief slide show, How IW Best Plants Winners engage employees, on the topic. Where the NYT author goes wrong is to say: "...for certain companies -- with strong brand associations, customizable product lines and world-class equipment and processes -- union workers can be not a cost but an asset."

The fact is: the plant-floor employee best practices described in the Harley article work for ANY manufacturer, whether union or non-union, as reading the stories of winning plants through the program's 24 years will show.

Or better yet: Join us in Milwaukee at the IW Best Plants Conference, May 5 to 7, and hear first-hand from the best of the best. I hope to see you there.

In the meantime, I invite you to follow me on Twitter.

About the Author

Patricia Panchak Blog | Editor-in-Chief

Focus: Competitiveness & Public Policy

Email: [email protected]

Follow on Twitter: @PPanchakIW

Call 216-931-9252

In her commentary and reporting for IndustryWeek, Editor-in-Chief Patricia Panchak covers world-class manufacturing industry strategies, best practices and public policy issues that affect manufacturers’ competitiveness. She delivers news and analysis—and reports the trends--in tax, trade and labor policy; federal, state and local government agencies and programs; and judicial, executive and legislative actions. As well, she shares case studies about how manufacturing executives can capitalize on the latest best practices to cut costs, boost productivity and increase profits.

As editor, she directs the strategic development of all IW editorial products, including the magazine,, research and information products, and executive conferences.

An award-winning editor, Panchak received the 2004 Jesse H. Neal Business Journalism Award for Signed Commentary and helped her staff earn the 2004 Neal Award for Subject-Related Series. She also has earned the American Business Media’s Midwest Award for Editorial Courage and Integrity.

Patricia holds bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and English from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She lives in Cleveland Hts., Ohio, with her family.  

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