Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership taps Wendy White to Lead Statewide Efforts in Food Safety Program

Wendy White headshot

Wendy White is a food safety project manager for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Wendy White, a nationally known food safety expert, has joined the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) as a food safety project manager.

 

In that capacity, she will provide educational outreach and support to help Georgia food manufacturers improve their food safety and quality systems.

 

Prior to joining the GaMEP, White was director of corporate food safety and quality at Golden State Foods, a food manufacturer and distributor in the industry with more than 35 sites around the world.

 

“I will work to help Georgia food manufacturers comply with government regulations for food safety and to be in compliance with those rules to avoid heavy fines, delays, and shutdowns,” White said.

 

She also will lead GaMEP’s new Food Safety Cohort Program, helping companies achieve compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA,) through a series of six 1-day group training sessions and additional one-on-one coaching sessions.

 

“Wendy brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise which will be especially critical for our small- to medium-sized food manufacturers in Georgia,” said GaMEP Associate Director Tim Israel.

 

Many large companies have the resources to devote strictly to their compliance activities, but our small companies, don’t always have that, he said.

 

“Through her efforts, Wendy will help those smaller Georgia food manufacturers develop and expand robust compliance activities so that they’re sustainable over the long term as well as, easy to understand and implement into their operations,” Israel said.

 

Georgia is among the nation’s leading agriculture states and the industry accounts for nearly $75 billion of the state’s economy each year.

 

Food manufacturing, or food processing, is a related and growing segment of the Georgia economy. This sector, which includes 69,000 jobs across Georgia, generates $11 billion to $12 billion each year in total output.

 

White has overseen food safety operations at multiple facilities where she implemented Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans and related quality programs.

 

Her experience also includes overseeing internal audits, implementing corporate programs, ensuring regulatory compliance, elevating food safety culture, and supporting global supply chain management. She successfully implemented multiple Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI) Certification Programs and is on the editorial board of Food Safety Magazine.

 

White is also a highly sought-after speaker at food safety conferences and is very involved in the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP). She’s held multiple leadership positions, and currently serves as vice chair of the Meat and Poultry PDG and sits on its Foundation Committee.  White is past president of the Georgia Association of Food Protection (GAFP) and currently is an IAFP board delegate.

 

She received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in food science from the University of Georgia.

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP): 

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in nine regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top line growth and reduce bottom line cost. For more information, visit: gamep.org.

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership recruiting companies to participate in new energy management improvement program

Federal award supports targeted focus on energy management system implementation and improvements for manufacturers in six southern states.

 

Randy Green, GaMEP project manager in the Energy and Sustainability Group, performs an energy audit with one of his clients in Emanuel County in Georgia.

Randy Green, GaMEP project manager in the Energy and Sustainability Group, performs an energy audit with one of his clients in Emanuel County in Georgia.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech has launched a new program to help manufacturers boost their competitiveness by implementing energy management best practices in ISO 50001.

 

A 12-month effort, the Southeast MEP Energy Management Program is being funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

 

“The program aims to help companies in the Southeast accelerate their energy and cost savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by incorporating best practices as outlined by ISO 50001,” said Bill Meffert, the GaMEP’s group manager for energy and sustainability projects.

The ISO 50001 Energy Management System — an international standard in which the GaMEP had a role in developing when first drafted in 2011 and its 2018 revisions — provides business and industry with an energy performance improvement framework.

“That’s the focus of the ISO 50001 training and coaching. We’re assisting companies in their efforts to bring energy costs under control and make smart energy usage part of their daily processes,” Meffert said.

 

Participants in the Southeast MEP Energy Management Program will take a series of classes and webinar sessions, and receive on-site coaching over a 12-month period. Completing the program allows them to be certified by the U.S. Department of Energy as 50001 Ready by showing they’ve implemented the standard into their operations. They can also take an additional step to become certified, Meffert said.

The class for the first cohort launches in early 2019 and applications are being accepted at this link: https://gamep.org/southeast-energy-management-program/.

