Delegates from Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Georgia Tech Meet with Congressional Leaders on Capitol Hill

Tim Israel, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, in Washington, D.C. for the 2020 “Hill Day” at the U.S. Capitol.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) convened with members of the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) during its annual “Hill Day” in Washington, D.C.

 

The two-day event, held on March 3 and 4, was an opportunity for ASMC members and their manufacturing clients to meet with their respective Congressional delegation and educate them about the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program during the annual appropriations process.

 

The MEP National Network works with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers through designated MEP Centers, including the GaMEP at Georgia Tech. They are charged with assisting manufacturing clients to help them, to help create and retain jobs, increase profits, and promote innovation and growth for the future.

 

The intent behind Hill Day is to call attention to the importance of small and medium-sized manufacturers’ effect on rebuilding the economy.  By showcasing the achievements of this sector to elected officials, ASMC members are able to demonstrate a return on investment of the federal funding generated through the MEP program.

 

“As a part of the MEP National Network, the GaMEP works with manufacturers throughout the state offering solution-based approaches to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost,” said GaMEP Director Tim Israel. “We have a unique responsibility to boost Georgia’s economy by enhancing our clients’ competitiveness. I was excited to share these results with our congressional leaders so they can see our key successes this past year.”

 

In Georgia, the GaMEP worked with more than 700 manufacturers across the state to increase manufacturing sales by $317 million, reduce clients’ operating costs by $121 million, invest more than $159 million back into their plants, and create or retain 2,074 jobs.

 

As a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the MEP offers its clients resources centered on five critical areas: technology acceleration, supplier development, sustainability, workforce, and continuous improvement. In 2019, MEP generated a 14.4:1 return on investment, according to an Upjohn Institute for Employment Research study.

 

Nationally, in 2019, MEP clients reported $15.7 billion new and retained sales and the creation or retention of 114,650 jobs. Considering that the average U.S. manufacturing worker earns more than $87,185 in wages and benefits per year, MEP clients are economic drivers in their communities. MEP clients are also increasing their capacity for the production of goods. MEP clients reported $4.5 billion in new investments directly attributed to their work with MEP.

 

“The MEP National Network continues to significantly improve the productivity and competitiveness of America’s small and mid-sized manufacturers,” said Dave Boulay, ASMC board chairman and president of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center.  “Hill Day provides us an opportunity to showcase those impacts to our congressional representatives and allow our clients to share their stories directly.”

 

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 the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC)
The American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) is a trade association of manufacturing extension centers that work to improve the innovation and productivity of America’s manufacturing community. ASMC advocates for legislative and programmatic resources that allow our small manufacturing clients to better compete in the global marketplace. The Coalition and its members do this by increasing awareness of the importance of American small manufacturers, the challenges which they face, and the federal legislation and programs that affect them. Learn more by visiting smallmanufacturers.org.

For the state’s food manufacturers, a Georgia Tech partnership is the secret ingredient to growth

Just add engineers to the mix.

 

Damon Nix inside the facilities of Project Open Hand, which prepares and delivers 4,500 freshly meals a day to seniors and people with chronic diseases. GaMEP helped the nonprofit reduce the time it takes to find and prep a meal in their cooler from 45 minutes to 1 minute.

By Michael Baxter

You would expect a building where vinegar is made to have a sour smell, highly pungent, perhaps with a whiff of apple. World Technology Ingredients (WTI) smells nothing like this. Their manufacturing facility, off a county two-lane in Jefferson, Georgia, has a vaguely mineral aroma. More dry than dank, and not altogether unpleasant.

 

Maybe that’s because the vinegar made here isn’t destined for grocery store shelves, but for food preservation. It’s called buffered vinegar, an all-natural additive that protects meats and other products from microbes. WTI makes a lot of this vinegar, more than they used to in fact, and that’s partly because of Damon Nix.

 

On this Friday afternoon, Nix is taking a visitor through WTI’s plant, pointing out its sectors and stations. Here’s the wet vinegar, seven titanic tanks and even more smaller ones, emitting a hiss-and-motor chorus of mechanized blending. Over here’s the powdered version, mixed in towering contraptions on chalky floors (that will later be cleaned), then heated, blended and bagged.

 

Nix stops at a white board with dry-erase markings that tell another story of what’s going on inside the plant — one of continuous improvement. Sketched out are five days of the work week, four areas of focus (safety, performance, schedule, issues) and an assortment of metrics. One of WTI’s workers happens by, and after glancing at the white board, Nix congratulates him.

 

“I think y’all are doing great,” he says. “These are good numbers.”

 

Nix doesn’t work for WTI. He’s an industry manager for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or GaMEP, a Georgia Tech-based, engineering-centric program that helps small and mid-sized manufacturing companies in the state perform better. As the partnership’s food and beverage point person, Nix applies his industrial engineering education from Tech to help manufacturers up their game and lower their costs.

