The Heroes of American Manufacturing video series attempts to capture the hearts and minds of the public and celebrate the small and medium sized manufacturers succeeding in the US with the help of their local MEP Centers. We want to shine a spotlight on what's happening in plants across the country, the leaders and workers who are making things that improve our daily life, the jobs and contributions these manufacturers provide their communities and the nation's economy, and the relationship between center and client—helping to tell the story of what makes the MEP Program unique as a private-public partnership. Below you will also find videos about the importance and impacts manufacturing has on the United States.
In today’s labor market, manufacturers continue to struggle to find quality labor. Industry 4.0 (I4.0) technologies can help manufacturers fill those gaps, improve efficiency, and stay competitive. However, these technologies can be overwhelming to small and medium-sized manufacturers. The shift toward automation is a reason many manufacturers decide to work with an MEP Center. MEP Centers have a broad range of subject matter experts that can help companies, whether they’re just learning about I4.0 or are already implementing it. This video features MEP manufacturing clients discussing their company’s experience with I4.0. In addition, MEP Center experts explain some of the benefits they’ve seen for their clients. For example, Life Line Emergency Vehicles found that I4.0 helped them improve and automate processes so they could fill some workforce gaps. Buppy Pets, a maker at Home & Main, is just on the cusp of considering some automation. In contrast, Zago Manufacturing has already heavily invested in automation and robotics. The MEP National Network helped Zago accelerate their transformation from a manual operator business to an automated robotic business and was critical in helping Zago train their workforce to be more efficient. They found that automation helps attract and retain younger people, who tend to be interested in technology. It’s inviting when they walk into a clean, bright facility with automation.
Mid Star Lab is an 8a Certified, Native American Woman Owned manufacturer. This client of Kansas Manufacturing Solutions assesses and creates custom arch supports that provide a positive outcome to many individuals with foot challenges and prosthetics, including diabetics, children, athletes, elderly, veterans, and the American Indian community. Kansas Manufacturing Solutions was able to support Mid Star Lab with Continuous Improvement solutions and Executive Coaching and Leadership training that provided tremendous results.
Hope & Main, a client of Polaris MEP, is Rhode Island’s premier culinary incubator and among the top ten in the country. It has launched nearly 300 businesses since 2014. Their mission is to empower an inclusive community of entrepreneurs to jumpstart and cultivate thriving food businesses that are the foundation of a more just, sustainable and resilient local food economy.
At Life Line Emergency Vehicles, they aren’t just building emergency vehicles, they’re building a legacy. For over 35 years they’ve built a reputation around remarkable customer service, outstanding quality and exceptional craftsmanship, all to help their customers provide better patient care. Life Line is 100% employee owned and a client of CIRAS, the Iowa MEP Center. Life Line has worked with CIRAS on various projects since 2009 with a financial impact over these years of $16.75M. This manufacturer has a constant interest in the utilization of advanced technology to not only improve their processes and the bottom line, but to improve the safety of their employees. Watch the video to learn more about their story.
ZAGO Manufacturing, a client of NJMEP, is an award-winning, family-owned business that began at the New Jersey Institute of Technology Enterprise Development Center small business incubator. Now, it’s a full-fledged global manufacturing company operating from a 100-year-old refurbished factory in the heart of Newark, New Jersey. ZAGO produces small components that make a big impact. It is one of the world’s largest and most respected producers of custom, high-tech, clean and inherently green sealing solutions and components. Thousands of engineers and onsite equipment manufacturers rely on ZAGO self-sealing fasteners and switch boots. Sustainable sealing solutions and components are used in countless industries, including aerospace, automotive and transportation, commercial LED lighting, medicine, robotics and drones, energy and electronics. Clients span the world and include major military contractors, Apple, Google, Ferrari, BOSE, Lockheed Martin, HP and others. ZAGO has also been recognized by the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey for its work advancing STEM education and manufacturing to students in low-income communities with the Companies that Care Award.
For years, U.S. manufacturers have struggled to find and keep good workers. The pandemic brought this to crisis level, and the difficult labor market has led companies to find creative workforce solutions. Beyond offering competitive pay and benefits, firms need to provide a great culture where employees understand how they contribute to the organization’s success. Many workers want opportunities for training, a clear career pathway, and encouragement to move up within the organization. This video features manufacturers discussing common workforce challenges and solutions their companies have found. For example, Mayville Engineering Company or MEC (a client of Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, the Arkansas MEP) responds to the challenge of keeping good employees by promoting from within the organization. BrightView Technologies (a North Carolina MEP client) welcomes diversity because it helps them creatively solve engineering and manufacturing problems. Sweet Grass Dairy (a Georgia MEP client) has inspired loyalty in their workforce by making it clear that each employee’s work is part of something bigger. AMG Engineering (a client of Indiana’s Purdue MEP) works hard to get the message out to high school students that they can have a great career in manufacturing, even without a college degree.
