Earlier this week I had the opportunity to partake of my favorite activity, actually visiting a manufacturing facility with a unique value proposition. This facility is demonstrating leading-edge techniques for both lean and flexible manufacturing in an area not necessarily known for practicing these advanced techniques. What made this experience so unique was that the facility is located in Massachusetts, not necessarily known as being a hub of high volume manufacturing.

My visit was to ETM Manufacturing, a custom metal enclosure design and fabrication producer that caters to computing, telecommunications and other industry related manufacturers.  ETM’s CEO, Rob Olney invited me to visit and I was quite impressed with both the business he has developed as well the as management philosophies that this CEO practices.

ETM recently moved to far larger quarters in Littleton Massachusetts to accommodate increasing volume and future expansion needs.  ETM caters to low volume-high mix, custom manufacturing needs. The facility itself has a work center layout involving flat sheet metal in one door and finished product from another door.  Production specialists are cross-trained to support multiple work centers and to flex with day-to-day production volume needs. What visually strikes anyone visiting is the lack of any excess inventory staged anywhere within the facility. Production orders are scheduled in weekly increments and ETM boasts the ability to move from product design to metal products within 4 weeks.

Rob Olney is a visionary CEO with a lot of experience in both contract manufacturing and other manufacturing-oriented environments.  He has built a business model that allows ETM to be able to serve multiple industry needs for metal enclosures, while also providing buffers to any one industry’s business or ordering cycle. As an example, the facility can be producing metal enclosures for a customer who manufacturers medical electronics and also be producing surgical trays for the healthcare industry. Rob is an avid believer in lean manufacturing and compressing the supply chain barriers for his customers.  As an example, transportation is often an expensive component for the movement of metal enclosures.  Rob and his team actively work with manufacturing customers to find more cost affordable means for moving product, including an in-house transportation capability.

From my conversation with Rob over lunch, it was easy to discern his passions for lean manufacturing and ways to compress the supply chain for his customers.  Rob also finds the time to be a blogger on the company’s web site.  To get a true sense of ETM’s customer responsiveness, readers are welcomed to review a representative blog posting, Gary to the Rescue One gets the sense that being responsive to a customer’s unique needs should always be valued along with praising employees for going the extra mile.

If any of our reading audience has unique needs for metal enclosures or metal fabrication, it may be worth your effort to speak with ETM Manufacturing.

Bob Ferrari

Disclosure: The author of this commentary has no current financial or consulting interests in ETM Manufacturing.