Leading the Charge for Change in Manufacturing with Drura Parrish

Episode 193 | Challenges: Leadership Process Technology

Change in manufacturing is an inevitable and exciting necessity that Jim and Jason are ready for the Metal Working Nation to embrace and experience. Even though the industry has a history of sticking with what has worked for generations, it is now time to invest in the future by equipping and inspiring manufacturing leaders and teams to educate themselves on the progress of technology and process. Guest speaker, Drura Parrish, the president of Xometry Supplies, shares his manufacturing story and how leaders can take small steps towards big change for their businesses.

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“We’ve always done it this way” is no longer a valid mantra

Growing up in the manufacturing world, Drura noticed that his grandfather’s business philosophy was built more upon hope in the future than on making that future himself with the manufacturing tools he owned. The machines that spent their lives unused - waiting for the “big deal,” caused Drura to question the processes in place. However, when he came back after college, he went to work for his grandfather and learned the important lesson of knowing when to ask why you are doing something before you set out to do it. Accepting a process because it has “always” been used isn’t a good enough reason to keep on using it. Be sure to listen to the episode for Drura’s personal experience in learning to ask “Why?” 

Change in manufacturing begins with leadership


It’s all about leadership. Drura explains that in many machine shops, the leader is often the one with the most expertise and experience in a specific field. But is that the way it should be? In today’s modern manufacturing world, everyone's an expert at something. People need leaders, but they don’t necessarily need a leader who is well-versed in every aspect of the manufacturing business. Instead, the leader needs to be the one asking questions - asking, “Why are we doing it this way?” Drura believes that it is the responsibility of the 21st-century manufacturing leader to instill in their team the mindset that the customer is always right and to provide the training their team needs to accomplish serving their customers well. Outdated software? Toss it out. Equip your people; instill in them a positive, service-minded attitude, and trust your people to produce a quality outcome. 

Commit to the technological education of your people 

Do your people know how to identify good technology? Drura explains that in a world that is saturated in options and new technology, it is vital that your team understand what makes good technology and what makes a good process. Jason and Jim both agree that while it is difficult to begin setting aside time in your business’s schedule for training and education of the team, it is essential to your company’s future success. Technology must be taken seriously in today’s manufacturing world. 

What educating a manufacturing team looks like will depend on the individual business, the people, and the goals of the company. For smaller shops, it may be investing in one individual at a time instead of collectively training in new technology. For very large businesses, it could mean taking another, smaller shop under their wing and helping guide them in good business acumen. The idea is to promote in the Metal Working Nation an attitude of growth and effective change. When progressive change is made, take the time to celebrate! 

Change is made one step at a time

Jim, Jason, and Drura all know that change in manufacturing can be a slow process. But small progress is better than no progress! Drura suggests setting aside 1% of your time as a leader and business to invest in education. As your team explores the latest innovations in their area of expertise, they will grow in their own skills - making your business more efficient. Spending time training actually saves you time as a business in the long run. Equip your people. Inspire them to always be asking “Why?” Start with 1%, and grow from there. Change is the pathway to future success. 


Here’s The Good Stuff!

  • Robots replacing humans in the manufacturing world may actually be a good thing. 
  • Guest speaker, Drura Parrish - president of Xometry Supplies. 
  • Learning to ask “why?” from Drura's grandfather. 
  • Knowing where to implement change and how to go about starting it. 
  • Taking responsibility for change as a leader. 
  • The vital necessity of educating your people on the latest technology. 
  • Investing time in the education of your team will save you time in the long run. 
  • Make it a goal to elevate fellow manufacturing businesses. 
  • Xometry’s goal to spark the entrepreneurial spirit in manufacturers.

Tools & Takeaways

This Week’s Superstar Guest: Drura Parrish

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Jason Zenger: The Okuma 2019 Summer Showcase is July 24th and 25th, and Jim and Jason are going to be there on July 24th.

Jim Carr: At about 11:30 AM, we're going to be doing a live podcast recording right there in their headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, [crosstalk 00:00:19].

Jason Zenger: But even better than hearing you talk, Jim, what else are they going to have there?

Jim Carr: Well, it's great, it's like a mini IMTS. There's going to be a tech bar, they're going to talk about their THINC developers' group. This is a team of people that help you solve your manufacturing problems when you buy an Okuma. There's going to be a many, many partners there like Mastercam and SCHUNK.

Jim Carr: It sounds like a fantastic thing, I know I'm looking forward to being there that day, and just equipping and inspiring me and bringing that back to my own shop. Go to your Google, search Okuma Summer Showcase 2019 and register for free.

Jason Zenger: Welcome to MakingChips. We believe that manufacturing is challenging, but if you are connected to a community of leaders, you can elevate your skills, solve your problems, and grow your business. I'm your host, Jason Zenger and I'm joined by my co-host for almost 200 episodes.

Jim Carr: I know.

Jason Zenger: Jim Carr. Hey Jim, [inaudible 00:01:28] episodes.

Jim Carr: You caught me off guard with that metric there. Almost 200, who knew? But it's good to be here. It's the day before 4th of July, and we are rocking and rolling.

Jason Zenger: MXD.

Jim Carr: MXD, and I-

Jason Zenger: I just heard a machine screeching about five minutes ago.

Jim Carr: I hope no one took a 2" inch shell mill and put it into the table, because I've been there before and I've done that, and I know it doesn't feel good. Especially when you're the owner's son and you do that, and all the other guys in the shop are looking, "Look at the kid just ripped it right into the table." I hope that's not what happened, but it's all about living and learning, and changing.

Jason Zenger: You got to learn, You got to change. Jim, we've done almost 200 episodes of MakingChips, and I've tried to make changes over the years, but you always push back because you like things to stay the way that they are.

Jim Carr: Actually I'm not ... oh, here at MakingChips?

Jason Zenger: Yes.

Jim Carr: Or at our respective manufacturing companies?

Jason Zenger: No, no, here at MakingChips. You find yourself reluctant to change sometimes. Is that hard for you?

Jim Carr: I think that's part of being a middle aged person. We are a little reluctant to change, and it's harder to do that. We have a guest on today that we're going to be talking just about that, about how change is hard, because people in manufacturing, all we say, "We've always done it that way, why are we changing?"