Domestic manufacturing was underestimated for a long time, and to some degree it still is. Many small businesses have been challenged with getting product out through the pandemic. Manufacturers have experienced issues with affordability, material availability and lead times that are stretching out not weeks, but months. Are there domestic sources so manufacturers can respond quicker and work closer proximity wise to avoid being hinged on things that need to come in from Asia or even Europe. Having domestic supplies is extremely important from a quality standpoint because you can readily assess quality level of the componentry you're obtaining.If manufacturers have a weak supply chain, then it impacts their customers as well as impacting their business. World events show why it's very important to have domestic production here in the U.S, because at any point in time, geopolitical factors, macroeconomic factors can really change the landscape. Domestic manufacturers have an obligation to try to provide the best possible product for the least amount of costs and things like industry 4.0 and other initiatives like lean manufacturing help reduce costs to add value, and to make products more competitive. There's a lot of hard-working, intelligent workers in this country and we need to take advantage of that and not rely on Asia Pacific or low-cost countries in order to sustain. We saw during the pandemic what an impact to our supply chain that something like a global pandemic can have and it's important that we realize that for America to be successful and for America to continue to be a leader in the world, we must be able to sustain our industry here locally.
GaMEP client Sweet Grass Dairy uses cheese as the vehicle to tell the story of high-quality milk and a unique farming style. These cheese manufacturers, located in South Georgia, have handcrafted the most flavorful and high quality cheeses possible from the milk of healthy, barn-free cows grazing on grass grown year round under the Georgia sun. The Sweet Grass Dairy difference is their commitment to maintaining the raw ingredient. With 60 employees between their cheese manufacturing and production facility, full-service restaurant and retail cheese shop and a separate ecommerce shipping area, their mission is to try to change how people view the American food system through their cheeses.When COVID hit, they lost about 78% of their sales because Sweet Grass Dairy was built on selling through the food service channels. They knew they needed help and reached out to GaMEP. In 2020, their ecommerce business soared, and they grew by about 400%. They realized end consumers do want to support small family farms and know where their food comes from. GaMEP has helped Sweet Grass Dairy with many different projects from food safety and trainings to marketing projects as they pivoted to an ecommerce platform.Everybody deserves great food and everybody deserves to know where their food is coming from. Small and medium-sized manufacturers like Sweet Grass Dairy are an essential part of their community and of the food manufacturing industry. What they do makes a difference, even though they are small. Food manufacturers are a powerful group and are important to our country.
Founded in 1945, Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions client Mayville Engineering Company (MEC) is a leading U.S.-based contract manufacturer that provides a broad range of prototyping and tooling, production fabrication, coating, assembly and aftermarket services. What embodies MEC the most is their mission statement…pride, personal responsibility, and daily excellence. Their biggest strength is their people. Currently MEC supports the commercial vehicle, construction, agricultural, military and other markets. MEC is different from most manufacturers in that they are an employee-owned company and that really brings a sense of pride for each individual person that works there. The rapid growth they have experienced would be very difficult without the support that they’ve gotten from Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, the Arkansas MEP. As they continue to grow and as technology improves and becomes more complex, it's very critical that the advancements in workforce development match that. The diversity in their workplace is extremely important, just like the culture that they live in. They want young people to realize that they can stay in Heber Springs, AR and have a very successful future. MEC is a great example of what kind of impact a company can make on a small town. It's about building something that's going to last a long time and caring about people, you can do both.
BrightView Technologies, a client of the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP, part of the MEP National Network), is a leader in Visual Intelligence, delivering the highest-performing visual and optic solutions for advanced technology applications. They design, innovate and manufacturer micro lens arrays for use in a wide variety of applications –anything from LED lighting to high dynamic range displays to self-driving cars. BrightView felt the impacts of the pandemic early on because they deal with Asia. Since they had majority of the supplies and materials needed, they pivoted to make face shields. They had the resources to make Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) but didn’t know how to sell to or access entities that might need PPE, so they reached out to NCMEP. MEP to BrightView has always been the go-to resource when they didn’t know who else to call. What makes BrightView a hero of American manufacturing is the way they pivoted to help make PPE and to give their workforce a safe as environment to work in as possible. They are a company that’s in a unique position where they are manufacturing and exporting components that go into devices people use every day and are putting products into the supply chain in other parts of the world. This company is an example of how you can cost effectively manufacturer in the U.S. and export around the globe. BrightView Technologies makes the world a better place by being able to help customers realize their vision.
