The President of Evans Premium Manufacturing delivered a frank, but positive message to Congressman Bobby Schilling during a briefing at her Rock Island facility: American manufacturers can compete and win, but not without the willingness to change and support from government-backed initiatives that can help facilitate that change. Schilling met with Evans’s Stephanie Acri and representatives from the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) to tour the facility and discuss how Illinois manufacturers are responding to today’s competitive challenges.
Acri described how her company has been able to significantly improve efficiency, enabling the company to win business from competitors in China and India. IMEC’s specialists helped Evans Premium cut the time it takes to bring in raw material, set up equipment, and produce parts for the agriculture and construction equipment sectors. By eliminating unnecessary operating steps, Evans Premium has taken significant costs out of their processes and offered her customers more competitive pricing.
“We have delivered on-time for 18 straight months,” Acri said. “It’s almost unheard of in our type of business. The improvements we have made have enabled us to begin adding workers to help fulfill the increase in demand.”
IMEC’s Tucker Kennedy talked about how Illinois’ manufacturers are leading the recovery by becoming more innovative, investing in new technologies and business practices, and increasing the productivity of their workers. The non-profit IMEC, an affiliate of the U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), provides Illinois manufacturers with hands on technical assistance in areas such as process optimization, quality improvement, safety, technology and automation, and workforce development.
“Evans Premium is an example of a progressive company that refuses to be defeated by low-cost producers,” Kennedy said. “Stephanie’s leadership is proof that American manufacturing is not dead, and the future is bright for any company with the discipline to succeed.”
IMEC has been helping Illinois manufacturers grow since 1996. The organization receives some funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce to reach out to manufacturers throughout the state. Companies who work with IMEC pay a fee for the services.
“We believe it’s important that manufacturers have access to any available tools that can enable us to compete and grow local jobs,” said Acri. “The services IMEC provides are invaluable to a company of our size.”
Schilling, who serves on the House Committees on Agriculture and Armed Services, represents Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. His district runs along the Mississippi including the cities of Dallas City, Quincy, and Hamburg. It then moves east through Carlinville, Springfield, and Decatur. Shilling also represents towns such as Galesburg, Macomb, and Canton.
Following the meeting, Acri provided a tour of the Evans Premium facility.