From MAGNET: Sauder Woodworking and MAGNET Find A Way To Innovation

November 6, 2014

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at

Sauder Woodworking and MAGNET Find A Way To Innovation

When Sauder Woodworking began seeing less growth and profits, the company couldn’t afford to invest in innovation, yet truly needed to explore new markets. By reaching out to MAGNET, the Sauder Company received structured guidance towards innovating a new kind of product and ensuring its financial success. In this video, you’ll learn how MAGNET helped lead the Sauder Woodworking Company to create the innovative and commercially successful WoodTrac Ceiling System.

Click here to read the original post.

4 Benefits of Being Partners with Your Agency

October 23, 2014

Scott Bessell, Idea Builder at Sonnhalter

Over the years, I’ve watched the relationship trend between clients and agencies shift from a partnership level to a vendor level. I’ve seen it from both the client side and the agency side.

Many times budgets force the terms of these relationships to change, but when you’re looking for an agency (or at your current one) the primary question regarding your relationship is:

“Do I need a partner or a vendor?”               

via Trevor Hurlbut

via Trevor Hurlbut

Understandably, agencies prefer to be partners. Partnership, like a good marriage, and integration into and with your marketing team and plans make it easier for us to do what you need and make us invested in your work, and in your success.

A few of the benefits of making your agency your partner, rather than your vendor, are:

  • You know that you can call your agency and automatically be on the same page and your agency will regularly provide updates.
  • Trust is something that is earned, which takes time and is natural in a long-term partnership. It cannot be developed as an “on-call” vendor.
  • You know, and can depend on, your agency to produce what you need, when you need it.
  • You know your agency’s abilities and processes and your agency knows your message, your brand and your goals–in other words, you’re always on the same page.

Partnerships lead to a more secure, efficient and comfortable relationship. And if the word “partnership” makes you uncomfortable, might I suggest “going steady?” It’s certainly better than a one-nighter.

From MAGNET: Manufacturing – It’s for Women Too!

October 9, 2014

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at

Manufacturing – It’s for Women Too!

Judith Crocker, Director of Workforce & Talent Development, MAGNET

Judith Crocker, Director of Workforce & Talent Development, MAGNET

As the economy in Northeast Ohio continues to rebound, the demand for skilled, educated workers in manufacturing is increasing.

Employers are seeking future workers from all sources and there is growing recognition of the role that women can play in these 21st Century careers.

Welding is one of those careers that offers great opportunities for women.  A recent article illustrates the demand and potential for women in today’s modern manufacturing workplace.

See the CNBC article here.

Click here to read the original post.

What Buying a New Car Taught Me About Customer Service

October 8, 2014

In my list of top things I hate doing is getting a new car. It ranks right up there with going to the dentist to get a root canal.

My lease was coming due and I looked on the internet at options and customer satisfaction results and had narrowed it down to two models. I filled out the forms on the site, picked a dealer and waited for a response.

One dealer never got back to me, but I got a survey form the next day from corporate asking me if the local dealer contacted me and how my experience was with the local dealer. I told them I’d not been contacted. The next day, corporate called me to follow-up, but by then I’d driven the other car and was signing the papers when I got the call (told them I bought a competitor).

Great follow-up from corporate, but there was a missing link with the dealer I chose. Life Lesson—the sales cycle is only as good as the weakest link. Ironically, I never did hear from that dealer and they were supposed to be one of the best in the area.

The other dealer got back to me within hours, gave me availability of what he had and asked if I wanted to test drive one. I did and the sales process went smoother than I expected. I made an appointment to pick up the car and a check for the last three payments on my old lease.

I arrived at the appointed hour and my guy was too busy selling someone else a car, so he pushed me off on someone else who half-heartedly explained the features of the car and the how to’s, and of course, this new guy didn’t know anything about the check he was supposed to get to me.

I guess the original salesman thought the sale ended when I signed on the bottom line, not when I drove off the lot. I wonder if he’ll ask me for referrals? What do you think I’ll do?

So an experience that started off well didn’t end that way. Life Lesson—under promise and over deliver. The last thing that happens often is what you remember. I’m sure I’ll like the car, but my opinion of car buying hasn’t changed.

If you or I treated our customers like that, we wouldn’t be in business! Treat people the way you’d like to be treated.

Education, recruiting and the trades – a small step can make a big difference

October 2, 2014

Today we have a guest post from Candace Roulo, senior editor at Contractor magazine.


Since I have been writing for CONTRACTOR magazine, I just had my six-year anniversary in September, education and recruiting in the trades are two issues that continue to be prevalent. No matter what trade show or convention I attend, education and training are key topics that are discussed. Since education and recruiting are of utmost importance to the key associations and industry-specific manufacturers, it only makes sense that industry professionals are starting to rally behind the issues surrounding these topics.

You may have already heard this news… With so many people planning to retire soon from the plumbing, hydronic and HVAC industries, there are not enough people in the trade pipeline to fill all of the future available positions.

During the next 10 years, the country will experience a projected 11% growth in jobs across the board, and the HVACR and plumbing industries are expected to grow by 21%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the HVACR industry is expected to need an additional 55,900 trained technicians; the plumbing industry, an additional 82,300.

You just have to wonder how we will find all these industry professionals, especially since the trades are still looked down upon by so many people. To me, this is the crux of the problem, so the industry needs to change the stereotype.

Of course, I understand that a tradesman/tradeswoman can have a lucrative career and have the opportunity to run his/her own business if he/she chooses to. He or she can also decide after years of hands-on work to go into a corporate environment – many of the people I meet that represent manufacturers are just that – a plumber or HVAC technician that decided to change up their career and work for a manufacturer in a corporate setting, so this proves that there are many paths that can be taken when having a career in the trades.

