Celebrating its 70th year in business, LMC Industries is a metals-and plastics-processing company that produces a wide variety of automotive safety-related products, as well as products for electronics, agriculture and healthcare. Its competencies include metal stamping, welding, automated assembly, injection molding, over-molding of metal and other products with engineered glass-filled resin, as well as automated assemblies that include combinations of metal and plastic.
LMC Industries was founded in 1945 by Fred Sullentrop Sr. and his wife Rose. They eventually brought some of their children and grandchildren into the business, many of whom still serve the company in some way. Paul Lemke joined the company as an outside board member eight years ago; he took on the role of CEO and president six years later. Lemke has vast industry knowledge and experience, having worked as a toolmaker’s apprentice after high school while he worked on a degree in engineering and then an MBA from Vanderbilt University.
Since its inception, LMC Industries has espoused an entrepreneurial culture with a can-do attitude, growing into the market and expanding globally with 40 percent of its products shipped internationally.
The company’s customers range from the largest automotive suppliers and consumer goods companies to smaller, more entrepreneurial firms. As industry standards have changed, customers have become significantly more demanding with their supplier base about quality levels, services and additional value-added services.
Because automotive quality requirements have increased significantly over the last few years, LMC Industries has had to adapt to deliver higher-quality products, adopting a zero-defects culture initiative. The company constantly refines its systems, equipment, training techniques and operational capabilities to meet these standards.
“We are creating a culture that’s more outwardly focused on customer needs and competitive realities,” Lemke says. “We expect to build a future based upon employees’ contributions. Everyone’s orientation needs to be focused on how we can best meet the customers’ needs.”
The company’s products are processed in two plants with more than 225,000 square feet of space between them in Arnold, Mo. The plastics plant has more than 60 injection-molding machines and a number of automated assembly and testing processes to support them. The metal stamping plant contains a dozen straight-side automated presses and smaller automatic presses, along with welding machines and automated assembly processes. LMC Industries has partner suppliers that heat-treat and chrome plate, zinc plate and paint many of its products.
“Our product lines change frequently,” Lemke explains. “As a contract manufacturer, we are an extension of our customers’ manufacturing facilities. So, we are operating as part of an overall lean-thinking supply chain.”
LMC Industries uses equipment with the most flexibility since few of them are used for only one product. The company’s lean journey is ever-evolving as it works to reduce the time to complete setups and reduce the amount of work-in-progress inventory stored. Some customers require made-to-order items with short lead-times, while others utilize LMC Industries as a make-to-stock supplier.
“While balancing all those competing customer requirements, we have maintained an on-time shipping value above 98 percent for each month this year,” Lemke says. “Everything has to be delivered to our customers on time, whether they’re 20 miles away or 8,000 miles away.”
LMC Industries emphasizes technical training for incoming and current employees. The company works closely with the State of Missouri and Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Mo., to support prospective employees by developing training to advance important skills such as math and reading comprehension. These skills may seem obvious, but they are invaluable while working on the processing plant floor.
Because LMC Industries is growing rapidly and competing for the best workforce in its area, the company recently determined that it must have a team dedicated to refining its new employee onboarding, training and retention process. “We’re conducting training so the people have a better understanding of statistical analysis tools and use them properly while in the plant,” Lemke says.
New employees experience a fast-paced environment that requires the tracking and organizing of so much information that they need a teammate or mentor to help them navigate it as they learn. As LMC Industries grows, it hopes to encourage new employees to build long-term careers with the company.
“Resilience doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone,” Lemke explains. “For people that can deal with conflicts and roadblocks in a manufacturing environment, it requires that they be emotionally resilient, flexible and also willing and capable to adhere to procedures and have a system that works efficiently and effectively. I am most proud of how resilient and flexible our associates are in dealing with constant change and competing priorities,” he says.
“We have made a lot of progress and still find many opportunities for improvement in our journey to becoming a world-class manufacturing business serving a global client base, but we are well on our way toward the common goal with all our associates focusing on excellence in all we do.”