APPLE VALLEY, MINN. — Uponor North America was named the 2018 Minnesota Manufacturer of the Year in the large-company category by the Manufacturers Alliance. This is the first time in the association’s history it has honored a company twice. Uponor is being recognized in 2018 for its commitment to sharing expertise with the manufacturing industry and shifting the perception of the industry through:
• Training events and monthly peer meetings with the Manufacturers Alliance, Enterprise Minnesota and Association for Manufacturing Excellence;
• Launching an apprenticeship program developed with the Minnesota Department of Industry and Labor;
• Internship programs with Minnesota colleges including Dunwoody College of Technology and the Twin Cities Engineering program at the University of Minnesota – Mankato;
• Support of STEM initiatives in local schools; and
• Commitment to Lean and Six Sigma processes, which led to Uponor launching Bronze training in office functions, implementing internal Gold Lean Certification Training in Operations, and incorporating ideas from employees (CIs). Uponor recently celebrated more than 2,000 CIs who implemented and conducted 40 kaizen events throughout the entire company. Lean training continued to progress, totaling 415 bronze-, 70 silver-, and four gold-certified employees.
“The positive impact Uponor is making is unprecedented,” said Kirby Sneen, vice president of the Manufacturers Alliance. “It is the only company to win the Manufacturers Alliance’s Manufacturer of the Year award twice in the 22 years that the award has been presented. We were compelled to recognize Uponor’s willingness to share best practices with peers and help strengthen the Minnesota manufacturing community.”
The Manufacturers Alliance’s annual Manufacturer of the Year Award recognizes manufacturers that share improvement experiences with their colleagues in a cooperative fashion. Each year, the award is presented in one of three categories — companies with fewer than 100 employees; companies with 100 to 400 employees; and companies with more than 400 employees.
Bill Gray, president of Uponor North America, said: “We are honored to receive this award, especially since we’re receiving it for our commitment to the future of manufacturing and investment in the next generation. The timing is particularly meaningful as this year we also celebrate Uponor’s 100th anniversary, the completion of our 10th expansion on our Apple Valley campus, and the opening of a new plant in Hutchinson this summer.”
Uponor was previously named the 2013 Manufacturer of the Year in the large-company category, recognizing several lean and operational efficiencies the company had experienced in 2012, including improving overall equipment efficiency by nearly 8 percent; decreasing scrap rates by 9 percent; decreasing variable production cost by more than 6 percent; improving lacquer lines changeover from 3 1/2 hours to 10 minutes; and sharing lean processes with office personnel, resulting in a new product catalog lean process that reduced production costs by 21 percent and production time from 207 days to 30 days.
The award was presented to Uponor April 12 during a ceremony at the Golden Valley Country Club. The event was followed by an invitation-only “Tour of Excellence” for Manufacturer Alliance members at Uponor North America’s headquarters facility.