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Equipment Manufacturing: Passing the Torch

Written by: Guest   |   January 12, 2021

Guest perspective

Jessica Stank, marketing manager, APEC

As baby boomers reach retirement age and start to make plans to leave their careers behind in favor of warmer climates, recreation and much deserved rest, there is also the drawback for the companies they work for as the wealth of knowledge they possess, leaves with them. No industry is exempt from the challenges that will come with the transition of power from the baby boomers to generation X and millennials. As the torches get passed down, it is crucial that a well-thought-out succession plan exists to aid the next generation of leaders and keep them on the path to continued success with as few hiccups as possible.

One of the most important pieces, if not the most important piece of the succession puzzle, is the transfer of knowledge within the company. Here at APEC, where we manufacture equipment and control systems, we are approaching the knowledge transfer piece in a few different ways, to do our best to glean as much as we can from the many seasoned veterans of the equipment manufacturing industry that we have in our midst.

It is not enough to have an understanding of how our processing equipment works. There is a lot to be said for the knowledge that comes from being out in the field, helping customers overcome challenges and the relationships built in trust after decades of collaboration.

APEC’s most senior executives and managers have over, or are creeping up on, 30 years of experience in the processing equipment manufacturing sector and there is an ongoing concerted effort to extract their knowledge for the benefit of our future leaders as retirement dates loom near for many of our most trusted internal resources.

We are tackling this challenge in a few different ways, depending on the department and other factors. Plans for transferring this crucial knowledge differ on the area of the company the knowledge possessor is in, but the goal is the same: ask the right questions of our  wisest employees and get their responses recorded, compiled and organized in a way that it can serve as training materials in the future.

We are creating internal records in several formats, from written explanations to photographs and video instructions. We are gathering information on the different industries we serve, which include animal feed, pet food, food processing and powder and bulk solids, from those who know them best. We are gleaning information on the operations and maintenance of our custom-built equipment as it pertains to each of our customers with a special attention to detail from the people who have worked at these customer sites. There is an emphasis on capturing the nuances and unique environments to allow the customer experience to be the best it can be as the torches are passed and they start to see new faces from APEC at their facilities.

A successful succession plan will allow the best transition experience for both the company and the customer. At APEC, we are doing our due diligence to ensure that this is the case for us.

APEC is creating an entire library of the information we are able to gather from our current leaders that will serve as a roadmap to the future of the company. These challenges are not unique to the equipment manufacturing sector. We would encourage everyone to create a plan of attack for the future. It should be a plan that opens up a dialogue within the company. It should start conversations that need to be had. The transfer of the knowledge gained by those who have been there since the start is unmatched and it is absolutely crucial that as much of it is gleaned while the opportunity to do it is there. It is easy to get wrapped up in the grind that comes from the everyday operations of the company, especially in uncertain times like those we have come to expect during the coronavirus crisis. Taking the time to gather this information from those nearing retirement should be a priority. Make it a priority.

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