North Central State College honored Mark Hess, owner of Hess Industries Ltd. with the 2020 Alum of the Year Award. Hess is a 1991 graduate from the mechanical engineering program, and a current board member of the Braintree Business Development Center. Hess Industries is a graduate of the Braintree business incubation program.

Mark Hess credits North Central for providing a great education that he continues to use every day. “NC State has helped shape my career and I continue to pull on things that I learned while attending the college,” Hess says.Hess enrolled in evening classes while working as a tool and die apprentice fulltime during the day. “I enjoyed working with my hands and learning how to use each of those machines to make useful things,” Hess explains. “The skills I learned were invaluable for my future plans. My goal was to own a tool and die business one day.”When he turned 30-years-old, his dream came true. “My wife and I sold everything that we owned and put it into the dream of working a business,” he says proudly. Today, Hess Industries employs 14 people. They started with just basic tool room equipment and a few customers. By investing heavily in technology, the company went from basic equipment to state-of-the-art machinery. “Twenty-two years later, we have a world-class tooling center selling value-added tooling to other companies all over the world,” Hess says. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Hess and his team created a hands-free door handle attachment using their industrial-grade 3-D printer. “It’s during tough times that the true battles are won and your character is chiseled.”Hess and wife Pam feel strongly about giving back to the community. They not only support the North Central State College Foundation, but also the Shelby YMCA, Shelby Foundation, The Shelter, Harmony House, Richland Pregnancy Services, Shelby Help Line, Plymouth-Shiloh Food Pantry, Core Community Church, Shelby Community & Senior Center, and the Richland County Foundation. “We have been very blessed through the years and have been able to help others and give back in many ways.”

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(Reuters) - Root Insurance Co has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N to lead preparations for an initial public offering that could value the provider of auto insurance through mobile apps at around $6 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
Root was founded in 2015 by Alex Timm of Columbus and Lexington native Dan Manges, who also founded Fractal surfing, a former Braintree tenant company.

Root Insurance Co has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N to lead preparations for an initial public offering that could value the provider of auto insurance through mobile apps at around $6 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.The listing would make Root the latest technology-powered insurance provider to go public. In May, insurance comparison website SelectQuote Inc SLQT.N raised $360 million in its IPO, followed in July by SoftBank Group-backed insurance provider Lemonade Inc LMND.N, which raised $319 million. The respective offerings valued the companies at $3.25 billion and $1.6 billion.Root’s IPO would be significantly bigger. The company is aiming for a valuation of between $5 billion and $6 billion, the sources said. Root’s stock market debut could come later this year or early in 2021, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the plans are confidential.Lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic have accelerated the shift by U.S. consumers to research and buy financial products from digital platforms, drawing increased backing from investorsColumbus, Ohio-based Root did not respond to a request for comment. Goldman Sachs declined to comment.Founded by Alex Timm and Dan Manges in 2015, Root began by offering car insurance and now uses a smartphone-administered driving test and an algorithm to offer a quote, according to its website, that is fairer than the data used by traditional insurers. In 2019, the company expanded into renters insurance.Root’s previous funding round, announced in August 2019 and led by DST Global and Coatue Management, valued it at $3.65 billion.

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Digital signage software, provided by Jay Miller, owner of DRM Productions, can be looked at as the future of digital messaging.

