Friday, November 30, 2012

Why I became a Family Business Advisor….

The numbers are staggering:

  • 24,000,000 small businesses in the U.S. today
  • 95% are family-owned or closely-held
  • 85% of business owners’ state: “I want to pass this business on to the next generation”
  • 65% will transition ownership or leadership within the next 5 years, but most have no formal succession plan in place.
  • 30% of family businesses survive into the second generation
Of all the numbers and comments, the one that hit home the most is this one: “Most of the discussions in regards to succession planning happen in the funeral home parking lot.”

As a consultant, I work with many, many family owned businesses in Michigan. When I start to relate the numbers to not only my clients, but my friends, I realize the incredible importance of having a succession plan. Imagine the impact on a company, a family, the employees, and a community without one. So if this is so important, why don’t more family owned businesses do it? This is what I hear:

      No time to deal with the issue
      Too early to plan for succession
      Can’t find adequate advice/tools to start
      Too complex and costs too much 
      Don’t want to think about leaving
      Might create conflict with family or employees

What I tell people is, “There will always be a reason not to do it.” You need to have a plan that will make the difference between whether your business will endure, or succumb. Keeping it simple, you need to:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Top Twelve Reasons we’re thankful in 2012

12.   Manufacturing has received a lot of positive attention in the Media spotlight this year, just ask your politicians

11.    Bloomberg’s Michigan Manufacturing Group Index is up for the year.

10.   While the nation added 225,000 manufacturing jobs last year, one of every ten of them were in Michigan. In the most current data available, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 5.5% increase in Michigan Manufacturing jobs from Mar 2011 to Mar 2012.

9.      The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor is #2 on the US News Industrial / Manufacturing College Ranking list. Industrial / Manufacturing engineering involves improved productivity and efficiency. For more,

8.       A successful National Manufacturing Day on October 5th – kicking off the first of an annual event highlighting skilled jobs and innovation in today’s manufacturing facilities. For more information, see the website at and get ready now for Manufacturing Day 2013 on October 4th

7.       Overall, 15 of 22 industry groups contributed to the increase in real GDP. Durable goods manufacturing—reflecting strong growth in motor vehicle manufacturing, and professional, scientific and technical services were the leading contributors to growth. Durable–goods manufacturing contributed 1.17 percentage points to growth in Michigan. See the report here – released Nov 13, 2012.

6.        Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped for the 2nd straight month in data released by the Department of Technology, management and Budget on November 14th. The largest job advances were posted in professional and business services, and manufacturing, both up 15,000

5.        Detroit is one of the  10 metropolitan statistical areas where the most job growth from 2010 to 2012 -

4.        MMTC is part of the new Innovation Center focused on helping small and midsize manufacturers innovate quickly and spur growth and new product creation. Be watching for more information coming soon. Read the Crain’s article here -

3.        We’re Proud to Manufacture in Michigan and so are many of you. In the first 3 months of the program, 93 companies have elected to join the Proud to Manufacture in Michigan program and 15 companies have been featured as our Manufacturer of the Week. For more on the program, visit our website at

2.        Almost half of the Michigan 50 companies to watch are manufacturers.

1.       America’s Thanksgiving Parade, now in its 86th year, is a fantastic “Made in Detroit” tradition put together by the Parade Company out of Detroit. For more information on the Parade, check out the Guide in today’s CBS local news

Friday, November 16, 2012

Three Ways to Achieve Customer-Focused Innovation

There are three elements necessary to achieve world class customer-focused innovation.
Defining innovation should be easy, unfortunately, it’s not. Is it a process? Is it the end game? Is it merely a new way of doing an existing thing or is it only something completely different? Is collaboration a tool that allows innovation to take place or is collaboration itself the innovation? At least we can agree on this - manufacturing innovation includes the introduction of new processes and practices, new technology and equipment and/or new materials to a company. Innovation is an integral part of the continued successes of Michigan's manufacturing sector. Innovation is necessary because of the competitive edge that it brings and it’s essential to develop, make and market new products and services that meet customer needs at a pace faster than the competition, especially in today’s economic environment.

According to the Next Generation Manufacturing Survey, approximately 43% of manufacturers self-report that they are near or at world-class customer-focused innovation. Merely 5% of manufacturers report no progress toward world-class status. The implication, if you aren’t at least moving in this direction, you are falling behind the competition.

There are three elements necessary to achieve world-class customer-focused innovation: strategy, talent / talent-development and capable business systems and equipment:

  • Strategy – 72 percent of manufacturing companies have a company-specific strategy, which guides innovation. Only seven percent of firms have no innovation strategy in place.
  • Talent / development programs – Talent and development programs drive customer-focused innovation into the next generation. Talent development is also important to close the skills gap that manufacturers are experiencing. The majority of manufacturers have either adequate talent or a talent development program. Only 17 percent of manufacturing companies do not have either talent or a development program. This is relevant for areas beyond innovation, including succession planning and business sustainability.
  • Business systems and equipment – A majority of manufacturers host systems and equipment, which meet current requirements. 18 percent report that they have state-of-the-art tools, while an equal 18 percent have inadequate systems and equipment or none at all.

