Firm's practices have dropped collision repair time from ten days to three
Superior Service Center in Eagan recently served as a learning lab for a group of Japanese businessmen wanting to learn more about lean manufacturing -- a notable event considering the super-efficient production practice was actually born in their country.
The tour of the Eagan auto repair and body shop took place in mid-July and was arranged by 3M Co. The Japanese visitors are customers of Maplewood-based 3M, which makes hundreds of products for the automotive market and also has a long-established presence in Japan.
The tour included a demonstration of vehicles coming in for collision repair being disassembled "down to the last clip," Superior Service owner Dan Sjolseth said.
The practice significantly increases the accuracy of identifying all damage to a car at the very beginning of repair work, he said, reducing the chances of discovering problems later and having to rewrite estimates for additional repairs. It has helped Superior Service shorten its average collision repair time from 10 to 3.2 days.
In addition to lean manufacturing, Superior Service also has been among the first in the industry to use water-based coating products for auto body work, said Gary Asmus, business director of 3M's automotive aftermarket division. He said Japanese automotive companies have shown a growing interest in the water-based coatings, which are more environmentally friendly that solvent-based products.
Sjolseth started Superior Service in Richfield in 1982 and has been in Eagan since 1984.Farmington gets a Wireless Zone
Marshall, Minn., native Matt Funk has expanded his mini-empire of Wireless Zone stores, opening an outlet in Farmington. It's the sixth store for Funk, a Wireless Zone franchisee since 2009. Other outlets are in Mendota Heights, Hastings, Rosemount, St. Paul and Menomonie, Wis., with two more in unspecified locations opening later this year.
Funk, 31, got his start in cellphone retailing while majoring in marketing and sales at St. Cloud State University. After graduating in 2007, he researched wireless franchise retailing opportunities and discovered Wireless Zone, the country's largest retail franchisor.
Founded in 1988 as the Car Phone Store, Wireless Zone has almost 450 stores, all but 20 of them franchised. Total sales for the exclusive distributor of Verizon Wireless products and services were about $487 million last year.Goodrich plant shows off expansion
Officials of Goodrich Corp. joined Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Amy Klobuchar in late July for a tour of the North Carolina company's newly expanded high-tech manufacturing plant in Burnsville. The facility is part of Goodrich's sensors and integrated systems business, which has about 4,200 employees worldwide, including 1,275 in Burnsville and 355 in Eagan.
The Burnsville operation now has more than 300,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space. Primary products produced at the facility include advanced air data systems, cockpit data management systems, and various sensors and sensor-based products for the aerospace market. Goodrich has said it plans to use the expansion in Burnsville to manufacture miniature silicon wafer sensors.
Goodrich recently was acquired by United Technologies Corp. as part of a larger effort by the Hartford, Conn.-based company to strengthen its position in the commercial aerospace industry.
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Susan Feyder • 952-746-3282