 

The federal grant covers most of the cost for the training, but participating companies will pay about 25 percent of that. As part of the grant, the GaMEP will partner with MEPs in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Texas. Those sister MEPs will find clients in those states to work with them to implement the ISO 50001 management system.

“For many companies, energy use is a critical component of their ability to maintain a competitive edge,” Meffert said.

 

A medium- to large-sized company with 250 employees or more could spend more than $1 million a year on energy, including electricity, natural gas, fuel, and water.

 

“What we see with the companies that we’ve worked with to adopt the ISO standard in the past is that they achieve energy performance improvements that go beyond the typical approaches,” he said. “Roughly 70 percent of the savings achieved are through operational controls and behavior change.”

 

Since the ISO standard’s adoption in 2011, the GaMEP has helped more than 70 facilities in North America to implement ISO 50001, with most becoming certified, including nine in the Southeast.

 

“This energy management system is applicable to a whole host of industries from textiles and floor coverings to food and beverage to automotive manufacturing,” Meffert said. “One of the reasons we sought to get more companies in the Southeast to adopt this energy standard is because we have such a strong manufacturing presence in all of these sectors.

 

“Incorporating these standards and changing processes for energy usage can really make a difference to the bottom line, while also helping companies meet their competitiveness and sustainability objectives,” Meffert said.

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in 10 regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost. For more information, please visit gamep.org.

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech awarded grant for food safety modernization program

U.S. Department of Commerce award will support targeted 

focus on small food and beverage manufacturers in four states.

 

GaMEP Associate Director Timothy D. Israel.

GaMEP Associate Director Timothy D. Israel.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech was awarded a $986,805 grant to create a food safety program that will serve small food and beverage manufacturers in Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, and Oregon.

 

This four-state MEP effort, led by the GaMEP, is aimed at helping these small manufacturers comply with the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements. The law, enacted in 2011, seeks to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply by shifting regulators’ attention to contamination prevention to reduce outbreaks.

 

The grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)will support the effort over a three-year period. The award was part of $7 million in total grants NIST gave to MEP centers in seven states and the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico.

 

The GaMEP is designing an affordable FSMA compliance and food safety management system implementation program with its partners for small and very small food and beverage manufacturers within each state.

 

“Agriculture and industries related to food are critical to the economies of Georgia and to the states that we’re partnering with, both in direct financial impact, and jobs,” said GaMEP Associate Director Timothy D. Israel.

 

“But as large as the sector is, it’s chiefly comprised of small companies or very small family-run businesses or partnerships that don’t always have the resources or expertise to meet all the requirements for safety compliance.”

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2017 it monitored between 18 and 37 potential food poisoning cases and clusters each week and almost 200 weekly cases of outbreaks affecting multiple states.

 

Protecting the nation’s food supply chain is critical, but even more so for small and very small food processors that are responding to consumer taste trends, are often processing high risk foods that include fresh produce, dry ingredients, and dairy, he said.

 

“All of those types of foods have experienced outbreaks in the last few years and most of the small food processing businesses in Georgia and those of our partner states simply can’t afford the financial toll of a recall or disruption,” Israel said. “This is one of the reasons this critical need has to be addressed.”

 

The program services will first target FSMA compliance in the development of food safety management systems for human consumption, Israel said. It would then potentially be expanded to support manufacturers of pet food, as well as food safety management system certification, third-party certification audits, food defense compliance, and technology insertion for hazard controls.

 

“Agriculture contributes $73 billion to Georgia’s economy each year, and food processing manufacturing adds another $11 billion to $12 billion each year to it,” he said. “That’s why it’s imperative we focus our efforts on ensuring these small companies and very small companies have the tools, resources, and training to be in compliance.”

 

About Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)

GaMEP exists to serve manufacturers and advance Georgia manufacturing. GaMEP is a program within Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). With offices in 10 regions across the state, GaMEP has served Georgia manufacturers since 1960. Through coaching and training, GaMEP offers solutions-based approaches designed to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost. For more information, visit: gamep.org.

