There are many different paths to success in business and in life. The path taken by Hue Lien, owner of Modern Manufacturing & Engineering, Inc. (MME, Inc.) in Brooklyn Park, MN, has inspired the Bremer Bank team for more than two decades. Under Lien’s leadership, the company has solidified its position as a world-class manufacturer of precision custom-machined components and assemblies and more than doubled its production facility. Its service, quality standards and manufacturing innovations have attracted national and global customers in the aerospace, defense, commercial products and equipment, entertainment and agriculture industries.
But Lien would not necessarily have predicted his role in MME’s success when he and his family immigrated to Iowa following the Vietnam War, and then moved to Minnesota in 1980, where, after graduating at the top of his tool & die-maker class, Lien became a tool crib attendant at MME. Over the years, Lien demonstrated a strong commitment to learning and excellence, earning him promotions to machinist, plant manager, assistant manager, operations manager, partner – and eventually to owner when, in 1998, the founder’s son retired and sold the company to Lien.
“Success in business requires a lot of hard work,” Lien explained. “You must enjoy what you’re doing, and you need some luck to go along with the hard work. I worked long hours, seven days straight, for many years. I believe in service, going the extra mile. Once we get a customer, we keep them. They have no reason to go in a different direction – which is the same way I feel about working with Bremer Bank, because of their level of service to us.”
As a result of the 20-year relationship between MME and Bremer, Lien says he recommends Bremer to other businesses looking for a strong banking partner. “Bremer has a lot of good people who do things the right way. Not only have they helped finance our growth, but they are knowledgeable, respond quickly, and deliver excellent service. It’s hard to find other banks that do that consistently, so I have no reason to go anywhere else,” he said.
As a hands-on leader with high standards for himself, Lien models the behaviors he expects from his 160 employees – showing them how to use equipment and design parts as well as teaching them the importance of customer service. “We don’t just make parts; we help our employees understand how our customers will use the parts and why our high standards for quality and service matter,” Lien says. Over the years, this approach has built trust and inspired admiration and loyalty – with customers, employees and partners.
In keeping with the company’s relentless focus on customer service, Lien refuses to automate the company’s telephone answering system. He insists that employees (including himself) answer every incoming call before the third ring. Incoming calls go to multiple lines in the building to ensure this standard is consistently met. As Lien describes it, “a lot of little things put together” make the MME, Inc. culture one that successfully retains employees and customers – and partners like Bremer – over time.
Lien is equally intentional about the company’s work environment. MME, Inc. offers steady work, stable hours, a strong commitment to training and internal promotion and a comfortable, immaculate 90,000-square-foot facility with high ceilings and the latest machine technology. The building was first constructed in 2005 with a loan from Bremer which was repaid well before it was due; subsequent expansions in 2008, 2011 and 2014 were funded with cash from operations. Due to company growth, a 15,000-square-foot expansion across the street is now under way.
In 2015, Lien’s daughter, Nancy Lien Berndt, was promoted to president while Lien took on the title of senior executive officer. “He brought me here when I was 13 to wrap parts, file, type up orders and do whatever needed to be done,” said Lien Berndt. “Over time, he showed me the importance of management in a company like MME, Inc. and how well-suited I was to the world of business.”
In addition to Lien Berndt, two of Lien’s other three daughters also work at the company, one in human resources management and the other in production management. Three brothers-in-law and several uncles also call MME, Inc. their workplace. “My philosophy was to get my children interested in the business from an early age. I wanted to show them the value of hard work and the importance of being on time and showing respect,” Lien said.
Sitting in the conference room at the front office of MME, Inc., the walls lined with dozens of awards from major defense and commercial customers, Lien reflects on what he’s most proud of in business and in life. “I am most proud of my children, and that they are prepared and able to take over the business and improve it.” Then, with just the slightest hesitation, Lien adds, “And I’m proud of myself. I’ve been fortunate and I’ve worked hard for it.”
At Bremer, we’re honored to partner with Hue Lien, Nancy Lien Berndt and the entire team at Modern Manufacturing & Engineering, Inc. and to have built a long-standing relationship based on mutual respect, integrity and hard work.