Through nearly thirty years of experience, AMG Engineering & Machining, a client of the Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Purdue MEP), has successfully served the aerospace, automotive, industrial and medical industries. As a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business employing approximately 50 people, AMG is committed to helping customers achieve their objectives while maintaining the highest standards for quality, integrity, respect, and honesty in all situations and relationships. Each of their CNC machines has a program to make a particular part. If those programs are not protected, workers could be injured, equipment could be damaged or bad parts could be made. These risks are averted following cybersecurity rules. The challenges with cybersecurity were many and they reached out to Purdue MEP, part of the MEP National Network. One of the first projects Purdue MEP assisted AMG with was meeting the mandatory cybersecurity requirements to work with the Department of Defense. This enabled them to quickly get to a point where they met the NIST 800-171 requirements for cybersecurity. The Industry 4.0 initiative is now and affords AMG the opportunity to be among the companies that are progressive and moving forward. What makes AMG Engineering unique is their wide range of capabilities. AMG feels a responsibility to make the world a little better and is looking forward to completing their efforts to achieve a high level of Industry 4.0.
Texas Injection Molding, a client of TMAC (the MEP Center in Texas and part of the MEP National Network), provides custom plastic injection molding services for OEM manufacturing and consumer products. This manufacturer offers decades of experience in processing commodity and custom engineered plastic resins and partner with the world’s leading resin manufacturers and custom compounders to bring solutions to complex plastic engineering applications. Its business strategy and operating plan is built upon People, Process Control, and Technology. It is the belief that culture is a strategic advantage and when fostered, an environment where people care for each other they will take care of the equipment, resin, customers and company.
Arena Design, a client of TMAC (the MEP Center in Texas and part of the MEP National Network), produces hand painted and hand printed textiles by staying true to its large-scale serigraphy process. With a team of five people, this manufacturer prints on jute, linen, velvet, silk, and a variety of papers that become timeless pieces in homes across the country. Arena Design is constantly creating new works of art, both traditional and digital and now has Restoration Hardware as a client. It projects tripling volume as a result of the assistance provided by TMAC.
Rapid Application Group (RAG), a client of the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance (the MEP Center in Oklahoma and part of the MEP National Network), was founded by a group of seasoned military and additive manufacturing specialists. Started with a $1,000, a napkin sketch and a home office, this manufacturer has seen tremendous growth in just 3 years of existence and is leading the industry in additive manufacturing. RAG is the only disabled, veteran owned, full production 3D printing company in North America. Their story is truly inspiring.
Technology transfer is not always easy, especially when attempting to introduce a new capability or technology into the manufacturing sector. Smaller manufacturers in particular present unique environments and challenges that must be appropriately understood if the transfer is to be successful. NIST researchers have an ally that makes technology transfer less daunting — NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, also known as MEP. The Network’s state-based Centers are hubs where small and medium-sized manufacturers can connect with government agencies, trade associations, universities and research laboratories, state and federal initiatives, and a host of other resources to help them grow and innovate. The MEP National Network presents an invaluable tool for research and technology transfer efforts. The Network is a near limitless source of practical feedback and candid perspective on what the manufacturing community finds most useful to increasing its productivity, efficiency, and overall competitiveness. This video highlights how NIST labs, the MEP National Network and manufacturers can collaborate and all benefit from these efforts.
The Renewal Workshop, a client of OMEP (the MEP Center in Oregon and part of the MEP National Network), is the leading provider of circular solutions for apparel and textile brands. They are organized around the idea that businesses have multiple responsibilities for generating positive, lasting value. The Renewal Workshop was started to solve hard problems and to create new systems that do what is good and right for people and for the planet. At its heart, it is a collaborative process that relies on progressive brand partners committed to sustainability.
Auburn Manufacturing, Inc. (AMI), a client of the Maine MEP (the MEP Center in Maine and part of the MEP National Network), is the industry’s leading expert in the manufacture of high performance textiles for extreme temperature protection. For decades, AMI textile solutions have been applied around the world in the manufacture of metals, petroleum, chemicals, glass, paper and wherever flames and extreme heat can be a danger. Although they are a small U.S. manufacturer, they sell their products to over 30 countries worldwide.
