Page 40 - MetalForming June 2019
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  Two lean cells—one named Cubs (left, blue tape on machines) and the other Reds (right, red tape)— emphasize organization and standardized tooling, and are integral to the company’s newly implemented value-stream mapping system.
Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (GLTAAC (, a part of the Economic Growth Institute at the University of Michigan (economic- in Ann Arbor and serving the states of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
Through its partnership with GLTAAC, Mursix gained $75,000 in match-
as a one-stop shop. Capabilities include tool design and construction, stamping of large and small components, preci- sion machining, injection and insert molding, finishing, plating, and sophis- ticated multipart assembly.
“During our nearly 30 years, we’ve invested nearly $43 million in our growth, without ever taking a dividend. That’s a principle that our father instilled in us from the company’s beginning,” says CEO Todd Murray, one of four Murray siblings involved with running the company. The others: Susan Murray Carlock, vice president of business development; Brad Murray, director of procurement; and Mike Murray, director of plating operations.
“We managed our business well leading up to the 2008 recession,” says Todd. “When bankruptcies and con- solidations began, we were able to pick up business. And before that, we cap- italized on opportunities such as inverters, resulting from the electrification of automobiles.
We also focused on safety- related parts: seat belts, air bags, antilock brakes and steer- ing controls. This allowed for the cultivation of new cus- tomers and tremendous growth.”
Not to say that the Mursix story is without rough patches. While the company saw 10- percent new-business growth after 2014, its build-out (parts/platforms that die out) rate was as much as 10 percent of total revenue per year, for a
1:1 ratio of new business vs. build-out. Furthermore, Mursix lost as much as 12 percent, about $5 million, of its sales to Mexican imports from 2015 to 2017, says Todd. While that in and of itself isn’t unusual, what the Mursix leader- ship team did about it is a story that needs to be told throughout manufac- turing circles everywhere as tariffs and trade wars contribute to this era of eco- nomic uncertainty.
‘Hidden Gem’: Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms
Mursix executives want others to know about and perhaps benefit from what they learned: Help is available through the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms ( TAAF) program, funded by the U.S. Economic Development Admin- istration, a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Eleven TAAF centers ( operate through- out the country, including the Great
ing funds, and can take as long as five years to spend it. “But we’re not that patient,” says Todd, explaining that $150,000 (including Mursix’s half ) was spent during a 17-month period begin- ning in June 2017 on six categories tar- geted for improvement: leadership development, lean manufacturing, lean accounting, new markets discovery, sales process training and employee training.
“GLTAAC has worked with hundreds of import-injured companies,” says Scott Phillips, GLTAAC senior project manager. “Clients such as Mursix use GLTAAC planning and cofunding to help them reclaim their competitive edge.”
And yet, TAAF centers such as GLTAAC remain “hidden gems,” says Susan Mur- ray Carlock, vice president of business development at Mursix. “Through our internship-program contacts at univer- sities and various organizations, we’re able to learn about such programs. For example, it was through Mary Rose Hen-
nessy at the University of Illinois BIS program (strategic business consulting) that we learned of GLTAAC. “The word hasn’t really gotten out that this help exists,” says Todd. “We as manufacturers must be engaged and in tune with universities and government agencies in order to be aware of programs such as GLTAAC.”
“For example,” explains Susan, “Todd serves as president of the local manufacturers association and I’m a part of the leadership for a community initiative that
helps create opportunities for learning, working and healthy
 38 MetalForming/June 2019
Mursix’s emphasis on wellness and healthy choices, as evi- denced by this on-site fitness center, has resulted in a favor- able insurance loss ratio.

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