Meet Tim Nolan
President & CEO
In 2007 Tim Nolan founded Precision Composites of Vermont (PCOVT). At that time, the company was slowly dying: its infrastructure was outdated; its manufacturing processes were old-fashioned; its production time was slow; and the potential of its workforce had not been tapped. Nolan saw in PCOVT an opportunity to implement the cutting-edge skills he had developed as the Quality Manager at Lydall Thermal Acoustical Group. In his final year at Lydall, the company shipped 14 million units with only 12 rejects at customer. This incredible quality standard became the benchmark for quality at PCOVT.
The foundation of PCOVT’s ethos is an idea drawn from the Marine Corps: the Marine Corps is the most unified fighting force in the world because every Marine has the same basic skillset. Every Marine is a rifleman. Similarly, everyone who works for Tim Nolan has a basic skillset—a knowledge of the product. This knowledge of composites—what they do, how they can be manipulated, what they are used for—creates a workforce that is unified, knowledgeable, and capable of backstopping each other in times of crisis. Production doesn’t come to a halt because no one knows how to do a specialized task.
Nolan is committed to exposing the “hidden factory”—the unwritten, undocumented folkways that often represent the reality of manufacturing, rather than the procedures officially recorded in handbooks and guides. His goal is to eliminate what is unwritten; to document everything, so that the manufacturing process is as transparent to a new hire as to an old hand. By taking on the hidden factory, Nolan has challenged one of the biggest obstacles to efficiency in manufacturing: the retention of knowledge in the memory of individuals or small groups of insiders.
Instead, Nolan has built a workforce unified by shared knowledge and values. These values include team building, technical excellence, the notion of best process, and speed of design and manufacturing. As the following example shows, Nolan’s leadership produces extraordinary results for clients.
Behind the success of PCOVT stands Tim Nolan. With 25 years of experience in manufacturing, quality, and operations management, Nolan leads PCOVT with a sure hand. He knows manufacturing at every level, from the inside out; he is as comfortable on the shop floor as in the board room. This depth of knowledge is the source of his remarkable business acuity: Nolan understands precisely how to streamline processes to make them more efficient; how to select the best people to run PCOVT; what the most advanced technology in composites is and how to acquire it; and how to meet the needs of a varied group of clients. He is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and has used Six Sigma methods to improve efficiency and productivity at PCOVT.
But Nolan goes beyond the systems of others to develop his own system, one that is specifically crafted for PCOVT, for the Northeast Kingdom, for composites manufacturing and design. He is not the kind of manager who imports an outside system or management philosophy, hoping that the system itself will run his company. Nolan’s depth of knowledge about manufacturing and PCOVT enables him to adopt useful ideas from management philosophies, without applying those philosophies across the board to circumstances they may not fit. The result is a company that is firmly grounded in an ethos shared by management and the workforce, deeply committed to customer service and speed of design and production, and capable of producing the highest quality products in the shortest possible time.