ASK Power and IMEC Team Together to Increase Performance and Create Jobs

Posted by Steve Kase

January 14 2017



  • ASK Power – Aurora, Illinois
  • 60 employees
  • Global manufacturer of electrical components for the utility and industrial marketplace


After several years measuring against an internal set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Steve Kase, Managing Director of ASK Power knew how the business tracked to their own performance, but had no perspective for where they fell relative to their competition. The organization reached out to key customers for performance reporting according to quality and customer-specific deliverables, but the ASK team was lacking the targeted feedback needed to develop strategic, actionable improvement objectives. Needing to take their planning to the next level, Steve leveraged his relationship with IMEC to undertake the Promoting Business Excellence (PROBE) global benchmark assessment for the organization. “As our trusted partner, I knew through Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) we would be able to use the international benchmark to realize the level of industry data needed to be more strategic,” said Kase.


Interested in the feedback for how they perform on a global level on a variety of functional objectives, the ASK team used the PROBE assessment to align their departmental priorities with the best-of-the-best in the industry; ultimately identifying the largest areas for improvement in human resource and accounting systems, as well new product development and technology. “The benefit of the transformative assessment was that it truly helped us compare our performance to successful competitors,” said Kase. “The sheer visibility of the areas where we are stronger than we need to be and those where we are weaker than ideal has been eye-opening and is unprecedented data for us.” Through a more strategic focus on the workforce, Kase and the ASK team were able to gain a lot of buy-in and feedback throughout the organization for the ideal future state. Instituting training for two and three levels of employees, prioritizing staff development, and optimizing the newly added roles in technical sales and engineering have been fruitful for the organization. Similarly, an investment in new product development secured them a new collaborative partnership with an industry leader yielding improvements in sales and technology growth that was not previously attainable. Kase indicates that following the PROBE assessment the initiative to add new people, target new markets, and bring new products on board has been successfully implemented, but that the upcoming year will truly be the year to harvest those investments for future growth and sustainability.


  • $5,000,000 investment in new products and technology
  • 3 jobs created
  • $100k cost savings
  • $500,000 in new sales

“Our IMEC experience, historically, and this year, has been a major source of continuous process improvement, critical to our success.” Steve Kase, Managing Director – ASK Power


Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center was established in 1996 to improve the productivity and competitiveness of Illinois' small and mid-sized manufacturing firms. We leverage the Baldrige Excellence Framework as a foundation for driving organizational improvement and then prioritize those improvements through a range of hands-on, goal-oriented solutions in continuous improvement, strategy, workforce, and more. Learn more at


Topics: Manufacturing News, ASK Power, Chicagoland Manufacturing, Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, Workforce Development, Business Processes, IMEC