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Manufacturing Matters
 “Our engineers work hand in hand with customers through several iterations, if necessary, making prototype parts and tweaking designs until we get it right.”
The TDC in Columbia performs this work for the entire Dayton Rogers fam- ily of facilities—SC, MN, OH and TX. When we visited Columbia, there were some 30 jobs underway at various stages, according to TDC manager Jeff Reese.
“Every project we complete here is unique and different,” Lowry adds. “And the people that work in the TDC are multiskilled, handling entire projects from start to finish including estimat- ing, designing and manufacturing.”
Lowry keeps a tight rein on the com- pany’s customer list to ensure it remains diverse and as recession-resist- ant as possible. No market, he says, exceeds 10 percent of the overall mix. Key markets include medical, aero- space, automotive, firearms, military and electronics. Among the products we saw in various stages of comple- tion were aircraft firewalls that the company stamped and welded; uni- versal brackets designed to hold video screens in seat-back headrests of auto- mobiles; cutting blades designed to cut semi-wet concrete; and deep- drawn air-filter caps. And, spied on the shop floor, along with dozens of rebuilt OBI presses moved by Lowry from his other facilities: two 4000-W laser-cut- ting machines (a Bystronic CO2 machine and a Cincinnati fiber-laser model), and three new state-of-the-art CNC press brakes (one Amada and two Cincinnati machines).
No Substitute for Learning from Others and Sharing Ideas
Dayton Rogers has been a member of PMA since 1969; the South Carolina plant joined in 2014. So there’s no question that Lowry and his team understand the value of membership. Multiple employees leverage the numerous opportunities PMA pres- ents to learn and share knowledge, further their own careers and help Dayton Rogers flourish.
“I’ve always had employees—
The newest equipment at the SC facility is a pair of Cincinnati CNC press brakes, a 100-ton 8-ft. model and a 150-ton 10-ft. model. Shown here is the 10-ft. eight-axis brake (tended by operator Todd Fulmer), which features automatic crowning, forming aircraft parts from 0.094-in.-thick hot-dipped galvanized steel, as Jeff Reese, director of the Technical Development Center, and maintenance manager Steve Murphy discuss bend-angle-accuracy requirements of the part.
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including managers and myself— involved in PMA activities,” Lowry says. Involvement includes attending local district meetings, taking on PMA dis- trict-leadership roles (Lowry himself served as a PMA district director in Southern California), and participating in job-specific networking groups such as those created for human-resource and safety professionals. Among them is Jerry Mattern, human-resource direc- tor for the Dayton Rogers plant in Min- neapolis, and Dennis Beckley, general manager of the plant in Columbus, OH, who serves as district director. Mattern also recently served as chair- man of the PMA safety committee.
But perhaps most relevant to the current and future success of Dayton Rogers is Lowry’s commitment to con- tinuing the development of his man- agement team. And he very-much appreciates the role that PMA has played in this arena, since launching the Management Development Acad- emy (MDA) in 2011, under the direction of then-PMA chairman P.J. Thompson.
“Since 2011, PMA’s MDA has helped middle managers acquire the skills, knowledge and insights to become amazing leaders,” Lowry says, and he’s sent several employees to the program. It’s designed to help attendees learn practical skills and strategies about
how to succeed when analyzing met- alforming markets, conducting mar- keting research, managing assets and budgets, and developing and managing supply chains, financial and customer accounts, contracts and human resources.
One Dayton Rogers employee who attended the MDA program is Lowry’s executive assistant Lisa Jacobson. Lowry asked her to describe what she derived from the program.
“From the start,” Jacobson says, “I found it to be very organized, a com- pliment to the entire staff tasked with organizing each of the three sessions. What I really appreciated about each session was the wide range of topics, including marketing, technology, human resources, time management, business strategy and financial man- agement. It wasn’t just instructional, but very interactive. The interaction brought in a lot of application to real work-life situations.
“The MDA program taught me a lot about myself and how to interact with others,” she continues. “I have learned to take on new challenges with confi- dence. It taught me where my current strengths lie and where I need to improve. The speakers were very engaging and approachable. The class sizes were such that all were able to

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