Bolstered by loyal workforce, Möllertech celebrates 20 year anniversary in Shelby Township

Automotive suppliers from around the world choose to put down roots in the Motor City region because of our collective history, talented workforce and depth of knowledge and insights in manufacturing. Möllertech is no different. The German injection molding moeller_logo_Moeller_Techcompany was attracted to the area for those exact reasons and opened its Shelby Township facility in 1998, bringing more than 250 years of experience with it. A family-owned organization, Möllertech has plants all over the world and three in the United States that specialize in vehicle interiors. At the 110,000-square-foot Michigan facility, parts are made for General Motors and BMW by 75 individuals – an employee count that will likely increase due to new projects on the horizon. But this month, the focus at Möllertech has been the celebration of its 20 year anniversary here in Macomb County; a milestone recently recognized with an open house and BBQ.

I visited Möllertech during their anniversary festivities and was greeted with a jovial atmosphere generated by employees and their families enjoying food trucks, games and activities. There was even a dunk tank for those feeling adventurous. After indulging in a few slices of wood-fired pizza, I was led on an informative tour by a Möllertech supply chain manager, Chuck Gietzen.

The first thing I noticed while walking the floor was the plant’s impeccable organization and cleanliness, which of course, is intentional. Möllertech adheres to Kaizen, a Japanese management concept focused on continuous improvement through visual order and standardization. For management, following Kaizen also means building a culture where all employees are actively engaged in suggesting and implementing efficiencies. By doing this, the company ensures a creative atmosphere that prioritizes problem solving and producing the best product possible. A new Cadillac parked just outside the plant demonstrated the outputs of this work. With all four doors open, my tour guide could point out the various parts that the company produced for the car. Back panels, A pillars, B pillars, console side covers – anything plastic is something they likely touched.

MTD_Prozesskompetenz_Bild3

Seeing the product in person and the machines that made it certainly drove home the scale of this supplier. But perhaps the most impressive part of my tour was passing by the Möllertech seniority wall, a display near the entrance to the plant that features the photos and names of workers who have been with the company for years – sometimes 10, sometimes 15. I discussed this trend at length with Gietzen, a 19.5 year veteran of the organization. He was its second employee. And he’s not alone in employment longevity. That seniority wall has a number of names installed. So clearly there’s something about the company that resonates with these individuals, making it easy to stay in the job for a long period of time. From my tour and in learning about Möllertech, I presume that it’s because of two reasons.

First, there’s a culture of respect. According to Gietzen, the management treats employees like family. Which requires more than just hosting employee events and parties – Möllertech listens to its workers and consistently invests in on-the-job training. Management is also very engaged with the day-to-day activities, visiting the plant, walking the floor and monitoring operations. Steve Jordan, Möllertech’s North American president and CEO, is at the Shelby facility at least every six weeks. This type of involvement shows a deep commitment to the employees and to the work they do.

Second, the innovative techniques employed by Möllertech allows them to attract new clients and jobs. For instance, on the factory tour, I saw an outlined space that will soon hold machinery and staff assigned to work on parts for the Maybach, a popular luxury vehicle. Projects like this one are exciting for employees because they allow them to develop new skills and talents. With new work coming in regularly, the choice to stay on at Möllertech would be easy.

MTD_Prozesskompetenz_Bild2

At the conclusion of my tour, I shook hands with Gietzen and thanked him for his time. I then made a pit stop at the edible cookie dough food truck before heading back to the office, reflecting on a great day at a great company.

If this type of work environment is something you’re interested in, stay tuned to the Möllertech website. That aforementioned Maybach work means that the company will need close to 50 new employees at the Shelby facility. And if you’re able to get a foot in the door now, perhaps you’ll be up on that seniority wall for the plant’s next big anniversary.

