Page 20 - MetalForming March 2016
P. 20

Manufacturing Matters
  Mechanically Inclined,
and a Skilled Hirer and Delegator
Ron Lowry, owner and president of Minneapolis-based metalformer Dayton Rogers, can and has run most of the equipment in his company’s four production facilities. He’s also spent plenty of time in various administrative roles, including customer service and estimating. You could say he knows metalforming inside and out, but beyond that he knows how to not only turn struggling operations around but also how to build an operation from the ground up.
That’s what he’s doing at Dayton Rogers’ newest facility in Columbia, SC, where we caught up with Lowry and his formidable management team. For it’s clear that one of Lowry’s strong suits, if not his strongest, is finding, hiring, training and empowering people who ultimately become completely dedicated to the success of the company.
Lowry displayed his mechanical abilities early in life, helping to repair the Pitney Bowes mailing machines his father used in his direct-mail business. At 14, Lowry stepped it up a bit and began to restore a 1957 Studebaker Silver Hawk; this hobby still consumes
him today.
“My mechanical aptitude showed early-on,” he says, “and as soon as I graduated high school, in 1979, I moved to Minneapolis (from
Waseca, MN) to start my career in manufacturing. Shortly there-
after I went to work for Federal Stampings, in Bloomington,
MN, and I’ve been in the metalforming industry ever since.” Hired on as an estimator at Federal, Lowry said he got his
“big break” when the plant went on strike.
“They (management) sent me into the shop and within
6 months I was making my own tools and running them,” he says. “It was the best education I could have received at the time.”
The rest is history, as they say. When Federal decided to open a stamping plant in Cincinnati, OH, in 1984, management pegged Lowry to move there and help start it up. In 1986 Dayton Rogers acquired Federal and moved Lowry to the company’s plant in Rochester, NY, where he worked as assistant plant manager for 5 yr. Then he moved to Southern California to lead a turn- around effort at the Dayton Rogers plant in Chatsworth.
“What made us successful then, and still does today,” he shares, “was slowly building the right work- force. We start by hiring the right people, and then we take a personal interest in their training.”
Careful hiring starts, Lowry says, by taking candi-
dates out of the office and into the world—restaurants,
golf courses, etc. “I want to see how they treat other peo-
ple, including service people such as waiters and waitress- es. I want to gauge their values and their manners, and
see how respectful they are of others. This offers insights into how they’ll likely treat their fellow employees and func- tion in a team-based environment.”
Lowry became president of Dayton Rogers in 2002 and moved back to Minneapolis, and eventually bought the compa-
ny from the Seeger family in 2009. His vision: consolidate the company’s six locations into four larger plants. He accom- plished that vision by closing three plants (in California, Florida and New York) and opening the new Columbia facility. He also moved the Cincinnati plant to Columbus, OH. Distribution centers remain in California and New York.
“Combined we’re a $40 million-plus company,” he says. “Our
new baby here in SC will grow nicely over the next 3 to 5 years, and we expect it to become a $15 to $18 million operation. That will happen as we continue to control the growth and focus instead on expanding the tribal knowledge of our workforce through training and education.”
Spoken like a man who understands and appreciates workforce development—no surprise from the trustee and former chairman of the PMA Educational Foundation.
MetalForming/March 2016

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