Friday, May 26, 2017

Follow the Leader

(What Happens When the Leader is Gone?)


By: Michael Beels


In the manufacturing industry, it’s common for family-owned businesses to be passed down from one generation to the next. Without a proper succession plan in place, a c-level family member’s sudden death or unexpected disability can cause a multitude of problems. Fortunately, proper succession planning—which strives to circumvent these unpredictable events by having a thorough program of plans and responses in place to optimally fill key leadership positions—can help lessen the disruption and deter family infighting. 

The following are some frequently asked questions I’ve received about succession planning and some helpful answers:

Q: Why do you need a succession plan?
A: There are more than 200,000 family-owned businesses in Michigan that do not have a formal plan to carry on the owner's vision after he/she is deceased or exits the business. With only 35% successfully making the transition to a second generation, both legacy and jobs are at risk. 

Q: What goes into a suitable succession plan? 
A: Above and beyond the need to find resources for financial planning, estate planning, business valuation, operating agreements, buy/sell agreements, trusts, etc., a business owner should consider the following: personal income requirements, future involvement, upcoming investments and legacy. 

Q: Who needs to be involved?
A: All family members, even those who are not currently part of the business must be privy to a succession plan. Key employees should be included, too.

Q: What strategies should be incorporated?
A: Tactics include any business competencies that need to be developed for key personnel to achieve strategic goals, planning the transition of roles and responsibilities of key management members, and determining whether the successor of the business will be found internally or externally.

Q: How often should it be updated?
A: At a minimum, annually.

Q: What should be top-of-mind when developing a succession plan?
A: The business owner must determine what they want to do with the business. Do they plan on handing off the business to a family member? Sell the business? Remain an active participant even after retiring? Answering these questions will lead ownership down the correct path for succession planning. It is highly recommended that business owner’s plan for “Emergency Succession.” What will happen if the leader were unable to remain in that role due to emergency purposes? What if they become disabled, incapacitated or even die? Would the business continue? Everything from key contacts to computer passwords must be addressed. 

Q: How can a succession plan positively impact customers?
A: Consumers become loyal to a company because of consistent work culture, efficiency of output and level of production. In order to meet and exceed current customer expectations, manufacturers must be able to maintain their daily routines no matter what the situation may be.

Q: How does a succession plan benefit employees? 
A: When a company’s culture, ethics, routine and rules suddenly change, employees may become flustered or disengaged, putting an organization at risk of making mistakes, decreasing levels of motivation and diminishing productivity. The abruptness of the situation may also result in an employee feeling disconnected, lacking support and left wanting to leave. Succession planning allows employees to adjust organically to the transition with gradual ease, while maintaining their level of productivity and motivation.  

Plan for the unexpected
Most importantly, don’t delay setting up a succession plan for your business. If you’ve already done so, congratulations! Keep in mind, however, it might be time for a review. To schedule your free assessment with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center), click here



About Our Expert

Michael Beels 
Lean Program Manager

Michael Beels has served as a Lean Program Manager for the Lean Business Solutions Team at The Center for more than 12 years. He a Certified Family Business Advisor and RAB/QSA Certified Internal Auditor. His areas of expertise include Succession Planning, Change Leadership, Workforce Engagement and the entire portfolio of Lean strategies and methodologies. To read Michael’s full bio, click here. 








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Be a Leader (Not a Boss)

Don't Follow the Example of Iconic TV and Movie Characters


By: Charlie Westra


What do The Office’s Michael Scott, Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, Office Space’s Bill Lumbergh and Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada all have in common? They’re some of the most memorable bosses on TV and the big screen—for all the wrong reasons. From ultra-cheesy, mega greedy to super sleazy, there’s been no shortage of highly incapable, completely inappropriate supervisors to entertain us.

Fast forward to your workplace
While workplace hilarity is perfect with your favorite beverage on the comfort of your couch, can you imagine if one of these fictional characters was your supervisor in real life? I’m cringing just thinking about heartless micromanager Lumbergh at my office. (“Charlie, yeah, I’m going to need you to come in tomorrow and if you can come in on Sunday, too, that’d be greeaaaat.”)

Whether you work on the manufacturing floor or in an office, the importance of having an effective leader cannot be underestimated. A recent Gallup study found that 1 out of 2 adults had left their job to get away from a manager. The bottom line: Supervisors can make or break employee retention and job satisfaction.

If you’re a supervisor, ask yourself the following questions: Do you give your employees a case of the Mondays every day of the week? Are you bringing out the best in your employees or are you bringing out your worst?

What is great leadership?
True leadership is not just the ability to motivate a group toward a common goal—it’s the ability to cross over from a person employees have to follow, to a person they want to follow. Leadership is influence, and if the focus is shifted from traditional authority to true relational leadership—treating your team members as people first and employees second—success will follow. Develop positive employee-manager relationships and employee retention skills, equip managers with practical tools that can be used every day to attract new talent and keep the good people already onboard.

To simplify the process, I have boiled down three critical points:

Find out, and relate to, what your employees value. (Mr. Burns, are you listening?)
Sacrifice a little bit of time and energy to connect with each team member on a regular basis.
  (Yep, Michael Scott did this well . . . minus Toby and Meredith.)
Communicate appreciation. (All of the fictional characters need a crash course on this one.)

