MTS: Gardner Denver plans Monroe plant closure
In 2009, Gardner Denver Inc. announced tentative plans to consolidate two of its production plants into one. The plants, one in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and the other in Monroe, manufactured Thomas-brand products for Gardner Denver Thomas, a subsidiary of Gardner Denver. The products included pumps and compressors used in medical and pharmaceutical equipment, automobiles, food processing equipment and more.
The facilities in Monroe and Sheboygan had similar production and machining lines, but the Sheboygan facility was much larger than Monroe. Company officials were evaluating a consolidation to either Monroe (about 70 employees at the time) or the Sheboygan facility (about 300 employees at the time), but given Sheboygan’s size, they determined it would be easier to consolidate the two locations into the Sheboygan plant. In anticipation of a consolidation in Sheboygan, company officials internally named the project “MTS” for “Monroe to Sheboygan.”
“Our primary focus was to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the business by continuing to drive cost and inefficiencies out of the operations while increasing our flexibility through the implementation of the Gardner Denver Way,” said Barry Pennypacker, Gardner Denver President and CEO (2008-2012).
By shuttering the plant in Monroe, the company would eliminate 70 jobs in Louisiana. LED quickly dispatched its Business Expansion and Retention Group (BERG) to make a case for Louisiana. BERG contacted the company to discuss solutions to help Gardner Denver more effectively reach its goals in Louisiana instead of Wisconsin. The team had to present a compelling case to convince the company to reverse course and consolidate the Sheboygan facility in Monroe instead.
LED makes the case to consolidate Gardner Denver plants in Monroe
Gardner Denver leadership was receptive to the BERG team, but if the company was to move the Sheboygan operations to Monroe, they needed assurance that they could find and quickly train the skilled workforce to fill the added manufacturing positions. Additionally, for a move from Sheboygan to Monroe to be successful, the company required additional support to move its larger operation to the smaller one in Monroe.
Coordinating with local officials, LED crafted an incentive package that would fully address the needs of Gardner Denver.
Louisiana committed to a competitive incentive package that included a $193,000 grant to Louisiana Delta Community College to train certified manufacturing specialists. This grant provided Gardner Denver with the opportunity to work with school administrators to craft the necessary skills training for a potential workforce pool. The incentive package also included the services of LED FastStart® — rated the No. 1 workforce program in the nation. FastStart would provide a training program tailored to the specifications of Gardner Denver’s processes.
The Monroe community also contributed to the incentive package. Gardner Denver’s location was owned by the City of Monroe, so Monroe officials joined with those in the parish to provide funding for an 81,000-square-foot building expansion with a discounted lease rate.
Additionally, if the company agreed to the provisions of the incentive package and consolidated both facilities into the Monroe location, LED would provide Gardner Denver with a performance-based grant of $8.7 million for relocation of equipment and key personnel.
LED FastStart transitions Gardner Denver production lines to Monroe
Gardner Denver officials agreed to consolidate both facilities into the Monroe location. In August 2009, the company broke ground on the building expansion in Monroe. The company announced it would retain the 70 jobs already in place and add additional jobs at the Monroe facility.
LED adhered to its end of the agreement and dispatched FastStart leaders to support the transition from Sheboygan to Monroe. FastStart representatives traveled to Sheboygan and observed, monitored and documented the work of the 15 product lines that would be moved to Louisiana.
The biggest challenge was transporting equipment and operations 1,000 miles across five states from Wisconsin to Louisiana. FastStart provided real-time support to ensure a seamless move, monitoring the transport of equipment on its journey to Louisiana.
To address the company’s workforce needs, FastStart conducted a highly successful job fair. Additionally, FastStart produced procedural guidelines to be used on the production floor. It pledged assistance with recruitment, training and quality assurance to fit the company’s consolidation plans. Once the company broke ground on their expansion in Monroe, FastStart had already delivered 4,800 hours of customized training for Gardner Denver.
In 2011, two years after the groundbreaking, Gardner Denver had a fully trained staff to operate its plant in Monroe. Barry Pennypacker described his experience with FastStart during his third-quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts.
“The outstanding training support provided by the State of Louisiana…has been integral to the success of this project.”