Dan Chisholm & Laura Ekholm

In the News: Culture of Efficiency and Employee Empowerment Driving Success

Enterprise Minnesota’s Summer 2021 issue features L&M Radiator’s rich Minnesota history and uncommon business approach

“Necessarily nimble” is how Enterprise Minnesota, a leading nonprofit organization focused on promoting manufacturing in Minnesota, characterized L&M Radiator in the latest issue of its association magazine (Summer 2021). For Dan Chisholm, President of L&M Radiator, it’s an accurate assessment of how the company continues to thrive in a cyclical industry.

Laura Ekholm
(Left) Laura Ekholm, Executive Vice President of L&M Radiator Inc. and (right) Dan Chisholm President of L&M Radiator Inc.

The company’s long and steadfast 64-year history as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) supplier of radiators to manufacturers of large-haul trucks – 240 tons and larger – has helped the company navigate growing pains and the roller coaster cycles of the marketplace.

In the article, L&M Radiator’s history is recounted; it all began in 1957 when Hibbing businessmen George Langer and Clay Murray (the L & M) joined forces after they were inspired by a unique radiator on a Scottish Euclid truck that caught their eye while visiting a Canadian mine.

Decades later, L&M Radiator is now recognized as a global player that has successfully developed a unique culture of efficiency and employee empowerment.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be part of Minnesota’s manufacturing community and that L&M was featured in the Summer issue of Enterprise Minnesota,” said Chisholm. “It is an honor to be recognized for our hard work in developing both operational and employee processes and programs that are uncommon to the industry. In our business, we can’t and don’t take anything for granted. The Enterprise Minnesota feature is a nice reinforcement that we are doing things right.”

As a consultant to L&M Radiator since 2012, Enterprise Minnesota has evaluated the company’s operations to help identify what is working and where changes are needed.

“They ask the important ‘whys’ about everything and our workflow has improved tremendously as a result,” added Chisholm. “That relationship has supported our ongoing efforts to improve plant efficiency, job instruction and training, safety protocols, employee retention and customer satisfaction.”A key component of L&M Radiator’s current success, which was highlighted in the article, is employee empowerment.

“We’ve learned that you need to understand what others need to do their jobs better first before you can help them be more productive and ultimately be more successful,” noted Chisholm. “One of our training guiding principles is: There’s the golden rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated. But the platinum rule is: Treat others how they want to be treated,” notes Chisholm. “We’ve learned that a one-size-fits-all approach does not always work.”

A key result of that guiding principle is L&M’s company-wide comprehensive training programs. One example is the leadership training that involves both supervisors as well as employees with no direct reports but who are viewed as leaders on the production floor.

“We’ve learned that if others understand what the job takes, it is easier to support their efforts to get it done,” said Chisholm. “We’ve also learned to break a job down, train people by demonstration and then have them do hands-on training with frequent follow-ups. This detailed, multi-step approach helps employees hit the ground running and be more productive and more successful sooner.”

As a family-run enterprise for the past 64 years, it is no surprise that L&M strives to nurture its people.

“We find it important to regularly celebrate and recognize our employees as well as their families,” Chisholm added. “So many manufacturing companies put their entire focus on production and processes. We know the importance of investing in our people as well. Without good employees, good work can’t happen.”

To read the full Enterprise Minnesota feature about L&M Radiator.


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