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Enterprise Leadership Services for Iowa businesses

Balanced Scorecard Helps Schumacher Company Soar

Getting a radically revamped business on the right long-term path generally equires fresh insight and some concentrated planning.

Birmingham Manufacturing gets Reawakened to the Value of Innovation

Michael Nunn hasn’t yet found the product improvement idea he was searching for, but at least he now knows that he’s on the correct path.

Nunn is the owner of Birmingham Manufacturing, a four-person shop in Birmingham, Iowa, that makes condensated evaporating pans for use in commercial coolers. The pans, which contain a heating element and sit below refrigeration units, work to evaporate the water that drips from inside coolers.

CIRAS SPOTLIGHT – Jeff Mohr

CIRAS project manager Jeff Mohr is easing his way into an early-June retirement. We managed to make him stop on his way out the door to share some of his wisdom.

EVENT ALERT: How to Build a Better Board

An engaged board is a critical component to a successful business. Whether you are a privately held corporation, an ESOP, or a public company, there are steps you can take to ensure your board is creating value for your business.  

Good Managers Solve Problems for People, Speaker tells CEOs at ILC Power Breakfast

Maintaining competitive advantage in a growing business is a lot like finding yourself in a leaky rowboat 10 miles from shore, Jim Lancaster told members and guests of the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC).

Business leaders tend to focus most of their energy on putting out the daily fires, Lancaster said. But a company can easily stagnate if no one works to push the operation toward a distant goal.

Good Strategic Planning Starts with a SWOT

Usually, when you’re trying to take a cold, hard look at your future, it’s best to do it with fresh eyes.

That, according to Greg Ervin, is partly why Marion-based Timberline Manufacturing Co. has been working with CIRAS to plan the company’s best path to growth. Timberline, a maker of wire harnesses, control panels, and custom electronics that is now in its fifth year as an employee-owned business, approached CIRAS roughly a year ago seeking help with mapping the next portion of its future.

I make widgets. Why should I care about cybersecurity?

It happens every day. The news fills with words like botnets, malware, ransomware, heartbleed, phishing, and sniffing. We are told we must make passwords “long and strong,” avoid “unsafe” websites, and keep computers “up to date.” We wonder what hackers could ever want with us.

Mostly, we just wonder what is safe and what we should do to protect ourselves.

Here are a few ways businesses can start to address cybersecurity:

Kay Park Recreation—A New Generation Rebuilds the Family Business

Kay Park Recreation was born in 1954 because its founder, Keith Borglum, was in the right place at the right time.

“His older brother happened to know some guys on a county conservation board,” said Keith’s son, Larry Borglum. “In the 1950s, when they started making parks everywhere, his older brother said, ‘I know some guys who could do that…’ ”

MarketWise Group Provides a Place to Share Ideas, Answers

Once every other month for five years, Donna Bruesewitz has taken a day away from her office and driven somewhere to learn from others who do what she does.

Planning Continues to Bring About ‘Year of Manufacturing’ Industry Expansion

Industry experts from around the state are developing a detailed plan for growing Iowa manufacturing—with CIRAS slated to play a leading role both in the plan’s design and its implementation.

The ongoing effort stems from 2017’s governor’s Year of Manufacturing initiative, which charged the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Innovation Council (IIC) with finding ways to increase a $29 billion  manufacturing gross domestic product to $32 billion by 2022.

The Dimensional Group Finds a New Approach

By the time CIRAS walked through his door, Adam Gold was ready to listen.

It was 2014, and it was clear that The Dimensional Group was a company with problems. The Mason City custom packaging and commercial printing firm had stretched beyond its capabilities.

Update: Future of Manufacturing Series

About 18 months ago, CIRAS announced its new “Future of Manufacturing” series to help manufacturers become ready for what is “next” in manufacturing. While this was a significant leap, it was based on a simple premise: changes in technology, workforce, and business models were moving so fast that we needed to help get Iowa manufacturers out in front.

Why Existing Workers Are the Real Answer to Iowa’s Workforce Problem

Iowa is out of people.

Almost every company I talk to, regardless of size, industry, or location, says that finding good people is their number one issue. The few exceptions are expert Lean practitioners—such as members of the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC)—who tend to look at the issue differently: If every single person in our business was better at seeing, communicating, and solving problems, they ask, wouldn’t it help our workforce needs?

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