George Gemeinhardt is a retired manufacturing professional with over 45 years of varied experience in contract manufacturing. His real interest in manufacturing began in high school. George attended Lane Technical High School in Chicago. The curriculum had an emphasis on college prep but also a strong technical program which included drafting (now CAD) and several hands-on shop classes, including a machine shop and foundry. George took great satisfaction in producing products in these classes that actually perform useful tasks.
After college graduation, George discovered a unique career opportunity at NN Inc., a world-leading industrial manufacturer of precision assemblies in both plastic and metal components. NN Inc. continues to utilize advanced engineering and other precise production techniques to create high-quality products that meet and exceed industry standard in measurements and effectiveness.
George settled into his role at NN Inc. quickly, and rapidly moved of the management ranks to become a leader within the organization. He completed the company’s 6-week level 3 program, and was later integral to NN’s acquisition of V-S Industries. Additionally, George was a crucial part of establishing two of NN’s off-site consignment warehouses to support Fortune 500 clients.
George enjoyed a lengthy and successful career at NN Inc., where he dedicated more than four decades to delivering results and ensuring optimal organizational efficiency. Now retired, he devotes his time to his family, his faith, and his community. George can often be found volunteering at the local Just Harvest Community Outreach Center, which he has worked with since 2007.
How did you get started in this business?
After high school, I began working in a small family-owned precision-turned-metal products company in Chicago. I continued to work for this company through college. After graduating from Roosevelt University, I decided to pursue manufacturing as a career. I took a position in a larger firm as a multi-spindle screw machine setter operator, then a production expediter, and then as a production planner.
How do you make money?
Profit margins in manufacturing are very slim, and competition from both domestic and offshore is fierce. By employing several different learn manufacturing strategies, including 5S, Value Stream Mapping, Total Productive Maintenance, and Six Sigma, we can realize a satisfactory ROI.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It took approximately one year before we became profitable.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There was always some doubt that we could be profitable considering the environment we were operating in. However, as we saw improvement in lead time and quality due to the implementation of lean manufacturing, we understood that we were on the right path.
How did you get your first customer?
I never really had much direct experience or interaction with the customer, though my work “behind the scenes” helped ensure our clients were always getting our best.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I don’t currently employ a marketing strategy, though the manufacturer I worked with relied heavily on consistency and quality to market and sell its products, and to continually reinforce trust among our clients.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Though it wasn’t in the last few months, I would say the toughest decision I’ve made as of late was going into retirement. I sincerely enjoyed my career and the company I worked for.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
A real passion for producing products that serve a function. From components for ABS braking systems to components used in the manufacture of professional-grade power tools. It gives me great satisfaction to see our products ship out the door at the end of the day, knowing they will be used by many people in all applications.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I have always been rewarded by the opportunity to hire and retain talented people.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
NN Inc. continues to be a trusted industrial manufacturer and looks to continue that tradition well into the future.
What business books have inspired you?
The Goal by Eli Goldratt. His theory of constraints was eye-opening for me. Also, although not technically a business book, No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is a biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that focuses on the Great Depression and WWII and how instrumental US manufacturing was in recovering from the Great Depression and the allied victory in WWII.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t underestimate your abilities or be afraid to share your opinions and ideas.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
At this time, I would prefer not to be a mentor.