WMEP assistance generates $137 million economic impact for Wisconsin manufacturers

Partnership fuels sales growth, productivity gains


MADISON, Wis. –  Wisconsin manufacturers report that assistance they received from the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) last year produced an economic benefit of $137 million, much of it in sales growth.


The FY 2007 economic impact is based on 136 surveys completed by WMEP-assisted companies and compiled by an independent national research firm.  Manufacturers are asked to report higher sales, cost savings and investment impact that they attribute to WMEP assistance. 


Wisconsin manufacturers are investing in change, and are benefiting from higher sales and increased competitiveness,” said Michael Klonsinski, executive director of WMEP, a non-profit consulting organization that helps small and mid-size manufacturers grow and succeed.  “The impact we’re reporting demonstrates that we can compete and win in the global marketplace – as long as we understand the old rules of success no longer apply.  Innovation and transformation are the new currencies of the global economy.” 


WMEP-assisted companies reported improvements valued at $137 million, including:

  • $75.7 million in increased/retained sales

  • $16.7 million in cost savings

  • $44.8 million in investment, including new plant and equipment

  • 855 created/retained jobs 

In addition, state tax revenues are projected to increase $6.2 million as a result of higher sales and job creation.   


More than half of this year’s impact came from higher/retained sales reported by surveyed firms. 

Though lean remains an essential strategy to help firms reduce costs and increase capacity, WMEP has expanded its services to help companies identify strategies to fuel sales growth and market expansion.  “WMEP is an excellent resource for manufacturers looking for ways to create more value in their products and services, and tap new markets and customers,” Klonsinski said.


The impact data is 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.   During the past five years, WMEP-assisted manufacturers reported impact of $839 million with more than 8,000 jobs created/retained. 


Manufacturing is a $47.2 billion industry in Wisconsin, employing more than 500,000.  During 2006, manufacturing’s contribution to Wisconsin’s economy grew $2.2 billion, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.


WMEP provided services to 435 state manufacturers last year.  Among them:


  • Franksville-based Cornerstone Design Ltd. says WMEP played a key role in helping the company sustain its lean culture, improve performance and ramp up sales.  Cornerstone designs and installs turn-key automation equipment and lean manufacturing systems that improve efficiency and safety.  “WMEP really helped us focus on our core strengths, both as individuals and as a company, said Michael Gamache, Cornerstone’s chief operating officer and vice president of sales.  “Our improved performance and teamwork allows us to provide the best possible manufacturing solutions to our customers.”  The firm’s sales have more than doubled in the past 3 years, he adds, and that would not have been possible without a commitment to lean and a focus on continuous improvement. 

  • Waupaca-based Centerline Machine Inc., a custom machining and fabrication company that specializes in just-in-time manufacturing, credits WMEP for helping it overcome significant business challenges at a time when the firm was struggling to survive.  WMEP helped Centerline overhaul its operations and implement measures to improve its workforce, efficiency, quality and service.  Centerline president Charles Leiby, a career machinist who started the firm in his garage, said the company is on track for an unbelievable year.  “Our sales are way above our expectations,” he said, “Earlier this year I would have never believed this would be possible.”  Employee efficiency has doubled since the firm, which has 28 employees, started tracking it.   

  • Milwaukee-based E.R. Wagner Manufacturing Co., Tubular Products Division, an engineered component supplier to the automotive industry, turned to WMEP to implement ISO/TS16949, an internationally-recognized quality management system for the automotive industry.  “We needed someone who really understood the standard and how to apply it to our business,” said Brad Gador, division president.  “WMEP was a cost-effective way to augment our organization with expertise we did not have in-house.”  Today E.R. Wagner Tubular Products Division is benefiting from improved quality, performance and customer satisfaction.  “We’ve significantly strengthened our relationships with existing customers, positioning us to win new business,” Gador said. 

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 lean manufacturing, growth services, strategic business development, quality systems and supplier development.  In 2007 WMEP received the state’s top economic development award from the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA). 


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