Any business owner looking to succeed will put an emphasis on staying competitive and innovative while maintaining steady upward growth. Precasters are no different. However, the size of an organization may affect how quickly these goals are realized.
To compete with larger corporations, small- to mid-sized precast manufacturers can seek help from their local Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. An MEP can provide resources and training to increase production, boost efficiency and reduce operating costs.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses, large corporations are not the norm. In fact, in 2014, 98% of the manufacturing sector consisted of small companies, and 3/4 of those companies employed 20 workers or fewer. For this reason, MEP programs have focused on using federal investments to accelerate the growth of the U.S. manufacturing base by improving the competitiveness of small- to mid-sized manufacturers.
Kirby O’Malley, president of Garden State Precast, said his company is among the 3/4, and along with the National Precast Concrete Association, the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Partnership program has been an instrumental partner in his company’s success for 20 years.
“The MEP program helps companies like mine by providing seminars, classes, webinars and inventory controls that manufacturing companies need,” he said. “We send our employees on a regular basis to the seminars.”
O’Malley said MEP programs offer grants designed specifically to meet manufacturers’ needs. Garden State Precast applies for grants for the training they’d like to receive in the next fiscal year and the funds provide an instructor, training and resources. All the company is required to provide is the labor.
He said employees have improved communication and productivity by participating in training that focuses on lean manufacturing and learning English as a second language. NJMEP has even helped Garden State Precast advance its product research and development.
“Anytime you train people, you do better,” O’Malley said. “About five years ago, they (NJMEP) started helping us with our research and development credit, which we hadn’t really been involved with much before that. That was a big deal for us.”
To receive more information on how MEP programs can help your company succeed, view the NPCA webinar, “How Your Local Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Can Support Your Business and Train Your Employees” available on the Online Learning Center. Visit nist.gov/mep to read other success stories and contact a program near you.