Heiden Inc. has forged a long-standing relationship with WMEP Manufacturing Solutions through multiple projects and services that have had wide-ranging positive effects on the Manitowoc custom manufacturer’s overall operations and performance.

Heiden’s partnership with WMEP has evolved over more than two decades, beginning in the late 1990s with a basic Lean Manufacturing engagement.

“We weren’t real sophisticated back then, but we’ve evolved,” Heiden President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Jacobson said.

As WMEP expanded its breadth of offerings over the years to go far beyond traditional Lean Manufacturing services, Heiden and WMEP reestablished their relationship.

One of the more recent and important engagements involved the WMEP’s PRA®-Profit Risk Assessment, which defines the factors that drive profitability and valuation for a manufacturing firm.

“What I really liked about it was not only did WMEP provide a very knowledgeable expert, but facilitating your own planning is sometimes hard because we are all doing our own jobs,” Jacobson said. “Having someone from outside who has the expertise and credibility and puts deadlines on us is extremely beneficial.”

Through the PRA®-Profit Risk Assessment, WMEP provided highly focused expertise and kept Heiden on task with accountability and effective tools, Jacobson said.

“I consider this a smashing success,” he said.

Heiden Inc. is a privately held custom manufacturer founded by F. “Chet” Heiden in 1958. Jacobson’s father purchased the company in 1994. Matt Jacobson joined Heiden in 1998 and in 2007 bought the company from his father.

“What’s really impressive is the breadth of expertise that WMEP brings. It’s great consulting at a very reasonable price and really focused on helping manufacturers in Wisconsin. You feel like they are on your team for, for sure. They aren’t just trying to get paid.”

Heiden has evolved into a precision custom metal fabrication company with two divisions – Metal Fabrication, which accounts for about 75 percent of the company’s business, and Crane Attachments. Manufacturing is performed at Heiden’s 92,400-square-foot modern plant in Manitowoc, which has a total of about 70 employees across the two divisions. Heiden is ISO 9001:2015 certified.

The Metal Fabrication division provides high-quality precision metal fabricated parts to more than 300 customers in a wide range of industries including transportation, construction, HVAC, restaurant, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, electronics, marine and government.

Heiden’s Crane Attachments division manufactures a line of uniquely engineered crane-truck attachments including grapples, wallboard forks, roof hoppers, dump boxes and clam buckets for cranes.

A sister company, Jacobson Paint Finishes, offers paint coatings, assembly and packaging. The company has about 15 employees.

As a result of the initial Profit Risk Assessment, which was conducted in 2017, Heiden and has worked with WMEP on an array of projects.

“Out of the profit-risk assessments there comes a recommendation for projects to be worked on,” said Mark Hatzenbeller, senior account executive at WMEP Manufacturing Solutions. “From there, the leadership team at Heiden determined which projects were most important in improving the value of their business. That’s really what the PRA is about, improving the value of your business.”

Heiden began with a market diversification project. It then took part in ExporTech, a WMEP program that helps small and mid-size manufacturers tap into new markets with a customized export expansion strategy that has the greatest revenue potential.

Then came a plant layout project.

“Heiden was challenged with its incoming and outgoing materials, which all came to the same area and caused a lot of congestion,” Hatzenbeller said.

Other projects included an automation assessment and a program aimed at creating a culture at Heiden for the company’s leadership and employees to engage in continuous improvement.

Heiden fully embraced the recommendations from the Profit Risk Assessment program, Hatzenbeller noted.

“The leadership took the PRA to heart,” he said. “The PRA provides recommendations to increase the value of your business. Those recommendations, in turn, need to be prioritized based on the impact they are going to create for your business. Each company then executes at a different time cycle based on the resources available to them.”

The cost savings alone, estimated to be about $100,000, resulting from improvements identified in the PRA more than covered the costs of all of Heiden’s engagements with WMEP.

After the pandemic hit, Heiden also took part in WMEP’s Discover2Recover-Increasing Cash Flow program, which was offered free of charge due to WMEP being awarded a grant under the CARES Act to help small and mid-size manufacturers analyze their current situation and take advantage of proprietary financial and business tools and expertise, including the ability to create a 13-week cash forecast.

“This provided some really valuable tools, including a cash-flow model,” Jacobson said.

The coronavirus pandemic led to struggles for Heiden, as it did for most manufacturers.

Sales fell from $13 million in 2019 to $10.4 million in 2020. Heiden is projecting that revenue will return to the $13 million level in 2021. An additional $1.5 million in sales is generated by Jacobson Paint Finishes.

“We are a small manufacturer. We wear many hats here,” Jacobson said. “I’ve got a pretty solid leadership team. They all care and they are all moving in the same direction. We’ve all participated together in a lot of the programs WMEP has offered.”

The services provided by WMEP have improved Heiden’s operations in a variety of ways, he added.

“It certainly has made us a better company,” Jacobson said. “We are way more buttoned up, even in the way we think as a leadership team.”

As the manufacturing sector experiences an overall economic recovery from the pandemic, Heiden once again engaged WMEP, this time through its Pivot2Revenue program. This service involves a guided assessment by WMEP that assists manufacturers in identifying sales and revenue opportunities.  The facilitated discussion with Heiden’s leaders evaluated the company’s growth performance and risk relative to various dimensions of revenue expansion.

“We realized we needed a little help coming out of the pandemic with sales,” Jacobson said.

WMEP’s work with Heiden has involved several of the organization’s top consultants.

“We rolled out the strength of our team,” Hatzenbeller said. “We bring a team approach to this. The PRA identified a number of projects and we said here is the team that we have to support and carry out each of them.”

WMEP’s experienced team of consultants has benefitted Heiden throughout the relationship, Jacobson emphasized.

“What’s really impressive is the breadth of expertise that WMEP brings,” Jacobson said. “It’s great consulting at a very reasonable price and really focused on helping manufacturers in Wisconsin. You feel like they are on your team for, for sure. They aren’t just trying to get paid.”

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