Manufacturers that are near or at world-class customer-focused innovation emphasize communication and collaboration to address the requirements of their customers. Manufacturers cite some best practices to achieve world-class status: 

  •  Active study of customer requirements
  • Business focused Research & Development
  • No fear of failure
  • Fully integrated services, from development through distribution
  • Routine innovation training
  • Flat organizational structure which allows for ease of communication between sales and customer service – leading to employee empowerment.

Leadership is the cornerstone of any successful change effort and implementing a successful innovation initiative at your manufacturing facility is no different. Research shows that without leadership, improvement efforts are not sustainable and have a high failure rate. MMTC offers a 3 Day Executive Level hands-on workshop focused on leading change. Led by experienced MMTC team members, the workshop focuses on organizational performance and creating a culture of improvement and innovation.

In addition, MMTC has just been named in a partnership with the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan, the Detroit regional Chamber, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences to connect local manufacturers with the capability and capacity to support low-volume, custom projects with new global contracts, including R & D and other intellectual property developed in Michigan. The innovation Center, slated to open in early 2013, will allow manufacturers easy access to digital modeling and other simulation tools to optimize speed, reliability and efficiency.

For more information about MMTC's Leadership-in-Action, the innovation center pilot or other programs, contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at

Image by Kelly Waters.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five Critical Elements in a Successful Pay Per Click Campaign

Pay Per Click advertising, the “Sponsored Ads” that display at the top and side in search engines like Google, is a highly effective method of driving new prospects and buyers to your website. You only pay for visitors who actually “click” your ad – a more cost effective advertising approach than Yellow Pages, ThomasNet, Newspapers and many more traditional forms of advertising.

However, like most everything, PPC campaigns can be a costly game when they aren't well-planned and wisely implemented. So, don't waste your time and money on ads or landing pages that don't do what they were designed to do.

To help you get the best ROI from your PPC budget, focus on 5 critical elements to create and implement successful, cost-effective PPC campaigns:
1.    Ad title: Grab a visitor's attention with keywords, action verbs, and offers that match the intent of their search.  
2.    Ad copy: Expand on the title, but do so efficiently. The key is knowing what motivates your audience, and tempting them to click through with a vision of irresistible benefits. 
3.    Landing page title: Make it obvious that visitors came to the right place. Your title should get boldly to the point and use the same keyword as your PPC add Stay positive by highlighting solutions—not problems. 
4.    Landing page copy: Build on the title's relevance with straightforward copy that clearly reflects the purpose of the visitor's search. Provide a single call to action and a clear path to the next steps. 
5.    Landing page organization: Your most important information should appear above the fold—the portion of the page that can be seen without scrolling. Use an uncluttered layout that doesn't distract from the action you want your visitor to take. 

Know what points to hit—and hit them well. Without careful planning, a PPC campaign can be expensive and ineffective. But a well-directed one can grab interest and spur response.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Benefits of a Career in Manufacturing

The U.S. economy relies heavily on the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing firms fund most of our domestic corporate Research & Development, and the resulting innovations and growth in productivity improve our standard of living. Manufacturing boosts exports and the industry plays an important part in national defense. 

Recently, the economic recovery has shown a return in manufacturing job growth. U.S. Manufacturing employment has grown by 4 percent from January 2010 until April 2012, making it the strongest cyclical rebound since the early 1980's.

A career in manufacturing is becoming more prominent and is highly beneficial as well.  Manufacturing jobs have a number of advantages, including:

  • High hourly wages – The average hourly wage and salary for manufacturing jobs in 2010 was $29.75. Total hourly compensation, including employer-provided benefits, was at a 17 percent premium over the workers in non-manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing workers tend to earn 7 percent more hourly than workers in other industries. 
  • Highly-valued benefits – Manufacturing workers are more likely than any other workers to have significant employer-provided benefits. This includes medical insurance and retirement packages. 
  • Working for an innovative industry – Manufacturing workers are innovation drivers and often have skills and experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries. Nearly one-third of college educated manufacturing employees hold a STEM job. 
  • Manufacturing workers are educated professionals – The educational attainment within the manufacturing industry is on the rise. In 2012, over one half of manufacturing jobs are held by those with at least some level of college education.

In January 2011, the Michigan manufacturing sector employed 498,000, comprising 12.7 percent of total non-farm employment in the state. Manufacturing jobs increased by 6.3 percent from March 2010 to March 2011, more than double the growth seen in any other sector. During this time employment grew by 75,700 jobs; 30,000 of these jobs were in the manufacturing sector. In addition, manufacturing compensation is 74.5 percent higher than other nonfarm employers in the state

In the next several years, the Baby Boomer generation will retire and allow continued hiring opportunities in the manufacturing sector. From mid-2009 through February 2012, job openings surged by over 200 percent. The availability of these jobs paired with the benefits of working in the manufacturing industry provides job seekers with an opportunity to excel.

MMTC assists small and mid-size manufacturers with personalized services that are fitted to meet the needs of Michigan's small businesses. MMTC develops more effective business leaders, promotes company-wide operational excellence and fosters creative strategies for business growth. For more information, click here.