Jason Zenger: That's the general mantra that we want to change. "We've always done it that way," is one of the things that I can't stand hearing. I don't mean like we need to change just to change, but I don't ever want to hear, "We've always done it that way and that's the reason why we're going to be doing it." I think we're going to explore this as a topic series for several episodes because there's a lot that can be talked about. Different ways that manufacturing leaders can think differently about their manufacturing and really get away from that, break that glass of, "We've always done it this way."

Jim Carr: I don't hear, "We've always done it that way," anymore. I hear it more like, "Well, why do we have to change? Why do I have to run the end mill at 100" a minute when I feel much more comfortable running it at 3" a minute?" "Well dude, we're not making money. I'm quoting against other shops that are running end mills and feed rates at 100" a minute, and if you're at 3" a minute and you're just going along like that, we're not going to be competitive."

Jason Zenger: Well, the bottom line is that the pace of business is changing far faster than anybody would have realized it.

Jim Carr: Without a doubt.

Jason Zenger: It's due to so many different factors. Computer technology is probably the impetus for most of the change, but you have to change with it, you have to.

Jim Carr: Right, and you know, manufacturers are notoriously suspect to change, right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, I think that's-

Jim Carr: They just don't want to, I think out of all the industries out there, that manufacturing is the one that you find people, they're the laggers. They're always lagging behind in technology.

Jason Zenger: Well, because it's all about quality and on time delivery. Sometimes when you're so focused on that, you don't change for the sake of, you just don't want to change. We're going to talk about it.

Jim Carr: We are, and I'm excited to talk about that.

Jason Zenger: But before we even get there, what is keeping you awake at night right now?

Jim Carr: Well, it's kind of funny that you mentioned that because last night it was 1:00 AM, and I woke up next to my wife and I'm like, "Oh, my God." But then I went downstairs, laid on the couch and I immediately went to ... we had just shipped some parts to California and I wanted to make sure that they were actually going to get there. I tracked it to make sure that it was on its way, that I wanted to see the progression from Chicago, O'Hare to Louisville, Kentucky, to Denver, Colorado to LAX or whatever that, what it was. But-

Jason Zenger: You couldn't find anything more exciting to do at 1:00 in the morning besides tracking UPS package?

Jim Carr: Well, you know what, it gets my mind off of the fact that I can't sleep, and it makes me more tired. I know you don't think so, and I know the general public says, "You shouldn't be looking at a blue screen in the middle of the night because it keeps you awake." But to me, if I even scroll through my Instagram or look at my calendar invites or check out a couple emails or track a package.

Jason Zenger: It makes you feel calmer?

Jim Carr: It takes my mind off of the problem and makes me rest easier.

Jason Zenger: Well, do you know why that is though?

Jim Carr: Why?

Jason Zenger: I can explain to you why that is. It's because you have preempted your mind right before you went to bed on some kind of business subject. That's what your mind's thinking about in the middle of the night, and so then you need to go back to it in order to settle your mind again. If you would have done something more recreational before you went to bed.

Jim Carr: I was doing something recreational.

Jason Zenger: Well, I'm just saying like, instead of work stuff or watching a screen, if you would have read a novel or something like that.

Jim Carr: But that's not my brand, why would I want to do something that ... you've got to help me here.

Jason Zenger: I'm just letting you know why, that's all. You don't have to do it.

Jim Carr: You're asking me to change.

Jason Zenger: I know.

Jim Carr: You're asking me to change.

Jason Zenger: I know, I know, I know.

Jim Carr: Why am I going to change? You got to give me something really good to do.

Jason Zenger: You've always done it that way. Read a book, I'm telling you, just.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: But that's the reason why your mind was going in that direction in the middle of the night.

Jim Carr: Is this a proven thing? Can you send me a link to something that I can read?

Jason Zenger: No, just believe me.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: You're going to ask me what's keeping ...

Jim Carr: What is keeping you awake at night? What time did you wake up last night? Or did the baby start crying in the middle of the night?

Jason Zenger: The baby has been crying in the middle of the night. Ever since my wife and I went to Mexico, [Deacon 00:06:39] has just, he just needs his mama all the time, because he was away from her for five days.

Jim Carr: Do you let the kids sleep with you in bed?

Jason Zenger: No, gosh, no.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: What's keeping me awake at night? Honestly, is the situation in Illinois.

Jim Carr: I know.

Jason Zenger: The property taxes and everything.

Jim Carr: I was going to ask you about that, I read this. [crosstalk 00:06:57].

Jason Zenger: We got a bill from the Cook County on our property taxes, and they want to increase it by 138%. I don't mean they want to increase it by 38%, they want to double it, and then [inaudible 00:07:07].

Jim Carr: I read, everybody in Cook County got their tax bill yesterday and ... we're really going off subject here, but this is a big deal.

Jason Zenger: It's a big deal.

Jim Carr: This is a big deal.

Jason Zenger: I have a business in Indiana too.

Jim Carr: It said North Chicago and I, it said the suburbs were pretty much exempt from it. Mine was pretty static, I really haven't looked, I don't think mine went up at all. But it said just particularly North Chicago, and I said, "Do I even bring this up to Jason when I see him today?"

Jason Zenger: We're seeing new ... from our Indiana location, we're seeing new businesses come up there all the time. So many resources are coming to Indiana from Illinois, because.

Jim Carr: But this is your residential property, this is.

Jason Zenger: No, I'm referring to the business. I'm referring to the business property taxes.

Jim Carr: Oh, really?

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: At Zenger's.

Jason Zenger: Yes.

Jim Carr: No kidding.

Jason Zenger: Yes.

Jim Carr: My Elk Grove Village property is not up at all, seriously.

Jason Zenger: Well, I'm not the only one. We're fighting it, but it's definitely a concern.

Jim Carr: How did you mitigate that?

Jason Zenger: We're fighting it.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: We have a lawyer who helps us fight it. Why don't we get over to the manufacturing news?

Jim Carr: You got some good news?

Jason Zenger: Yeah. This is a-

Jim Carr: It's not bad news, is it?

Jason Zenger: No, it's not.

Jim Carr: I don't want any bad news.

Jason Zenger: To be quite honest with you, most of the manufacturing news out there right now is bad news about it being slow. But we're not going to talk about that.

Jim Carr: I disagree with that though. I just want to tell you that.

