MiMfg October 2020 - Page 26

26 MiMfg Magazine October 2020

Member Spotlight

Jerome Hagedorn

Vice President of North American Operations NEOGEN
Member since February 2017 • Employs 650 Michigan workers • Learn more at neogen . com
Lansing-based MMA member NEOGEN has been quietly resolving a multitude of problems since 1982 . Beginning as a small toxins-testing company in Lansing , NEOGEN now has offices in 12 different countries . The business has grown to serve people through the food processing industry in nearly every way possible . Their mantra of “ from farm gate to dinner plate ” outlines the full scope of their service — sanitation , allergy testing and pathogenic protection on a global scale . NEOGEN ’ s story has always been one of innovation and problem-solving ; accomplishing the extraordinary in an incredibly short time .
NEOGEN was one of many manufacturing companies to reimagine what was possible — and other businesses are following their path . In an industry reliant on strict processes , potentially costly regulations and large-scale production equipment , the idea of a remote workforce isn ’ t a practical option for most manufacturers . Yet , as COVID-19 disrupted established norms everywhere , NEOGEN and other manufacturers did what they always do when confronted with a challenge — they adapted .
NEOGEN ’ s Michigan operations benefitted greatly from their global reach . Able to observe as the pandemic hit operations in China , Australia and Europe , Jerome Hagedorn , the company ’ s Vice President of North American Operations , and his team developed an emergency response team that could adapt domestic production strategies as new information came in . Combined with its other strategies , the rapid shifts and process changes that would have taken months were now being accomplished in days .
“ Going remote , even in the short-term , was a huge undertaking ,” said Hagedorn . “ We were never a big user of remote work — there was never a need ; it wasn ’ t engrained in our strategies . In normal times , implementing a shift to a 30 percent remote workforce would take six to 12 months . We did it in four days during one of the most stressful periods in generations .”
Neogen ’ s R & D teams utilize emerging technologies to create high-tech test kits to help ensure the quality and safety of the global food supply .
Hagedorn takes great pride in that and in his people for being able to facilitate a shift of that magnitude without impacting customers . And , for NEOGEN , the customer is everything .
“ Certainly , starting the year , nobody anticipated a global pandemic impacting our world the way it has ,” recalled Hagedorn . “ We were gearing up for a final run to our 12-month goal and then this huge shift happened . Operating under the new mandates from Governor Whitmer , federal and international guidelines , plus navigating local requirements and the regulations of other states — it was a lot to take on in such a short time . We needed a plan .”
Hagedorn ’ s team used simple and effective tactics :
• Commit to open , honest and regular communication
• Be flexible — the personal impact of the pandemic was different for every employee
• Rely on a network , including other locations , industry associations or partnerships , as sources of shared information and best practices

“ COVID-19 wasn ’ t even a blip on the radar and , then , fast forward six months ; it may have forever changed how some companies do business . If you ’ re a manufacturer in 2020 , you have to be asking yourself where you fit in this new environment and what opportunities are there ,” Hagedorn offered . “ In every situation there ’ s opportunity — you sometimes just need to dig deep to find it . Once you find it , if you commit to a plan and have the trust of your team , there ’ s nothing you can ’ t accomplish .” 6