Tradition Meets Innovation: How Second-Generation Owners at KMM Skyrocketed Business Growth

Many might assume that technology and efficiency alone drive business growth and success in the manufacturing industry. While these elements are crucial, they only paint part of the picture, particularly for second-generation business owners. These individuals often navigate the complex dynamics of respecting tradition and managing long-established relationships, all while fostering innovation. This unique position allows them to build on the rich legacy and wisdom of the first generation while infusing the business with fresh insights and novel ideas.

When KMM’s second-generation owners, John Shegda and Eric Wilhelm, merged their respective family-owned operations in 2020, they recognized that sustainable growth would not solely depend on operational efficiency or technological advancements. Rather, it would also hinge on valuing the human element of their business. They sought to nurture the deep-seated relationships cultivated over the years and establish new trust-based relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, and everyone in their business ecosystem.

In this post, we’ll delve into the people-first strategies that have contributed to KMM’s impressive growth – 50% in the last three years – illustrating the power of cultivating human connections in driving business expansion.

Employee Empowerment

Beyond competitive salaries and benefits, employees value respect, open communication, continuous learning opportunities, and an inclusive environment. Recognizing and nurturing talent is a people-centered strategy that stimulates innovation and productivity. Through inclusive hiring practices, human-centered benefits packages, a strong values-based organizational culture that encourages personal and professional growth, and company-wide open financial meetings, we motivate our employees to give their best, creating a positive ripple effect.

Customer Relationships

Another pivotal aspect of our people-first approach is establishing an advanced sales infrastructure. This structure allows departments to thrive by fostering solid and customer-centric teams oriented toward providing solutions. Key to this commitment is the implementation of effective marketing and sales tools and technologies that expertly manage and nurture customer relationships. These resources aid us in understanding customer needs, ensuring accessibility and responsiveness, and maintaining open, transparent communication.

Collaborative Partnerships

The third cornerstone of our people-first strategy focuses on building collaborative partnerships. This includes engaging J. Mark King, a seasoned healthcare executive, as a Non-Executive/Non-Owner Chairman of the Board and Healthcare Industry Advisor. King provides critical insights to our senior leadership team, particularly in the medical device industry, helping us align our operations with our strategic objectives. By fostering mutually beneficial relationships with industry stakeholders, we’ve paved new pathways for growth. This collaborative mindset promotes knowledge sharing and value co-creation, propelling our business forward.

Community Engagement

As a company deeply committed to a people-first approach, we believe in supporting our local communities. We recognize that our growth is intertwined with the progress of the community around us. For this reason, we actively participate in local initiatives and contribute to community and industry betterment. This includes mentoring budding engineering students and inspiring future manufacturers through school talks and career fairs. This strategy not only strengthens our ties to the community – it also enhances our reputation as a socially responsible organization and reinforces our commitment to investing in the future, indirectly contributing to our business growth and success.

By prioritizing people, second-generation business owners like John and Eric are doing more than preserving the legacy of the first generation. They’re crafting a dynamic roadmap for the future, highlighting a frequently undervalued truth: the power of human connection and collaboration is inextricably linked to sustainable business growth. 

Adopting a People-First Lens

Adopting these people-centric values requires a shift in mindset. It involves viewing every decision through a people-first lens and aligning every strategy to this principle. It means ensuring that every policy, every action, and every business direction benefits the people involved, from the employees on the production line to the community at large.

The business world is filled with stories of companies that found success by prioritizing technology, efficiency, or profits. Yet, our story is a testament to the power of human connection in driving business growth, thanks to second-generation leaders John and Eric and their commitment to a people-first culture. Visit our blog for more articles about our inspiring leadership strategies and our team.

KMM Group, Ltd

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KVI Group, M&S Centerless Grinding and Meron Medical have merged to form KMM Group, Ltd. This exciting collaboration diversifies our offering and better allows us to think big and act boldly while maintaining the same precision and expertise you’ve come to expect.