Enhance your skills and fill the gap with leadership training
The Center’s Supervisory Skills Workshop can develop, enhance and refresh your skills as a leader and offer a renewed outlook on true relational leadership. Have some employees with leadership potential or a newly promoted supervisor or foreman and want to give him or her some practical management training? This 32-hr. class is ideal for them, too. Among others, participants will learn how to:

Identify their leadership style and its strengths and weaknesses.
Discover different behavioral characteristics and determine the best method for each type.
Uncover communication barriers and listening/communication techniques to enhance interaction
  in all directions.
Examine how individuals are motivated and identify opportunities to encourage subordinates to
  achieve organizational goals.
Determine the most effective methods of delivering on-the-job training and apply them for
  increased competence in employees.
Pinpoint what causes conflict and how to mitigate and prevent escalation.

Be the reason talented employees stay with your company. Let’s leave the drama where it
belongs . . . on the screen.


Interested in learning more?
Click here to watch a short video about The Center's Supervisory Skills course.


Join me for the Supervisory Skills Workshop:

July 6, 7, 13 and 14, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Kalamazoo Country Club
1609 Whites Road
Kalamazoo, MI
Click here to register.

September 18, 20, 25 and 27, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
The Center
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI
Click here to register.





MEET OUR BLOGGER

Charlie Westra
Growth Services Program Manager


Charlie Westra is a Program Manager for The Center and teaches the Supervisory Skills class. He enjoys interacting with small to mid-sized manufacturers about how to improve morale, motivate effectively, reduce conflict and resistance to change. To read Charlie’s full bio, click here.









Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Food Allergen Recalls: What’s On the Table?

By: John Spillson
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from foodborne illnesses. Food safety and food testing technology keep getting better, yet recalls have been on the rise. Why? While many recalls are for unsafe/contaminated food, many times it’s due to allergens. In fact, one third of all recalls are due to the mislabeling of allergens in food products.

The U.S. recognizes eight allergens that contribute to 90% of the allergic reactions in the U.S. They can be easily remembered by the following acronym—“NEWS”:

N – Nuts (Peanuts or tree nuts are species specific and must be individually identified)
E – Eggs/milk
W – Wheat/soy
S – Shellfish/fish –These are also species specific so the type of fish must be identified.

Canada also includes sesame seeds, mustard and sulfites as listed allergens. So, companies exporting to Canada must be aware of this on their labels.

Three Ways Allergens Get Into the Food Supply
Allergens can mistakenly get into food products by one of three ways: cross contact on food surfaces, cross contamination or mislabeling. Cross contact occurs when surfaces are shared between items with and without these allergens, when surfaces aren’t properly cleaned, or when ingredients might be substituted and labels aren’t checked for the introduction of new allergens. It’s important to remember that sanitizing surfaces does not remove allergens—only cleaning with proper cleaning solutions and agitation.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)—Proactive Instead of Reactive
The old food laws put the emphasis on controlling hazards through the use of “critical control points” under HACCP rules. The new FSMA has moved the emphasis to preventing hazards from occurring in the first place. The most significant factor is the requirement that every food processor must have a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) available to them. A PCQI is trained to identify food safety hazards and to develop and maintain a company’s food safety plan to control dangers that are likely to occur and that have severe consequences should they make their way into our food.

Under FSMA, the three biggest areas that companies have increased responsibility include: monitoring their supply chain, having proper sanitation programs and ensuring the accuracy of their labels. Supply chain controls involve getting written documentation from their approved suppliers that their products are what they say they are and that they have certificates of analysis, when necessary. Proper sanitation programs require segregating allergens in dry storage as well as during processing. These also include adequate cleaning and sanitizing between processing runs to reduce or eliminate the chance of leftover allergen residue being picked up by another product. The third area includes proper labeling of the final product. Labels of inbound products must be checked for accuracy to make sure any allergens are properly labeled before the product leaves the facility.

Simple Allergens Can Hide
Do you know that “sodium caseinate” is actually milk? Or that lecithin comes from soy? Not only do employees need to know about the ingredients, but they also need to be aware of packaging issues as well. Some lubricants and packages are made with ingredients derived from wheat and casein. Supplier verification and a knowledgeable, trained workforce is essential to catch these hazards before they reach the consumer.

For most people without allergies these problems will go unnoticed, but if you suffer from life-threatening food allergies, the results could be deadly. That’s why it's critical for food manufacturers to properly train all staff and ensure food laws are strictly followed.


In other news:

The Center is pleased to host the following food event in June:

FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food
This course is recognized by the FDA as meeting the requirements to become a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI). Individuals successfully completing this training will receive a certificate from the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA).

June 2, 9 & 16, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI

For more information, or to register, click here.


Meet Our Expert

John Spillson
Food Business Development Manager


John Spillson is a member of The Center’s Food Team. For more than 20 years, John owned and operated his own food processing company, taking a family recipe of rice pudding into five states. This experience has given him extensive knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. To read John’s full bio, click here.









Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.








Friday, May 5, 2017

Operational Excellence: What It Means to Your Business and Your Customers

By: Anna Stefos


What exactly is Operational Excellence (OpEx)? It’s not easy to define since most people think only about the operational benefits associated with continuous improvement. In fact, true OpEx goes deeper and is designed to embrace an entire ecosystem of many interwoven roads of an all-inclusive, collaborative culture, with high impact to the business that has one goal: To continuously delight and surprise the customer with superior products and services they may not always even know they need or want! Companies that successfully and thoroughly adopt OpEx will realize increased revenues and customer base, enhance its corporate brand, enjoy decline in operational costs, improve its reputation, and more often than not, be the go-to company in its sector—even if they are not the lowest priced!

It’s a Journey, Not a Destination
For one thing, OpEx is not a destination! It’s a metrics-driven, entire value chain improvement journey that follows a disciplined management methodology that embraces the quest of perfection, comprehensive process improvement—be it capability or quality just to name a few—and unrelenting focus on the customer. It applies to everyone in the organization—from the highest to the actual operation level. And everyone in such an organization gets it.