Skyline Chili’s is world renowned for their delicious Cheese Coney’s and 3-ways, no question. However, in order for the local restaurants to thrive, they need to make an impact in terms of engagement. The Skyline Chili located in Ontario has been around for over 10 years, but as new trends came, and new ways to showcase messages appeared, owner Paul Dilley knew that he would need to get on board with it, or get left behind. In order to do this, Dilley decided to go with digital signage using Retriever Digital Signage, a powerful, easy to use, marketing tool that can be used to update digital messaging from a phone, tablet or computer. he software, provided by Jay Miller, owner of DRM Productions, can be looked at as the future of digital messaging. “I believe it allows you to take technology and connect with your customers on an emotional level,” said Allison Kentosh, account executive for Retriever Digital Signage. By doing as Kentosh suggests, restaurants can establish personal relationships with customers using Retriever Digital Signage, which will then encourage them to come back. Dilley’s been using the product for over 10 years and couldn’t be more satisfied with how it’s helped benefit his restaurant. “Typically you can pick up on things pretty quick, but it's a relatively easy tool to use. And it's a great way to keep the clutter off the tables and to try to get the messages that you need to get transmitted to the public,” Dilley said. There are plenty of ways to use Digital Retriever, including: highlighting promotions, providing nutritional information and applying price menu changes. This can all be done within minutes.
Digital signage is more important than ever during COVID-19. Providing a digital menu will reduce risk of spread and give customers a piece of mind as they come in knowing they won’t have to touch anything. Kentosh realizes that some may not want to spend the money or conform to a new way of using technology, however she assures anyone debating using their product that they have nothing to fear. “It’s extremely easy to use and we offer demos online, and Jay and I would be more than happy to come out and personally train any new business owner who wants to try it and see if it works,” Kentosh said.

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American manufacturers are already battered by decades of low-cost foreign competition, and now are suffering through one of the worst years most of them have ever seen. According to Ethan Karp of MAGNET, U.S. manufacturers must embrace technology, and risk. Among the examples he cites is DECA Manufacturing of Lexington, run by Braintree board member Cameron Haring.

The Covid-19 pandemic hit manufacturers early, disrupting the supply of raw materials, parts and components from China as early as February. In March, COVID hit the demand side, shutting down the U.S. economy and bringing production at many factories to a halt. In April, the U.S. Purchasing Managers Index registered its biggest drop since the Great Recession, according to an analysis by Deloitte.As in the rest of the economy, things were starting to look up in June – but now, with Covid surging again and the prospect of a second lockdown growing more likely by the day, manufacturing leaders are confronting a prolonged, painful slump that poses a very real threat to their survival.Leading their businesses through to the other side will require some difficult decisions – and I don’t just mean staff reductions. If manufacturers want to survive, and to thrive when the economy picks up again, they must start investing in technology. That will be difficult not only because it will require new spending when revenue is depressed but also because for many of them, the learning curve will be steep. And many small manufacturers will have to overcome their natural risk aversion.
Intolerance for risk and the need to better understand technology have put many American manufacturers at a significant disadvantage to their overseas counterparts, who haven’t sat back and relied on their access to cheap labor to shore up their competitive positions.Since 2013 Chinese factories have been the world’s most active in implementing automation technology, according to the International Federation of Robotics; in 2017 China accounted for 36 percent of the world’s industrial robotic installations, and while installations dropped in 2018, Chinese factories still installed more robots than American and European manufacturers combined.They’re pouring money into robotics – plus sensors, data analytics, 3D printing and the other technologies we collectively refer to as Industry 4.0 – for the simple, obvious reason that it will make their factories more profitable. Automation and data help reduce costs by cutting down on machine breakdowns and errors and by minimizing injuries to workers, among other things. They increase revenue by speeding up production and making it easier to introduce new products.Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by my organization in late 2019, 94 percent of manufacturers in Northeast Ohio said they were actively innovating – but more than 60 percent said they weren’t using or had just started using automation. Half said they did not plan to increase automation spending.But while the reluctance to invest in automation predates the pandemic, perhaps the Covid crisis can be the catalyst for making American factories competitive again. Their backs to the wall, U.S. manufacturers have already demonstrated remarkable (and unusual) agility, converting production lines to churn out plastic face shields, hospital beds, hand sanitizer and other critical supplies in a matter of days back in March.Technology investment has to be a permanent commitment, not a temporary adjustment, and it will require some hefty investments that won’t deliver immediate returns. But the returns will be there, and the cost of not investing will be far higher in the long run.To be clear, in my experience cost is only part of what’s prevented American manufacturers from investing in technology. What’s holding many of them back is a basic lack of awareness – of how the technology works and how it would pay off in the form of higher profits.I talk to manufacturers every day about the problems they’re facing, from mechanical breakdowns to rising operational costs. What I often find is that they simply aren’t aware of the ways automation and other Industry 4.0 technologies could solve those problems. But when they do see the connection, the result is more efficient, consistent production, lower costs and higher sales, plus a host of other new ways to serve customers and provide value.DECA Manufacturing, a 43-year-old maker of electronic cables, wire harnesses and other similar products in Lexington, Ohio, has invested heavily in industrial sensors and laser equipment over the past three years. The sensors go on equipment through its factory, providing real-time data on production and the machines’ efficiency – this is the Internet of Things technology you hear so much about.The data shows DECA President Cameron Haring and his managers which machines need preventive maintenance – preventing breakdowns that bring production to a halt, at tremendous cost. He can now see which employees are performing well and who needs more training. New employees get up to speed faster because the data gives precise feedback on where they need to improve. And he can assess DECA’s manufacturing processes through the lens of real, hard data.The result: Factory output has increased more than 20 percent. The laser technology has enabled DECA to add products, opening the doors to new customers, including always lucrative defense contracts. Haring says the technology begins to pay off in about eight months. He views the technology as an extension of the lean manufacturing processes that have been best practices in the industry for thirty years – and that changes the risk assessment.“I don’t view process improvement as a risk but a must,” he says.I could point to more manufacturers like DECA, but unfortunately, they’re in the minority. The bulk of their counterparts have yet to recognize what Industry 4.0 technology can do for their businesses. To bring U.S. manufacturing out of its current malaise and to reverse an industrial decline that began in the 1980s, we must convince factory owners and leaders that the way forward is through automation and embracing Industry 4.0.There are other things that need to happen, of course, including policy changes. Joe Biden’s “Made in All of America” plan promises incentives and new financing tools aimed at incentivizing small manufacturers to “retool and revitalize.” That could certainly help. And the Trump administration’s punitive tariffs on Chinese imports could help level a playing field that has been tilted against American manufacturers for decades.But ultimately, if there is to be an American manufacturing renaissance, it will begin on shop floors, factory by factory, led not by policymakers but by owners and executives who embrace new technologies that can collectively make our manufacturing sector the world’s most productive and efficient – again.

