Mark Hatzenbeller has navigated many twists and turns during a career in manufacturing that has spanned more than four decades.

Hatzenbeller is a senior account executive at WMEP Manufacturing Solutions, where he has worked for the past 14 years. He uses his vast experience to guide small and mid-size manufacturers to be more productive and work through various challenges.

The challenges have changed over the years. Today, many manufacturers are struggling to find employees to fill open positions, a situation that has reached the crisis stage in some cases.

“When I joined WMEP, the people crisis wasn’t an issue,” Hatzenbeller said. “There were plenty of people to fill the available jobs and it’s just the opposite now. There are just not enough bodies to fill the open vacancies. That’s a big difference.”

Hatzenbeller’s career at WMEP also coincided with manufacturers placing a heavy emphasis on continuous improvement strategies and becoming leaner in their operations.

“The last four years or so, that had started to plateau,” he said.

But now, the worker shortage once again has manufacturers laser focused on becoming leaner.

“With the crisis for people there is a resurgence of manufacturers working to optimize the resources they have,” Hatzenbeller said. “They have to do more with far fewer people and have to focus more on what they can automate so that the skilled people they do have can provide value-added opportunities.”

The labor crisis is creating long-term challenges for manufacturers and the problem has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, Hatzenbeller explained.

“The pandemic made people focus on what is important to them from a work/life balance perspective,” he said. “I believe people that were nearing retirement age decided to just go ahead and retire because of either the risk factors going forward due to COVID-19 or because they had enough of it all and were really enjoying being at home and finding activities outside of work.”

Another pandemic-fueled challenge facing manufacturers is supply chain interruptions, which have caused shipping costs to skyrocket, and tight supplies of raw materials.

Despite the challenges and the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, opportunities abound for some manufacturers, he said.

“For manufacturers that are healthy from a financial perspective, now is a good opportunity for acquisitions because companies can acquire resources from a people standpoint and potentially add market share or diversify their business,” Hatzenbeller said.

Hatzenbeller relies heavily on personal relationships in assessing how WMEP can assist manufacturers in improving their operations.

“Relationships to me are first and foremost,” he said. “It’s not a matter of what WMEP can sell, it’s a matter of how we can address the day-to-day challenges facing manufacturers so that they can prosper and add value to their organization,” he said. “WMEP definitely has a wide range of assistance where we can help manufacturers, either through our own services or our connections.”

Hatzenbeller won’t ever refer to the manufacturers with whom he works as clients or customers.

“I refer to them as partners,” he said. “We want to partner with them to provide the greatest solution to help grow their business. I want them to believe that it’s more about the personal relationship versus just a consultant dealing with a client. I care about them as individuals first and then as a business.”

Striking a work/life balance and a desire to maintain clear focus has led to Hatzenbeller embracing mindfulness practices, including yoga and meditation.

“It’s really about putting yourself in a relaxed mindset where you can Zen out,” Hatzenbeller said. “I think about nothing other than relaxation. It allows you to refocus and many times throughout the day, or week, if you feel your temperature start to rise then you just have to calm yourself down. I go into a breathing routine and relax so that I can think clearly again.”

Hatzenbeller has been practicing the disciplines for about seven years.

“I wish that I would have done that years ago,” he said.

He applauded the effort of a Wisconsin manufacturer that has incorporated mindfulness practices into the workday.

“They take time out of their day and as a group get together and do some meditation,” he said. “It gives them all an opportunity for some quiet time where they can relax.”

Hatzenbeller says he absorbs knowledge from the highly skilled and experienced staff at WMEP Manufacturing Solutions.

“I learn from people in our organization every single day,” he said. “I’m surrounded by an extraordinary amount of talent. There is a tremendous amount of experience that everyone brings to the table. We have the ability to put together integrated solutions and I have the confidence in the WMEP team that we can deliver what we say we can.”

Hatzenbeller has been intrigued by manufacturing since an early age.

“I’m a how-it’s-made junkie,” he said. “I just love manufacturing. Any time I can stick my nose in any manufacturing facility, especially one I have not been into, I am all over it. Even if their manufacturing processes may be unique, the challenges they face are very similar to other businesses.”

He’s a major proponent of LinkedIn, the online professional networking site, as a strategy for manufacturers.

“I look at it as an opportunity to spread information to people who may not know where else to go,” he said.

A native of South Milwaukee, Hatzenbeller and his wife of more than 40 years, Laura, reside in the Brown County village of Suamico. They enjoy spending time at their cabin in Door County and hanging out with their dog, Maura, a blue Weimaraner.

His hobbies also include hunting, fishing and following the Green Bay Packers. Among his prized possessions is a piece of the Lambeau Field goal post from the famous NFL Championship Game, commonly known as the Ice Bowl, between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 31, 1967.

Contact Mark today to learn how WMEP Manufacturing Solutions can work with you to help your business.
920.246.0051 | [email protected]