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The Difference Between Ordinary and Extraordinary Manufacturers

Football legend Jimmy Johnson is credited with the phrase, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little extra.” If I were the CEO of a U.S. manufacturer, this is the mentality that I would like my team to adopt as well.

So what’s the difference between ordinary and extraordinary manufacturers? The little extra in this case, is a commitment to proactively seeking growth. When you’re operating a business, your primary focus is addressing your daily tasks… meeting orders on time, working with OEMs or other suppliers, etc. This is understandable – it can be challenging to add something new to the mix, such as workforce development or exporting initiatives.

However, rising above this challenge and proactively looking to grow your company through technology, innovation and new product developments is what brings your business to the next level. This commitment to growth is transforming ordinary companies to extraordinary organizations around the country, enabling manufacturers to achieve improvements in sales, cost reduction and profitability.

The following three success stories are about manufacturers who made the leap from ordinary to extraordinary by working with programs and services from local MEP centers:

JSB Industrial Solutions: Technology-Driven Market Intelligence and Technology Scouting

About the Company: Based out of Tollesboro, Kentucky, JSB Industrial Solutions is a start-up that opened in the beginning of 2014. The organization manufactures ball mills and offers custom laser parts and metal fabrication services for the pallet industry.

Challenge: JSB needed to identify potential markets as well as immediate and long-term revenue opportunities. The company was in the process of engaging a high-value customer and needed to identify suppliers and build a viable and sustainable sales model.

How they Became Extraordinary: Experts from Advantage Kentucky Alliance began a modified version of a technology-driven market intelligence (TDMI) and technology scouting (TS) project with JSB Industrial Solutions. They helped JSB address a variety of needs including locating a supplier that met their price point. They also helped the company identify over a dozen industries in need of laser cutting, narrowing down the list to those that best fit JSB's capabilities.

The Result: JSB was able to achieve $65,000 in revenue in their first 6 weeks, generated $400,000 from one customer in their first year, experienced more than $12,000 in cost savings and added more than 5 new employees.

Read the full story

InCord: Supply Chain Improvements / Inventory Management

About the Company: InCord is a manufacturer of finished netting products from Colchester, Connecticut. The company produces netting for a variety of industries including sports sites, amusement parks, orchestra pits and more.

Challenge: The organization was growing and the increased demand was leading to supply chain challenges. Their ordering process was behind, and they couldn’t keep up with customer-requested lead times, resulting in stock-outs and disrupted workflow.

How they Became Extraordinary: InCord connected with CONNSTEP who developed an inventory management plan based on historical and forecasted growth calculations. A pull system was created to ensure that the company could replenish materials more frequently and make products at the same rate as customer consumption.

The new system was more efficient, accessible and organized, and InCord started seeing results within one replenishment cycle. Materials are now more available, hardware is more easily accessible and employees are more efficient.

The Result: InCord experienced $3.5M in new sales, created 8 new jobs to accommodate the increased demand and reduced production lead times from 8-10 weeks to under 2 weeks.

Read the full story

Progressive Stamping: Innovation Management Systems

About the Company: Hailing from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Progressive Stamping provides commercial grade stamping and fabrication to the construction, air conditioning and automotive industries.

Challenge: The manufacturer was looking for a more systematic approach to developing new products and services.

How they Became Extraordinary: Progressive Stamping connected with Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, who recommended a series of innovation meetings and workshops for Progressive Stamping though a program called Innovation Management Systems. The program is designed to help companies create the framework to commercialize unique and cost-effective ideas.

Through the workshops, several new concepts and product enhancements were identified, and the company was able to develop a process for continuous innovation.

The Result: Progress Stamping experienced an immediate jump in sales of $280,000, and estimates an astounding $450,000 in estimated cost savings over the next 3 years, along with $5M in estimated growth.

Read the full story

You can follow the model of these manufacturers. Learn how to grow through technology, innovation and new product developments by connecting with your local MEP center today.

About the author

Kari Reidy

Ms. Reidy is with the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She formerly led the NIST MEP Marketing and Communications team. This team oversees the messaging and outreach efforts focused on highlighting MEP accomplishments and positioning the Program as a resource for manufacturers.

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