Jason Zenger: No, you-

Jim Carr: I know you pitched a couple of articles to me about how it's going bad.

Jason Zenger: No, no, no, no, it's not a matter of disagreeing. Every business is going to do things differently, but in general, the manufacturing industry is softening up. There's statistics behind that.

Jim Carr: We're not going 150 miles an hour anymore, we're just going to 100.

Jason Zenger: That's okay, that's fine.

Jim Carr: It is.

Jason Zenger: We can't go 150 miles an hour all the time. Anyway, we're not talking about this right now, we're talking about a new report that came out from a company called Oxford Economics, and it's about how robots will take 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030. I think from that title, it might sound kind of ominous, but I actually see that as a really good thing. Not only because we're in the co-bots market, but we need that because there's not enough people to do the manufacturing jobs, so we need that.

Jason Zenger: But there were some interesting numbers that came out of this, I'm just going to read this [crosstalk 00:09:10] of the article.

Jim Carr: Can I take [crosstalk 00:09:10] this?

Jason Zenger: Sure, go ahead.

Jim Carr: Because in 2030 I'm going to come back to you and say it never happened.

Jason Zenger: If you're alive.

Jim Carr: I probably won't be, but that's okay.

Jason Zenger: I'm not worried about it, because you won't be around.

Jim Carr: No.

Jason Zenger: "By 2030, robots will displace 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide. The 20 million number, which represents 8.5% of the global manufacturing workforce, comes out of a new report from economic forecast company, Oxford Economics."

Jason Zenger: "It also found that on average ..." and this is the part that I found interesting, Jim, "Every newly installed robot displaces 1.6 manufacturing workers."

Jim Carr: That takes the human element out of it?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, but only 1.6.

Jim Carr: It's not that much.

Jason Zenger: Isn't that ... but, we still need, there's a lot of Baby boomers and everything that are moving out of the manufacturing workforce and we need to replace them with robots. But I thought that number would have been higher. I thought it would've been over 2, but it's only 1.6.

Jim Carr: Well, I think that as the robotic technology becomes more robust, and the technology and this the integration, I think that it could potentially, that could go from 1.6 to 2 people. You know what I mean?

Jason Zenger: It probably could. Yeah, it probably could.

Jim Carr: Who knows what's going to be ... well, 2030 is only 10 years away, it's really not that far away. But.

Jason Zenger: There was another interesting quote that I want to read from this report, and it says, "The repercussions of robotization."

Jim Carr: I know that's a tough word.

Jason Zenger: "Robotization are interconnected and complex." Yes they are, "But the growth in robotics is inevitable, the OE report says." "These challenges must be embraced and addressed." I think that that's true, when we talk about robotics here on MakingChips, we don't try to say that we're experts. It is very complex, but it's also inevitable, So we need to talk about it.

Jim Carr: [crosstalk 00:10:47].

Jason Zenger: You know what the bottom line's to this whole thing is Jim?

Jim Carr: What is the bottom line?

Jason Zenger: I'm going to eventually replace you with a robot in the show.

Jim Carr: Good. I hope he has the charisma, and all ...

Jason Zenger: Oh, who will be way more charismatic than you?

Jim Carr: You think so?

Jason Zenger: Yes.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: Absolutely.

Jim Carr: I wonder, will he have the wisdom?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, I'll program that into him.

Jim Carr: Okay, good. Thank you.

Jason Zenger: Why don't we introduce our guest and get to the heart of the episode here?

Jim Carr: Well, before we go there, we want to tell all the Metal Working Nation that if they'd like to subscribe to The Boring Bar, which is our weekly newsletter that introduces the show of the week. We've curated some really good articles there to read, if you want to read. It's all industry relevant and all you need to do is text, Jason?

Jason Zenger: Text 38470, and you're going to text "Chips," to 38470.

Jim Carr: I've done that already, it's super cool, it's super quick. You don't have to go online, just pick up your device, text 38470 and you will be immediately subscribed to the show, and get the weekly Boring Bar and have all the news.

Jason Zenger: Great.

Jim Carr: Go ahead, introduce our great guest.

Jason Zenger: I'm going to introduce our guest. Our guests is Drura Parrish, and he is the president of Xometry supplies. He is a, not a newbie to manufacturing, he actually grew up in the manufacturing industry. His grandfather started a manufacturing business in Kentucky.

Jim Carr: He did.

Jason Zenger: Drura has a degree in psychology and architecture, but I like to think the, just the manufacturing industry always draws you back. Even though he had that psychology degree and that architecture degree, he came back to manufacturing because it's in his blood. Welcome to the show Drura.

Drura Parrish: Thanks for having me.

Jim Carr: Drura, welcome.

Drura Parrish: Well.

Jim Carr: Good to see you again man.

Drura Parrish: Great to see-

Jim Carr: This isn't the first time we've met?

Drura Parrish: No, this is like a, just a reunion.

Jason Zenger: Yes.

Jim Carr: It is, something like that.

Jason Zenger: We were on a six hour long panel discussion together.

Drura Parrish: I think it was 10.

Jim Carr: It felt like 10.

Jason Zenger: About 10 hours. It was a marathon panel.

Jim Carr: Yes.

Jason Zenger: It was, and Jim and I were hosting it, and you were talking and it was interesting. Tell us about your manufacturing story, let's start there.

Drura Parrish: [crosstalk 00:12:47] great, for sure, so the show's four hours, correct?

Jim Carr: Yes, correct.

Jason Zenger: Yes, Keep going, we'll cut you off. [crosstalk 00:12:51].

Drura Parrish: Fantastic. You give a southern man a microphone and just hang on, right? Then all of a sudden people started coming in here and we have a pulpit. This story begins many, many, many years ago.

Jim Carr: How many? Decades.

Jason Zenger: Less than you Jim.

Jim Carr: Okay, decades?

Drura Parrish: Yeah, 65.

Jim Carr: Okay, that's, that is-

Drura Parrish: No, I'm kidding, no, it's just 42 now, in a Western Kentucky hamlet called Henderson. Henderson's well known for three things, which are depression, sadness, and just abject darkness. From that cesspool, one visionary rose up, and that was my grandfather, whose name was Drura as well. Who pulled himself.

Jim Carr: Oh really? His first name was Drura too?