Dalton machine shop expands to serve aerospace industry

Precision Products Inc. increased its annual sales by more than $3.5 million

after working with Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

 

manufacturing, parts making

Precision Products Inc. is a high precision parts manufacturing company based in Dalton, Georgia.

DALTON, Ga. Precision Products Inc. obtained a new quality management certification that has allowed the Northwest Georgia-based company to serve the aerospace industry, invest in its plant, and create jobs.

 

The certification — AS9100C — followed Precision Products’ work with the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), which helped the company create and continuously improve its quality management system.

 

A program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, GaMEP works with manufacturers across the state to help them reduce costs and increase growth.

 

AS9100C certification is part of a widely adopted and standardized quality management system for the aerospace sector.

 

Since the AS9100C certification, the company has increased annual sales by more than $3.5 million, invested in excess of $1.5 million in new equipment, and hired several new employees specific to the aerospace market to help meet the increased demand.

 

“The quality management system implementation process allowed us to work with Precision Products to help analyze and problem solve their daily operations, communication systems, and documentation efforts,” said Craig Cochran, a project manager at GaMEP, which has worked with Precision Products for the past 10 years.

 

The GaMEP was instrumental in Precision Products obtaining an earlier certification — ISO 9001 — which allowed the company to then pursue the AS9100C designation.

 

ISO 9001 is the international standard for quality management systems that helps organizations ensure they are in compliance with the needs of their customers while simultaneously adhering to statutory and regulatory requirements related to a given product or service.

 

That certification led to more opportunities for new customers in several different industries, including the aerospace sector for Precision Products.

 

The aerospace sector was a perfect business expansion target for Precision Products because the company’s core competencies of tight tolerances and exacting specifications are critical in aerospace.

 

However, the company soon realized some aerospace manufacturers require even more stringent controls depending on the types of parts being supplied. So, the company worked with GaMEP to pursue and obtain AS9100C certification.

 

“This additional certification opened up an entirely new market for us,” said E. Don Smith, Precision Products’ senior sales engineer. “It has increased our business substantially because it has allowed us to attend trade shows and get new customers we would not have been able to serve prior to the certification.”

 

Since the company had already adopted a mindset of continual improvement and employee involvement, “the aerospace certification was remarkably easy,” Cochran said. “Precision Products holds itself to much higher standards than any auditor would.”

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in 10 regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost. For more information, please visit gamep.org.

 

About Precision Parts Inc.

Founded in 1993, as a family/woman-owned business in Dalton, Georgia, Precision Products Inc., is a high precision parts manufacturing company. They make parts to order, either based on provided specifications or through reverse engineering, to support manufacturing operations in a variety of industries. For more information, please visit ppiparts.com.

Georgia Institute of Technology hosts Colombian delegation in technology extension workshops

EDL Colombia

A team of engineers and business professionals from Colombia are visiting the Georgia Tech campus as part of a week-long series of training workshops with the Economic Development Lab and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Economic Development Lab (EDL) and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) are hosting a group of 23 professionals from Colombia this week, consisting of engineers and business managers from the cities of Medellín, Cali, and Bucaramanga.

 

The group is accompanied by representatives of the Colombian Confederation of Chambers of Commerce (Confecámaras), and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism’s Program of Productivity Transformation. All are participating in a week-long training program in technology extension.

 

“This program is part of our ongoing collaboration with the Private Council of Competitivenessto design and implement a program of technology extension in Colombia,” said Mónica Novoa, an EDL program manager. “As part of the training program at Georgia Tech, the group is attending workshops facilitated by our GaMEPgroup in topics including lean manufacturing, energy management, innovation, and growth management.”

 

The program also includes a site visit to a manufacturing company in Georgia to observe its facilities and learn how it has implemented strategies to increase productivity and competitiveness.

 

EDL helps communities and organizations create jobs and become more competitive through the application of innovative ideas to economic development. Areas of expertise include business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.

