Connect with Dan Burgos:
Dan's free resource link: https://alphanovaconsulting.com/business-self-assessment-forms/
Lisa Ryan: Hey, it's Lisa Ryan. Welcome to the Manufacturers' Network Podcast. I'm excited to introduce our guest today, Dan Burgos. Dan is the founder, President, and CEO of AlphaNova Consulting. This management consulting firm helps manufacturers in various industries, including aerospace, injection molding, construction products, chemicals, fiberglass, furniture, electronics, consumer goods, etc. Dan, welcome to the show.
Dan Burgos: Hi Lisa. Thank you for having me.
Lisa Ryan: Dan, please share with us your journey and how you got into consulting, especially with manufacturing.
Dan Burgos: It all started with my father putting those entrepreneurial seeds in my mind as I was growing up. As I was finishing high school, I aspired to become a prosecutor - a lawyer. Of course, I knew I was coming to the US being an immigrant. My aspirations for that path. Then I learned that you had to get any license for every state you moved to, which killed my aspiration. So I had to develop the next best thing, which led me to industrial engineering. It was all about solving problems and being inquisitive. That's how it all started. I went to college, and throughout my journey, I knew I wanted to help people in an entrepreneurial capacity.
I didn't know-how. When I finished college, one of my first employers had consultants there. When I interacted with them, I saw the impact that they were having, and I said why I thought this might be it. My career continued, and through the years, I met other consultants. I tried to understand what they did and how they were able to impact. It wasn't until 2009 that I met someone, and I finally said yes. I'm committing to this as my career path. By that time, I already had some experience in manufacturing and remained committed, knowing that I wanted to see different industries within the manufacturing sector. I moved around in other companies from oil and gas and furniture.
I worked for a medical device company, an aerospace company, and then, finally, I worked for a boutique consulting company. I wanted to learn the ropes of the business, and it was quite helpful. Eventually, in 2016, I felt that I was ready to take the leap and jump headfirst to the consulting journey. We've been in business since 2016.
Lisa Ryan: What are some of the things that you focus on? When you walk in there for the first time, what's something they want to focus on? What are the initial projects that you get started with?
Dan Burgos: It depends on the company and the business. Some places have different needs, so there are several areas where we help clients. We help with execution, operations, and operations management. That's what gets us in the door. It's much more tangible for manufacturers, but we look at behaviors also from leaders once we're in. Because you may have a well-oiled machine, but if the leaders, don't have the right behaviors, you may still be having challenges to succeed.
We look at that and we also look at the culture that these leaders create. We help in four areas. We help with the efficiency of the operation, we help with the management of the operation, and we also help with leadership. The process for deploying or cascading the strategy and, finally, how do we turn around that culture, how do we create an identity that people can get behind and also deter the people that are poor fits. Not necessarily because it's good or bad, but when someone is a poor fit for a company, it might not be the best place for them to be effective.
Lisa Ryan: We've heard it so often that people don't leave the job they leave their managers, so when you're coming in from a consulting view, what are some things you notice. I want to put this in the perspective of somebody listening to this show today - what are some of the signs that they may look for that would tell them that wow, there's a problem with my management team that we need to start addressing?
Dan Burgos: Some of the indicators could be employee turnover. Many manufacturers do not have certain leadership processes that are so beneficial. I'll mention a handful. For instance, many manufacturers do not complete culture surveys or engagement surveys to know how employees feel about their management. Are they being included? Do they feel connected? Do they feel engaged and included in decisions or are the decisions made only by leaders and employees only there to provide physical labor?
Also, very few manufacturers have a talent management process. They don't take a look at what high potential individuals want. We want to maintain engagement and consider the labor market's challenges today. You're best served by keeping those people engaged because those are your future leaders by the same token. How about the people that are in the middle? They need some support to rise to a higher level of performance. Lastly, what are the people in the third-string categories that are not performing but are also not a good fit, character-wise? Is there a way we can turn that around? Are those people having a negative effect on our culture that we probably are best served?
When I say ours, I mean both parties, the business, and the individual by moving to a different company, which would be a better fit for them. But, unfortunately, very few manufacturers do that. So they end up with many people in that third category-creating damages within the business.
Lisa Ryan: On there are so many times that you're thinking of your hourly employees, as the ones doing the grunt work that you don't even necessarily see their potential. If you bring in some kind of talent management talent, education, training, and empowering employees to learn things that maybe they weren't hired for but that's how you get that spark. You may open something in one of those employees you had no idea that they would rock in that area. It's kind of taking a chance, taking a risk, and believing in those hourly employees that sometimes managers don't give the time of day to.
