Ajax Metal Forming Solutions celebrates all those who have served and continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces. We invite all Minnesota businesses to join us in honoring the brave men and women who stand in harm’s way in the name of freedom. Thank you for your service to our country!
History of Veterans Day
On November 11, 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to Americans:
ADDRESS TO FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN The White House, November 11, 1919.
A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.
With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.
The United States Congress adopted a resolution on June 4, 1926, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. A Congressional Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”
In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. President Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 as the driving force for the national holiday. Elizabeth Dole, who prepared the briefing for President Reagan, determined Weeks as the “Father of Veterans Day.”
U.S. Representative Ed Rees from Emporia, Kansas, presented a bill establishing the holiday through Congress. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, also from Kansas, signed the bill into law on May 26, 1954. It had been eight and a half years since Weeks held his first Armistice Day celebration for all veterans. Congress amended the bill on June 1, 1954, replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans,” and it has been known as Veterans Day since.
Ajax Metal Forming Solutions has announced that Heartland Equity Partners of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota has acquired a majority ownership position in the company.
Ajax Metal Forming Solutions President Kent Djubek
“The metal forming industry is advancing at an exciting pace,” said Kent Djubek, who will continue as President of Ajax and increased his ownership position as part of the transaction. “This investment by Heartland will take our business to the next level. We’re a strong company getting stronger.”
Management Team Djubek said his company has retained the existing management team. “Our success is mostly due to our experienced people and culture of workforce development,” he said. “Heartland will help us build on our accomplishments without leaving our family business legacy behind.”
The name of the new entity will be Ajax Metal Forming Solutions, LLC.
“We’re building a deep bench,” said Ajax Director of Operations Curt Jasper.
Curt Jasper and Courtney Mickelson devote huge amounts of time and energy to the people side of the business.
No, Curt wasn’t talking about a company softball team. This busy manufacturing company needs multi-skilled people who can step into pretty much any role on the plant floor as needed and perform well. As leader of Ajax’s talent management effort, Curt has been innovating new ways to build his workforce since he joined Ajax four years ago. He and Administrative Assistant Courtney Mickelson have devoted huge amounts of time and energy towards the people side of the business.
“It’s all about managing talent. We’ve examined every corner of our business looking for ways to improve our career focus,” Curt said. “Every organization has practices they need to get better at, including us. But we wanted to avoid becoming too inwardly-focused.”
The Ajax team is proactively learning how to grow the company’s talent pool by volunteering on local organizations’ boards or discussion panels to understand colleague and employer issues.“ We always look for new avenues to approach our next career objective,” Curt said.
The Company’s #1 Talent Builder – The Skills Matrix
Ajax Plant Manager Brandon Holmes is a perfect example of how development programs can identify and grow talented people quickly. Brandon joined Ajax in 2007 and worked his way up through production, fabrication, logistics, and management roles to become the company’s newest Plant Manager. Brandon is a credentialed Class A Journeyworker whose professional development includes creating, attending, and instructing the M-Powered manufacturing program at Hennepin Technical College and the sheet metal program at Anoka Technical College, both in Minneapolis. Brandon has completed coursework in lean manufacturing and six sigma process improvement, and is a Certified Professional Project Manager (CPPM).
Plant Manager Brandon Holmes keeps the company’s Skills Matrix current.
That’s a pretty impressive resume for such a young professional. But Ajax managers believe Brandon’s success story should not be all that unusual. In fact, they believe it’s repeatable using a key weapon in the Ajax workforce arsenal: the Skills Matrix.
The Ajax Skills Matrix is a color-coded grid that shows a composite of production skills needed and mastered by members of the Ajax workforce. This at-a-glance talent management tool, posted prominently in the company break room, inspires workforce members to learn new skills and become the multi-skilled team that boosts production efficiency. Managers can also assess the available skills at any given time and contrast that to the production schedule, enabling them to quickly identify and correct any future gaps.