Drura Parrish: Yeah, it's really, we can have another show just to talk about where the name came from. It's an argument if it's just a phonetic drunken slur or if it actually means something. But what's important for us to know here, this person had an idea, and his idea was like anything would be better than where he was, right.

Drura Parrish: Think about this as like pretty Korean War, just right after World War II, things were starting to happen, the economy was taking up, things made out of steel meant something. It turns out he was really strong and he had will, and his brother was an army engineer, so he had the wherewithal to do things. Without going in too much detail, they decided to start a manufacturing business after attending the fields for many years. They started the business which drove up to large OEMs along the Ohio River Valley, offering overflow capacity production.

Jim Carr: Sounds familiar to me.

Drura Parrish: Sounds pretty familiar, right?

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Drura Parrish: They'd go up to like a company that begins with a W that makes home appliances, be like, "Hey, it looks like you're making so many of these parts, you need an extra machine. There happens to be an E-mill on the back of my truck. Fast forward many, many years, there's a young Drura, the protege, the scion, [crosstalk 00:14:32].

Jim Carr: Drura the III.

Drura Parrish: Drura the-

Jim Carr: Drura 3.0.

Drura Parrish: Drura 1.5. There's a scion and his grandfather standing in the shop that he so proudly built, at this point, one of seven in Western Kentucky. Wanted to show me the wave of machines, all the beautiful things that these machines made. I asked him one question, I asked him, "What's that sound?" You're probably thinking he's probably like, "Oh, that's the sound of the blah, blah, blah, [inaudible 00:14:57] blah, blah, RPMs cutting this." His response was, "Those are the lights."

Jim Carr: The fluorescent lights in the ceiling.

Drura Parrish: In the ceiling. Fast forward however many years from then, that image, those lights, that sound dictated my complete thinking about manufacturing. I asked him, I was like, "Why am I hearing that?" He goes, "Well, we have these machines to be available to make the things of the world. We have them at the ready because this is the way we've always done things." I was thinking, "But why do we have so many?" Here's a paradox though.

Jason Zenger: Yes.

Jim Carr: So many machine tools that weren't running.

Drura Parrish: So many machines though.

Jim Carr: So many spindles that weren't on MakingChips.

Drura Parrish: Yes. It was just lights, so opportunity. The hope for opportunity is the way that they always did things. It was hope more than making, which I think is a [crosstalk 00:15:43].

Jim Carr: That's an old school mentality.

Drura Parrish: Super old school.

Jim Carr: My Dad used to think that way too. We used to go into a recession, he'd say, "Jim, don't worry, the business will come."

Drura Parrish: Always.

Jim Carr: He would say that all the time, I can hear him say it.

Jason Zenger: Or you buy a machine and you just hope that you can fill it up with work.

Drura Parrish: You just hope.

Jim Carr: Just hope the phone's going to ring. Someone's going to pick up the yellow pages and see us in the yellow pages.

Drura Parrish: Or better yet, we're not going to take that $4,000 job, because we're going to get the big job in a couple of months, and we've got to keep the machines open. This is his story.

Jim Carr: Yes, exactly.

Jason Zenger: Have you ever read the book Hillbilly Elegy?

Drura Parrish: I don't have to read it, I lived it.

Jason Zenger: I was just going to say [inaudible 00:16:20] read it obviously, so you know what I'm talking about.

Drura Parrish: J ...

Jim Carr: Is it a real book?

Drura Parrish: Yes.

Jason Zenger: It is real, but it's actually, it's a fantastic book. It's really good, but it just kind of talks about that Kentucky, Ohio experience and, it's a good book. I know you'll never read it, but you should.

Jim Carr: I might, I might.

Drura Parrish: Can I tell one more story?

Jim Carr: Absolutely.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, absolutely, good stories are good.

Drura Parrish: The paradox is, the same time in front of this wave of machines. I was set up with this conundrum of just wondering what the light sounds were, which I'm realizing that phrase makes me sound like I never went to school to begin with, which is okay. But anyway, so I went to college because my grandfather really wanted me to get out, to get an outside objective opinion of the world. I came back because I couldn't find a job with my DePaul psychology degree, which my grandfather believed was only useful to predict the future.

Drura Parrish: The first job he gave me back at the tools side of our business, he's like, "I want you to dig a one mile trench, 6" wide, 6" deep," and I was like, "Great, I'm all for it." Next day I showed up at 4:30, they had a spade waiting for me.

Jason Zenger: A spade?

Drura Parrish: Yeah, a square [inaudible 00:17:20], which doesn't make any sense. No survey tools, no nothing, no real trajectory where to dig this thing. For six months I dug, and I dug, and I dug, and then there with the sun in the background setting, Kentucky hills, all the beauty, all the bounty, all the glory.

Drura Parrish: Here comes my grandfather and his brother that I talked about, the army engineer, on a little scooter. They came up to me and they're like, "Little Drura ..." which I wasn't little at that time, he's like, "Did you learn anything?" I said, "Yeah, hard work and perseverance, you can do anything." They said, "You're a total idiot. You always need to ask why you're doing what you're doing before you set out to do it. You just wasted money, time and resources, digging a trench that nobody needs or wants, so fill it up."

Jim Carr: Interesting, oh, so then they made you go back and fill it up?

Drura Parrish: Yes.

Jim Carr: Was it really one mile long? Or did you [crosstalk 00:18:11]-

Drura Parrish: No, it was probably like 500'. [crosstalk 00:18:12].

Jim Carr: Okay, I was going to say a mile's a long way man, with a [inaudible 00:18:16].

Jason Zenger: Are you going to do that same thing? Do you have kids?

Drura Parrish: Yeah.

Jason Zenger: Are you going to do the same thing to your kids?

Drura Parrish: When the first one turned a year and a half, I set her out on the same mission. I took her out in the fields, [crosstalk 00:18:28] probably don't understand [crosstalk 00:18:29].

Jason Zenger: Give her one of those red plastic shovels and just say, "Start digging."

Drura Parrish: That's right, that's right. Anyway, those two things set up the path, right. It's just like, "Why are we doing all the same stuff that we've always done, but why are you also giving me the insight to ask the question of why?"

Jason Zenger: Well, it always does come down to the people. The people are the center of the, "We've always done it this way." What do you see people doing the same way that we can break? What can we do differently?