In its entirety, OpEx is a business execution philosophy and methodology that supports an organization’s corporate vision, and it should not be viewed as separate from how a business is run. It integrates a Business Excellence system that requires discipline in both the planning and execution phases of the entire enterprise and one that integrates major building blocks such as:

• Performance management
Process excellence
Metrics driven methodology
Strategy deployment
High performance collaboration driven teams

Everyone Must Be On Board for Success
Operational Excellence is an enabler that empowers corporate leadership to reach the apex of the enterprise through a highly-focused, data-driven methodology that encourages proactive solutions thus eliminating, or at least significantly minimizing, “firefighting” that for so many years has been woven into our manufacturing culture.

Because it drives corporate strategy projects that are aligned with and linked to business strategy and execution, OpEx also belongs in the boardroom as it propels a company’s self-awareness towards their true DNA. The result? Stronger, more profitable brands and undisputed word-class status. The collective power of such projects unites management with the workforce in a pragmatic and business-centric way that embraces transparency and all-inclusiveness—a dramatic shift from traditional business practices.

Nonetheless, unless Operational Excellence is formally organized and supported by the highest levels of the organization, it is not achievable, let alone sustainable. By wanting to be an OpEx organization, the mission is not to reinvent the wheel, or be accused that we are proponents of another management tool; the mission is far from it!

Training Is Essential
Since businesses are living and evolving organisms, not machines, comprised of people who must embrace the culture paradigm shifts without suspicion and mistrust, and together march towards the corporate morphing into learning and all-inclusive organizations, ongoing training is paramount. After all, a business is comprised of people who must keep on learning in order to grow their skillset and be better armed to flourish in this environment. An enabled workforce will themselves become change agents by stimulating, communicating and institutionalizing OpEx initiatives as part of the collective corporate transformation journey.

Developing the Perfect Deployment Strategy 
It will be a transition expedition when it all comes together and the organization shifts from being top down, to becoming a high performing, transparent entity where everyone is valued, feels valued, understands why they do what they do, and how it all ties to the corporate vision and shifting culture. A culture where everyone is a leader in their own way and a catalyst towards OpEx with one single voice: To exhilarate the customer!



Meet Our Expert

Anna Stefos
Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Anna Stefos has a diverse automotive background spanning 20 combined years at GM and FCA, ranging from international manufacturing, to product development, strategic planning, program management, corporate strategy and international operations. Anna’s experience in partnering with C-level executives provides a strong foundation for and advising small and medium-sized companies to achieve Enterprise Transformation and propel them towards Operational Excellence. To read her full bio, click here.





Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.






Friday, April 28, 2017

Use Green Manufacturing and Sustainability to Reduce Costs

By: David Bradley


As costs continue to rise and customers repeatedly seek price reductions, it’s no surprise that manufacturing profits are feeling the pinch. That’s why it’s critical for businesses to look into environmental performance as a means to save money. The next steps you take can benefit the environment, create substantial paybacks and lead your business into increasing profitability through sustainability.

According to Google, sustainable manufacturing is defined as the creation of manufactured products that use processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound and safe for employees, communities and consumers. Sustainable manufacturing can save you money by:

• Lowering utility bills

• Reducing scrap costs

• Cutting waste hauling bills

• Minimizing downtime

• Decreasing operational costs

Utility Costs

The three biggest areas for utility savings include:

1. Lighting: Switching to LED or other energy-saving lighting systems could save you a lot of
    green. Don’t overlook ways to maximize natural lighting by using skylights.

2. Compressed air: One company I know saved more than $90,000 a year just by eliminating
    fugitive air leaks.

3. Water: I’m amazed at how many companies use water for non-contact cooling and still “pump
    and dump.” Using a closed recirculating system can lead to major savings.

Waste Hauling

Recycling, reusing and reducing materials can greatly decrease the number of dumpster charges. Sometimes, it can even generate much needed income. For example, I witnessed a company that was able to transfer the cost of having pallets hauled away into a revenue stream—simply by refurbishing their pallets and selling them. Think out of the box (dumpster) on this one.

Scrap Costs

There are two types of scrap: manufacturing scrap and quality scrap. Using sustainable manufacturing practices can reduce both of these. I’ve observed how one resourceful company cut its manufacturing scrap (offal) by 80%—just by finding ways to better stamp out their product.

Downtime

A lot of people often overlook Total Product Maintenance (TPM) as a sustainable manufacturing practice. According to Google, TPM is a system of maintaining and improving the integrity of production and quality systems through the machines, equipment, processes and employees that add business value to an organization. It can drastically decrease the amount of unplanned downtime.

Operational Costs

Unfortunately, we can’t produce our products for free. So, the next best thing is to produce products at the lowest cost that quality and delivery can accommodate. The whole premise of sustainable manufacturing is to make products with minimal resources and the lowest environmental impact.

Resources have associated costs. As we shrink our resources being used, the costs will be lowered. Everything mentioned above will not only drive down costs, but also lower our environmental footprint. Sustainable manufacturing = reduced costs = increased profits. The equation is simple. The math works. Let sustainable manufacturing work for you!



Meet Our Expert

David Bradley
Quality and Environmental Services Program Manager

David Bradley has been The Center’s Program Manager in QMS for 18 years and is a member of the Quality Team. His expertise includes ISO 9001, TS 16949, AS 9100, ISO 13485 management systems, Automotive Core Tools, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and OHSAS 18001 programs. To read David’s full bio, click here.








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

















Friday, April 21, 2017

Proud to Manufacture in Michigan?

Yes We Are!


