WMEP expands presence in Southeast Wisconsin

New staff, board members champion efforts to help Milwaukee area manufacturers

grow and succeed


WMEP joins with Milwaukee 7 to promote next-generation manufacturing


BROOKFIELD, Wis. – The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) today announced a significant expansion of its presence in Southeast Wisconsin with the hiring of new staff and the appointment of three Milwaukee-area board members.


WMEP also announced a partnership with Milwaukee 7 to promote next-generation manufacturing, and voiced strong support for M7’s recently-announced plan to target small and mid-size manufactures as part of its economic development strategy.  WMEP is a nonprofit consulting organization that provides technical expertise and assistance to help small and mid-size manufacturers improve competitiveness.


“We see the need, and we’re responding to it,” said Michael Klonsinski, WMEP president and member of the M-7 Manufacturing Council.  “Our role is to provide the expertise to foster next-generation manufacturing – firms that are lean, flexible, innovative and globally competitive.  This is a tremendous opportunity to fuel economic growth in the region.”


The expansion more than doubles the number of WMEP manufacturing experts in the region from seven to 15.  The new staff includes four Milwaukee-area manufacturing veterans. 


Though WMEP has worked with more than 160 Southeast Wisconsin manufacturers in the past year,  Klonsinski says there are hundreds more the organization could reach given the predominance of smaller firms in the region.  The Milwaukee 7 region is home to more than 3,800 small and mid-size manufacturers; 90 percent of those firms have fewer than 100 employees, according to July 2006 data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. 


“These firms are the backbone of our manufacturing economy, and they are under enormous pressure to modernize and improve,” said Klonsinski.  “Study after study tells us smaller firms often lack the resources to implement change.  This is where WMEP can really have an impact.”


Last year, manufacturers in Southeast Wisconsin reported a $104 million economic benefit and 545 jobs created/retained as a result of assistance they received from WMEP. 


WMEP’s Board of Directors on Friday elected three new board members from the Milwaukee area.


Joining the WMEP’s Board of Directors are Mary Isbister, president of Mequon-based General MetalWorks Corp.; Mike Erwin, president of Menomonee Falls-based Tailored Label Products; and John Choren, director, Rapid Prototyping Consortium, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), Applied Research Center.


Both General MetalWorks and Tailored Label have worked with WMEP.  “I’ve seen the value that WMEP delivers first-hand,” said Isbister.  “WMEP is a tremendous resource to help manufacturers make the transition to next-generation manufacturing.”  



WMEP’s new manufacturing specialists include:


Mequon resident Michael Russell brings 25 years of manufacturing experience with several Fortune 500 food companies to WMEP.  Throughout his career, Russell has implemented lean manufacturing techniques including cellular manufacturing and total productive maintenance (TPM) to reduce costs and improve profitability. 


Brookfield resident Tom Ziech has more than 30 years of manufacturing experience with strong expertise in project and operations management; sales and marketing; and quality.  Past projects include the design and installation of a large-scale finishing mill on a greenfield site, and operations management in the metals industry as well as for a high tech medical equipment manufacturer.


New Berlin resident Judy Sullivan brings 25 years of manufacturing experience WMEP, including strong expertise in research and development; marketing; quality assurance; and project management.  For the past 14 years she has served as a private consultant, specializing in ISO-9001, quality improvement and lean. 


Franklin resident David York has more than 25 years of experience with one of the world’s largest automotive electronics suppliers.  He has special expertise in lean manufacturing, organizational and human resource development and has served as president of UAW Local 438. 


Sheboygan resident Jan Van de Weghe has more than 25 years of experience implementing continuous improvement strategies in job shop environments with low volume production and customized product variations.  He has worked in the sheet metal, cast iron machining and fabrication industries.


For more information on WMEP’s services, call Tim Flatley at 414-247-4009.


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, strategic business development, quality systems and supplier development.  Last year WMEP-assisted manufacturers reported a $233 million economic benefit with 2,696 jobs created/retained.  In 2007 WMEP received the state’s top economic development award from the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA). ###