Drura Parrish: I think front of house, right. It's just like-

Jim Carr: Oh, leadership?

Drura Parrish: Yeah.

Jim Carr: The leader has to push down the way his vision, the way he wants to see his company [crosstalk 00:19:08].

Jason Zenger: Are you going to let Drura answer this question, or are you just going to?

Jim Carr: No, I'm not, I could answer that question, I know it's Drura's interview but we're dovetailing in the same way, right?

Drura Parrish: 100%.

Jim Carr: It's leadership.

Drura Parrish: It's leadership, always leadership. One thing that is pretty ironic on the shop floor in a manufacturing business, your leader is usually your best machinists, or was the best machinists. The best engineer, or was the best engineer, the best financial resource or the sole financial resource. The best person to understand the numbers, they won't relinquish all of it, right.

Jason Zenger: Because that's guarded.

Drura Parrish: It's guarded. 21st century, you have experts all around you, so I think there's a huge opportunity in the problem to solve with leadership. It's like, "What are the 21st century manufacturing leaders good at?" It's okay to be a leader, people need leaders now more than anything. They don't need expert leaders [crosstalk 00:19:58].

Jason Zenger: Your leader doesn't necessarily need to be an expert in manufacturing.

Drura Parrish: That's right.

Jason Zenger: I think your leader just needs to, he needs to lead the people. He needs to ask questions, "Why are we doing it that way?" Even asking it out of ignorance isn't a bad thing.

Jason Zenger: Jim and I talk to manufacturing leaders from across the country and I know, just think top of mind, one manufacturing leader who does not have that shop floor experience, but he has the wherewithal to ask questions.

Jim Carr: Yes.

Jason Zenger: The people in the shop, they answer his questions and they start thinking about, "Well yeah, why am I doing it that way?" His questions are kind of coming from ignorance to a certain degree, but I don't think you have to say, "Okay, well, we need to hire a person for this position and they need to come from manufacturing."

Jason Zenger: Well, maybe they could be somebody that has operational experience in retail or service or just whatever other types of industry that could bring a different perspective to the manufacturing industry.

Drura Parrish: That's right, so you think about my family business as an example, the patriarch was.

Jim Carr: Grandpa.

Drura Parrish: Grandpa and his brother, were fantastic in process planning and machining. But if you-

Jim Carr: You mean good mechanical aptitude and a lot of drive?

Drura Parrish: Yes, they should have been on the floor.

Jim Carr: Right, yes, I agree with you Drura.

Drura Parrish: But they spent more time hunting and fishing, define opportunities than they were giving like their best resource on the floor. You think about, "Okay, what are the roles of the 21st century shop?"

Jim Carr: What are the roles of the 21st century shop?

Drura Parrish: You got to make things and ship things, and provide fantastic customer service.

Jim Carr: Agree.

Drura Parrish: It's not really rocket science. What we do as machinists is rocket science in many ways, but think about this, like 21st century examples of just great business, Amazon, relentless pursuit of customer service.

Jim Carr: Oh, my God, they're ...

Drura Parrish: But think about the tone of leadership here in that scenario. How many shops in the United States would you say ... percentage wise, are not griping about their customer? The people on the floor?

Jim Carr: Oh, everyone's griping about their customer, everyone is.

Drura Parrish: That's right. As a leader, back to where this is.

Jim Carr: Yes.

Drura Parrish: It's the responsibility to instill this 21st century ethic of that, the customer is always right, [crosstalk 00:22:10].

Jim Carr: We always say customer first.

Drura Parrish: That's right, customer first.

Jim Carr: Then everything else is secondary.

Drura Parrish: To enable that work force the freedom to breathe, surrounding you as a leader with able body people and administration, to give them the freedom to breathe, so better planning. One thing that we need better in the 21st century shop to better machine is, better planning.

Jim Carr: Right, I couldn't agree with you more.

Drura Parrish: Better use of software, better allocation of resources to software to help plan. I talk about-

Jim Carr: Training.

Drura Parrish: Training, training, 100% training.

Jim Carr: Training.

Drura Parrish: Believing in our people, training our people to use 21st century tools, but at the same time, like we discussed a little bit earlier, not entrenching our people in dogma of bad salespeople forcing bad software down our throats.

Jim Carr: Can you embellish a little bit about what you mean by that?

Drura Parrish: One of my big problems is, is that just like the 90s, you remember the 90s with technology?

Jim Carr: I do.

Drura Parrish: You had the PalmPilot [inaudible 00:23:02], you had a Blackberry. You had-

Jim Carr: I did not have a Blackberry.

Jason Zenger: I had a Blackberry, so [crosstalk 00:23:06] about that.

Jim Carr: Of course he did, I could just see him using it too.

Drura Parrish: But my point was is that, or is, is that people are selling technology from every different angle, just like throwing a net out, hoping to catch somebody. We're there right now with manufacturers, and there are salespeople in this world that are hoping that we're not educated, that we'll just take the first person to visit us. Because we've been trained to accept the salesmen on the milk run, right. The people going around shops and say, "I've got the greatest bells and whistles, or you can pay X number of dollars to go out to IMTS and find the next greatest thing," right?

Jim Carr: Right.

Drura Parrish: But my point is, is that, we don't take time to educate ourselves truly on what we need on the manufacturing floor for planning. The same way that we apprentice machinists, we need to apprentice them in understanding the technologies around machining now. We talked about robotics in the intro.

Jim Carr: We did.

Drura Parrish: There's a whole pallet of technology.

Jim Carr: And process.

Drura Parrish: And process that might start moving people off the machines a little bit, but guess where they can start to go? There's going to be an increased need for engineers, planners, as-

Jim Carr: Customer service.

Drura Parrish: Customer service, as the world starts to create more things in smaller batches, increased frequency, and the person in Indiana who ordered the first, one widget off of Kickstarter needs it tomorrow, and you have to cycle the entire manufacturing facility just to get out. My point is, is that we aren't taking the education of our shop floor people seriously enough, and all other aspects of manufacturing and application.

Jason Zenger: I agree with everything that you said, but one of the things that I struggle with, and I know like a lot of other manufacturing leaders struggle with especially right now with how busy we've been, is that there just never seems to be time to take a step back and educate your people. I know that that's a terrible, terrible excuse, but I feel like ... I know I'm guilty of it and I'm sure every single shop out there, unless they're lying, they're guilty of not carving out that time to train their people.

