Matt Mehlbrech, who leads the global IT organization at CoorsTek, Inc. as Vice President of Information Technology, is clear about his priorities. He’s committed to continually modernizing operations and collecting actionable data, and creating an environment that contributes to individual and organizational growth. This mindset is just one of the many positive attributes that Matt brings to the enterprise.
CoorsTek is the international partner of choice for companies requiring the unique, high-performance properties of products manufactured from engineered technical ceramics and advanced materials. The company partners with customers from a wide variety of industries, offering expertise in materials engineering as well as broad research, development, and manufacturing capabilities.
The company has recently added to the traditional IT oversight by providing greater support and leadership for operational technology. Matt and his team are focused on capturing and using shop floor data to increase output, improve product quality, ensure ontime delivery, and eliminate waste.
Responding to Needs Quickly
When Matt joined CoorsTek, it was a time of major transformation at the company. There were countless opportunities to improve effectiveness, and Matt felt it was IT’s role to help the organization see what was possible. He wanted IT to be a strategic partner, but the IT team first needed to build credibility and trust.
Matt and the IT team built a clear strategy for what they wanted to accomplish, ensuring they could successfully prioritize important initiatives and respond to needs quickly. This focus resulted in better delivery for customers, better talent development, and stronger partnerships within the business.
Learning from Incredibly Valuable Experiences
Matt feels fortunate that he’s worked for some exceptional bosses; outstanding mentors who helped shape him as a leader. They gave him the opportunity to work in different businesses, IT disciplines, and regions of the world, which exposed him to a variety of manufacturing environments, technologies, and business processes. The faith that various leaders put in Matt resulted in hands-on experiences that were incredibly valuable. One experience that stands out was when he worked on a global acquisition integration. Matt says he can’t overstate how much he learned because of these experiences. He firmly believes that these “stretch assignments” contributed to his individual growth like nothing else.
Managing Unprecedented Times Effectively
Talking about the impact of the pandemic, Matt mentions that manufacturing companies had their own set of challenges because they need people to be physically present to make their products. CoorsTek was fortunate because it has a large presence in Asia, which allowed it to develop and learn Covid safety protocols quickly for the rest of the world. That helped CoorsTek minimize some of the production and workforce impacts.
CoorsTek has also been fortunate because of its diversification. Covid caused many of its markets to struggle, but some of its markets have flourished due to technology demand, such as semiconductor. The fact that CoorsTek offers a wide range of products to various industries allowed it to flex its production capabilities, which helped it manage better than some others.
Recognizing and Rewarding Wins
CoorsTek operates under The CoorsTek Way, a set of values that guides how company leaders and employees treat business partners, fellow team members, and members of the community. One of the value statements within The CoorsTek Way that really speaks to Matt is “We share responsibility, risk, opportunity and reward.” Matt tries to instill this idea within the IT organization by communicating how what they do each day ties to business results, which only works through transparency in how they are executing. He also tries to create a positive work culture by recognizing and rewarding wins, no matter how small.
Matt states, “In IT, a lot of great work done by the team goes on behind the scenes, but it is vital to the health of the company. It’s important that the team understand how valuable that work is and how appreciated they are.”
Improving All Facets of Business
According to Matt, it is of utmost importance for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments. CoorsTek is always looking for opportunities to create more sustainable, predictable products and processes and better meet the needs of its customers. New technologies, such as machine learning and AI, offer tremendous opportunities for CoorsTek to improve all facets of its business.
Doing Remarkable Things for Community
When it comes to giving back to the community, CoorsTek is doing remarkable things through Family for Families, its Employee Hardship Assistance Fund. It’s been especially helpful recently as people have grappled with the pandemic and winter storm disasters.
And then, this summer, CoorsTek announced an exciting revitalization effort within its headquarters city of Golden, Colorado. It is transforming one of its oldest and largest manufacturing properties into a mixed-use district with restaurants, offices, residences and possibly a hotel, which is expected to provide a real economic boost to the area. At the same time, the project is factoring in the unique history of the town by preserving and restoring many of the vintage buildings on the property.
Expecting Enhanced Capabilities in Operational Technology Realm
If given a chance to bring one change in the tech sector for manufacturing processes, Matt would love to see solution providers bring capabilities in the Operational Technology realm that better appreciate how they need to tie into the IT landscape, such as network and security requirements.
According to Matt, OT providers are too often so narrowly focused on a niche piece of functionality that they forget how complex it is to make it usable and secure in a modern, global manufacturing setting. Today, it actually makes it harder to move quickly because re-engineering is essential to help plants get value.
Staying Ahead with High Degree of Automation
Matt mentions that CoorsTek has been experiencing phenomenal growth, and there are no signs of it slowing down. From an IT perspective, he wants to make sure CoorsTek stays ahead with a high degree of automation, both on the shop floor and in the office.
For customers, Matt would like to provide more in the way of market insights. CoorsTek is in a unique position to do that, and it’s especially meaningful in unpredictable times like these.