Read more: Forbes article features Lexington's DECA Manufacturing and Braintree board member Cameron Haring URL:

Braintree grad Hess Industries creates hands-free door handle attachment

April 16, 2020
by Noah Jones, Richland Source
Mark Hess of Hess Industries, a Braintree graduate, has led his team in creating a new way for doors to open without passing the germs form hand-to-hand on the handle's surface.

COVID-19 has not stopped the entrepreneurial spirit, despite many Richland County businesses being ordered to close their doors.Mark Hess, of Hess Industries at 108 Sawyer Parkway, and his team have created a new way for doors to open without passing the germs from one's hands on to the door handle's surface."It's a hands-free door handle attachment," Hess said. "We just wanted to come up with something different that could help people.Hess said his team has industrial-grade 3D printers printing out the door handle attachments, which can be attached to any door handle. So far the product has been tested mainly in hospitals."When you grab a door handle, especially in a hosptial, there are germs and viruses on that handle that can be spread," Hess said. "We wanted to create something so you could open the door without using your hands."Hess, who has filed for a patent, is donating the product to Avita Health Systems while working with OhioHealth Mansfield as well as other hospitals in Ohio."We are looking to make a plastic mold so we can bring our costs down and send these all across the world," Hess said.Joel Delavern, plan operations manager for Galion Community Hospital, has received eight door-handle attachments. He thinks the product is exactly what is needed during this time."I told him, 'I think you're on to something,' " Delavern said. "I think one thing people may take away from this is how germs can be spread."This is a quality product. It's exactly what we need at this moment."Hess said he would love to work with other local manufacturers to have the product made entirely in Richland County.Hess is working with Nanogate Jay Systems in Mansfield to come up with a mold. It takes about 14 hours to print one handle attachment. Using a plastic mold could cut costs and increase production time."With Personal Protection Equipment being so important right now, we wanted to come up with a way that could salvage some of that," Hess said. "The idea was put together because there was a need to open doors without (hands) touching them."Hess added the attachment comes off easily to be disinfected in a dishwasher or with any disinfectant."This will stop the spread of viruses throughout your whole organization," he said.

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