Everyone involved in the trades understands what a lucrative career this can be — the problem is that people outside of the industry do not know and that is where we are failing as an industry. To me it sounds like we all know what the problems are; we just keep revisiting them at conferences, conventions, seminars, etc. What needs to be done is to go out and promote the trades. We need to go to high schools and talk to counselors and kids about why they should consider studying a trade. This comes down to changing the mindset of the educational system in this county, so high school counselors not only promote college, but trade schools too.

At the moment, state education systems focus more on prepping everyone for college, and vocational classes and electives are being cut because of budget issues, etc., and many of the electives prepping kids for the trades are falling by the way side. So many of the students that are good with their hands and have a knack for technology are missing the boat and not being exposed to the basics of the trades.

In a recent Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Paper an opinion piece about this very topic was printed, Apprenticeship Programs Can Close Skills Gaps by Dick Resch, CEO of KI Furniture. In this piece he writes that the feds can’t solve the nation’s shortage of skilled labor on their own. I completely agree with this observation, so it’s time that we step in!

He also points out that skilled trades require an aptitude for math and technology. He then states that a skilled machinist makes about $60,000 per year and a Master welder can bring in up to $200,000 per year. You have to ask yourself, if this is the case then why are there not enough recruits going into these fields?

The good news is that in Illinois, employers are partnering with municipalities to expand vocational training, according to Resch, and there are vocational centers in a handful of cities teaching high school students skills that will be utilized in careers such as machining and welding.

The great thing about what Resch is doing is that he is bringing in high school students to tour his company and he also offers students internships at KI Furniture. I think the plumbing and HVAC industries need to take Resch’s lead and get kids interested in the trades by opening up their businesses for tours, offering internships and going to schools during career days to discuss the trades, pay ranges of different positions, etc. This would be one small step to take, but a step in the right direction that can make a big difference!

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.

IMTS 2014 Stats and Highlights

September 18, 2014

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer

The 30th edition of IMTS (The International Manufacturing Technology Show) 2014 was the fourth largest IMTS in history and the largest six-day show ever with registration of 114,147 representing 112 countries. [Read the Press Release Here]


I was able to attend IMTS two days last week and the one main impression that I walked away with is that IMTS is a huge show. Although I made a point to visit all four halls at McCormick Place in Chicago (North, South, East and West), I regret that I could not see it all. I spent most of my time with one of Sonnhalter’s clients in the North hall and kept busy most of the time.

IMTS takes place every two years and the 2014 show stats are impressive:

  • 2014 registration was 13.9% higher than 2012
  • 2,035 companies exhibited
  • Exhibits covered 1.282 square feet
  • 17,767 students, educators, administrators and parent chaperones (double the 2012 numbers)

I had the opportunity to talk with exhibitors, attendees and media at the show and all of them had similar comments on IMTS being an impressive and very positive show. Here were some of my personal highlights from the show:

  • Every client booth that I visited was busy and their teams reported gathering quality leads
  • There were a lot of students who visited the show and they asked excellent questions at the booths such as, “What does your company do?” “How does this machine work?” “Where would I see your products in my everyday life?” and many more. The exhibitors were more than happy to answer their questions.DSC_0278
  • Manufacturing growth and technology advances were evident everywhere I turned, from the world’s first 3D-printed car [more on that here] to highly advanced machines and robotics and many other areas that I’m excited to learn more about.
  • Having an Insider’s Guide to a trade show city is incredibly helpful. It can be intimidating to find a place to have dinner or grab a drink when a city, like Chicago, has so many options. The Insider’s Guide to Chicago definitely helped many IMTS attendees find some great places.

Did you attend IMTS this year? What were the highlights of the show for you? Will you be at IMTS 2016?

Highlights from the Fifth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Round-Up

September 11, 2014

Thanks to all that supported Sonnhalter’s 5th Annual Tool Drive to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

We recently completed our fifth annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Thanks to everyone’s generous support, we received more than $35,000 in tools and building supplies. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected more than $141,000 in donations.

We thought we’d share some highlights.


Organizing the donations that arrived at our offices to fit in the Habitat for Humanity truck on collection day.

Trade industry participants included Contractor Magazine, Council Tool Company, Gerber Plumbing, KNIPEX Tools LP, Lakeside Supply, Osborn, RIDGID, Samsel Supply, Sutton Industrial Hardware, WD40 Company, Welch Packaging, Wolff Bros. Supply, Woodhill Supply and Work Area Protection Corporation.

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Work Area Protection’s donation of traffic cones.


Gerber’s donations of plumbing fixtures.


Loading the RIDGID donation during the round-up.

Community participants included the Berea Recreation Center, Café Ah-Roma, Cuyahoga County Public Library-Berea Branch, Edward Jones Investments, Perk-CUP! Café, St. Mary’s Church of Berea, St. Mary’s of the Falls, Sylvester’s Auto and Light Truck Service, Tony K’s Bar & Grille and many community members.

2 photo 1

Pick up from one of our community drop-off locations at Perk-Cup Café.

2 photo 3

Round-up stop at community drop-off location Berea Branch, Cuyahoga County Library.

It was a huge success and we are very thankful for the generosity of everyone that helped!

DSC_1041 (1)

Sonnhalter employees are not afraid to get their hands dirty during the tool round-up.

Click here to read more about the Sonnhalter Fifth Annual Tool Drive.


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