By: Michael McGray

For decades, Michigan’s manufacturers have played a vital role in our state’s economic development. In 2012, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) wanted to honor the diverse contributions of our state’s manufacturers by starting a Proud to Manufacture in Michigan (PTMIM) campaign. Participating manufacturers were invited to display a Proud to Manufacture poster in their facilities and received a complimentary profile page in a special directory. Due to the positive response to the campaign, the official Proud to Manufacture in Michigan program was launched soon after.

Today, with nearly 650 members, the PTMIM program has become a valuable resource for Michigan manufacturers to network with other companies that support or provide services to manufacturers. Besides the added exposure, PTMIM members can gain access to critical information that pertains to the manufacturing community including: cybersecurity preparedness, ISO standards, technology trends, lean principles and more. In every aspect, the goal is to continue to raise awareness of Michigan’s vibrant manufacturing community and the full range of products made in our state.

All members receive an official “Proud to Manufacture in Michigan” certificate and poster to display in their facilities and the program logo to exhibit on their websites. Through generous support of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, PTMIM membership and benefits are free.

PTMIM dedicates a section of its website to an online directory for manufacturers and their products. State manufacturers can sign up for free to get a company profile page where they can share their logo, description, contact information, company news and pictures or videos of their products. Both the general public and businesses looking for suppliers can use this helpful directory to research Michigan-made products and support our state’s economy. A special “Featured Manufacturer of the Week” is highlighted on the website and social media sites.

The LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter platforms allow followers to conveniently interact, ask questions and stay current with industry news. The PTMIM program recently launched a blog on its website to invite subscribers to support the objectives of the program by sharing their expertise and establishing themselves as subject matter experts.

PTMIM also partners with meaningful groups such as The Shop Rat Foundation—a non-profit organization whose mission is to ignite interest in manufacturing careers among youth. Plus, PTMIM advocates for volunteer opportunities such as mentoring. Initiatives like these help the next generation learn about the numerous manufacturing opportunities in Michigan.

Are You Proud to Manufacture in the Great Lakes State? 
Join Proud to Manufacture in Michigan today! Click here.


In other PTMIM news, The Center is pleased to host the following event in May:

Proud to Manufacture in Michigan “Makers Mingle”

In celebration of Michigan manufacturing, PTMIM members will attend an expert-led event focused on manufacturing resources, upcoming industry trends and requirements that may impact business. Special guest and member, Christie Wong Barrett from the Mac Arthur Corporation, will be among the speakers.

Friday, May 12, 2017
9 AM – NOON
The Center
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI

For more information, click here.

Meet Our Expert

Michael McGray
Information Systems Manager


Michael McGray is a founding member of Proud to Manufacture in Michigan and currently serves as its Program Director. He has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. Since 2011, Michael has been The Center’s Information Systems Manager. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Eastern Michigan University.








Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Help Wanted: Millennial Manufacturers

How to Recruit Top Talent


By: Russ Mason



With its aging demographic, the U.S. manufacturing sector will have more than three million jobs available by 2025. According to Forbes, millennials are projected to make up 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020. However, nearly two million of these positions will go unfilled—due to the existing skills gap and the prevailing perception about manufacturing careers. In order to tackle this pressing issue, manufacturers must identify millennials who can successfully work in manufacturing and ignite a desire in these young minds to work in the field.

The good news is that most millennials are willing to learn; they just need the interest, knowledge and opportunity to effectively engage in manufacturing duties. Here are three key ways for manufacturers to attract millennials:

Education – Many manufacturers have been utilizing multiple learning platforms, open online courses, training programs, and hands-on opportunities in order to lure talent with extensive technical skills. Companies also have been leveraging apprenticeships so participants can gain firsthand experience about the work life of a manufacturer. 

A recent program provided by the Hudson Valley Technology Development Center encouraged students from the State University of New York at New Paltz to intern at a manufacturing facility. The students were able to witness all aspects of manufacturing and gain additional technical skills through valuable real world training. The strategic partnership between the university and HVTDC has successfully filled numerous manufacturing positions—all with millennials. 

Recruitment – So, how did some of these manufacturing companies turn learning programs into internships which segued into full-time positions? Manufacturers must understand millennials, their values, needs and goals and consider them when they define and frame job opportunities. The typical millennial is interested in:

Working for a winning organization
Quality of life
Positive impact on society
Future growth, education and financial worth

Most millennials want an opportunity for personal development, the ability to make impactful decisions and work for a high-performing, collaborative company. Most importantly, they want to make a difference. Therefore, manufacturers must offer short-term and long-term opportunities for the millennial. This typically would include elements of capability development (education, training, and mentoring) coupled with a collaborative environment that encourages participation.

Because all manufacturers are in similar situations, they must offer something that differentiates themselves from others. Manufacturers must offer opportunities that specifically reflect what matters to millennials, e.g.:

Pride in their organization (vision, performance, culture, workplace)
Work that makes the most of their skills (current or future), and provides the resources, 
  information, authority and training necessary to perform at their best
Opportunity to work in teams, voice opinions and be recognized
Family work environment
Flexibility – clear instructions, concrete targets, but leave the where and how open to them

Improving the Image of Manufacturing – The hardest aspect of recruiting is perception. When millennials think of a career in manufacturing, the immediate image that comes to mind is one of hazard, dirt and hard labor. Manufacturing companies must actively strive to erase this image and replace it with one of innovation and accomplishment. Manufacturers can make the job position more attractive through the following efforts:

Be prepared to describe what a career with your manufacturing company can offer
Do a better job of telling your story
            - Raise the image of manufacturing by describing technology trends and innovation 
              demands
            - Ensure your brand, and your message, is one of a high-performing company that 
              has a clear vision, constructive culture and an effective leadership team
Be involved in the community
Improve the organization and cleanliness of your workplace

For those of us in the manufacturing space—we are all change agents. Do your part to help dispel myths. Raise awareness about career opportunities. Start a discussion about how state-of-the-art equipment has reinvented the typical work space. Together, we can bridge the manufacturing gap.