Dan Burgos: Let me share a recent story. One of our clients recently had departure for an employee. When I asked around how much of a contributor, were they? They said, he has potential, but we don't have an opening for him. Many manufacturing leaders feel that it has to be a promotion, and because you were smaller, there's no place for them. I counter that with that's not the only way, you can engage someone. You can give them a special project. You can put them in charge of onboarding your people. You can find what's what makes them tick and keep them engaged. Maybe they can be an assistant, they can cover for other people, and they can be cross-trained. There are so many opportunities - the list goes on - so many opportunities to engage someone to keep them interested and find something that fulfills their potential until that next opportunity comes along. We miss out on a lot of that. People move to the next company like individuals did because he was looking for a bigger challenge and their employer could not provide it.
Lisa Ryan: Well, that's such a good point. it does not have to be especially if you have a relatively flat organization. It's taking a look at what you can do. Back in the day when I was an executive recruiter, if somebody was in a job for fewer than five years, you'd be like a job hopper. Now, you go on Indeed or Monster, and they are telling young people that if you want to progress in your career, you got to move to a different company about every 18 months or so, is where they're showing. Especially younger millennials and Gen Z - that's when they want to change. It's not like it has to be the next promotion. Still, maybe it's a different department, maybe it's getting involved in onboarding, training, and giving them something to let them know that you're paying attention so when other opportunities open up, they know they would be first in line. They don't have to grow their career by going somewhere else.
Dan Burgos: That's exactly right. We miss out on a lot of talent within the business already. The environment is very industrialized, so they have some challenges finding people who can get accustomed to that when you have already. They're loyal. They're not going anywhere. So you want to exploit and tap into that talent, as much as possible. That's why one observation I have.
Lisa Ryan: Right. It's interesting too because you talk about making things more efficient, and the labor shortage. One of the things and I've had a couple of people on my podcast talking about automation. But automation not only from being more efficient where there's a labor shortage but also the fact that a lot of that automation is going to woo people to your company - like wow that's the coolest thing I've ever seen. I want to work for you versus going into manufacturing plants and seeing equipment that's twice as old as they are. They're not going to have the interest. So there are little things that you can also do that will increase efficiency and attract new candidates to join you. Have you seen that with your customers?
Dan Burgos: Absolutely. I think the culture that it's such seems to become a or has become a buzzword these days, but it's having an environment where you don't feel that you don't have that social impact. I don't know if you've experienced this, I know I have. You get to a point where Monday comes along or the next day, you have to go to your employer, and you feel I don't want you don't feel joy or pride or the desire to even walk in the door and do your job. So I think that is something that is accessible to everyone. it's not expensive it takes effort, and it takes commitment and persistence, I will say to create that environment for employees, because they spend most of their time at work won't you want to have a pleasant experience of doing that. Doing that goes so far for people, yet we feel that we miss out on creating that for employees.
Lisa Ryan: Oh yeah, and it's, not to say, that it's going to be happy, happy, joy, joy all the time - we're not going to be dancing down the street, woohoo, it's time to go to work. But if we know that our boss cares about us, knows our name, knows something about us, maybe knows our kids' names, knows our interests, what lights us up in our interest within the company, and how we can grow. So you are right that all that is a conversation, a little bit of time, hardly any money hardly any effort, but some effort.
Dan Burgos: That goes into them yeah hundred percent with you.
Lisa Ryan: So what are some of the things you have seen, to help manufacturers become more efficient.
Dan Burgos: Well, I mean there's a lot. We look for specific activities that are non-value-added so think about it. If you have to do something twice, it's important to make sure you do things right the first time. If there's something that you're repairing reworking any of those things you want to eliminate as much as you can, meaning that your processes are reliable enough that you can produce a quality product and generate complaints from your clientele. The other one is movement throughout a factory product flow it's one thing that you want to be watching for if your product flow requires the operation to have the product move back and forth throughout a factory, you're going to incur a lot of extra cost and transportation property damage possibly obsolescence and not, not to mention safety and quality right.
Lisa Ryan: Right. If somebody is because we can't even see what's right in front of us many times, I mean this is the way the shop has been operating for 40 years, this is the way that the process has always been. So in addition to bringing in that neutral third party that can point out some of these things, what could a manufacturing professional do to at least start to become aware Is there something. Is there some kind of process that they can get started to see where some of that redundancy is?
Dan Burgos: yeah I think everything starts with education right understand. What is value-added and wants non-value-added and all you have to do is go watch your operation once you're clear on what those things are and it's everywhere about I always say I've never walked into manufacturing business that doesn't have any of this waste. We call it a waste because it's a waste of time for employees to be searching to be walking to be repairing things throughout a factory. So the first step is to get educated go understand what is value and what is getting in the way of that value. Once you get started, identifying then, then it gets easy in terms of how do we solve for this it's probably the easiest part it's more finding it and being able to come up with solutions, but that that's where it starts That would be my first tip for listeners yeah.