 

The GaMEP is a state and federally funded initiative and member of the national MEP network that is supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). GaMEP works with manufacturers across the state of Georgia and offers a low-cost, solution-based approach through coaching and education designed to increase top-line growth and reduce-bottom line costs.

 

Both programs are offerings of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, which is Georgia Tech’s economic development arm.

What automation means for economic development

Karen Fite Automation GaMEP

GaMEP Director Karen Fite (standing), moderates the Automation Panel at the 51st Annual Basic Economic Development Course. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Automation.

 

The word and what it represents is driving a lot of discussion about what that means for manufacturers and for those in economic development tasked with bringing industry — and jobs — to their communities.

 

But automation is not the boogeyman people think it is, said Mark Ligler, vice president of Factory Automation Systems. The Atlanta-based company is a systems integration resource for many of the top manufacturers in the United States and supports them in programmable controller and drive systems, robot integration, and information solutions.

 

“Automation is not a job killer,” Ligler said. “It’s a job creator and it’s keeping people here employed.”

 

Ligler made his remarks as part of a panel discussion, “What Automation means for Your Community” at the 51st annual Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC) held Feb. 27 through March 2.

 

The interactive professional development course is produced by the Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) and offered in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). It provides seasoned economic development professionals and those new to the field with the core fundamentals of business attraction, workforce development, retention and expansion, and entrepreneur and small business challenges, as well as transformative trends in the industry.

 

Basic Economic Development Course

Sixty-five economic development professionals from across the country attended Georgia Tech’s Basic Economic Development Course at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. (Photo: Special)

The 2018 BEDC theme — “Automation and Economic Development” — centered on how that is changing a number of industries and drove the panel discussions and other events for the 65 attendees who came from across the country.

 

“The research tells us that in roughly 60 percent of current occupations that at least a third of tasks performed in those jobs could be automated,” said Karen Fite, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP).

 

A federally funded program at Georgia Tech, GaMEP works with manufacturers in the state to increase their competitiveness and efficiency and boost productivity.

 

Fite, who moderated the panel, said the question for those in economic development and manufacturers is to understand how automation will affect business and industry and how to best prepare for the jobs and skills it will require.

 

It was a sentiment echoed by other panelists, which included Josh Benton, executive director of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; Tom Sammon, a GaMEP project manager specializing on implementing Lean manufacturing practices and helping companies develop capital equipment applications, and John Fluker, president and chief sales officer of Grenzebach Corp. in Newnan, Ga.

 

“Automation, when you look at it from a longterm perspective, is all about competitiveness,” Fluker said.

 

“Competitiveness and demographics are driving automation,” he said, adding the technologies behind it are helping create a new landscape with jobs that demand new skills.

 

“It’s not a job killer,” he said. “It’s a skills changer.”

Manufacturing Disaster Assistance Program to help Georgia companies prepare for natural disasters

Manufacturers in seven Georgia counties can participate in new program

offered by the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

 

Head shot of Ben Cheeks

Ben Cheeks is GaMEP’s manager for the Coastal Georgia region.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is seeking eligible manufacturers to participate in a disaster assistance program designed to help companies that are located in the state’s coastal areas assess their preparedness and develop operational solutions to minimize the impact of future hurricanes and other natural disasters.

 

 

The $173,859 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) funds the GaMEP’s Manufacturing Disaster Assistance Program (MDAP), which was developed to address the needs of Georgia manufacturers.

 

 

The funds for the two-year effort are specifically designated toward assisting manufacturers with operations in Coastal Georgia in Camden, Chatham, Charlton, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh counties. It also includes Coffee County, which is not on the coast, but was also severely impacted by flooding during 2017’s Hurricane Irma. (Eligible manufacturers are encouraged to email Ben Cheeks, GaMEP’s coastal region manager at ude.hcetag.etavonninull@skeehc.neb.)

 

 

The counties are home to 408 manufacturing facilities that employ 23,000.