Meet Our Expert

Russ Mason
Lean Program Manager


Russ is a Lean Program Manager for The Center’s Business Solutions Team. His areas of expertise include: change leadership and management development, sales and operations planning, management operating systems and supply chain effectiveness. Russ has more than 18 years of broad-based consulting and 16 years of manufacturing experience in a variety of industries and functional levels. He has held senior level management positions in operations, materials, quality and more. To read Russ’s full bio, click here.





Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five Memorable Phrases to Sustain 5S

By: Chuck Werner


As a manufacturer, you should be keenly aware of the importance of 5S methodology for improving workplace performance through standardization. The ultimate goal of any 5S initiative is the successful implementation of the fifth step, SUSTAIN. To ensure this, it's critical that the actions in the first four steps (SORT through STANDARDIZE) are aligned with maintaining the gains.

Here are five quotations (one for each of the steps) to remember throughout the 5S process:

SORT – “DO YOUR HOMEWORK!”

This timeless saying is attributed to the first parent who EVER had a child with homework. The important part here is for the team to do their homework about their designated area. This will help ensure that the purpose, mission and goals are clearly understood.

An effective first step paves the way for the entire activity to succeed. Without it, many mistakes likely will be made during the sorting process since necessary items will be removed, and items that are not maintained properly might be misused.

SET IN ORDER – “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”

This phrase was first uttered by Paul Marcarelli in a Verizon commercial back in 2002. It’s a great reminder that setting up an area during a 5S event is an interactive process. In order for team members to be the most productive in their work environment, they need to be asked on a regular basis about what works best for them. Otherwise, the area will immediately begin to morph back into its original setup, since team needs were not taken into account.

SHINE – “WHAT YOU ACCEPT IS WHAT YOU TEACH”

A key point, and title of the 2006 book by Michael Cohen, this saying perfectly calls out one of the mistakes often made during the SHINE step in 5S. Quite often, the team is so busy removing the dirt, grime and other contaminants from the work area that they forget to identify the sources of them. Tool changes, equipment condition, maintenance activities, material drop off and pick up, and many other activities can contribute to the area falling below the standard. If these other sources of general disarray are not considered, the area teams will lose motivation quickly since they will see themselves as maids, not as area owners.

STANDARDIZE – “K.I.S.S. (KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID)”

First used in training by the United States Navy in the 1960s, this phrase summarizes the key criteria needed to standardize during a 5S implementation. The most brilliant plan—if complex, time-consuming, and onerous—is doomed to failure before it even starts. Keep standards visual, expectations achievable and audits simple and timely.

SUSTAIN – “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

This quote from the 1996 movie, “Jerry Maguire,” reminds us that people are more likely to buy into what they see as having value to them. As two of the main characters learn, there are some things that may not seem to have great worth in the beginning, but turn out to be of the utmost importance and value later. In the end, this idea is what sustaining is all about; helping the area teams achieve a level of workplace standardization that creates an environment that is safe and more enjoyable, a job that is made easier by the benefits of 5S and the level of ownership necessary to sustain it.

Your business needs 5S structure to perform at its peak. Future success can hang by a thread when required and established standards are not met and maintained. The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) can help your manufacturing facility work more efficiently and drive growth. To gain a better understanding about our full range of consulting services, click here or email at cwerner@the-center.org.


Meet Our Expert

Chuck Werner
Lean Program Manager and Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Chuck Werner has 27 years of experience in manufacturing, most of it as a Tier I automotive supplier. He achieved his certification as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt in 1996 and his Master Black Belt certification in 2011. Additionally, Chuck is a certified ISO/QS9000 Lead Assessor, Training Within Industry (TWI) Master Trainer and is certified in OSHA Compliance and Accident Reduction. To read his full bio, click here.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Developing a Strategic Plan: How to Avoid Common Stumbling Blocks

By: George Singos


You’ve made the decision to write a strategic plan. You’ve assembled your team, invested the time, done the analyses and have a document in the works. Congratulations! You’re on your way to vaulting your business ahead of the competition.

Even with the best of intentions, obstacles can still arise. Here are seven common stumbling blocks to watch out for—and the steps to take to correct (or avoid) them:

Stumbling Block #1: The wrong view of where you are today.

Corrective Step #1: Make sure you perform both external and internal audits to get a complete picture of the competitive market and your true place in it, as well as your real—not perceived—strengths. Let numbers be your guide.

Stumbling Block #2: Strategies that don’t align with objectives.

Corrective Step #2: Make sure your strategies serve your goals. For example, it’s not enough that your production team wants new equipment to increase capacity—it only counts if your goal is to increase capacity.

Stumbling Block #3: Lack of accountability.

Corrective Step #3: Check your team members. Is every one of them prepared to take responsibility for their sector? Are all areas represented? If there’s a department or division that is going to be responsible for executing strategy against an objective, there must be a contributing member on the team prepared to be vested with this knowledge and responsibility.

Stumbling Block #4: Goals that can’t be measured or quantified.

Corrective Step #4: Every goal, every strategy in support of an objective, needs to have a number by it—even if it isn’t one that is considered quantifiable. Figure out the appropriate, measurable unit for each objective, and then devise a test for it, if necessary.

Stumbling Block #5: Strategies that don’t work across divisions or departments.

Corrective Step # 5: Construct your goals so departments work with, not against, each other. For example, if your strategy is to increase capacity for engineering to upgrade systems, but the purchasing department’s goal is to avoid incurring new expenses, the divisions have been set with cross-purposes.

