Dan Ferden is a Production Coordinator at L&M Radiator’s Yankton, South Dakota facility. As one of the facility’s very first employees, Ferden’s strong leadership skills and commitment to constant growth have been instrumental to L&M Yankton’s success over the course of the past 16 years.
Yankton, South Dakota – Have you ever met someone with such a clever eye for improving processes, combined with a fervent drive to implement those changes, that you can’t help but be impressed by their work ethic? Leaders such as this are the very reason that companies find success and teams remain tight knit.
Dan Ferden, production coordinator at L&M Radiator’s Yankton, South Dakota facility, is that kind of leader on the L&M shop floor.
Ferden’s time with L&M Radiator began in 2007 when he signed on as one of the first eight employees hired at the brand-new facility. Right away, Ferden excelled at the position, observing opportunities where he and his team could be more efficient. In his first six months at the Yankton plant, Ferden was running record numbers on the tube machine.
From there, Ferden’s promotions came one after the other. Six months after joining the company, Ferden was promoted to press brake operator. A few months after that, he was promoted once again to oversee both the tubing and assembly departments. By the time the production coordinator role opened in 2009, Ferden’s hard work and keen eye had proven him perfect for the role.
“When you come to L&M, it is just an open plate,” said Ferden, who previously worked in production at another manufacturing plant that he felt offered little to no room for growth. “It is so easy to shine here and show you are a hard worker. You are not a cog in a machine and your ideas are valued. Everybody can excel.”
Hands at Work, Head Held High
As production coordinator, Ferden mainly trains and oversees the weld vendors and suppliers that work for L&M Radiator, but he is involved in optimizing all facets and operations of the plant. A large part of his job involves being a strong leader.
“I love to compete, and I am always looking toward a new challenge,” said Ferden. “I bring that spirit into production by putting challenges out there that the team can compete against, such as ‘How many tubes can we get out today?’ Putting those goals out there is helpful for the team. Often, we exceed expectations.”
Setting achievable goals for his team is a fundamental pillar of Ferden’s leadership ethos. What he truly wants to foster is a feeling of accomplishment among his team. He wants everyone to know the work they do makes a difference.
“If you have no goals and no expectations at the end of a shift, there is no sense of accomplishment,” said Ferden. “I want my team to feel proud of their work. When I see people walk out of the plant with their heads held high and feeling really accomplished, that’s how I know I have succeeded as a leader.”
Encouraging Growth Across the Board
Grateful for how his new ideas were accepted when he first started at L&M Radiator and seeing first-hand how that practice strengthened the company, Ferden happily extends this same courtesy to the teams he leads today. He encourages team members to have a say in how things are done. Every suggestion is welcome and taken seriously.
“It is a large part of our culture at L&M Radiator and my style as a leader is to constantly try to make improvements to our processes,” said Ferden. “This means accepting ideas and suggestions from every member of our team.”
Ferden is a passionate member of an L&M Radiator committee called 5S, a methodology that promotes a clean, organized, and quality work environment for the physical and mental health of employees. Each department at L&M Radiator has a group of roughly six to eight employees that form the 5S committee. Ferden has been a group leader of every department at different times during his career.
“5S meets for one hour every week. It is a time for people to introduce new ideas and the group will collectively look at whatever it is,” said Ferden. “Together, we sharpen the initial idea and put it into place.”
The 5S committee features employees from a grand spectrum of roles within the company. Everyone from first-year employees to L&M Radiator’s president, Dan Chisholm, attends 5S committee meetings to introduce new ideas for best production practices.
If an employee is not a member of 5S, they can go directly to Ferden or to another committee member with their ideas. That member will introduce that employee’s ideas to the committee.
Ferden is also a part of the company’s COOL committee. This department does all the planning for L&M Radiator’s team events, such as holiday parties, golf outings, bowling excursions, horseshoe outings, river float day (Yes, it is what it sounds like!), and a summer picnic.
Outside of work, you’ll typically find Ferden either spending time with his wife and children, busy on the family homestead, golfing, or rooting for his favorite sports team.
At the end of the day, whether he is cheering on his favorite sports team, playing with his children, or inspiring L&M Radiator’s production team to reach new levels of accomplishment, you can always count on Dan Ferden to lead a team to success — and make sure everyone knows that they matter along the way.
Explore a Career with L&M Radiator
There is a place for you on the L&M Radiator team. To explore careers at L&M Radiator, visit the Careers page on www.Mesabi.com.