**Möllertech is a client of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED).  The business development group assists companies in many facets of expanding and growing a company including:

  • Support with accessing state and local incentives and financing options
  • Assistance with workforce recruitment, training and retention programs
  • Identifying available sites for expanding or relocating a business
  • Access to business counseling services
  • Market research and marketing
  • Workshops and networking opportunities

The economic development specialists for MCPED are focused on growing, retaining and attracting businesses to Macomb County. To learn what resources are available for your business, visit macombbusiness.com or email info@macombbusiness.com.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Advertisements

STEAM camp prepares young students for future careers

Last week a unique summer camp took place at Macomb Community College focused on STEAM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering, art and math. The summer camp, funded through a grant from General Motors, was an immersive program specifically designed to engage middle school students from Macomb County. From college style lectures to touring real world laboratories, each day of the five-day camp had activities dedicated to one area of STEAM. For instance, on the science day, students learned a few chemistry magic tricks.

steam camp girls

“My favorite activity was the golden pennies,” said Emily Auchter. “They were so cool. First the pennies were cleaned with vinegar and water and then we put them in a zinc solution. Once they were silver, we took them and held them over the flames. They then turned gold.”

On the third day of camp, the students learned about art and engineering by designing and building model race cars. Ava Crnovrsanin was awarded the most aerodynamic car.  “My favorite activity was the edible cars,” she said. “Together, my partner and I made a car out of food. We then tested our cars by sending it down a ramp to see how fast it could run. Our car made it down the fastest.”

steam-camp-project.jpg

Although each day was filled with activities, the camp also allowed the students to bond around their favorite subjects. “My favorite activity was Math Day,” said Shelby Lafferty. “I enjoyed it because I could hang out with my friends and learn at the same time.  They made math fun.”

Outside of simply providing a fun atmosphere, camps like the one held at Macomb Community College help prepare students for the future economy. It is estimated that 65 percent of today’s kindergarteners will have job titles that do not currently exist. And many of those roles will be related to STEAM. So it is imperative that young people have opportunities to explore and become educated in these fields.

Macomb County is making big strides in this area. We collaborate with partners to develop and support initiatives that expose students to STEAM career possibilities and point them to educational pathways that lead to meaningful employment. This work includes:

  • The Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development partners with the Macomb Intermediate School District, along with an active planning committee and generous sponsors, to coordinate one of the nation’s largest celebrations of Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). Since 2014, more than 7,000 students have visited a nearby plant to see industry in action and learn about career possibilities.
  • The Department has also partnered with Romeo Community Schools as they work towards becoming Michigan’s first Ford Next Generation Learning community. The newly established Academies of Romeo will enable students to choose a thematic course of study – such as engineering, health care or information technology – and learn in a relevant, hands-on environment. Students learn math, science, English and social studies within the theme they choose.
  • Macomb Community College hosts AUTO Steam Days, a two-day hands-on opportunity for students to explore careers in automotive design, robotics, manufacturing and technology.
  • The Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) partners with academia and area U.S. Department of Defense assets to develop a career pathway for high school and college students in cybersecurity.

mfg day 2

Those are just a few examples of the many programs and partnerships Macomb County is pursuing to fuel our talent pipeline and prepare the next generation for STEAM-related work opportunities. Through these efforts, we hope to ensure economic stability in our region for many years to come. But ultimately, our goal is to give our young people the tools they need to succeed and connect their passion with opportunity.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Local man creates innovative update to ubiquitous socket wrench

Imagine you own a classic car; one perfect for driving in the various car events and shows around Metro Detroit in the summer. It’s early August, so you decide to make your pexels-photo-175684way out to the Clinton Township Gratiot Cruise. While you’re on the way, something big goes ka-thunk – every car owners’ worst nightmare. You’re almost to M-3, but decide it’s best to pull over and figure out the issue. As an experienced classic car owner, you’ve got your tool set and hydraulic jack on hand. But one rusty bolt won’t come off no matter how hard you push and pull on your socket wrench. Ultimately, the only option is to take it to a mechanic and you miss the cruise completely.

This is similar to the issue Al Gunther faced several years ago while working on his daughter’s car. A rusty bolt prevented him from doing necessary maintenance and he had to pay a professional to do the job. This got Al thinking. As an engineer who has worked for the Big Three, he knew there had to be a better solution to the socket issue. But to come to that, he had to get at the root of the problem: leverage.