Lisa Ryan: When you've been doing this for a while, what are some examples that you've had with some of your customers who have looked at some of these things and improved their efficiency.
Dan Burgos: yeah so One example that comes to mind is years ago I worked with this manufacturer and they were as a mattress manufacturer and their lead times, meaning their order to delivery time was about two weeks. China what's starting to get into their market Chinese manufacturers and their lead times we're about a month. However, considering the lower Labor costs that Chinese manufacturers, had they were getting more competitive because they were lower price and lead time was somewhat similar. So there's was affecting his manufacturer, so we got in there and we were able to help them catch that lead time from two weeks to three days.
Dan Burgos: So imagine what that would do for the market right, you can say, well, you can go with a cheaper version that it's going to you're going to have to wait for a month, so you're gonna have to tie up a lot of working capital carry all this inventory. We can deliver it to you in three days, and then you can upsell and, of course, that was dramatic. We were able to do that without having to reduce personnel, we found ways to improve and reduce the time it took for the product to flow through the factory, without affecting quality and without reducing personnel being more efficient. That did wonders for their business they that the threat of the Chinese manufacturers went away because their value proposition was so valuable to the clients, that it was a no brainer decision at that point.
Lisa Ryan: Well, I mean, that's significant, so two weeks to three days. So what do you think was the biggest time saver and when they went through their process.
Dan Burgos: So there's a concept we use we call batching in which you're processing, a group of I'm going to call it parts. All you're completing each step for other tasks for all of them, one after the other. As opposed to following them with what we call a one-piece flow where you're completing all the steps for one and then you move it along. And then all the steps for the second one and move it along this is still this practice is still very commonplace in manufacturers and it creates such a difference in delivery times that it's so impactful to give you an example. I'm working with a client, and they have parts that they put in a furnace to cook the product, and they've been doing batching, so they're furnaces.
One of the employees pointed out, while we didn't realize it, our furnaces or ovens have been cooking air from eight in the morning to two in the afternoon until we're done with a whole batch. We're in the process of switching to that. So they'll have a product starting to be loaded into the ovens probably around 9-10 in the morning. Subsequently, the next operation is either waiting for work because they're until they complete a batch, and then it's either that or they're completely overwhelmed with the whole batch showing up at once. So now they have to work with all of these simultaneously.
Lisa Ryan: Oh, interesting, so you're saying that batching is inefficient and doing it all at once is efficient, so that goes totally against the norm of what most people think right.
Dan Burgos: Absolutely, it's very counterintuitive, and I won't say that there are exceptions, there are, but in most cases, as a rule of thumb you want to default to one be slowly supposed to batching. I always tell clients this: if you were the company owner, what would you rather your employees tell you at the end of the week, "Boss, we completed the parts up to 50% in terms of processing" or would you rather say, "We shipped let's say 50% of the parts and we're working on the other, 50%." The answer is the latter because you have revenue coming when you ship 50%. Helping you process all of them to 80% does not generate any revenue. Often, that helps them click and understand that you don't want to have to process all these parts all this product as one, meaning the first one you finish has to wait until the rest of the batch is completed before it can move on to the next operation.
Lisa Ryan: Well, and the other thing is that it seems that you'd be able to catch any mistakes faster. Because if one mattress comes off the line and there's a problem with it, it's better than when all the parts to make that mattress in that batch come off. They're all bad now you have more waiting time, so yeah, that is a super interesting way of looking at your business completely different from what we're used to.
Dan Burgos: And that's Another point I share with clients, and I've had that happen with the mattress manufacturer, it was with a label they prefer in it, and they put them on and when the worker looked at me said, guys, these are all wrong, so they had to go back and redo all the world because they were batching at that point so there's a lot of benefits to making that transition, but, as you said right when people have been accustomed to doing it once or a certain way for a long time. It's that transition, and that's why I emphasized earlier their behaviors changing and accepting and being open to doing things a different way it's the key to being successful besides or, above and beyond the concepts themselves.
Lisa Ryan: Yeah, I'd say that you have to be willing to look at every aspect of your business differently in my programs. Even when it comes to the batching versus the full product going through, is there a small place where you can start? find one area you're not going to completely transform the plant overnight, but if there's one area, you can at least put it to the test. Then you can start showing the success and then be willing to take it a little further, and a little bit further, so yeah, I think that that's a knowledge bomb kind of a drop the MIC moment so.
How do you work with your clients, and if somebody wanted to get a hold of you, what's the best way for them to reach you?