Friday, November 14, 2014

Michigan Holiday Shopping Guide: Buy Local

 In an article published last year, the American Independent Business Alliance highlighted a shift in consumer behavior. More and more frequently, consumers choose to shop at local and independent shops, i.e. buy locally.

There are some great reasons to buy locally, and not just because we believe Michigan makes the best items around (though we do!)  First, let’s do the math. 

For every $100 spent at a local and independent business, $68 stays in the local economy*. This is what economists call the multiplier effect – meaning the money is then re-spent by the owners and employees of the first shop at other restaurants, clothing stores, bars, spas, gift stores, dentists, auto mechanics, and more. By contrast that same $100 spent at big national chain retailers recirculates, at best, only $43. That means the difference between shopping locally and at a chain store is a 58% increase in the multiplier.
*This stat and the others are according to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics.
Build and Strengthen Your Community – Neighborhood businesses and the surrounding spaces are some of the ultimate social networking sites. Local businesses often purchase their own services from local area businesses, thus helping with the above multiplier effect.
Enhance Choices and Shape Character – This applies both to you and your community. Even a Gap sweater pales if your co-worker has the same one. Supporting local and independent businesses allow for more unique gifts and diverse choices. Michigan has some amazing one of a kind shops and your community stores can help you find the perfect gift for that hard to shop for family member. 
While it’s no secret that we LOVE Michigan companies and that we have a great listing of companies on our website, you may be surprised at what can be found. . . .We encourage you to take a spin around the PTMIM website and check it out. In advance of Black Friday and the Holiday shopping rush, we thought we’d take a moment and highlight a few items for your review. 
Food and Household Items
Michigan is the home of some great craft brews, delicious homemade baked goods, and even some great make at home goodies like PopDaddy Popcorn and Polar Ventures, Whippy Pops frozen treats. There are also wonderful home accents from decorative candles (see North Star or Holly Candle Shoppe) to hand crafted wood products (see Cento Anni and our featured company this week, PegandRail).
Personal Care Items
Tucked away in random places you can locate fun bath time Bizzy Fizz or organic products from Brittanie’s Thyme. Irwin Industries sells its Red Ball Bidet, designed especially to reach those hard to reach areas. From ear plugs to trash receptacles to stainless steel work stations, we really do have a little something for everyone.
One of a Kind Items
For those one of a kind or novelty items, Michigan does not disappoint. You can commission art from Craig Mitchell Smith, collect elegant stemware with a chalkboard base, purchase camp camo’s and delight hunters everywhere. . . for the nature lover in you, check out future oxygen; buy a gift and plant a tree.  
This is just a tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to Innovative design, unique to you products and quality craftsmanship. Get ahead of the Christmas rush and go shopping at a locally owned and operated merchant (or website) near you.
Do you have a favorite hidden gem you want to share? Sound off in the comments.
Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, November 7, 2014

LinkedIn: 6 Tips for Michigan’s Manufacturers

linkedin tips for manufacturers
So you’re trying to network with new contacts, exchange business cards and generate more leads for your business. Your target audience members create a big networking group, and very conveniently for you, they decide to have their meetings at a restaurant that’s right next door to your office! Even better, they don’t charge any fees to join their networking group. You would be a fool to completely ignore these meetings and never attend, right?

Well, if you’re not an active member of LinkedIn right now, it’s time to start feeling a little foolish. Don't worry though – it’s never too late to join! LinkedIn is the premiere social media site dedicated to business networking and currently boasts 332 million members.

If you’re not connecting with new leads on LinkedIn, it may be because of your strategy. You have to approach LinkedIn as if you were participating in a real-life networking organization. The more active you are, the better chance you have at making connections and driving business. Here are 6 tips on how you can improve your LinkedIn profile:

  1. Picture: You wouldn’t go to a networking group with a mask on your face… same thinking applies for LinkedIn. Upload a professional looking headshot!

  2. Summary: LinkedIn guides you through creating your profile as if it were an online resume. That’s great if you’re looking for a job, but most of us are looking for more leads. Instead of writing your summary as a resume, use it as an opportunity to appeal to your target audience. Your first sentences should connect with your prospects and address their business challenges. Then, the rest of your summary should demonstrate your personal credibility and how your company can address your prospects’ business needs.

  3. Recommendations: The words of others matter. Reach out to your clients and customers and ask them to provide recommendations to display on your profile. To make it easier for them, you can suggest words or sentences you would like them to include. Ask them to quantify your accomplishments. “Ricky’s products boosted our performance by 50%” holds more merit than “Ricky’s products are great.”