You see, Al realized that he could use two breaker bars, in the hands of two people, but he could only use one tool on the socket at a time. His idea – why not have an adapter that would allow two or more tools to turn the socket at the same time, doubling or even tripling the torque that could be applied? That was the inspiration for the Torkster, a made-in-Michigan product perfect for a car-lover’s toolbox.
torkster

How does it work? Well, because of the product’s innovative design, the concept is fairly simple. The Torkster is a round device made out of hardened steel with two half-inch square drive holes on two sides, two half-inch pipe thread holes on the other two sides and a half-inch insert driven through the center of the device. At one and a half-inches thick, the insert fits nicely within the Torkster and allows another half-inch drive tool to be used on its back side. So essentially, you attach the Torkster to a socket, insert multiple breaker bars and then use that leverage to easily remove something like a rusty bolt. To get a better idea of how the tool works, you can watch a ‘how-to’ video starring Al here.

Now, I should mention, the most interesting part of the entire Torkster story are its historic implications. The square drive socket wrench was patented more than 100 years ago and is used across the world. But after doing some research, Al realized that no one had ever tried to patent a way to attach more than one wrench to a socket. The Torkster would be a major update for the classic tool. This makes Al more than just an inventor, he’s an innovator. And through his company, Big Al’s Tools, he’s also an entrepreneur – something that he says runs in his family.

Al’s grandfather owned his own business, as did his father, mother and several of his cousins. His father’s business, a small fleet of ice cream trucks driven throughout New Jersey, required long hours and years of hard work. When Al was old enough, he wanted to take over the business, but his father didn’t want that life for him and insisted that he go to college, get a degree and find a 40 hour-a-week job. Al did as his father wished, getting an engineering degree and moving to Michigan to work for the Big Three. But when the recession hit in 2008, he was laid off from his job. So Al mustered his entrepreneurial spirit and opened his first business – Global Engine Cooling Solutions. The company, a full-service provider of engineering consultation, employee training and technical sales support, gave Al the confidence to venture into other businesses too. Soon after, Big Al’s Tools was born and with it, the Torkster.

torkster logoAs previously stated, the Torkster is nearly entirely made in Michigan. Al believes that sourcing materials locally boosts the quality of his product, and as an autoworker, he thinks it is important to support hometown suppliers. His current partners include a steel wholesaler in Detroit, Sharp Screw Machine Products in Chesterfield, Sturdy Broaching in Warren, Michigan Paper Die in Detroit and Suburban Heat Treat in Warren. This all means that if you purchase the Torkster, you can feel good knowing you are buying local. Which begs the question – where can you get the product? Currently, the only way to buy it is online here. So if you’re driving in the Gratiot Cruise in just a few short weeks, you might want to check the site out as soon as possible, place an order and give your toolbox an update.

To learn more about Big Al’s Tools and the Torkster, visit https://torkstertool.com/home.

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Macomb County: Equipped and ready for next generation mobility

Macomb County is made up of 27 cities, townships and villages. Connecting those communities are 1,700 miles of road and 740 traffic signals. The county’s residents, more than 864,000 individuals, rely on this transportation network to get to work, school, stores and ultimately, to their homes. That’s a lot of usage, and it often results in back-ups, accidents and fatalities. How do you solve these issues? Our county might have the answer.

Smart and connected roads
We have smart phones, smart homes and smart cars – why not smart roads? Here in Macomb County, that’s no longer a question; it’s a reality. The Macomb County Department of Roads is leading the country in creating a smart infrastructure network that can communicate with vehicles, bikes, buses and pedestrians; improving the overall mobility experience. The county was recently able to showcase this technology at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) annual meeting hosted in Detroit. Along with our partners at MDOT and SMART, county leaders demonstrated how transit signal priority that uses dedicated short range communication can expedite a bus route by extending green lights. This is one of the many pilot programs being explored in Macomb County, and while it sounds simple, it has taken years of planning and development to get to this stage.

vicky
Vicky Rad tests real time collision prevention systems in Macomb County with DERQ, a Dubai-based company with a mission to eliminate road accidents and save lives by using AI and technology

How did we get here?
It all started with COMTEC, the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center. Completed in 2013, this 25,000-square-foot facility houses traffic communications, 911 emergency dispatch and information technology services for the entire county. Through a system of 230 cameras, the center provides 24/7 situational awareness to residents, businesses and first responders. In addition to providing this essential service, the network also allows the county to build a Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communication system. And with car connectivity on the rise (by 2020, more than 75 percent of vehicles shipped will be connected), this system is increasingly relevant.

