Q: Explain your organization, and its purpose in the growth process of the manufacturing industry.
A: We are a non-profit organization dedicated to helping manufacturers become more competitive, productive, profitable, and sustainable. We're part of a national network of programs that is dedicated to doing the same thing. In many respects, manufacturers are not necessarily looking for a consultant who will come in and help them with a problem; they're interested in a partnership. It's up to us to do what we can to create greater partnerships between ourselves and our companies and, frankly, between manufacturers themselves.
Q: What is Dakota MEP's relationship like with NIST MEP? How closely do the state organizations align with the national initiatives of the organization? How is Dakota MEP in a unique position?
A: The NIST MEP system isn’t a franchised program; you can modify and adapt your MEP program to the nature of your state and marketplace. Here at Dakota MEP, we are interested in acquiring public support to assist manufacturers, but at the same time, engaging manufacturers to work with us and to understand that they have to come to the table with some financial support of their own.
Q: How does your organization attempt to encourage involvement from manufacturers?
A: Through partnerships. We try to ensure that at the end of a project with a manufacturer, there is a return on investment
Q: Describe the ways in which establishing a "new worker pipeline" has improved the situation for manufacturers and workers in the Dakotas.
A: We have been working on ways for manufacturers to come together, work together and understand that their industry needs a pipeline of talent and new workers that are attracted to manufacturing. We've been able to pilot the Manufacturing Boot Camps that encourage people to take an interest in manufacturing. What has been great is knowing that we are giving opportunities to improve and change people's lives. It's an intangible satisfaction.
Q: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges currently facing manufacturers?
A: The biggest challenge facing manufacturers is globalization. The business models that allowed manufacturing to be successful after World War II no longer hold up today. Trying to maintain competitiveness is harder than it's ever been. Globalization is one of the reasons we focus so much on encouraging companies to become Lean enterprises. Companies that are seeking to compete globally are looking for the best ways to serve those markets, and maybe they can do that from the US, and maybe they can't. In some cases they're making business decisions based on finding the lowest-cost place to operate
Q: How are you currently addressing problematic worker-specific issues such as output and wage rates?
A: We want to ensure that whatever can be done to emphasize value
Q: Using your experience with the manufacturing industry, what is the best advice you would offer to a struggling company?
A: To do a realistic assessment of themselves, defining what they are really good at by asking their customers, end-users, suppliers, wholesalers and staff
|What is NIST MEP?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) is a nationwide network of resources providing technical and business assistance to America’s 355,000 small and mid-size manufacturers.
NIST MEP maintains a grassroots network serving all 50 states through over 70 non-profit MEP Centers, providing comprehensive, affordable, hands-on support to smaller firms. The MEP system includes over 2,000 manufacturing and business specialists with deep experience in manufacturing operations and world-class business consulting.
For more information on NIST MEP, visit www.mep.nist.gov