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Case Study:
Hommer Tool & Manufacturing, Inc.



Web Site Article from Dataworks.com
Friday, December 18, 1998
Copyright © 1997-1998, DataWorks Corporation.

Take a moment to think about who your key employees are -- those that bring unique skills, knowledge and a winning attitude to your business. Now imagine how your business would continue after losing even one of these individuals. Many companies have at one time seen their best and brightest retire, get lured away by the competition, or leave to start a new venture. Hommer Tool and Manufacturing, Inc. of Arlington Heights, Illinois may be one of the few companies that can say their key employee left because he won $26,000,000.

For Hommer Tool -- a manufacturer of custom round components for the injection molding industry -- that important employee was Rick, their General Manager. During his fourteen years at Hommer Tool, Rick ran the company by maintaining scheduling and shop operations through his private mental database. He scheduled the shop, arranged and promised deliveries, and was the only planning department that Hommer had ever had. So it was unfortunate (for Hommer Tool anyway) that on July 11, 1997, Rick walked into work and revealed that he was the winner of the Illinois State lottery. He then announced he was retiring.

Hommer employees realized immediately the valuable skills, knowledge and procedures that would be lost, and feared that their customers would soon feel the effects. President Jim Hommer had to respond to these issues quickly in order to keep the business on track. Ensuring a smooth transition would be his number one priority. Fortunately, prior to Rick’s departure, Hommer Tool had decided to invest in an upgraded computer system and shop management software. After careful consideration they chose Vista software from DataWorks. Little did they know how soon those decisions would pay off.

Two people were recruited to get the company up and running smoothly on the new system. First, Jim Hommer Jr. ("JR") would implement the necessary systems and procedures to support the shop operations and scheduling. And to assist JR, Hommer Tool obtained the consulting services of an experienced job shop operations manager Eugene Neigoff, whose knowledge in computer systems implementation and planning would prove crucial.

The next few months were spent helping employees learn the new system and procedures while breaking time-consuming old habits. During this period, suggestions by the employees were used to customize Vista for their specific needs -- an easy task using the DesignWare tools that come with Vista.

The results have been dramatic. "Since implementing Vista, the company has improved its response to customer questions and maintains a 95% on-time delivery record," said Neigoff. "And with Vista’s job tracking and scheduling features we’ve shortened lead-times. Today, any sales associate or manager can access Vista for up-to-the-minute data and can provide our customers with a full status report on any job in the shop -- all with just a couple clicks of the mouse."

Vista scheduling reports mean group leaders never need to find the General Manager to decide which job is next. Workflow is planned more smoothly, and Vista even tracks raw materials and perishable tooling. JR adds, "By tracking our perishable tooling, we were able to reduce our tooling costs by following the usage, and negotiate special deals with our vendors based on our accurate and actual usage."

Hommer’s unique situation turned into a perfect opportunity to revolutionize the way they run their entire operation. They’re rapidly acquiring new customers, with growth for 1998 projected in the 7 to 10% range -- and this is without adding any new employees. Hommer Tool and Manufacturing is so confident in the quality of their work practices now, they’re targeting ISO-9002 Certification for the year 2000. So as it turns out, Rick wasn’t the only big winner.

For more information contact Susan Menn (Marketing Manager) at Hommer Tool & Manufacturing, Inc. (Arlington Heights) at 847-394-3355.

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