Stumbling Block #6: The blame game.

Corrective Step #6: No business owner or manager wants to hear, “We couldn’t get it accomplished because they fell behind.” Sometimes, this can be avoided by carefully constructing strategies across departments to reach concrete goals. Quite often, departments that depend on each other to attain certain objectives will have to develop smaller, finite cross-departmental plans to make the larger objective attainable. Remember, they should be developed early on.

Stumbling Block #7: Not using your road map.

Corrective Step #7: What’s the most important thing about your strategic plan? It’s usable! Your strategic plan should begin to look like a well used road map. Chart your progress against it, measure your goals and revise when necessary. The last place your strategic plan needs to be is in a binder on a shelf. Schedule group reviews at least quarterly to see if all responsible and accountable team members are on the same page.

By being aware of these common challenges, and creating tactics that avoid or overcome them, you’ve given your strategic plan much higher odds of succeeding. For help in designing a plan that will move your business forward, contact gsingos@the-center.org.

In other news:

The Center is pleased to host the following business operations event in April:

EXPLORE: Enhancing Business Operations

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI

For more information, or to register, click here.


Meet Our Expert

George Singos
Business Leader Advisor

George Singos is a Business Leader Advisor for The Center. He has more than 30 years of manufacturing experience in various capacities. For the past 20 years he has focused on sales and marketing management both domestically and internationally.

To read George’s full bio, visit click here.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, March 24, 2017

On the Go with Gregg Peterson . . .

Lessons in Lightweight Materials


By: Gregg Peterson


My name is Gregg Peterson, and I’m on a mission to inspire the usage of lightweight materials as I assist U.S.-based SMEs. What drives this passion? I’ve devoted my career to the advancement of the technology and have repeatedly witnessed its benefits—from long-term cost savings to major reductions in fuel consumption.

As the industry evolves, my enthusiasm for educating and mentoring the next generation of engineering pioneers escalates. Part of this process includes speaking to the talented SAE-sponsored university racing teams. Join me on my journey to help propel lightweight innovation. Let’s go . . .

Inspiring Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) University Chapters

The Center supports the SAE University lecture series which highlights the many challenges of meeting the 2025 emission and fuel economy requirements. As part of my job, I constantly review new technologies available to meet these standards including lighter materials, cutting-edge joining methods and alternative manufacturing processes—all of which I am eager to share with engineering students on college campuses across the nation.

Driving Innovation at Kennesaw State University

I was honored to present my first SAE lecture at Kennesaw State University, located near Atlanta, Georgia. Kennesaw State, formerly Southern Polytechnic State University, has 35,000 students and a state-of-the-art engineering building complete with well-equipped labs. What I found to be even more impressive than the facilities were the students.


The Kennesaw State SAE Formula race team has about 50 members, most of whom attended my lecture. I centered my presentation on a specific vehicle study that is funded by the California Air Resources Board and utilizes steel, aluminum, magnesium and composites to achieve weight savings while doubling the torsional rigidity of the baseline steel SUV. My material included animated crash simulations for the multi-material SUV that is 40% lighter than the baseline steel intensive vehicle. These crash simulations include 35 MPH frontal (FMVSS 208), side impact (FMVSS 214), roof crush (FMVSS 216) and 50 MPH rear impact (FMVSS 301). It was great to see so many eager students ask me questions.


Following the lecture, I had the pleasure of going on a tour of their facility and race garage where they were designing the next generation KSU race car. I saw first-hand how lightweight ingenuity is taking shape at the collegiate level. The team has designed and built virtually every part of the car, including the frame, suspension and carbon fiber body panels. They’ve printed plastic 3D parts from their CAD files and trial fit the parts prior to machining them in metal. With the engine dynamometer, they fine-tuned the power output, and in the aerodynamics lab, they refined airflow for cooling and drag. I spent several hours with the team reviewing their latest improvements for the upcoming race season and offered some helpful suggestions.

I want to extend a special thank you to Sarah Carter, the race team captain, for coordinating this wonderful visit. I think it was an insightful experience for everyone involved.

The Good News Continues

The Center has donated the SAE honorarium to the Kennesaw State race team. This means that The Center is now an SAE Formula race car sponsor! This talented group of students will make this contribution go a long way.

Until next time…


Meet Our Expert

Gregg Peterson
Principle Materials Engineer

Throughout his 40+ year career, Gregg has embodied the true spirit of engineering innovation and excellence. An accomplished engineer, inventor, mentor of emerging talent and successful entrepreneur, Gregg brings an impressive array of expertise and enthusiasm to every endeavor he pursues. His expertise includes ferrous and non-ferrous body structure design and originality, aerodynamics, software controls and manufacturing. Gregg is dedicated to increasing the efficiency of any machine including: cars, planes, wind turbines, agricultural equipment and military fighting vehicles. To read Gregg's full bio, visit: www.the-center.org.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Energy-Saving Tips for Manufacturers

By: Dale Wicker



Manufacturing processes require vast amounts of energy including: heating, cooling, lighting, office equipment and the production line itself. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that energy costs continue to be a major expense for manufacturers.

