Workforce-Development Update: Pioneer Award Winners--Diemasters Manufacturing, Inc., Elk Grove Village, IL

By: Louis A. Kren and Joe Jancsurak

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Virgil DeLay, president of Diemasters, credits a restructuring and continued commitment to employee training as important factors for continued sales growth.
Diemasters Manufacturing, Inc., Elk Grove Village, IL, is all about embracing change to ensure steady growth. Since receiving the Metalforming Pioneer Award in 2011, the custom stamping, fabrication and automated-assembly company has gone through a restructuring and changed its sales direction, while continuing to shine a light on employee training and productivity.

“When it became apparent that the growth potential of Diemasters was beyond our current capital structure, we approached a long-time affiliate and in 2015 became a part of the Weiss-Aug Group,” says President Virgil DeLay. The Weiss-Aug Group is comprised of Weiss-Aug (custom insert injection molding, precision metal stamping and assembly) Weiss-Aug Surgical (medical-device components and subassemblies), JK Tool (production machines and tooling) and Diemasters, where the emphasis is on value-added assemblies comprised of stamped and fabricated parts.

Success: Scott Kauth, Quality Assurance Manager

Scott Kauth enjoys the challenges that come with being a quality assurance manager at Diemasters and credits the company’s LISSTs training for his success.

“The LISSTs training has helped me when it comes to focusing on a project at work or at home,” he says. “As QA manager, many different things will come up during a normal day, but all cannot be addressed immediately. Understanding how to use a ‘List of Six’ which is part of the LISSTs training, definitely helps in accomplishing daily tasks and keeps me focused on what needs to be accomplished.”

Kauth’s ability to see important projects through to successful conclusions enabled him to lead Diemasters in its IATF audit. “We recently transitioned our quality-management system from TS16949 to IATF16949,” he says. “Without the tools gained from the training, the transition would have been very difficult. It makes my job much more rewarding to know that IATF 16949 is not just a program our customers require us to have, but that it is in line with the principles and culture of our company. In fact, we don’t prepare for customer audits anymore; we just show folks what we are doing.”

“By becoming a part of the Weiss-Aug Group, we were able to shift our precision-contract work to Weiss-Aug, which gives us the opportunity to focus on our value-added business, utilizing our productivity and training systems to ensure success,” explains DeLay. “While our sales direction has changed, with some stamped parts now being tooled and produced at Weiss-Aug, our overall sales continue to grow.

“Revenue for 2017 will be up 9.5 percent over 2016 figures, even after some significant program obsolesces,” he continues. “Moreover, while our direct labor has actually increased by 1.6 percent due to the higher value-added content of our product mix, the cost savings from our workforce-development and productivity endeavors have resulted in an approximate 5-percent reduction in indirect-labor and manufacturing-overhead costs. Meanwhile inventory and receivables remain constant.”

Success: Octavio Villegas, Die Maker

Octavio Villegas, who recently completed his tool and die apprenticeship after completing Diemasters’ LISSTs training, describes his training as life changing and challenging, recalling long days in the shop and evenings spent studying.

“I am a father of four,” says Villegas, “so it was hard for my family. Now, thanks to my training, I have more income and more time to spend with my family. My kids see me as an example of how education can provide a better future.”

To say that Villegas, who worked in the deburring area and as a material handler and setup technician before becoming a die maker, is bursting with pride may be an understatement. “I work with precision instruments, make my own tools and help others,” he says. “I am an important part of our company; I am a die maker.

Another constant at Diemasters is its commitment to employee training, as seen in The Diemasters Productivity System (TDPS) and its centerpiece—the LISSTs training series, named for its five components: lean manufacturing, inherent simplicity and Theory of Constraints, safety first, Six Sigma and TS 16969. “The success of TDPS has enabled us to pass our recent IATF quality audit (the new TS 16949 automotive quality-assurance standard) on the first try,” says DeLay. “This puts us in an elite category with our top customers as their first IATF stamper.”

DeLay continues: “We now have three Six Sigma black belts and two green belts. This emphasis on Six Sigma is important because it reduces variation and increases throughput in our process, and produces a more efficient, less costly part for our customers. Lean also remains an important part of our culture, and is constantly reinforced through our LISSTs training program.”MF


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