This article appeared in the December 2018 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
When you are a manufacturer, challenges are always around you. From customer troubles to locating talent to dealing with unexpected inefficiencies, there’s always another challenge.
What separates a great manufacturer from the average business down the street is how they find solutions. MFP Automation Engineering understands the importance of providing solutions and they do it every day from their Hudsonville facility.
“Providing solutions to customers; that’s what makes me want to walk in each morning and ready to come back the next day,” says Marc Peterson, MFP vice president. “We want to solve every problem we can. For the customer it starts at the design level. It’s exciting to see the creation process develop from start to finish. Every day is different and you never know what’s next — that’s why it’s fun.”
Founded in 1991, MFP’s team moved into manufacturing hydraulic systems and other products for the electrical automation and motion control industries. What started as a small family-
owned business has grown to employ 70 in West Michigan and is now a second-generation-owned company. From year one to nearly three decades in, addressing the next unknown is still what they do best.
“We work to build lasting relationships with our customers. Our team is engaged in the process and every employee is offered the chance to show how innovative they can be,” explains Peterson. “We want to keep it fun. Work is more fun when you can work hard and smile at the same time. I think our customers see that and it keeps them coming back.”
Whether it’s electrical automation, fluid power or motion control, new technologies are always a part of the MFP plan. As new innovations are introduced, new talent is needed to build them and operate them. With unemployment hovering around 4 percent, locating a next generation workforce is a constant challenge.
“It’s not just about hiring a person — it’s about hiring the right person. We look for that person who can meet our standards for quality, work on custom solutions, be multi-faceted and think outside the box,” Peterson acknowledges. “Finding the right fit can be tough but, when we do, they become family.”
With so much to do, Peterson and the MFP leadership team are planning for the next 5-10 years. The company is breaking ground on a new 30,000-square-foot facility adjacent to their current location and expect to house the next generation of MFP talent, including a stronger, more competitive engineering team.
“We’re planning for double digit growth all the way through the next 10 years,” says Peterson. “We’ve seen 300 percent revenue growth since 2009 — that’s great but if we get satisfied there then we could stall and lose momentum. We’re focused on the future.”
To do that, MFP belongs to a variety of local and regional business groups, works with the MMA on statewide issues, connects with business and lean development consultants, and utilizes local education resources like Grand Valley State University and Calvin College for potential future employees.
“Sometimes the biggest problem a business has to solve is figuring out how to get out of its own way,” offers Peterson. “You can easily get stuck in your own walls and connecting with outside groups and bringing fresh eyes to a situation can broaden your view and show you new ways to do something. No business succeeds without help. If you want to be around to solve the problems of the future, start building effective relationships today.”