 

“What I really do is facilitate problem solving,” says Nix (B.S., ISyE, ’01). He is careful to emphasize the facilitation part. He doesn’t arrive as the dreaded efficiency expert, handing down mandates and new processes to those on the floor. Rather, he operates as the quintessential engineer — conducting research, listening to people, and fostering ownership of change. When he introduces new knowledge, such as time-tested principles of lean manufacturing and quality control, it’s more as a coach guiding a player who’s motivated to improve.

 

“In organizations that really succeed, teams are empowered by top management,” he says. “The team has to own the process. I could go to a meeting and offer a bunch of ideas, but half of them wouldn’t be nearly as good as what people inside the company put forward and act on.”

 

Rise of an engineering partnership

 

Georgia Tech has been in the game of helping small and mid-sized manufacturers for a long time. A century ago, the idea of creating an engineering counterpart to America’s agricultural experiment stations was being debated in Congress. But the Georgia General Assembly didn’t wait for the debate to conclude — it voted in 1919 to launch an “engineering experiment station” (EES) at Georgia Tech.

 

Curiously, lawmakers didn’t fund the new enterprise. It wasn’t until 1934, midway through the Great Depression, that EES got its first state allocation of $5,000 and was assigned an acting director, Harry Vaughn, who described the experiment station as “Georgia’s first agency designed to aid in a comprehensive development of industry.”

 

In 1960, the General Assembly ratcheted up Georgia Tech’s assistance to industry, passing a bill to form an Industrial Extension Service as part of the earlier EES. That authorized Georgia Tech to create field offices around the state to provide “technical advice and assistance to local development groups and to establish(ed) business and industry.” The new service was the forerunner of today’s GaMEP. The partnership sharpened its focus on manufacturing in 1988 after Congress passed a national program, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The Industrial Extension Service was later designated GaMEP as one of 70 MEP affiliates. (EES, by the way, later became GTRI, the Georgia Tech Research Institute.)

 

GaMEP, which turns 60 next year, is today housed inside Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute — a good fit, given its economic development focus. With 10 offices throughout Georgia, it now has a solid track record of helping small and mid-sized manufacturers grow. One of these is Dalton-based Precision Products, which manufactures a wide range of parts to order and has achieve two crucial ISO certifications that opened the door to new customers and industries. Sales grew by more than $3.5 million. And Goldens’ Foundry and Machine Co., a 130-year-old enterprise, wanted to strengthen employee communication and problem solving. GaMEP helped them introduce a management system designed to bring company conversations to the plant floor and improve information flow.

 

Packaging insight into food processing

 

One area historically underserved by GaMEP is the food and beverage industry. “It’s the state’s top manufacturing sector,” Nix says, “yet it had not been our number one customer.” So, in 2016, he was assigned to develop an initiative to broaden and deepen partnerships with businesses in the industry.

 

Driving much of the food and beverage industry’s growth in Georgia are companies of 50 or fewer employees. These are the makers of local craft beers, hometown jellies and artisan mustards. Nix says about eight of 10 food processing companies fit that size profile, though they are dwarfed in sales by the other 20 percent, the larger manufacturers.

 

So he developed a market analysis and concluded that super-sizing a commitment to food and beverage would be a good fit. The demand was there, too. Food processing employs nearly 70,000 Georgians and accounts for $12 billion of the state’s GDP every year, according to a 2016 report from Georgia Power. Since GaMEP stepped up efforts to serve the industry in 2017, the average number of projects with food and beverage companies more than doubled, from 20 to 45.

 

When asked to describe the greatest problems facing these manufacturers, Nix quickly cites compliance with safety regulations, which, to a small food business, run from complex to bewildering. “If you’re in a business of 10 to 20 people, you may not have a food scientist on staff,” he says. “So, you’ve got to figure out compliance on your own, or else bring in consultants.”

 

Safety, he notes, is more than just following protocols in production. It involves attending to details in reporting and paperwork, all the way down to the product label. Nix shares the cautionary tale of an Oregon maker of seasonings that neglected to include hazelnuts in its list of ingredients on the label. “Of course, nut allergies are a huge issue,” he says. “That one mistake could have ruined their entire product distribution. The damage to the brand, and the cost of bringing back the brand, is so significant.”

 

While GaMEP knew it could help food companies in an array of ways — from process management to energy usage to business growth — leaders found they had a gap in food science expertise. Food science determines the safety profile of every jar, tin, box and bag of product. So they brought in a food manufacturing safety whiz, Wendy White, who had experience overseeing a portfolio of food products. White is now leading a new GaMEP program on safety, funded by a three-year grant totaling nearly $1 million.

