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Tri-State Industries

Hammond, Indiana

Located in Hammond, Indiana, Tri-State Industries (TSI) is an innovator in the steel manufacturing industry.  For more than 40 years, TSI has been a leading contract manufacturer to large OEM’s in the rail car, construction, and mobile trailer industries across Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The company’s services include welding, fabrication, coating, tooling, and assembly. TSI continues to evolve as the lessons learned have led the company to understand the best combinations of technology and manufacturing that deliver quality products to its clients.


Tri-State Industries has a triad business strategy focused on exceeding customer expectations, utilizing advanced technology, and continual process improvement. TSI’s market niche is making its clients’ processes more efficient. By using a combination of advanced technology and Lean manufacturing techniques, TSI optimizes the production process and delivers quality products to its clients on a just-in-time (JIT) basis. To maintain this competitive advantage, TSI is always looking to increase productivity and improve the skills of its workforce. TSI needed a partner to help build a strong and productive workforce for the future. With this goal in mind, TSI chose Purdue MEP to assist them with continuous improvement training. TSI recognized Purdue MEP brought a plethora of expertise that aligned with the company’s Lean, quality, and workforce needs.


Purdue MEP’s team worked extensively with TSI to develop a training regimen to meet its continuous improvement and workforce skills development needs. Purdue MEP conducted a gap analysis to determine points of improvement in TSI’s workforce. This analysis identified 3 areas of focus: developing team leadership; reinforcing Lean tools and techniques; and improving standard work processes.

Purdue MEP outlined a plan to address these gaps with the following:

  • Purdue MEP’s Leadership Skills for Success program. A nine-day training series that gives frontline supervisors exposure to better communication skills, leadership techniques, problem solving, project management, teambuilding, stress management, and conflict resolution.
  • Lean Practitioner training, which teaches and reinforces several Lean tools, such as 5S, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Value Stream Mapping (VSM), and Quick Changeover (QCO).
  • Training Within Industry (TWI), which helps supervisors and employees improve TSI’s standard work procedures through TWI’s Job Methods, Job Instructions, and Job Relations modules.

In addition, Purdue MEP assisted TSI with State of Indiana training grants that allowed TSI to undertake this important training without impacting its cashflow. TSI qualified for over $125,000 of Next Level Jobs and Workforce Ready grants that will keep its workforce competitive into the future.


Purdue MEP training resulted in numerous benefits to the company. The training helped TSI improve its overall productivity. Also, the leadership skills developed supports a positive and productive workforce culture. Overall, the Purdue MEP assistance helped TSI achieve it strategic objective to remain competitive in its markets.

Some of the impacts of the Purdue MEP assistance are:

  • Improved Productivity – Increased operational efficiency by 15%. While this can often be a difficult measure to assess, TSI can confidently say that the measure is improving on a day-to-day basis.
  • Culture – Training instilled a continuous improvement mindset with TSI employees, with a focus on standard work and elimination of waste. These efforts touch everyone in the organization and lead to team driven solutions rather than top-down directives. 
  • Investment – Leveraged over $125,000 in Indiana workforce training and skills enhancement funding.
  • Training – Focused on workforce training to support operations and company objectives.
  • Workforce retention – Turnover was not necessarily high, but with greater engagement at all levels, opportunities increase. The byproduct being team members are more likely to remain with a path for growth.

“Our experience with Purdue MEP leadership and Lean training was highly rewarding with benefits that should reach beyond the topics covered by the instructors. On an educational level, the material was able to reach across all functions of the operation, while staying relevant to the diverse responsibilities of the group in attendance. As a bonus, I feel the leadership team now has a stronger bond and greater appreciation for work done by others in our organization. I would highly recommend Purdue MEP training and expertise for any company looking to grow the skillsets of its team.”

Tim Keller - President – Tri-State Industries

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