Last month, my colleague Karen Vecchio and I joined 45 other business women for a tour of the Eli’s Cheesecake Factory in Chicago. The event was a part of TMA’s Women in Manufacturing series.
Eli’s Cheesecake has been a Chicago institution since 1940. It’s the only operational facility for the company, with over 200 skus covering a vast selection of cheesecakes, pies, and other desserts. It became clear to me that the cheesecake business is more complex than one might imagine, and the company’s dedication to training and continuous improvement is a big reason why Eli’s is the internationally recognized brand that it is.
In a record five months, a family-owned Crystal Lake tool and mold maker obtained ISO 9001:2008 registration which will allow it to diversify its customer base and do business with major corporations.
Alpha Star Tool and Mold, Inc. is a manufacturer of high-end precision tooling and molds. According to Vice President Matt Thurow, the business started by his parents in 1988 is a “well-oiled machine, highly respected in its industry.” Like other small manufacturers fighting to adapt to the economic downturn, Alpha Star knew that building a diversified customer base, from consumer goods to laboratory equipment to aerospace and energy products, was essential. To do this they needed the credibility only an ISO registration can bring.
After losing two of its largest customers to off-shoring in 2004, times only got tougher for Roesch, Inc., a leading manufacturer of component parts for OEMs in the HVAC, white goods, fireplace and barbeque industries. Continued downward pressure on sales, increased material costs and reduced shop-floor productivity had the 95-year-old company struggling to define its identity and its future. Enter IMEC.
Roesch’s relationship with IMEC began in the late 1990s with a successful ISO registration and continued over the years with a variety of quality, information technology and workforce training initiatives. So when IMEC approached Executive Vice President Debbie Voges-Schneider with a proposal to help the company create a prioritized strategy for growth, she was receptive.
Illinois is a national leader both in terms of installed capacity of wind power and wind turbine manufacturing. The state ranks seventh for overall wind capacity in the U.S., with great potential to increase the amount of electricity produced from wind. Investment in wind energy has brought jobs to the state and attracted major wind energy manufacturers to locate in Illinois.
- Illinois ranked second in 2010 for most new wind added.
- Percentage of Illinois power provided by wind in 2009: 1.06%
- Equivalent number of homes Illinois wind power farms now power: 500,000
- The Twin Groves wind farm in Illinois is the seventh largest wind farm in the country.
The Manager of Bley LLC told State Senator Dan Kotowski that his company was able to continue its expansion and implement its growth plans during the recent economic downturn in part because of assistance provided by the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) and funding support from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Kotowski met on Wednesday with Bley LLC’s Krishna Rajagopal and leaders from IMEC to tour the facility and discuss manufacturing competitiveness in Illinois.
The Elk-Grove-based Bley LLC has added over 20 high-wage jobs, brought in newer high tech equipment, and recently completed a facility expansion that will enable the company to meet increased demand for the custom machined parts it produces for customers in the Aerospace, Alternative Energy, Mining, and other sectors. Rajagopal described how he utilized IMEC’s resources to help secure much-needed quality management training and certification that is opening the door for new work in new sectors. In addition, an ARRA grant provided by DCEO to make large wind components enabled Bley LLC to acquire a state-of-the art vertical turning milling grinding machine and add capacity to fill new orders. The machine is housed in a new 7,500 square foot state-of-the-art addition to the Bley LLC facility.
For manufacturers planning projects to contain costs, increase efficiency, or boost quality, state grant funds can help offset up to 50% of the costs of approved training.
Contact your IMEC account manager to schedule a brief, no-cost review of your operations and develop a training plan. Training can be provided by IMEC’s specialists or IMEC-qualified vendors.