WMEP: Assistance Generates A $233 Million Economic Benefit For State Manufacturers, Highest Ever


Contact: Linda Abbott 608-826-6215;

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin manufacturers report that assistance they received from the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) produced an economic benefit of $233 million, the highest ever reported.

The impact for FY 2006 is based on surveys completed by WMEP-assisted companies and compiled by an independent national research firm. It is the second consecutive year manufacturers have reported impact of more than $200 million.

“Wisconsin manufacturers are benefiting from strategies to boost competitiveness, and those gains are having a very positive impact on their balance sheets and on our state economy,” said Michael Klonsinski, executive director of WMEP, a non-profit consulting organization that helps small and mid-size manufacturers become more competitive. “The companies we’re working with are investing in change to meet the ongoing challenge of global competition, and the results are impressive.”

WMEP-assisted companies reported improvements valued at $233 million, including:

$163 million in increased/retained sales

$33 million in cost savings

$37 million in investment in new plant and equipment

2,696 created/retained jobs

In addition, state tax revenues are projected to increase $15.8 million as a result of higher sales and job creation.

WMEP’s manufacturing specialists help manufacturers innovate products, processes and business strategies to improve performance and profitability. “Manufacturing is a $43 billion industry in Wisconsin that is strong and growing in the midst of a significant transformation fueled by new technology and global competition,” said Klonsinski. “Our mission is to provide small and mid-size manufacturers with the tools and expertise they need to thrive in this new environment.”

The impact data is based on 176 manufacturer surveys completed by WMEP-assisted companies, and compiled by market research firm Synovate for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). WMEP is an affiliate of NIST
MEP, a network of more than 60 centers across the country that provide assistance to small and mid-size manufacturers.

Over the past five years, WMEP-assisted manufacturers reported impact of $849.5 million with more than 8,000 jobs created/retained.

WMEP provided services to 686 state manufacturers last year. Among them:

— Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Thermoset Molding Inc. is working with WMEP to implement lean techniques throughout its operations to better manage robust sales growth. The firm designs and manufactures heat-resistant plastic components parts for the electrical, automotive and power industries. Mike Kreske, vice president, said initial concerns were reducing inventory and the need to manage production issues associated with introducing six new colors into one of its flagship product lines. WMEP helped implement a value stream map to identify areas for improvement, and 5S, a lean technique to improve workplace organization. Results are positive: in the past year the company has cut inventory in half and improved productivity. “Our ability to respond quickly to our customers is a definite competitive advantage,” said Kreske.

N.E.W. Plastics Corp. in Luxemburg is working with WMEP to reduce machine changeover times and facilitate lean leadership throughout the company. N.E.W. Plastics is a full service custom plastics blow molder that manufactures custom parts and containers for the food, chemical, cosmetic, agricultural, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. Reducing changeover time allows N.E.W. Plastics to increase throughput and ultimately, profitability. “We’re a custom manufacturer and typically have smaller quantity production runs,” said Steve Prefontaine, manufacturing manager for N.E.W. Plastics. “We’ve already seen a 10 percent reduction, and we expect that number to reach as much as 50 percent.” WMEP also helped develop lean leadership skills that led to the creation of teams and more input from rank-and-file employees on ways to improve operations.

— Middleton-based Trilary, Inc. is expanding and its new facility in Waunakee will be based on the principles of lean manufacturing with assistance from WMEP. Trilary manufactures outdoor site furnishings including benches, tables, planters and trash receptacles under the Thomas Steele brand as well as bike and skateboard racks under the Madrax brand. The company turned to lean in an effort to cut lead times and reduce costs. “We’ve reduced our lead times on furniture from about twelve weeks to six, and significantly cut inventory,” said Tom Graber, president. The new facility will accommodate Trilary’s double-digit sales growth, and its design will provide an efficient production floor. By relying on lean at the outset, Trilary will avoid building excess capacity and its associated costs such as energy.

New London Engineering, which manufactures conveyor systems for industrial manufacturers, earlier this year worked with WMEP to implement 5S to eliminate clutter and better organize operations. “Our ultimate goal in moving into lean manufacturing is to reduce our delivery times,” said Dale Trudell, vice president. “Time is a premium to our customers, so our ability to cut lead times is a strong competitive advantage.” The New London-based firm already has seen significant improvements in productivity as a result of the introduction of lean tools.

WMEP provides technical expertise and business assistance to help small and mid-size manufacturers adopt advanced manufacturing technologies and business practices. WMEP is a leader in strategic innovation, lean manufacturing, quality systems and supplier development. For more information, visit, or call 1-877-856-8588.