ND Manufacturers Improving Productivity, Expanding
Posted on April 9, 2002
Bismarck, ND -- North Dakota's small manufacturers are leading a state-based non-profit organization called the North Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership (ND MEP) that is helping them grow their businesses. Good news came last week that federal funding that makes up one-third of their ND MEP budget -- or $200,583 -- would be continued for 2002.
This money will be put to work helping the state's manufacturers increase productivity, add new jobs and bring new dollars to the North Dakota's economy, according to Gov. John Hoeven.
"The Manufacturing Extension Program is one of the most successful federal-state partnerships in government," said Hoeven. "It is a cost-effective, public-private partnership. In the past 15 months, the ND MEP has provided Lean and Industrial Marketing services to over 90 of the state's manufacturers reaching over 800 employees."
Besides the federal money, the ND MEP also receives one-third of its budget from the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the other one third from the manufacturers that receive services.
"The most successful MEP Centers are operated as client-led and client-driven partnerships that include private sector support from manufacturers with public support from federal, state and local governments," said Randy Schwartz, director of ND MEP. "The ND MEP has a nine-member board that is comprised of manufacturers across the state. This board is responsible for the future and success of the program."
Michael Hohl is chairman of the newly formed ND MEP board. He is also president of DMI Industries in West Fargo. He is joined on the board by Sally Bosh of Phoenix International, Fargo; Bob Maeyaert, Baker Boy, Dickinson; Mac McPherson, Glenmac, Jamestown; Don Morton, Microsoft Great Plains, Fargo; Dick Shorma, WCCO Belting, Wahpeton; Michael Vig, IR/Bobcat, Bismarck; Carl Wendelbo, Composites America, Fargo; and Bob Wilmot, Turtle Mt. Corp., Dunseith.
"The MEP program is extremely important to North Dakota," Hohl said. "Our state's manufacturers added 6,500 net new jobs and provided one third of the growth in North Dakota's economy in the last decade. Our 811 manufacturers employ over 25,000 -- each job averaging $30,600 per year. Our diverse and dynamic manufacturing companies now make up nine percent of the state's gross product."
Bob Wilmot, vice president of quality assurance, Turtle Mountain Corporation, has witnessed the value of ND MEP first-hand.
"Turtle Mountain Corporation is a contract manufacturer of electronic assemblies and employs 400 people. I used ND MEP to train our employees in Lean Manufacturing concepts," he said. "As a result, we improved product flow. Also, we reduced costs, expanded business and created new jobs."
Douglas Sitzler, operations manager, Engine Rebuilders, Inc., in Oakes, ND, is another believer in what ND MEP can do to grow manufacturing in the state.
"We produce remanufactured engines for light agricultural and industrial applications and employ 19 people in our small town. As a result of ND MEP's training, support and advice, we are creating methods to become more efficient in our production, and more results-oriented in our advertising," Sitzler said.
The MEP is a nationwide system of services and support for smaller manufacturers to become more globally competitive. At the heart of the system is a network of affiliated, locally-based manufacturing extension centers, according to Schwartz. ND MEP is one of 70 centers nation wide. Each center, like North Dakota's, is a partnership, typically involving federal, state and local governments; industry; and other sources of expertise, information and funding support.
Schwartz is excited about the future of ND MEP. "Since its inception the MEP has served over 150,000 manufacturers nationwide. On average, companies that worked with the MEP experienced productivity gains more than four times greater than those that didn't," he said. "Just in fiscal year 2001, MEP projects were responsible for client firms' reported sales of $2.3 billion, cost savings of $483 million and creation or retention of more than 25,000 jobs."
"Having seen how effective this program has been in other states, we believe the ND MEP can help our companies experience the same positive impacts. The ND MEP Board and staff have really been pleased with the support provided by Gov. Hoeven and our Congressional delegation," Schwartz said. "By helping our existing manufacturers expand their businesses, we will have a positive impact on North Dakota's economy."
For more information, contact: Randy Schwartz, director, ND Manufacturing Extension Partnership, (701) 328-5314; Web reference: www.mep.nist.gov
BACK TO PRESS RELEASES