Cincinnati Crane & Hoist, a client of TechSolve, Inc. (part of the Ohio MEP and the MEP National Network) is the premier crane builder in the Midwest. A Veteran Owned Small Business, Cincinnati Crane &Hoist is committed to producing and distributing the finest American made cranes the market has to offer. In 2017, the company suffered a cyber attack through a spearfishing campaign. While it had significant impacts on the company, they worked with TechSolve to find solutions and get back to business.
In today’s manufacturing world, women play a much larger role than they have in the past. Whether you are creative, analytical or process-oriented, there is a place in manufacturing for you. From leadership in the front office to machine operators on the shop floor, women of all ages are changing the stereotypes and face of manufacturing. Manufacturers need diversity among their workforce as they develop future technologies and women are a force to be reckoned with, offering some of the most brilliant minds in manufacturing today. Manufacturing is a safe, clean, high tech environment with opportunities for everybody. It’s an exciting time to be a woman in manufacturing.
Silverside Detectors, a client of MassMEP (the MEP Center in Massachusetts and part of the MEP National Network), are a team of physicists, engineers, and entrepreneurs committed to reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism. They develop nuclear radiation detection technology to protect cities and citizens from nuclear terrorism.
ACR Electronics, a client of FloridaMakes (the MEP Center in Florida and part of the MEP National Network), is the leading development center for emergency beacons that are designed with one purpose: to save lives. Through their combined technology expertise in the marine, aviation, outdoor and military markets, they design and manufacture cutting edge rescue beacons and survival gear for boaters, pilots, hunters, hikers, climbers, cyclists, and combat troops, not to mention many of the leading boat builders and aircraft manufacturers in the industry.
Ace Metal Crafts Company, a client of IMEC (the MEP Center in Illinois and part of the MEP National Network) was launched in 1960 by 16 sheet metal workers who invented techniques that are now standards in sanitary stainless steel fabrication. Today, their in-depth fabrication knowledge resides in their processes and people, many with 30+ years of experience, working alongside the next generation of engineers, welders, finishers/polishers and fabricators to make Ace one of the best fabricators of stainless steel components. IMEC was first contacted by Ace Metal Crafts Company to assist with their employee training program. This valuable relationship has grown to include work with safety training, manuals, policies, a sustainability program and the selection of a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Faustson Tool, a client of Manufacturer’s Edge (the MEP Center in Colorado and part of the MEP National Network), operates a 16,000-square-foot facility with more than 20 highly skilled employees and is owned and operated by Alicia Svaldi. Faustson Tool remains in the forefront of the manufacturing industry, continuing a tradition of pioneering the newest technology and pushing its limits. Faustson Tool takes on the most challenging applications only a few U.S. companies can handle, using state-of-the-art precision machining to do things no one else in the industry thinks can be done. Faustson’s reputation for innovation and excellence has earned the company prestigious clientele: Faustson Tool manufactured a key component in NASA’s Kepler space telescope, and has worked with Ball Aerospace to produce parts for the U.S. F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jet. Manufacturer’s Edge has helped Faustson Tool improve product flow and production, be innovative and stay competitive in today’s manufacturing world. One of the most impressive results of this collaboration has been the development of the ADAPT Advanced Characterization Center, a 3D metal printing research facility.
This is the story of how an idea turned into a product that changed the motorcycle industry, launched a company in Idaho, and positioned a mechanical engineer intern to become the President and CEO. With the assistance of TechHelp, the MEP Center in Idaho, Rekluse founder Al Youngwerth was able to turn an idea into a prototype and then take it to production. This partnership developed a next generation manufacturer that brings good jobs and makes an impact.
Meramec Instrument Transformer Co. needed to diversify and develop more products to sell with a goal of becoming the leader in the industry. With the help of their local economic development director, they were connected with Missouri Enterprise, the Missouri MEP Center. One project led to the complete transformation of the company with sales growth of 300% and a workforce that doubled in size. With manufacturing as the heart of a lot of small towns, NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership program (MEP) works with U.S. manufacturers to develop new products, identify new customers and reduce costs.
MEP Center clients discuss the positive impacts of working with their local MEP Center, such as CMTC, MANTEC, and Impact Washington — from growing their revenue and finding new markets to making their company more competitive and innovative. These relationships are not only good for the manufacturer, but for their community as well. Learn more about the MEP NationalNetwork.
This is the inspiring story of a small electronics manufacturer making it in America. Based near Los Angeles, Louroe Electronics celebrates a diverse workforce, a commitment to quality, and major growth opportunities by exporting its products overseas. Through its close work and partnership with CMTC (the Southern California-based MEP Center) and participation in the Department of Commerce’s export assistance program, ExporTech, Louroe saw a 1200% increase in sales to Mexico and was awarded the Export Achievement Award by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership program (MEP) program works with U.S. manufacturers to develop new products, identify new customers and markets and reduce costs. Visit www.nist.gov/mep for more information and to contact your local center.