In a recent interview, John Abraham, director of traffic and operations at the Macomb County Department of Roads, described why this is important:

“In one scenario, if a connected car gets into a crash, an alert comes to the center immediately and sends information that the airbag was deployed, and the extent of the damage. The emergency dispatch center gets the information also, and we can deploy the right resources to the crash using the GPS location of the accident,” he said.

Ultimately, Macomb County would like to increase safety on area roads and decrease the number of car accidents. With the V2I system and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications now available through some auto manufacturers, this goal is within reach.

How it works
driving
An integral part of this connectivity and vehicle communications are roadside units (RSU), boxes that gather and broadcast information at an intersection. In addition to signaling back to COMTEC so traffic signals can be prioritized for emergency vehicles or during periods of heavy road usage, the RSU can link with connected vehicles and alert them to changing lights or other hazards.  Eventually, RSUs will be able to give speed guidance or alert a driver that a lane is closing due to construction. And in the future, RSUs and connected vehicles could provide COMTEC with information about vacant parking spots and even communicate with other modes of transportation, like buses, pedestrians and bicycles, all using the same technology.

Macomb County currently has five RSUs completely operational, and will install 20 to 25 additional units this summer. Federal grants will provide the funding to have 301 RSUs installed by early 2019, and the goal is to have all 740 traffic signals in the county connected within three years. This makes Macomb a leader in smart and connected roadways. Only a few dozen locations across the U.S. have installed connected technology and Macomb is among the handful that also have an operational RSU. That’s certainly impressive; but of course it makes sense that the Motor City region would be a trailblazer in this effort. We make the cars, therefore we lead the way in next generation mobility.

 

Vicky Rad is the deputy director of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Governor Snyder recognizes MADCAT efforts to build a talent pipeline for cybersecurity

Governor Rick Snyder attended a stakeholder meeting of the Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) held during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) Industry Preview Days at Cobo Center. Focused on MADCAT’s Cybersecurity Career Pathway Project, the purpose of the meeting was to gather information from industry leaders about the growing need for cybersecurity experts so that educational counterparts can build curriculum based on industry need.

Governor Snyder, a self-proclaimed “nerd,” commended the group for their efforts. “Our ability to take the lead in cybersecurity is dependent on public and private partners coming together to make it seamless and easy for people who want to enter the field to get relevant training.” Watch the governor’s remarks.

Other speakers included:

  • County Executive Mark A. Hackel who spoke about exponential growth in the industry based on data gathered by the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development
  • Andrew Smart, Chief Technical Officer for the American Center for Mobility announced that they will be adding a cybersecurity competent to the center.
  • Kevin Baltes, Director & CISP for Product Cybersecurity at General Motors discussed critical needs for the automotive industry
  • Major General Michael Stone, Assistant Adjutant General Installations for the Michigan Army National Guard and Jeff Jaczkowski, Associate Director for US Army TARDEC talked about critical needs for the defense industry

Elaina Farnsworth, CEO for Mobile Comply and lead consultant for the MADCAT Cyber Pathway Initiative, lead an interactive discussion to gather ideas about engaging industry and academia in creating seamless pathways to education and to market this career opportunity to students.

“As the industry emerges, new challenges will be presented to current and future workers,” said Farnsworth. “The future is unclear for tomorrow’s workers given the vast number of interrelationships between rapidly evolving technology, new market entrants and the divergent standards and regulatory efforts being promulgated around the world. As these transitions occur, more value will accrue to those who are educated and understand the evolving industry.”

Michigan’s future success will rely on investment in and commitment to collaboratively creating a clear pathway for our cyber workforce. The State of Michigan has supported the development of cyber infrastructure through a coordinated, interagency approach. To learn more about the resources available to you and your organization go to www.madcat.org

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2018 Auto Show is perhaps the best ever

Every year, the North American International Auto Show feels like a new experience. It’s no easy task to build on the 2017 show that was one of the biggest and best, but the 2018 NAIAS does just that!

Whether you are in the market for a new car, enjoy seeing the latest in technology and mobility, or enjoy a day full of activities and things to do, there is something for everybody at this year’s show. It is packed full of interactive displays. Ford lets you star in your own movie alongside the Bullitt Mustang, with green screen action sequences. Cadillac will film you in your own episode of Carpool Karaoke if you’re brave enough to sing in front of others!