Jim Carr: I think you just have to commit to it.

Jason Zenger: You have to commit to it, I agree.

Jim Carr: Much like-

Jason Zenger: You have to put it on the calendar.

Jim Carr: Much like if you start using the EOS system in traction, you have to commit. One of the integrators that you and I know said to me, "Jim, you have to keep doing it. Don't get swayed by, "Oh, things are really shiny now, things are going along pretty good. Oh, we're not going to have our [inaudible 00:25:23] meeting this week." But you have to keep pushing, you have to keep training, you have to keep thinking, "What am I going to give the guy on the shop floor? How am I going to up train him in the next quarter?"

Jason Zenger: Absolutely.

Jim Carr: "What little piece of technology are we going to have him start utilizing?"

Drura Parrish: Absolutely, it goes to point, I just think that we don't take technology serious. The irony is, is the technology, that machinists use is printer software from like 50 years ago. But the whole world has grown up around it.

Jason Zenger: Jim, I've got some more acronyms for you.

Jim Carr: Okay, give it to me man.

Jason Zenger: Q ... and some numbers too. Can you handle it?

Jim Carr: No, I can't.

Jason Zenger: QMSAS9100ISO9001, do you know what that means?

Jim Carr: I do know what that means, as a matter of fact. It's two processes, QMS process, quality management system processes, AS9100 and ISO 9001.

Jason Zenger: How does that work with your new ERP system?

Jim Carr: Well, what it is, Jason, we were talking earlier about the paperless system. All of the documentation that we use in AS9100 ISO 9001 is totally integrated.

Jason Zenger: No more binders?

Jim Carr: No more binders, no more signing papers, everything's integrated into ProShop ERP, and it makes our life so much more easier and so much more efficient.

Jason Zenger: Go to proshoperp.com for more information. In regards to doing things differently, how much of our time should we be spending taking our people off the shop floor and training them? Be it training them in tooling technology to training them on software, to training them in business practices? How much-

Jim Carr: CAD/CAM, customer service, ERP systems. [crosstalk 00:27:16].

Jason Zenger: CAD/CAM, all that kind of stuff, customer service, is it 80%? Can you take your guys off the shop floor 20% of the time?

Jim Carr: Well, that's a tough question, I don't know. It's going to be different for every shop.

Jason Zenger: Of course it is.

Jim Carr: A big shop has a lot more resources to invest in training maybe, maybe, than a small shop like mine, but I certainly make it something that I really feel is extremely important to keep them A, trained, moving up the totem pole and B, I think it's really important to keep them engaged in their job, in their career. Because you know as well as I know, that when you learn something new and you start using it over and over again, you feel like, "Man, I'm pretty smart, I gained this knowledge," and you feel good about yourself once you start using it.

Jim Carr: But to answer your question, how much? I don't know, maybe 10% of their workweek if they're working 45, 50 hours a week, four and a half.

Drura Parrish: Five hours a week.

Jim Carr: Five hours a week. That might be a little heavy, but everything's in percentages, right? You just got to figure out what you're comfortable with and give it back.

Drura Parrish: It is funny, I can talk about it a lot, but when you come down to how do you plan for it? I think the best way to answer is like, think about what and how you want to structure your business. For example, I ask you this question, we'll flip it a little bit.

Jim Carr: Yeah, go ahead.

Drura Parrish: How much of your time do you spend shopping for business versus?

Jim Carr: Me personally or my sales manager?

Drura Parrish: Or your sales, let's just say what's the division of the business and hours do you think in terms of looking for business and fulfilling business?

Jim Carr: Well, I have a full-time salesman that is probably spending 85% of his time doing research and development on industries that we want to target. Then once he's identified those industries that we want to target, he spends a significant amount of time targeting and trying to touch.

Drura Parrish: You got engineers that are probably pre-planning once he brings things to the table.

Jim Carr: That's when I get involved, and Ryan, my operations manager, we look at the prints together as a team and decide, is it something that we really can do profitably? Is that the direction we want to take the company? A, can we do it and can we do it efficiently and profitably? B, is that the type of industry or does the customer believe in us and is going to value our three uniques? Which is our people, our communication and our technology.

Drura Parrish: What would you say that your throw distance is? How long range can you look right now?

Jim Carr: As far as vision?

Drura Parrish: How far down the road can you look? Yeah, in terms of setting the path for what type of industries you think of, what types of customers you have [crosstalk 00:30:01].

Jim Carr: Well, we've got a written ten year, three year and one year plan. The one year plan is pretty ... I can see it. We have the metrics, we have the numbers, we can, we can see where it's going to go.

Drura Parrish: Where I get in all this, I think you're a unique instance in the machining world. It's the DNA is in your business to actually accept that and build it in as part of the process. Your business wouldn't exist without continuing education, training at least in industry or on the floor. To get back to where you are, where the question is, you go to start with 1% for the 99% of the shops.

Jim Carr: Right, yes.

Drura Parrish: Because they're all great machinists now looking to pay off the one machine that they put in their garage at the 20,000 plus machine shops in the United States.

Jim Carr: Is that how many there are?

Drura Parrish: According to IBISWorld, if you agree with what they're saying, and it's in decline.

Jim Carr: Good.

Drura Parrish: People go from big shops, they're [inaudible 00:30:55] machinists, then they go and they start like a sub of [inaudible 00:30:58] and then they start their little garage business, but they don't have time to educate themselves. Back to the question of, how are we going to change the mindset? "We've always done it this way," is just the theme, I think there's a policy issue too.

Drura Parrish: If the United States is going to be competitive, there has to be some infrastructural thinking and training and easement to allow this to thrive. I don't know what the answer to that is, but so as a challenge, how do we allow 1% of 20,000 firms, one to five person firms, the chance to like leap frog technologically, compete with the world, embrace robots?

Jim Carr: That's tough, man. That's really tough.

Drura Parrish: Exactly.

Jim Carr: I will tell you, it's hard.

Drura Parrish: It's huge problem.

Jim Carr: It's a huge undertaking.

Drura Parrish: Then inside of there, it's just like there's the whole on-demand manufacturing revolution, right?

Jim Carr: Right.