 

 

The MDAP creation follows a devastating 2017 hurricane season in which Hurricane Irma led to a mandatory evacuation of the coast’s nearly 540,000 residents and business owners, and resulted in estimated damages of more than $670 million. That’s on top of a 2016 evacuation of the Georgia coast following Hurricane Matthew, which caused more than $500 million in damages.

 

 

The goal with this tailored approach to help manufacturers on the Georgia Coast is two-pronged, Cheeks said.

 

 

“First, we want to assist as many manufacturers as possible and get them operating at pre-Hurricane Irma levels — that includes employment and fully contributing to the regional and state economies,” Cheeks said. “The second part of this effort is to help them develop plans that they will already have in place to address future hurricanes and other natural disasters so they will positioned for as little disruption as possible in resuming operations.”

 

 

As part of the offering, GaMEP will leverage its expertise and resources at Georgia Tech, as well as its local, state, and federal economic development partners, including the Technical College System of Georgia and the MEP network, among other organizations, Cheeks said. Pooling resources at all levels ensures maximum impact for the affected companies and communities, he added.

 

 

The MDAP initiative will include assessments of the manufacturers’ needs, helping prioritize opportunities for sustainability and growth. It also will incorporate the development of pre and post-natural disaster protocols that address challenges manufacturers will face following hurricanes and other natural disasters, such as supply chain and infrastructure disruption, labor displacement, and financial constraints.

 

 

“We’re taking a 360-degree approach with this effort,” Cheeks said. “It’s designed to help position our coastal manufacturers proactively and ahead of the likely after-effects we will see in future storms that will affect the Georgia Coast.”

 

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP):

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in 10 regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost. For more information, please visit gamep.org.

Apprenticeship Program Helps Students Gain Skills

Georgia state governermnent and education leaders stand with Coweta County high school students partirticipating in the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training program (GA CATT) at Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s 10th Annual Business & Education Summit in Griffin on Monday, Nov. 13. Launched in 2016, GACATT allows them to graduate on time with a high school diploma, earn technical college credentials, while obtaining real, hands-on experience in a workplace and technical skills that they can use to build their careers. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

 

GRIFFIN, GA — At 4 a.m. on many mornings, 17-year-old Cole McKeehan is already at work at E.G.O. North America in Newnan, Georgia.

 

McKeehan, a junior at Northgate High School in Newnan, is a student apprentice at E.G.O., which makes radiant heating elements and electronic components such as touch controls and induction heaters at the facility.

 

Jenny Houlroyd (left), an industrial hygienist with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Safety, Health, and Environmental Services program, stands with Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (center), and Larry Alford, South Metro Atlanta region manager with Tech’s Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP). The three attended Cagle’s 10th Annual Business & Education Summit in Griffin on Nov. 13. They were part of a panel of state and education leaders who discussed the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training program (GA CATT). (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

He is in his second year of the program — the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT) — and is gaining practical experience in machining and lathing. McKeehan is developing those skills under an apprenticeship program that would let him graduate high school with technical college credits. He can use those credits toward earning an associate’s degree in industrial mechanics from West Georgia Technical College.

 

“I think this is a great program,” McKeehan said. “I will graduate with an associate’s degree and continue on to college for a four-year degree in engineering or tool and die.”

 

McKeehan was one of several teens in GA CATT who shared their experiences Nov. 13 at Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s 10th Annual Business & Education Summit.

 

The session where the teens spoke, held on the first day of the two-day summit and hosted by the Griffin Region College and Career Academy, brought Georgia’s business and education leaders together for a series of collaborative meetings.

 

The hope is that these meetings will lead to innovative ideas and initiatives to better prepare high school students for the demands of a 21st-century workforce.

 

Cole McKeehan (seated rear left), smiles following a joke made by one of his friends, Josiah Henderson. The teens, who attend Northgate High School in Newnan, are student apprentices at E.G.O. North America in Newnan. They work there under the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training program (GA CATT). The program lets Georgia high school students earn technical college credentials and technical skills that they can use to build their careers. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The GA CATT session, which also featured business leaders and officials from the Georgia Institute of Technology who worked on its development and implementation, was designed to answer questions from summit attendees, as state officials look to expand it statewide.

