KEVIN MCNUTT, 39
Systems Integration Manager
Ennis Inc., Midlothian, Texas
Manufacturing has always fascinated Kevin McNutt. But prior to joining this world, the Northwood University graduate put his business administration degree to use in the private equity industry, where he oversaw technology. He was also part of the project management team, providing analytical support and assisting in the development and management of fund materials. After a chance introduction to several people from Top 50 Supplier Ennis Inc., McNutt spent the next few months getting to know everyone. The business and company culture resonated with him, so when a systems integration manager position opened up, he jumped at the chance to delve into print. So, what exactly does he do? In a nutshell, McNutt integrates the large network of Ennis plants into its environment and culture—a large portion of which is the ERP system, though that’s not all. “At Ennis, when we talk about systems, it’s not just about the computers or the software,” McNutt explained. “We’re talking about the entire business system of a plant. The first step in onboarding a plant is to help the management team at the facility develop and understand their unique system design. Then, during the process of getting everything configured, we spend a lot of time learning about our costing methodologies and how we will determine the true costs of the products.” It’s been a fun eight years so far, and McNutt will no doubt be busy with additional plants to follow.
Why he loves his job: The thing I enjoy most about my job is meeting new people and teaching them about costing. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of new folks from many different parts of the country, and it’s been a great learning experience for myself to see all of the different types of management styles that are possible.
Age roadblocks and advantages: When I first started, I was probably a little self-conscious about my age, being just 31 and having very little industry experience. Now that I’m just a tad bit older, I feel that my ability to communicate effectively with all ages has helped me gain trust more quickly. Looking back, I think gaining deep knowledge of the material has helped me overcome any reservations one might have had regarding my age.
His biggest career influence: Our CEO, Keith Walters, has been most influential in my development. When I first started, Keith made himself available to answer all of my questions starting with manufacturing and moving on to costing, and then how we apply them to our business and how it all intertwines with our culture at Ennis. Even today, he is always available to answer questions when a new challenge arises. I wouldn’t have been able to learn as much as I have in the last eight years without his help.
His most meaningful business accomplishment: What’s most meaningful to me is the number of implementations we’ve completed since I started and to see the real impact that it makes on those facilities. So far, we’ve completed 26 implementations at Ennis.
His differentiating factor: Our culture and approach to operations is the driving factor that makes us strong. We focus on being financially strong, and that starts with knowing what your true costs are while focusing on sales. This allows us to be agile and make sound business decisions.
What he hopes to accomplish in the next year: My main focus is to continue to push the envelope in regard to finding more ways to streamline business processes at our facilities. Personally, I want to continue to learn new technologies and get familiar with another programming language. I take pride in being able to be the translator between operations and IT.
Why he believes the future is bright: Traveling to many different plants affords me the ability to get different perspectives on the industry. I’m seeing continued growth opportunities from products out of areas that were once thought of as niche. Some of the biggest areas of growth I’ve seen lately are in the tag and label industry, as well as in packaging. Ennis is in a strong position to continue to take advantage of these trends.
How the industry can better recruit young talent: I think it starts with the culture of a company and conveying that culture. I believe one of the most important aspects revolves around giving people real responsibilities and making them feel like they are going to be part of a team.
What he does for fun: With the abundance of travel required, I spend almost all of my spare time just being with my family. Our activities range from playing video games with the kids or playing basketball outside, to simply watching movies together.