Yet, when it’s time to reduce expenditures, businesses often will try other cost-cutting measures first, rather than scaling back on their energy consumption. It’s time to alter this thinking—and focus on energy-saving initiatives that will significantly reduce expenses and positively impact your bottom line. Here’s how…

Process Heating

Process heating is required to make most consumer and industrial goods, and it is responsible for more than one third of the energy use within a manufacturing facility. Manufacturers can save energy within this area by:

Assessing heat transfer surfaces
Controlling exhaust gases
Ensuring proper furnace installation
Evaluating air-to-fuel ratios
Installing waste heat recovery systems
Reducing steam demand
Upgrading boilers to the latest energy-efficient models
Utilizing alternative fuels with higher combustion efficiency

Lighting

Since most manufacturing facilities tend to be well-lit, it’s critical that energy-efficient lighting is properly installed. Lighting alternatives include:

Using florescent or LED fixtures
Utilizing daylight as much as possible through skylights and clerestories
Adjusting the levels of light and turning off lights during the slow/off hours

Consumption Periods

Electrical rates can vary based on the time of day energy is consumed. Manufacturers can strategically use this factor to their advantage by adjusting operating hours accordingly. They also can use electricity at optimal operating hours by avoiding “rate peak periods” which usually occur in the afternoon and early evening hours.

Employee Efforts

To make conservation efforts more successful, all employees must be on board with your plan. Emphasize the importance of reducing energy consumption and encourage the following: turning off lights, machines, equipment, etc., when not in use. Getting the staff involved also will enable them to come up with their own strategies for reducing energy costs, fostering the idea of continuous improvement throughout a manufacturing facility.

By following these tips and focusing on the areas mentioned above, manufacturers can see significant savings on their next bills!


Meet Our Expert

Dale Wicker
Quality Program Manager


Dale Wicker is a member of The Center's Quality Team. He manages and delivers training and assistance to organizations in the areas of quality improvements and environmental management systems. Some of his projects involve support with the implementation of a Quality Management System including: ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949, AS 9100 and ISO 14001. Dale also conducts training and provides consulting on the supporting tools of Quality Systems. To read Dale’s full bio, visit: www.the-center.org.






Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Do You Know Who Your Customers Are?

By: Dave Nelson


We’ve all seen the memorable customer service sayings: “The customer is always right,” and “A satisfied customer is the best strategy of all!” framed on conference room walls and posted in cubicles. These phrases are not mere decorations; they’re words to live by and should be applied both internally and externally throughout your entire organization. Here’s why…

I have the pleasure of working with small to medium-sized manufacturers in the automotive, medical and aerospace industries. Whenever I tour a manufacturing facility, I often ask the people I meet (from supervisors to operators on the factory floor), “Who is your customer?” Most likely, the response I get involves their external customer. I rarely get an answer that involves their internal customer. Sometimes, I just get blank stares and puzzled looks, which is especially troubling to me.

Everyone should know who their internal customers are and why they’re important. If you satisfy your internal customers, the company will satisfy external customers. This philosophy is one of the core building blocks for establishing a lean and engaged culture. Teaching this simple mind-set can lead to greater efficiencies and reduce bottlenecks—without adding a lot of new steps, procedures, etc.

Recently, I was at a factory and noticed that the shipping person kept walking back and forth between his work location and one of the work cells. After inquiring about this, I learned that the work cell in question repeatedly did not provide all of the required paperwork upon completion of a run. Time and again, the shipping person had to hunt down the paperwork so he could complete his job and ship the product. Seeing this as an opportunity, I asked the work cell, “Who is your customer?” As I expected, I got the typical replies about their external customer. So, I rephrased the question and asked the group, “Who is your internal customer?” That questioned garnered some blank stares and a muddled reply by the plant manager.

I went on to explain that while they have many internal customers, the most important one is the shipping person. When they don’t provide the necessary documents on time, they aren’t properly completing their job. I also told them that if their company treated their external customers this way, they wouldn’t stay in business very long.

Afterwards, I helped facilitate a conversation between the work cell team and the shipping department about needs and expectations. When I revisited the facility a few months later, I discovered that the person in the shipping department didn’t have to work overtime anymore. The work cell team also had taken the initiative to have the “internal customer” conversation with their material handler. The end result? The teams are working smarter and efficiency has vastly improved.

In conclusion, I would like to modify the phrase I mentioned in the first line of this blog. It should say, “The best strategy of all is to focus on having both internal and external satisfied customers!”

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) can help your manufacturing facility work more efficiently and propel growth. To gain a better understanding about our full range of consulting services, visit www.the-center.org or email directly at dnelson@the-center.org.


Meet Our Expert

Dave Nelson
Senior Business Solutions Manager


Dave is a member of the Business Solutions Team and works closely with manufacturers in Wayne and Monroe counties. He is a seasoned professional with expertise in identifying new opportunities for clients and increasing market penetration. Dave also has extensive experience in generating/growing new business and recommending intangible services. To read Dave’s full bio, click here.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Message for Management: Leverage Your QMS to Maximize Success

By: David Bradley


If executed properly, a business plan can help increase profits and the likelihood of your organization’s long-term success. Do you know that your Quality Management System (QMS) was designed to work in conjunction with your business plan? It’s true. ISO 9001 expects top management to take an active role throughout the entire process, otherwise the results will be less than stellar. Below are some helpful tips to enable your organization to reach its QMS goals:

• Business plan: There are several areas where the ISO 9001 standard refers to “the purpose and strategic direction of the organization.” The intent is that the QMS is aligned with (or better yet, integrated into) the organizational business plan. The QMS is the desired tool to achieve strategic goals.

• SWOT: SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is not required for ISO 9001, but it is a great way to look at your organization and the business environment in which it operates. Periodically performing a SWOT analysis could meet several requirements in the standard and will be beneficial for the organization as well as its long-range goals.

• Quality Policy deployment: ISO 9001 has always required a Quality Policy. ISO 9001:2015 looks to the Quality Policy to be the bridge between the business plan and the shop floor. How the Quality Policy is deployed is critical to the success of the organization.