 

“Our GA CATT has had great success,” Cagle said. “We’re in our second year now and to be able to listen to the students and the impact that it’s having on their lives and how motivated and focused and determined they are — it’s a win for them, it’s a win for the community, and it’s certainly a win for industry as well.”

 

The Georgia initiative was launched in 2016 with support from the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., the Technical College System of Georgia, West Georgia Technical College, and the Central Educational Center, as well as Georgia Tech’s Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) and Safety and Health Consultation Program.

 

The GA CATT program seeks to follow the German apprenticeship dual education model and begin with 10th graders, the only program in the U.S. currently doing so.

 

Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (standing) greets high school students from Coweta County who are partirticipating in the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training program (GA CATT). The group assembled in Griffin at Cagle’s 10th Annual Business & Education Summit on Monday, Nov. 13. The students and their mentors shared their experiences of being in GA CATT, which allows them to earn technical college credentials. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

As in Germany, GA CATT requires participating Georgia high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to spend 70 percent of their time working at their host company and the remaining 30 percent in the classroom.

 

The 70-30 split is designed to allow them to graduate on time with a high school diploma and earn technical college credentials while obtaining real, hands-on experience in a workplace and technical skills that they can use to build their careers. In addition, apprentices have the opportunity to attain a German Certification in Industrial Mechanics that is accepted in Europe and beyond as evidence of their skill and knowledge.

 

The student apprentices are paid for their time at the company, earning $8 an hour when they start and $12 per hour as seniors.

 

Two German companies with operations in Newnan — Grenzebach Corp. and E.G.O. North America — were committed to launching GA CATT and served as the catalysts for the program.

 

The companies asked Larry Alford, GaMEP’s South Metro Atlanta region manager, to leverage his long-term relationships with local companies to invite them to join the program. GA CATT began with eight companies and 10 apprentices.

 

GaMEP, which works with manufacturers to innovate, increase top-line growth, and reduce bottom-line costs, also supported the GA CATT initiative, as did the Institute’s Safety and Health Consultation Program.

 

Larry Alford, (left) South Metro Atlanta region manager with the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech, speaks with Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle at the 10th Annual Annual Business & Education Summit on Monday, Nov. 13. The GaMEP is part of a group of organizations that helped launch the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training program (GA CATT), which allows high school students to earn technical college credentials, while obtaining real, hands-on experience in a workplace and technical skills they can use after graduation. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“Collaborating with industry from the start has been GA CATT’s secret to success. The educators and the German-American Chamber are key players, but the industry’s commitment will determine its growth and expansion,” Alford said. “Much of the focus rightfully is placed on the students, but equally important are the process and support systems that develop the company mentors, those who are tasked with guiding the activities of the students to meet curriculum requirements and to adequately prepare the apprentices to succeed in the program and at work.”

 

That commitment on all sides also helps manufacturers build a pipeline of talent, said David Keller, E.G.O. North America’s president and managing director of operations. In an industry that has historically had a difficult time finding a skilled workforce, these companies are looking to the future, by developing interest and relationships with talented students early on, he said.

 

The goal is that after graduation, the students will work for those companies where they apprenticed.

 

Jenny Houlroyd, an industrial hygienist with Tech’s Safety, Health, and Environmental Services program, is helping GA CATT companies understand and comply with U.S. labor laws that provide flexibility for apprentices under 18 to enter the workforce as student-learners.

 

In 2017, GA CATT added two additional clusters, centered in Rockdale & Newton Counties and Spalding County. Each cluster includes local manufacturers, their local college and career academies, and the local Technical College. Alford facilitates the implementation teams in each cluster. A total of 18 manufacturers and 28 students currently participate in the program.

Thomasville cheesemaker receives Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s 2017 Faces of Manufacturing Award

Jeremy Little is one of four Georgians to be awarded in October.