 

For the ingredients company WTI, the primary challenge has not been safety but improving processes and efficiency. When asked what impact he’s seen from GaMEP’s help, Stephan Georg, the company’s director of strategic sourcing, recounts a conversation between a shift foreman and consultant in front of one of the Gemba white boards.

 

“The foreman said the plan was to make two batches of a product,” Georg says, “but the consultant answered, ‘Well, I think you can do five batches. The foreman thought that was unrealistic. So we brought in Georgia Tech, and the first thing Damon does is conduct time studies. It gave us that baseline information we needed. After that groundwork, we determined that three batches would be a good goal.”

 

Since then, Nix has visited with workers from WTI’s round-the-clock shifts and consulted with management. Together, they work through improvements born out of lean manufacturing, which are processes engineered to reduce waste and improve customer satisfaction. The goal is to reach 40 percent overall equipment effectiveness for producing buffered vinegar, a metric built on several components of the manufacturing process.

 

More recently, Nix introduced a new tool to these efforts: A software platform called Impruver, developed out of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). It’s designed to help small and mid-sized manufacturers of consumer products spot trends in metrics, track performance and monitor ongoing issues. “It’s great to have another entity inside ATDC working with us and our clients,” Nix says.

 

While all of GaMEP’s contributions are welcomed, Stephan Georg has special praise for the non-engineering side of Damon Nix. “While he looks at the facts and explains things in a scientific way, he also treats people here with respect,” Georg says. “They see that he’s not here to get them fired. He’s the guy who’s here to help.”

Tim Israel named director of Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Tim Israel

GaMEP Director Tim Israel.

The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, has named Tim Israel, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP).

 

Israel, who had been GaMEP’s associate director and group manager of process improvement, will be responsible for the manufacturing resources and regional staff located across Georgia.

 

He succeeds Karen Fite, who was named interim vice president of EI2in July of 2019.

 

The GaMEP, EI2’s longest running and largest program, works with manufacturers across the state to offer innovation- and solutions-based approaches via consulting, couching, and education.

 

A member organization of the National MEP network and supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the GaMEP’s main goal is to help manufacturers increase top line growth and reduce bottom costs.

 

“Tim has done an outstanding job in leading our efforts to work with Georgia manufacturers in increasing their efficiencies and process improvements, especially in waste reduction, streamlining operations, and quality control systems implementation,” Fite said. “His experience and expertise, as well as his vast and deep relationships within Georgia Tech and with our GaMEP partners ensures continued success of our mission.”

 

Israel, a 30-year veteran at Georgia Tech, began his career as a project engineer in Tech’s Gainesville Regional Office. He also served as a project manager in Georgia Tech’s Georgia Productivity and Quality Center (GPQC) and the Center for International Standards and Quality (CISQ).

 

An expert in lean manufacturing, quality management systems, and supplier development, Israel earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech.

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.

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.

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership names new South Georgia region manager

http://gamep.org/region-manager-team-members/

Hank Hobbs is the new manager for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s South Georgia region.

By Katie Takacs

 

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), an outreach program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, named Henry B. “Hank” Hobbs as the new South Georgia region manager.

 

In this role, Hobbs will serve manufacturers in 32 counties across South Georgia, with his office based in the South Georgia region. He and his team of project managers will work closely with local manufacturers to help them develop top-line growth and reduce bottom-line costs through process improvement efforts, ISO management systems, energy and sustainability initiatives, innovation growth strategies, and connections to Georgia Tech. These valuable services contribute to Georgia’s economic growth because it supports Georgia’s strong manufacturing sector and brings new jobs to both urban and rural areas across South Georgia.

 

Hobbs will be taking over the role from Art Ford, who retired after more than 30 years with Georgia Tech. Before his appointment as region manager, Hobbs previously served as a GaMEP project manager and prior was with the Technical College System of Georgia, serving business and industry across the southern part of the state. With more than 10 years of experience working within manufacturing companies as an industrial and manufacturing engineer, plant engineer, and a safety, health and environmental manager, Hobbs brings expertise in traditional industrial engineering disciplines, quality systems, process improvement, welding, automation, stamping and metals manufacturing, supervisory and leadership development, and regulatory compliance.

 

“Hank has been an integral part of the GaMEP team since joining the organization almost two years ago. We are excited about his transition from a project manager to a region manager,” said Karen Fite, GaMEP director. ”With extensive experience working within manufacturing plants, he brings a great skill set to the job.”

 

In this position, Hobbs will work closely with the local chambers and economic development groups, as well as connect local manufacturers back to the variety of programs that Georgia Tech offers to manufacturers across the state.

 

“I look forward to connecting with more manufacturers in the region in which I not only work but live, listening to their needs, providing a solutions-based approach to help them grow competitively, and establishing long-term relationships,” said Hobbs.

 

For more information, contact Katie Takacs at email hidden; JavaScript is required.