Northern Initiatives Prosperity. Money and Know How

Lake Shore Systems

“Northern Initiatives is a terrific partner for a manufacturer in Michigan. I appreciate their willingness to listen and really understand our unique business environment, challenges, and opportunities.” – Jessica Frost, President & CEO of Lake Shore Systems


Lake Shore Systems, a designer and manufacturer of complex heavy machinery for maritime and mining applications, has partnered with Northern Initiatives to strengthen their operations in a competitive environment. Headquartered in Rhinelander, WI, Lake Shore Systems has facilities in Iron River, Ontonagon, and Kingsford, Michigan. With 400 employees, Lake Shore Systems supplies equipment and service for customers along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts, and supports the U.S. Navy worldwide.


Northern Initiatives and Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) is currently working on three Lean assessments in three different Lake Shore Systems’ facilities. A Lean assessment measures process stability, selects areas for improvement, and evaluates employee commitment to procedures. Lean assessments can result in cost savings, increased productivity, new and value-added positions, and employee retention, among other benefits.


In Lake Shore Systems’ Iron River facility, MMTC, together with Northern Initiatives (NI), is documenting the three-part staging process of the mining equipment line, from axle to electronics, to pinpoint inefficiencies. Once actionable areas of improvement have been identified, MMTC and NI will make recommendations to Lake Shore Systems for refinement and an increase in productivity.


A new product for Lake Shore Systems is the subject of a second Lean assessment currently underway in the Rhinelander facility. The assessment will determine if moving the production to the Ontonagon facility in the future would result in cost savings for this identified growth product.


And in Lake Shore Systems’ Kingsford facility, MMTC and NI are working on a Value Stream Map (VSM) of paperwork flow. A VSM establishes the key people, resources, activity, and flow of information, particularly in a manufacturing setting, and identifies areas for improved efficiency.


Working closely on the Lean assessments, Nick Fornetti, Lake Shore’s Continuous Improvement & Plant Quality Manager, notes, “Northern Initiatives has a wealth of resources and vast network of experts in various subjects. They work hard to find the right resources to help you achieve your goals.”


Lake Shore Systems’ partnership with Northern Initiatives gives them a competitive advantage in a national industry and makes them a vital community builder in three Michigan counties.