 

Award presentation Jeremy Little

Jeremy Little (second from left), co-owner of Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, receives a 2017 Faces of Manufacturing Award from the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership. With him (from left) are: Andrea Collins, executive director of Thomasville-Thomas County Chamber of Commerce; Jeremy Little and his wife, Jessica Little; Shelley Zorn, economic developer for the Thomasville Payroll Development Authority, and Hank Hobbs, the GaMEP’s South Georgia region manager. (Photo by Katie Takacs)

 

THOMASVILLE, Ga. — The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) has named Jeremy Little a 2017 Faces of Manufacturing Award recipient.

 

Little, the co-owner of Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, is one of four Georgians who are being recognized for their respective contributions and commitment to the manufacturing industry, which is a key driver of the state economy.

 

An internationally recognized and award-winning cheesemaker, Little, who co-owns Sweet Grass Dairy with his wife, Jessica, accepted his award Oct. 17 in a special ceremony at Sweet Grass Dairy’s Thomasville facilities.

 

“This award is an incredible honor. In the last 18 months we’ve started looking at how we could change our cheese making methods by focusing more on the science to better understand our raw materials and adjust our manufacturing process in an effort to bring the end consumer a more enjoyable experience,” Little said. “This award is a testament to our efforts. I couldn’t be more thrilled to receive an award of this caliber from such a distinguished program.”

 

GaMEP is a federally funded economic development program of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. It works with manufacturers across the state to help them remain viable and economically competitive.

 

Collectively, more than 10,000 manufacturing companies operate in Georgia. Those companies, which span all sizes, employ more than 365,000 and produce a total manufacturing output of $53 billion per year.

 

The Faces campaign showcases the sector’s importance to Georgia’s economy and Little and the other award recipients were selected through a public voting contest out of 10 finalists. Following more than 4,500 votes cast, Little emerged as one of the top four.

 

“Jeremy’s story represents two very important sectors of the Georgia economy — manufacturing food processing and agriculture,” said GaMEP Director Karen J. Fite. “Sweet Grass Dairy is a successful because of Jeremy’s commitment to producing high-quality, Georgia-grown food products. He is just one example of many dedicated Georgians in manufacturing and through today’s award, our Faces campaign aims to honor and celebrate that strength, vibrancy, and talent.”

 

Jessica Little’s parents founded Sweet Grass Dairy in 2000 and she and her husband acquired it in 2005. The company has since expanded and its six varieties of cheese are sold in more than 38 U.S. states.

 

The company’s cheeses have won more than 20 ribbons from the American Cheese Society and several international awards.

 

About the Faces of Manufacturing in Georgia:

The Faces of Manufacturing in Georgia campaign is an initiative of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership that honors the people who work in or are

affected by manufacturing in Georgia. For more information, please visit gamep.org/faces-of-manufacturing/.

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP):

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in nine regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top line growth and reduce bottom line cost. For more information, visit gamep.org.

 

About Sweet Grass Dairy:

Founded in 2000 and based in Thomasville, Ga., Sweet Grass Dairy is a 140-acre, family-owned-and-operated farm. Our award-winning cheeses are made from the milk of Jersey Cows and delivered to customers across the United States with exceptional quality. To learn more, please visit sweetgrassdairy.com.

Textron Specialized Vehicles executive receives Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s 2017 Faces of Manufacturing Award

Jason Alford is one of four Georgians to receive the 2017 award.

 

Jason Alford faces photo

Jason Alford (third from left), vice president of the integrated supply chain at Textron Specialized Vehicles in Augusta, receives a 2017 Faces of Manufacturing Award from the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership. With him (from left) are: Elliot Price, the GaMEP’s Augusta region manager, Angela Pringle, superintendent of the Richmond County School System, Alford, and Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. (Photo by Caley Landau)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) has named Jason Alford a 2017 Faces of Manufacturing Award recipient.

 

Alford, vice president, Integrated Supply Chain for Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. in Augusta, is one of four Georgians who are being recognized for their respective contributions and commitment to the manufacturing industry, which is a key driver of the state economy.