For those thinking about buying a new car, the NAIAS is your chance to see and touch all models from every major automaker all in one convenient location. In fact, the show each year has a positive effect on local dealership sales. It’s not just getting people into cars, during media and industry preview days journalists from more than 50 countries all over the world come to Detroit. They stay at our hotels, eat at our restaurants and enjoy our bars and local entertainment. The annual economic impact (if you’re curious about such a thing) is estimated to be about $450 million. It’s Detroit’s time to shine.

For our economic development team, the NAIAS recognizes the accomplishments of our county’s largest industry. Macomb County’s connection to the show is tremendous. More than 34,000 local workers earn a living through the industry in Macomb County. Home to major facilities of GM, Ford and Chrysler, the county has seen more than $9.9 billion in auto investment since 2010. With many of these upgrades going into high tech research and development facilities and with the amount of technology in cars increasing, we are not only designing new cars, we are revolutionizing the way we experience mobility.

Our team here at Planning & Economic Development had a chance to tour the NAIAS during media and industry preview days. It was a great opportunity to continue to build connections that will ensure the vitality of the auto industry in Macomb County for years to come. It was also a great chance to see the great lineup of new cars and trucks hitting the roads! Here are some of our staff favorites:

Mark
County Executive Mark A. Hackel checks out the all-new Ram 1500 – which will be assembled in Macomb County!
JP
Planning & Economic Development Director John Paul Rea enjoying life in a Cadillac.
Jim
Economic Development Program Manager Jim Ahee finds a BMW that fits like a glove.
Jack
Economic Development Project Coordinator Jack Johns says the Lexus’s front seat “feels like I’m being cradled in my mother’s arms!”
Matt
Graphic Artist Matt Pierscinski is thinking about having this Audi make its home in Macomb – in his garage.

You can view the entire gallery on our Macomb Business Facebook page as well as our Make Macomb Your Home page!

Tips and tricks for the 2018 Auto Show:

Are you convinced and ready to go? Here is the info you’ll need:

Dates and Times
Early access for handicapped individuals 8 a.m. each day
Enter at the Hall C Entrance only
Saturday, Jan. 20 – Saturday, Jan. 27
9 a.m. – 10 p.m. (no admittance after 9 p.m.)

Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018
9 a.m. – 7 p.m. (no admittance after 6 p.m.)

Ticket Pricing
– Adults: $14 per person
– Seniors: $7 (65 and older)
– Children: $7 (7-12 years old; 6 and under free with a parent or guardian)

Posavetz, Nick IMG_0221Nick Posavetz is an economic development specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is focused on growing, retaining and attracting businesses to Macomb County. To learn what resources are available for your business, reach out to him at posavetz@macombgov.org.

 

 

MADCAT event kicks off NAIAS

As all eyes turn to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, an elite group met to focus on bringing awareness to the growing need for a skilled cyber workforce. Yesterday, stakeholders for the Michigan Automotive and Defense Cyber Awareness Team (MADCAT) convened at Cobo Hall to discuss the automotive and defense industries aligning for the future cyber generation.

Vicky and gov.Gov. Rick Snyder, a longtime advocate for STEM education, addressed the group. Other notable presenters included Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel and Elaina Farnsworth. The robust professional lineup highlighted that the only viable option is taking an open, collaborative and inclusive approach to preparing for tomorrow today.

Farnsworth, a recognized thought-leader in the space, emphasized that “companies must invest in an educational strategy for both the organization and the workers within it. They must commit to aligning company goals and resources with the proper team members to support that vision.”

Experts estimate over 2 million new jobs will be created within the industry in the next five years. To meet this demand, professionals will need the proper education, training and credentialing within the intelligent transportation space. Many times, companies will need to recruit from within and retrain their existing workers with new and relevant skills.

hackelThe meeting on Thursday was part of an ongoing Cyber Pathways Project launched by MADCAT in 2017. Through a grassroots effort, leaders from the government, education, nonprofit and private sectors formed MADCAT in 2014 to address the growing threat of cybersecurity breaches to our region’s primary industries. MADCAT’s aim is to establish Macomb County as a cybersecurity center of excellence and to attract businesses and institutions that support the development, growth and retention of the talent pool.

For more information or to get involved with the project, visit madcat.org.