The impact of manufacturing on America can be seen in the good jobs it provides, the strength of the economy, and the products built in communities around the nation that enable and enrich our everyday lives. We celebrate manufacturing's impact and the MEP Centers across the country working alongside small and medium-sized manufacturers to make an impact on their people and operations. Visit www.nist.gov/mep to learn more and to contact your local MEP Center.
This family-owned, tooling and injection molding manufacturer in Macomb County Michigan is the latest manufacturer featured in the Heroes of American Manufacturing video series. What started as one toolmaker in his garage, has grown into a 45 person company with a 70,000 square foot facility making prototype and low-volume production products for clients in medical, consumer packaging, automotive, and safety markets throughout the world. Learn more about how they successfully handled the recession and innovated into new markets with the help of their local MEP—the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership program (MEP) works with U.S. manufacturers to develop new products, identify new customers and reduce costs. Visit www.nist.gov/mep for more information and to contact your local center
"If you think it's the old Ford assembly line, you haven't been staying in touch with manufacturing. Manufacturing has a home for almost everyone..." Listen to the case that this manufacturing leader makes for innovation and manufacturing careers. Based on the Heroes of American Manufacturing video featuring Omega Plastics — a family-owned, tooling and injection molding manufacturer in Michigan and how they successfully handled the recession and innovated into new markets with the help of their local MEP. Visit www.nist.gov/mep for more information about NIST MEP and www.mfgday.com to learn how to participate in Manufacturing Day and about careers in manufacturing.
GPS Source helped bring some manufacturing back to the U.S. This short video clip highlights the work of the veteran owned small business located in West Pueblo, CO and the project that was part of the NIST MEP and VA's partnership to address critical supply needs of the Naval Air Systems Command. For more information about the Make it in America campaign visit the site or call 1-800-MEP-4MFG.
Meet the next "Hero of American Manufacturing": PFM Manufacturing. This small, Montana company is the latest manufacturer featured in the Heroes of American Manufacturing video series. Check out their story and how they launched a revolutionary new product - the Land Tamer an amphibious remote access vehicle which is now sold all over the world. NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership program (MEP) works with U.S. manufacturers to develop new products, identify new customers and reduce costs. Visit www.nist.gov/mep for more information and to contact your local center.
Meet the next "Hero of American Manufacturing": Lee Spring. This Brooklyn, New York-based company is the latest manufacturer featured in the Heroes of American Manufacturing video series. Check out their story and how they've been able to keep manufacturing "alive and well in Brooklyn" since 1918, while expanding their product line to more than 21,000 offerings. NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership program (MEP) works with U.S. manufacturers to develop new products, identify new customers and reduce costs. Visit www.nist.gov/mep for more information and to contact your local center.
NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program works with U.S. manufacturers on developing new products, identifying new customers and reducing costs. Two of these clients share theirs stories in this video. The first, PFM Manufacturing, a small company in Townsend, Montana, manufactures the Land Tamer. The organization was coached by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center to turn several innovations into new business and increased profits. The other is Lee Spring a mid-sized manufacturer of springs and metal parts headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. Lee Spring has worked with ITAC the MEP center in New York City to expand into new business areas.
The Manufacturing Extension Partnership's (MEP) first in the "Heroes of American Manufacturing" video series - The Bogert Group. Located in Pasco, Washington, The Bogert Group started out as a 2-person company located in the family garage making aviation parts. Now the 28-employee strong company designs, manufacturers and markets products to a variety of customers' worldwide thanks to guidance from the Washington MEP affiliate, Impact Washington.
Major events of the last two decades have significantly influenced manufacturing and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program headquartered at NIST. The video outlines MEPs response to new opportunities and challenges and demonstrates the programs values and effectiveness in serving U.S. manufacturers.
Find out how three U.S. manufacturers achieved growth through innovation and new product development by working with their local NIST MEP affiliates. ATAS International, Allentown, PA, wondered if it was possible to find a second use for one of its products. They partnered with the Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC) to explore the possibility.; STI-CO Industries, Inc., Orchard Park, New York, was eyeing potential sales growth from new applications and new markets but needed to improve their product development process. The firm reached out to Insyte Consulting for assistance.; Amphenol Fiber Systems International, Allen, Texas, ran into unique production requirements for a connector they were adding to their product portfolio. The company turned to the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) to find the right solution.