Drura Parrish: Which we're a part of, and we're huge believers in. It's not all of the time, beautiful and perfect or whatever, and it can be really messy. But the belief in any of those types of technologies or any of those types of marketplaces or whatever. Or any kind of re-situating, it's like, how do you increase time somewhere? When you do it right, when you do it perfect, the goal is that one side of the equation has 1% more time to do something. Now, it's not all the time perfect.

Jim Carr: No, it's not.

Drura Parrish: When you think about this whole schema, it comes back to what you were talking about earlier with time. How do we gain time through technology is the ultimate goal, is ultimate question. Is it the planning software? Is it through metrics? Metrics dashboard? Watching how things [crosstalk 00:32:30]?

Jim Carr: Yes.

Drura Parrish: Keeping up preventive maintenance? All these [inaudible 00:32:34] the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Jim Carr: I was just going to say it's all of those things. It is ERP, it is process software, it is CAD/CAM technology, it is customer service technology, automated emails back to them telling them where they're going to be. It's, we have a live delivery dock that our clients can go on and check the status of their order. It's all of those things, and all of those things together when they're working really well and everyone in the company is trained on it and knows how to talk about it, that's when things really start to go.

Drura Parrish: That's right. But let's go back to the one to five person shop in Central, Indiana, in a garage.

Jim Carr: No, middle of Nebraska.

Drura Parrish: Middle of Nebraska. There's a step back I think where, here's one thing that I have a problem with. We as machine shops, job shops, manufacturers, we all need to be friends. Our success is driven by us and us alone, and we've forgotten that that shop needs our help, and that shop needs our help by us helping and apprenticing them on good business acumen. I think this podcast is a great example of that.

Jason Zenger: That's the reason why we started MakingChips.

Drura Parrish: Exactly.

Jason Zenger: Is so that we can elevate the manufacturing industry and we were going to be able to learn from each other. That's, because there's a guy out there, that guy in Nebraska that might know something that we don't know.

Drura Parrish: You know what kind of feedback I got when I told people that I was going to be on a worldwide radio show, that was on demand, industry specific. "What do you mean you're going to go giving away all of our secrets?"

Jim Carr: Exactly.

Drura Parrish: Exactly, that's exactly what I heard and I'm like, "Well, they can easily Google it on YouTube and get the same response, right."

Jason Zenger: Somebody is going to be the change agent here.

Drura Parrish: Exactly, exactly.

Jason Zenger: It might as well be us.

Drura Parrish: One thing, this is like almost a right hand turn here, but I think the way that we've always done things, it's just much of attitude as it is anything.

Jim Carr: Attitude is everything.

Drura Parrish: I think attitude's probably going to be the greatest software advancement in the next 21st century or not the next 21st century, because [inaudible 00:34:35] 4,200 whatever that is, it's complicated. But, in Kentucky we have that already. But my point is, is that, we don't accept the fact that we need to take time to educate ourselves, it's like failure. If you think about the bad boy machinists, street cred, like, "I'm too busy, my spindles turning, I've got to clean up around my machine, I've got to prep it for the next-"

Jim Carr: Were you going to say, "I got to clean the coolant tank?"

Drura Parrish: Yeah. But all the things, their only badge of honor is how much work they do. It's not the fact that they are engineers working in actual application with the same level of mathematical thinking as any software engineer. Think about like ... and I see the great things that you do for your people. Just raising them up for just their accomplishments. Just think if you just go back, I use Kentucky as an example, we don't have a great high school graduation rate. The state had enough foresight to say, "We need to start really celebrating the machinist, the maker of things." Just a pat on the back.

Jim Carr: Exactly, it's really important.

Jason Zenger: Well, one of the things that I've been preaching to my team for a number of years, and you and I have even talked about this, and Drura I think is on the same page, is that salesperson who's just there, coming around and knocking on your door, it's got to go. It's a thing of the past. Nobody has time for that anymore, and.

Jim Carr: I still get them.

Jason Zenger: You do still get them, and there's a lot of sales and marketing people out there that that's the way that they've always done it and that's all they know how to do. The mentality needs to change in that you almost need to be an advocate for the businesses that you're dealing with and really drive changes there, and be a part of their team. You just, you can't be there knocking at the door with your handout, it just, things don't work the same way anymore. I know you've looked at sales and marketing from different angles too Jim, and been successful because you're doing things differently.

Jim Carr: Right, I like to be different, so I don't want to look or be or act like anybody else. I want to do my own thing and I want to do what I feel is right in a sales and marketing position. I want to position myself to be different, because I feel that that uniqueness is attractive to people.

Jason Zenger: Xometry being like an on demand manufacturing network, you guys essentially act as a sales agent for some of the manufacturing partners that you deal with. Do you think that that's changing the sales and marketing landscape? Do you have guys that are opening up shops and they don't even have to look for new jobs? They're just, they go onto the Xometry network and there it is?

Drura Parrish: Yeah, at the heart of everything that we do, our hope is to spur an entrepreneurial revolution in manufacturing on both sides of the equation, right. Like the shop in Nebraska, who brilliant machinist, didn't like to talk to people. That's not a winning equation.

Jim Carr: It's not a winning equation.

Jason Zenger: Unless you have a partner.

Drura Parrish: That's right, [inaudible 00:37:21] an outlet.

Jim Carr: An integrator and a visionary.

Jason Zenger: Or a platform where you can do that from.

Drura Parrish: Then on the flip side, you have a beautiful, wonderful, creative engineer that's bringing a product all the way from prototype to production. They really can't deal with the machinist. If you see the world's a rapidly growing amount of both sides of that providing pressure. The best case scenario of what we offer is just to allow that to happen seamlessly. It's wrought with problems, to reroute the way that the world makes things.

Drura Parrish: But the heart of it is just so that that machinist can be brilliant at being a machinist. The leader can be a leader, the sales guy can do like perfect knockout sales on the other side of the equation, providing fantastic customer service. Because that's what's important, so that we can make more amazing things, so that the world can do all the things it was supposed to.

Drura Parrish: that like the guy making the duck decoy doesn't feel as much pressure as the guy making a missile head. The reason I bring that up, the world puts this equal amount of pressure on all things to be made, as time critical, as just as important. Bringing this all around just in terms of making a market place to set these things up, what we allow is the ability for all those to thrive independently, and allow the right and equal amounts of pressure on both sides to succeed.