  4. Education, Honors and Personal Interests: Don’t overlook these critical areas to personalize your profile. You may have been in the same fraternity / sorority as a prospect, or may be able to bond over your mutual love of boating! However, avoid controversial topics like politics unless it’s explicitly relevant to your job. Is it really worth missing out on business and alienating customers because you felt the need to post about [insert hot button issue]?

  5. Group Participation: Now that your profile is set, it’s time to get cracking on networking. Research LinkedIn groups that your prospects would be interested in joining. On the group discussion board, start interesting and valuable conversations. Please note: your sales pitch isn’t an interesting conversation! You wouldn’t walk into a networking group and then start immediately shouting out your sales pitch… you need to make connections with people first. Try posting industry updates or tips for your target audience. That way, they’ll look at you as a credible expert and will come to you when they’re ready.

  6. News Feed: When your LinkedIn connections make changes to their profiles or participate on the site, that information is reflected in your news feed. By evaluating your news feed, you can see when your prospects change companies, get promoted or start conversations. This information can be valuable to your future sales pitch!

Remember, a new member joins LinkedIn every 2 seconds. Now is the time to use this networking site to your advantage. And if you haven’t joined it already, MMTC has a Proud to Manufacture in Michigan LinkedIn group! It’s a great place to connect with other local professionals. Click here to visit the group!

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Friday, October 31, 2014

From Concept to Consumer: Supply Chain Optimization

Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about Managing or Mitigating Risk, The Value of Positive PR, and Competition, namely Supply Chain vs. Supply Chain and the importance of minimizing disruptions. As technology and other advances make the world seem smaller and smaller, it’s more important than ever to prepare in advance for potential service disruptions. As stated last week, we want to ‘remove the blindfold’ before entering the obstacle course.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST-MEP), our federal sponsor, conducted research to identify the critical needs of supply chains. Through a two-phase survey process, 12 competitiveness drivers were discovered and the six most critical highlighted. 

In response, MEP experts, including MMTC's own Roger Tomlinson, are working hard to roll out a program to address these issues. MMTC has long assisted parent companies with integrated solutions for their locations. We see this as a further step, one that connects individual company improvements to supply chain benefits. Key supply chain benefits include:
Alignment      Visibility         Collaboration             Optimization

Fundamentally, Supply Chain Management (SCM) is about reducing risk, not just to manufacturing but across the entire quote-to-cash cycle.

Risk Management
A healthy supply chain is the foundation of any successful organization. Rapid and dynamic changes occur daily both inside and outside every organization. That is why it is important to plan for and have low-cost tools in place for dealing with potential disruption.
Supply chain decision-makers, along with senior management, must understand and utilize risk management practices to manage and control all critical points along its network. A good understanding of risk management techniques becomes the foundation that allows managers to make more informed distinctions among the competing priorities of process cost-effectiveness and risk exposure. A sufficiently robust supply chain will be able to model a good number of alternatives, to know what is feasible and what is not feasible, and to be able to present metrics on the cost to reduce the risk of possible disruptions.

Not Just Risk in Manufacturing

‘Total Cost of Ownership’ is what SCM means when it addresses risk, not just to on-time production, but to the entire cycle from purchasing to delivery. Total cost of ownership captures all pre-transaction, transaction, and post-transaction costs and also includes the total landed cost element if some or all of the materials are imported from another country.

The consequences of getting this wrong are very high. If a company does not identify all of the cost factors, it may under-quote the price to the customer. This could result in selling products below cost. Understanding the total cost of ownership also improves the company’s chance of meeting all licensing, regulatory, and logistics requirements. Non-compliance can cost an organization additional penalties and delays.

The international transportation of goods falls under the International Commercial Terms, also known as Incoterms, of which there are 11: 
  • Pickup at supplier
  • Inland transportation to a port or airport
  • Origin terminal and port fees
  • Export licensing, documentation, and duties
  • Ocean or air carriage
  • Import documentation and duties
  • Terminal and port fees at destination
  • Customs review
  • Harbor maintenance fees
  • Maritime insurance
  • Inland transportation to importer’s location. 
The Incoterm agreed on between the importer and the supplier determines the responsibilities of each party and, therefore, the division of costs. Before a buying organization can begin to calculate the total cost of ownership, it must identify the Incoterm that will be used in the transaction. That selected term will clearly define who does what and which factors should be included in the buying organization’s calculated total cost of ownership.

For a complete overview of MMTC’s Optimization program, join us on Nov 5th at 8:00 am and discuss benefits to you and your community of partners. Find out how to create a stronger base for your manufacturing processes through this half-day. An in-depth look at the Roadmap to achieving the four key benefits and the accompanying tools will help you decide whether Supply Chain Optimization is right for you.

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at