 

Alford, who has been with Textron for 14 years, accepted his award Oct. 10 in a special ceremony at the company’s Augusta facility.

 

“I am honored and humbled to accept this award,” Alford said. “I do not accept this honor alone. It truly belongs to the hundreds of talented, dedicated TSV employees who come to work each day to help us build vehicles and equipment to serve our customers around the world.”

 

GaMEP is a federally funded economic development program of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. It works with manufacturers across the state to help them remain viable and economically competitive.

 

Collectively, more than 10,000 manufacturing companies operate in Georgia. Those companies, which span all sizes, employ more than 365,000 and produce a total manufacturing output of $53 billion per year.

 

The Faces campaign showcases the sector’s importance to Georgia’s economy and Alford and the other three award recipients were chosen through a public voting contest consisting of 10 finalists, selected from an initial pool of nominations. Following more than 4,500 votes cast, Alford emerged as one of the top four.

 

“Jason’s keen intellect, analytical mindset and tireless work ethic are matched only by his devotion to our company and to his employees,” said Kevin Holleran, president and CEO of Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. “His receipt of this award is no surprise to those of us who work with Jason every day, and experience firsthand his commitment to success.”

 

Textron Specialized Vehicles, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, designs and manufactures a wide variety of vehicles and equipment under several well-known brands. The company’s products include E-Z-GO golf cars, Arctic Cat snowmobiles, Cushman commercial utility vehicles, Textron Off Road side-by-sides and ATVs, Jacobsen professional turf-care equipment, and Dixie Chopper zero-turn mowers. In addition, the company manufactures ground support equipment for the aviation industry under its Textron GSE umbrella. The company employs about 1,400 people in Georgia and more than 4,200 worldwide.

 

Alford began at Textron as director, financial planning and analysis, but discovered he had a natural talent for manufacturing integration. His high-level knowledge of the company from a finance and planning perspective, coupled with a deep understanding of business processes in manufacturing, gave him unique insight into the company.

 

Alford is committed to sharing his passion for manufacturing with youth. He spearheaded Textron Specialized Vehicles’ partnership with the Richmond County School System to create the Reaching Potential Through Manufacturing (RPM) program. The program, now in its second year, provides high school students at risk of dropping out with an alternative path to graduation, even as they earn valuable manufacturing work experience building components for TSV products.

 

Alford, who is wheelchair-bound after surviving a motorcycle accident several years ago, drew on his own lessons learned from persevering during his recovery as inspiration in creating the RPM program.

 

“There are so many opportunities and possibilities in manufacturing, from machining and engineering to finance and fabrication,” said GaMEP Director Karen J. Fite. “Jason’s commitment and success at Textron, as well his dedication to inspiring the industry’s next generation workforce, reflect the caliber of the people we have in Georgia manufacturing. Through the award given today, our Faces campaign aims to honor and celebrate that strength, vibrancy, and talent.”

 

About the Faces of Manufacturing in Georgia:

The Faces of Manufacturing in Georgia campaign is an initiative of the Georgia

Manufacturing Extension Partnership that honors the people who work in or are affected by manufacturing in Georgia. For more information, please visit gamep.org/faces-ofmanufacturing/.

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP):

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in nine regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top line growth and reduce bottom line cost. For more information, visit gamep.org.

 

About Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc.

Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. is a leading global manufacturer of golf cars, utility and personal transportation vehicles, snowmobiles, side-by-sides, all-terrain vehicles, professional turf-care equipment, and ground support equipment. Textron Specialized Vehicles markets products under the E-Z-GO®, Cushman®, Arctic Cat®, Textron Off Road™, Jacobsen®, Dixie Chopper®, Ransomes®, TUG™, Douglas™, Premier™ and Safeaero™ brands. Its vehicles are found in environments ranging from golf courses to factories, airports to planned communities, and theme parks to hunting preserves. To learn more, visit textron.com.

 

About Textron Inc.:

Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Greenlee, Textron Off Road, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training. For more information, visit textron.com.