Benefits To Workforce and Customers Alike
Put yourself in the Ajax customer’s shoes (if you already have, thank you!) and imagine you’ve just handed off a critical project on a tight time line. Wouldn’t you be happy to know the many ways the Skills Matrix improves performance on your project? Here are just a few examples:
Increased workforce competency and greater personal commitment to your project’s success.
Greater management understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of people assigned to your project.
Increased production capacity and efficiency through earlier detection of skills shortages.
Improved recruitment efficiency through hiring and training people with backgrounds in areas of need.
Better project planning based on projected availability of skilled people.
More consistency and stability, keeping the company, and your projects, moving forward.
Better product quality and reduced production bottlenecks.
Inspires workforce members to build their talents because the company’s steady growth yields new career opportunities.
It Starts At The Top
The Skills Matrix only works when company management is committed to seeing it through and keeping it embedded in the minds of people at all levels of the company. Vice President of Sales Don Wellman said the Skills Matrix must become part of the Ajax core culture. “It starts with us,” he said. “Management needs to prioritize the Skills Matrix in order to get the most from it.”
Don said once people begin to see the benefits of the Skills Matrix, the cultural embedding gets easier. “The good news is that everyone can see how well it works,” Don said. “That gives the entire Skills Matrix project plenty of momentum to keep it rolling forward.”
Ajax Metal Forming Solutions of Minneapolis, Minnesota hosted students from area high schools during National Manufacturing Day on Thursday October 5, 2017. Students who attend Patrick Henry High School, Paladin Career and Technical High School, Fridley High School, and Brooklyn Center High School were provided with plant tours, technical presentations, and custom manufactured gifts by the companies’ managers and technical staff.
“Manufacturing Day is an event our company celebrates each year,” said Ajax President Kent Djubek. “We use this event to encourage young people to consider manufacturing careers. These students represent the future of manufacturing,” he said.
A Spin On This Year’s Event
Popular among visiting students each year are the custom-made giveaways produced by participating companies as a means to demonstrate manufacturing materials and technologies. This year,
Ajax and Cass Precision Machining of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, worked together to produce a branded fidget spinner, one of which was given to each student. The companies also demonstrated how the spinners were made and showed students the machines and materials used at each stage of the manufacturing process.
Ajax provided the specially-formed aluminum frame of the spinner, while Cass provided small internal machined components. Arrow Cryogenics Inc. of Blaine, Minnesota, provided aluminum anodizing for the spinner, a process that prevents surface corrosion and improves aesthetics.
About National Manufacturing Day
Created by Founding Partner Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International in 2012, MFG DAY has enjoyed support from many organizations aligned with its mission of positively changing the public perception of modern manufacturing. Organizations that have played a vital role in working with FMA to successfully grow this national celebration of all things manufacturing include the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Institute (MI), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). MFG DAY is now produced annually by the NAM with key contributions and support from the MEP and the MI.
About The National Association of Manufacturers
The NAM is the preeminent U.S. manufacturers association, as well as the nation’s largest industrial trade association, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. The organization is located at 733 10th Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20001 and at www.nam.org.
High school graduation should be a time of optimism about the future and congratulations all around. But I heard recently about a mother who was in mourning at her son’s graduation, struggling to restrain tears.
She had implored him to enroll in a four-year college, but he had chosen a two-year technical college instead. Now she fears he has lost his chance at the good life.
In fact, her son may have made a shrewd decision. Today, too many high school graduates start down the four-year road because they mistakenly think it’s the only route to success. Too often, they wind up dropping out, jobless and in debt, and lacking the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century workforce.
In recent decades, our society has developed a powerful cultural bias that a four-year college degree is optimal for everyone, and that any other path to a career is second-best, “for dummies.” But in fact young people who choose alternative pathways — like a two-year associate’s degree, an apprenticeship or an occupational certificate — can often land in-demand, well-paying jobs fast, avoid crippling debt and look forward to a secure future. Some earn significantly more than classmates who choose the four-year route.