Hennig Quickly Switches Gears to Help Local Community Defend Against COVID-19

MACHESNEY PARK, IL -- It all started with a call to a friend. 

Noah Goellner, COO of Hennig Inc., a global manufacturer of machine protection products and services, said he wanted to check in on his friend, Lean consultant Karyn Ross, of Karyn Ross Consulting, who Goellner has worked with in the past.

Goellner explained, “Karyn is always spreading kindness and challenging everyone else to do the same, and while I was talking to her, she had a good quote: ‘How can we use Hennig’s Lean expertise to help others? After all, that is what Lean is for, to serve others.’”

This quote turned on a lightbulb in Goellner’s head, because Hennig not only relies heavily on Lean manufacturing principles for their daily operations, but they also utilize Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) principles to be able to respond quickly to the market by having the speed and agility to release new products in time to capitalize on new opportunities. 

“Our mission is ‘Making Our Customers Successful’ and this phrase is at the center of our Henng Star [their corporate graphic depicting the company’s core values], Goellner said. “Now more than ever our community is our customer. So the question became: how can we make our community successful?”

With the desire to help, and the manufacturing leadership and structure to get things done quickly, Goellner began reaching out to Hennig employees to see if anyone had connections within the local healthcare industry. He contacted local hospitals and the mayor, to gage what the community needed. Eventually, with combined efforts, he connected with Jack Fitzpatrick, Director Materials Management at OSF St. Anthony's Medical Center, who said they were in great need of face shields for their healthcare workers.

That’s all Goellner needed to get started. 

“I challenged our director of engineering, research and development, Horst Schedler, to see if he could get a prototype designed,” said Goellner. “Horst went above and beyond for us. He designed and built a prototype, researched the manufacturing process, got us a design, planned the materials, purchased the automatic staplers, and even designed an assembly fixture.”

Not only that, but Goellner says Hennig was able to get the material cost down to between one and two dollars per mask, which allowed him to get approval from their CEO to donate up to 1000 face shields, most of which were designated for OSF.

Once Goellner and Schedler finalized their design and secured the cost, they got Jordan Rieker, Hennig’s supply chain manager, involved. Rieker rose to the challenge, working hard to source all the materials, which was complicated by certain items, such as elastic, which were rapidly becoming limited in availability.

Rieker obtained the materials, “and he even found a relative with a press that let us take all of the clear plastic and punch out the radius at the bottom,” said Goellner. He continued, “Jordan did all this himself and then even delivered them to me at my house so my family and I could start assembling.”

Hennig employee, Babe Cambell, used the woodworking shop at his house to build the assembly fixtures needed. From there, Goellner, his wife, Kristen, and their children, Cole (9) and Audrey (6), created their own “mini-factory” in their basement to assemble shields. 

So far they have been able to deliver close to 500 face shields to Fitzpatrick and OSF St. Anthony's. Goellner added they are making more for OSF but also supplying some to other smaller operations as well.  

Overall, Goellner says this experience has been a very inspiring team effort. 

“From everyone who helped on the physical product, to those who spent lots of time trying to get us connected to the right people from the healthcare industry, to Karyn for always inspiring us to be the best we can be, I am so proud of all our employees and our company,” summarized Goellner. “Karyn’s quote, “After all, Lean is for serving others,” is a quote that will stick with me for life.”