A Blueprint for America: American Manufacturing


“I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing,” said President Obama in the 2012 State of the Union Address.

The President’s message was clear – manufacturing is essential to the growth of the U.S. economy.  He mentioned the word ‘manufacturing’ eight times and used almost half of his speech to layout a framework for a U.S. economy that is rooted in manufacturing.

Obviously, as the Director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership promoting the efforts by industry and government to encourage manufacturing innovation, I agree that manufacturing is essential to the U.S. economy. National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) CEO and President Jay Timmons said in a statement “Manufacturers are poised for renaissance.” Last month, U.S. manufacturers made the biggest gain in output since December 2010. Manufacturers have been and will continue to reignite the U.S. economy doing what they know best:  promoting quality and innovation.

Last week our team laid out a vision for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program to our partners around the country.  Our vision seeks to transform U.S. manufacturing by providing the “how to” of innovation to the over 300,000 smaller manufacturers that don’t always have access to the resources and expertise available to large corporations.  Coordinating a national network of public and private resources, MEP supports manufacturers seeking new markets, processes, and products.  Today the MEP program has the best opportunity for success through the development of partnerships at the local, regional and national level.

Success achieved by manufacturers contributing to the US economic future, such as:

Diffinity Genomics (www.diffinitygenomics.com) a Western New York life science company with technologies for medical, industrial and research applications in two very large and rapidly growing markets: DNA extraction and purification and molecular diagnostics. With the help of NYMEP, the company’s initial product provides dramatic improvements in the way DNA is purified prior to follow on use and analysis.  As Jeffrey Helfer, CEO, says, “Our company has been able to create 12 new high tech positions; engage local vendors for services, components and supplies; and help to enhance Rochester’s reputation as a life science R&D and product manufacturing community.”

Thermotion LLC (www.thermotion.com) which designs and manufacturers electro-thermal actuators (ETA) for the automotive, appliance, and aviation industries. Thermotion employs 20 people at its facility in Mentor, Ohio.  The Ohio MEP center introduced Thermotion to Fused Deposition Modeling, a rapid prototyping method, saving the firm tens of thousands of dollars by eliminating costly retooling after release to production. Thermotion was quickly ready for field testing with one of its major clients, the U.S. military. The new technology was installed on several different ground vehicles used by all branches of the military increasing sales for the company and retaining 14 jobs.

Wood’s Powr-Grip (www.powrgrip.com) employs 80 people at its facility in Laurel, Montana.  Powr-Grip provides innovative equipment which uses vacuum to lift, hold, and position nonporous materials, including glass, plastics, engine valves, sheet metal, stone slabs, and appliances. Managing the innovation process to get the right product or service out quickly and at an attractive price became an imperative for the firm. The severe economic downturn had turned the tables on growth, and the company found itself wrestling for market share rather than just trying to keep up with organic growth.  The company turned to the local MEP center to guide their employees in the identifying, qualifying, and refining ideas for growth.  The company now has a pipeline of new ideas for business growth. Bryan Wood, Powr-Grip’s President, shared, “we jumped right into processing of the ideas and helped us prioritize, which was largely what we needed. It has definitely positioned us for growth into the future.”

Three examples of US manufacturers contributing to their local communities and to the strength of our national economic future.  There are thousands more.   I believe manufacturing is essential to the U.S. economy… everyone has something to contribute to the future of manufacturing: workers on the shop floor, company leaders, politicians, researchers, innovators, students and consultants. Our vision for the future is driven by innovation. Innovation that provides more opportunities for US manufacturers, for all US citizens. What role will you take in making the U.S. manufacturing blueprint a reality?

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  1. Gene Lussier CEO Team-Serv Inc. on

    Roger, excellent examples of innovation and creativity. I have two clients both start-up manufacturing; firms one in pharmaceutical production the other in water processing. Both firms are quite technical but their problem is finding workers for entry level and mid level jobs. Their complaint is that the talent pool is over educated and the training and experience level of entry and mid level people is poor because we have abandoned vocational and formal apprentice training at the secondary and vocational school level. We need more influence with the education community as our entire work force does not need a college degree it needs balanced education/training
    education. GL

  2. There is an existing solution to Gene’s concerns, local community colleges can provide the skills gap training customized to local manufacturer’s needs. The disconnect is that some times a manufacturer (especially small Mfg), does not have the tools or experience to do proper skills assessment. The common barrier for those manufacturers who do know what skills need improving, is not will to spend the money and/or time needed for proper employee training. Another common disconnect with manufacturing is the desire to hire multi-disciplined worker at an entry level pay grade.

  3. Pingback: Should Governments Subsidize Manufacturing Consultants? | Michel Baudin's Blog

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