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Investing In Long-Term Workforce Training


Located in Walker, Michigan, PiPP Mobile Storage Systems, Inc. designs space-saving systems to meet customer storage needs. Founded in 1981, PiPP currently employs 100 people. In addition to the Walker facility, PiPP has a small assembly facility near Chicago. The Walker facility operation is led by Tom French, Director of Operations, and supported by Missy VanKlompenberg, Human Resource Manager.

The Challenge

Understanding the importance of having consistent leadership throughout the organization, PiPP identified a need to train their supervisors. Because their supervisors were home-grown and did not have formal leadership training, there was a need for structured, principle-based leadership skills to be introduced.

Due in part to the Supervisor Leader User Group program, many of our front-line supervisors and managers have demonstrated a higher level of professionalism, supervisory skills and problem-solving skills. This has enabled our company to decrease our cost of goods sold, reduce our overtime costs, increase our capital expenditures, retain customers and retain a stable workforce. Our innovation has increased. There is an increased level of trust in management by the executive team.

— Missy VanKlompenberg, HR Manager

MEP's Role

To accomplish their company goals, PiPP engaged with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center–West (The Center–West), part of the MEP National Network™, initially sending employees to the Supervisor Leader User Group (SLUG). The SLUG is cohort style learning in which 2-3 team members from 4-6 different manufacturers learn together from a facilitator as well as from one another. The SLUG applies fundamentals of supervision and leadership into practical terms, applications, and tools. Special consideration is given to performance metrics, goal setting and performance management, or “how to help others succeed”. Performance metrics are established to document improvements.

Due to the long-term benefits they have seen from sending their management team through this user group, PiPP has continued to send high-potential employees, as well as recently promoted staff, since 2015. This participation has led to the creation of a consistent leadership message throughout the organization. The investment in their workforce also has created a clearer succession plan within the organization and contributed to a culture of trust and increased employee satisfaction. Additionally, PiPP has seen increased innovation as lean concepts have been implemented.

Created July 30, 2020, Updated July 12, 2021