Integration into operations: The intent of ISO 9001 is to have your QMS requirements and activities a regular part of your operations, not a stand-alone or off-shoot.

Cascading of leadership: Senior management has to ensure that their commitment to the QMS is cascaded down the management chain. Each lower level is expected to demonstrate their leadership in regards to the QMS. It is senior management’s responsibility to ensure that lower management does in fact exhibit leadership.

Risk-based thinking: We have always considered risks when dealing with jobs. ISO 9001 takes this thinking to a deeper level. The consideration of risks is carried throughout the entire business and operations.

Interested parties: This has been part of ISO 14001 for years. An interested party is a person or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision or activity. Interested parties can be either internal or external.

Employee knowledge: ISO has a new requirement for maintaining organizational knowledge. Top management needs to understand what knowledge is necessary throughout the organization, how to keep from losing that knowledge and acquire new knowledge.

Employee awareness: Management needs to ensure that employees are aware of requirements, the benefits of improved performance and the consequences of deviation from requirements. These consequences could be either to the product, to the organization, to the customer, to the end user or even to the employee.

Documentation: ISO 9001 no longer separates documents from records. This can cause confusion within the organization. Management must make sure that the organizational methods for dealing with documented information is clear and lacks uncertainty.

• Change management: The intent is that companies implement change in a controlled fashion. Change introduces a risk of unwanted variation that puts the product at risk. Top management is expected to have plans and programs in place to reduce unwanted variation of change in both planned changes as well as unplanned changes (think contingency plans).

By mastering these areas, management can accomplish much of what ISO 9001 is striving to achieve. Along the way, the organization will be in a better position to reach both short- and long-term goals and do what the business was created for—generating revenue.


Meet Our Expert

David Bradley
Quality and Environmental Services Program Manager

David Bradley has been The Center’s Program Manager in QMS for 18 years and is a member of the Quality Team. His expertise includes ISO 9001, TS 16949, AS 9100, ISO 13485 management systems, Automotive Core Tools, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and OHSAS 18001 programs. He is a Certified HACCP Manager and has completed SQF training. To read David's full bio, click here.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.

Friday, February 24, 2017

HPP: The Future of Food Preservation is Now

Bacteria are Feeling the Pressure


By: John Spillson

High Pressure Processing, or HPP, has gained a great deal of popularity lately driven by foodies demanding higher quality products, increased shelf life and “clean” processing (products made without, or with very few, non-natural ingredients or additives). This preservation process has been known to triple the shelf life of many food products without the use of chemicals, and without reducing the taste or flavor profile of the product itself.

A key ingredient for food manufacturers.

According to the FDA, HPP takes cold food products and subjects them to pressures higher than those found in the deepest oceans—typically, pressures between 100 and 800 MPa (megapascal) are used to destroy the bacteria that can spoil food. This is the equivalent of 20 miles below the ocean! Bacteria, yeast and mold are not able to survive these immense pressures, leaving only high quality, healthy food.

Another advantage of HPP is that it doesn’t use heat in any way, so taste is not compromised. Not only does this increase the flavor and attractiveness of the product, it also makes supply chain issues much more manageable because small processors who rely on quick turnarounds and large channels of distribution will benefit.

Processing the numbers. 

Currently, there are more than 200 HPP units across the United States. While Michigan is quickly becoming a major food processing player, there are zero HPP units available for use by local processors. The only known unit in the state is used by Garden Fresh, now owned by Campbell Soup Co. The typical unit will cost about $3 million—a significant barrier to entry for most small to mid-sized food processors. Like most industries, about 60% of the units in operation will co-pack for others.

In a toll manufacturing arrangement, a company provides its raw materials or semi-finished goods to a third-party service provider. The service provider, who often has specialized equipment or infrastructure, provides a subset of manufacturing processes on behalf of the company using those materials or goods for a fee. Unfortunately, the nearest “tolling” center to Michigan is located in Pennsylvania where there are three units. Otherwise, you’ll have to travel to Wisconsin to have your products processed.

HPP on the menu.

What are some of the most favorable products for HPP? Soups, salsas, hummus, juices and cold salads such as chicken and tuna salad are all excellent choices. While much of the expense is based around the manual loading and unloading of the HPP machines, this cost likely will come down as process improvements are made.

While food safety scares and recalls should be on the decline, newer more accurate tests are finding more contaminated and adulterated products. As a result, HPP will continue to gain attention by both food processors and the public seeking a safer food supply.

Food for thought.

One of the best things that should happen to the food processing industry in Michigan would be the opening of a HPP tolling center where local food businesses can take advantage of this revolutionary shelf life-extending technology. As the food processing industry in Michigan continues to grow, the need for this type of equipment becomes even more evident.

Hungry for smarter manufacturing?

If you’re a small to medium-sized food processor and want to maximize efficiency and minimize waste throughout your operations, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) is your homegrown resource. To learn more about our Food Processing services, visit www.the-center.org, or contact me directly at jspillson@the-center.org.


In other food news…

The Center is pleased to participate at the following food events in March:

Michigan Celebrates Food and Agriculture Gala
March 2, 2017
5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Greektown Casino in Downtown Detroit
Michigan Celebrates Food and Agriculture Gala


2017 Pure Michigan Agribusiness Summit
March 9, 2017
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi
2017 Pure Michigan Agribusiness Summit


Meet Our Expert

John Spillson
Food Business Development Manager


John Spillson is a member of The Center’s Food Team. For more than 20 years, John owned and operated his own food processing company, taking a family recipe of rice pudding into five states. This experience has given him extensive knowledge in production, sales, food safety, marketing, warehousing and logistics. To read John’s full bio, visit www.the-center.org.







Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed 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 www.the-center.org.