Are you ready for 2023?

In 5 years I will be ________?

Retired? Management? Working the same job?

Other? Fill in the blank, because change is coming.

Over the past 10 years Technidyne has seen quite a bit of change and fortunately for us that change has brought growth and opportunities. Along with that it has brought many opportunities to interview potential employees. So the question above is one you would expect in an interview… might be something like, “Tom, what do you see yourself doing in 5 years?” to which my honest answer would be something like, “Ahhhhhhh not sure”, but I would speak my uncertainty with confidence. At Technidyne we not only ask that question in our interviews, we more importantly ask that question of our customers. If we look back over the past 5 – 10 years, our history as an industry proves the future is uncertain and change will happen in 5 years or less.

Our goal in asking the question to our customers is focused on helping our customer understand where they are and to then work with them to build a roadmap to fulfill their vision. Sounds good, but it’s not easy. Projecting the direction of the paper industry is not a simple task, but worth the effort.

Prepare yourself because here comes the question,

Dear Customer, 1) in 5 years where will your company be? 2) What will be your product mix? 3) What will be important to management, customers, employees?

If you answer this honestly, the answers are probably: 1) Don’t know 2) Don’t know 3) Profit, Quality, a Job

Don’t mean to be cynical, but those responses are what we have heard. If that’s the case then how do we prepare for 10 years out, or just 5 years?

If we honestly don’t know the answers to 1 & 2 then we best focus on 3.

Profit: If I were able to effectively address this one, I’d be in a corner office overlooking Wall Street. Instead, I’m writing a blog based on experiences and those experiences tell me to think through what you buy. While ROI rules the day, it may not rule the 5 year plan. Often, I have seen decisions made that only look for the cheapest option so a company can make a “good” ROI decision for the short term, but handcuffs them to a poor decision in years 2-10. One of the areas we are focused on as a company is building concepts, brands, equipment that can evolve/adapt as your needs change. Yes, ROI is important, and we understand that, but ROI must be looked at not only from a now perspective, but a future vision. A good ROI should include a cost of ownership analysis and an understanding of how this purchase can be used as mill requirements evolve based on product mix, fiber source, customer demands, management focus and corporate directives.

Quality: Let’s start with another question, do customers expect more or less from you today? Based on conversations I have had with you and your customer; the answer is more. Assuming that is correct, finding ways to improve the quality of the product you make is key. Have you ever sat down with your quality and process teams and discussed every test you do and ask the simple question, what do you do with this data? We have led these conversations in several mills and it’s pretty obvious those conversations don’t happen often. Most of the times a mill will have a testing program based on everything the mill has ever made, whether in the past week or 30 years ago. It’s a good exercise to walk your team through as you will more than likely find things you could eliminate and things you could improve. There is a pretty good chance your team will find a way to improve your operations while giving your customer a better product.

A Job: At the end of the day that’s what we all want and while there is no guaranteed way to keep a job we know if we maintain good and smart profitability while improving our quality, a job is much easier to hold on to.

Maybe this is too simple, maybe you need an Ivy League MBA, or maybe: +you just need a vision for how to move to the future +a structure for making long term ROI decisions +an open dialogue with your team to make sure you know what and why you do things

No matter which of these you choose, Technidyne can be there with you to sort through the details of developing an understanding of where you want to be in 5 years and what you need to do to get there.

Change will happen, the question is, are you ready?

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