Drura Parrish: Meaning so that like, your shop floor, anybody's shop floor can make a duck decoy, missile guidance system, if you're [inaudible 00:38:44] or whatever it is. But my point is, is that you don't have to be limited in scope because now the scope is brought to you.

Drura Parrish: I think we can summarize, and I think the summary is, is that it's, I sound like such a Grandpa, but you have to embrace technology. The only way we get past the whole, "We've always done it this way," is to realize at one point people thought Henry Ford was crazy. We've been operating in his world for the past 60, 70, 100 years, whatever how long it's been now. My point is is like we as manufacturers, machinists, job shop, journeymen, whatever it is, we have to find the 1% to allow for education. We have to pat people on the back and recognize intellectual efforts as much as work efforts. We have to as leaders be very conscientious and thorough in pulling out all the garbage so that we can disseminate, "Here are the opportunities for you to grow and learn as a 21st century manufacturing employee." You can be a full stack salesperson utilizing Salesforce, HubSpot, whatever in manufacturing, right.

Jim Carr: You sure can.

Drura Parrish: You can be a roboticist in manufacturing, right. You can be a customer service, let's say interface working with a company like ours, Xometry, from the shop floor. You can be a brilliant machinists that's cutting 400 times more stuff because you went to the latest name tool company here, seminar. But the point is, it's just like, the only way we get over the hill is that we just have to allow questions and answers to have a fair and proper place in the workforce.

Drura Parrish: The greatest philosophical change that this industry will face is when we allow that in. Not just on the merits of just doing, but allowing our people to ask why they're doing what they're doing before they even step foot into doing it.

Jason Zenger: I like that, and I like your sentiment.

Jim Carr: It's a good philosophy.

Jason Zenger: That you need to start with spending 1% of your time on training. It kind of makes me think about the fact that when a manufacturing leader thinks about what we've talked about here, and the rate of change and trying to break that, "We've always done it this way." I think you can get exhausted because you look at your business and you're like, "There's so many things that I need to change," and it can be exhausting and you just don't know where to start. I think that you don't have to start with everything.

Jason Zenger: Just like you go from 0% to 1%, just choose one thing and make a change. Improve the business and make that continuous improvement about, make it a part of the culture of your company and make breaking that glass of, "We've always done it that way," systematic and one thing at a time. Don't get exhausted at it because you just chip away at it one thing at a time.

Drura Parrish: Amen to that.

Jason Zenger: Increase that 1% to 2% to 5% and all of a sudden you're thriving as a business because you're training your people on a regular basis. I think that I need to take my own advice on that pretty soon too.

Drura Parrish: We all do.

Jim Carr: We all do. It's a constant thing that you always have to keep reevaluating, and we all fall suspect to it every now and then of not doing it. Anyway, Drura, thank you so much for coming into the studio today, it was great to sit down and talk with you and hear your perspective on manufacturing. It's a great story and good to see you again.

Drura Parrish: Likewise, thank you all.

Jason Zenger: Jim, for this conversation.

Jim Carr: What does this mean?

Jason Zenger: What do you think you need to do? I mentioned that ... so, I told you before that ...

Jim Carr: You know what, this show always equips and inspires me.

Jason Zenger: I know, [crosstalk 00:42:03] me too.

Jim Carr: I know here, I'm in this seat with the mic on my hand.

Jason Zenger: [crosstalk 00:42:06].

Jim Carr: To equip and inspire the metalworking nation, but you have no idea how much it equips and inspires me.

Jason Zenger: I agree.

Jim Carr: As a person and a business and all of those things. But.

Jason Zenger: I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do. I told you before that as a part of training, I started this book club at Zenger's. I got to be honest with how busy that I've been in the last couple of years, I lost track of it. I'm not spending that time doing the training because we're doing so much doing because everybody's so busy. I need to get back and I need to do that 1% and I need to step it up.

Jason Zenger: This was very inspirational from Drura from my perspective, to just say, "You know what, get off my butt, grab my people, take them away from what they're doing on a day to day basis, and let's have a discussion." A lot of times when I was having these book club discussions, it wasn't even necessarily about work. It was just, "How do we improve our communication skills?" "I don't care if you're improving it with your wife or if you're improving with your coworkers, let's make improvements and let's start it out here on the job and let's move from 0% to 1%." That's what I'm going to do, Jim.

Jim Carr: I think that when we give employee performance reviews, we need to, because you're always documenting in that review, I think you need to set some training goals at that time and put some metrics behind it. Agree when you're sitting with that employee in his three months, six month, one year, whatever performance review you're at, what training looks like to them and to us, and what they want to tackle themselves. Because I don't want to force training down someone's throat if they're really not wanting to do any training.

Jason Zenger: Or force training how you want it done.

Jim Carr: Right, exactly.

Jason Zenger: Maybe they want to do it a different way.

Jim Carr: It has to, it's a collaborative thing, you know what I mean? That's really what I try to do with my employees is, we're always talking, we're always at the table together. I want everyone's opinion, I believe in diversity of thought, and I believe that when you do that, you get the best results. Do I need to train more? Probably, am I doing a good job of doing it? I'm thinking, I'm probably doing okay, but I think I need to document it and set metrics and goals for it. That's what I think.

Jason Zenger: I like that.

Jim Carr: Because at the end of the day, if you're not MakingChips?

Jason Zenger: You're not making money.

Jim Carr: Bam.

Nick Goellner: As always, thank you for listening to the MakingChips podcast. You need to increase the speed and feed of your business. If you're not elevating your manufacturing leadership, you're going to get left behind. The Metal Working Nation is committed to a new way to stay ahead of the competition. We have more content to help you make and elevate at makingchips.com. Gain access to exclusive content as well as videos, blogs, show notes, and more resources designed to equip and inspire you. We'll see you next time.

Jason Zenger: Jim, I know you got that job on xometry.com, where'd you get the material from?

Jim Carr: Well, funny you should ask, I did get that job. Part of their vendor partner network, and Xometry just started to sell material on their supplies network, it's awesome. I get the job from them. I don't even have to think about the size or the alloy or the material. They tell me exactly what size I'm going to need, have the price and Bam, it's done. It's in my inbox and I'm out. Go to xometry.com and check out their supplies network to buy 6061 aluminum.


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