- Associated Press - Monday, March 9, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - As efficiency becomes increasingly important to manufacturers, the state organization that helps them achieve it is undergoing changes of its own.

!mpact Dakota, formerly Dakota Maximizing Enterprise Performance, has a new name, an expanded mission and a new man at the helm, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/18iGpDa ) reports.

Tony Richards has taken over as CEO of the nonprofit manufacturing consulting organization, helping manufacturers and other industries to grow, improve productivity and expand capacity.

One of the nonprofit’s clients, Grand Forks-based Ideal Aerosmith Inc., knows that to be successful in manufacturing, it must have continuous improvement, whether it be in the office, manufacturing or engineering, according to Barb Schultz, the company’s senior vice president of motion systems.

Ideal has been an !mpact Dakota client for more than five years. The company manufactures motion sensor testing equipment for the aviation, aerospace and oil industries, with 30 percent of its production exported to foreign countries.

To stay globally competitive, Ideal calls in !mpact when it’s in need of training for a new business process, according to Schultz. Ideal sends several employees every year to get certified in Lean, a best practices curriculum meant to help eliminate wasteful business activities and repetitive processes.

“It’s learning a mindset. We know we need to continually be able to reduce our costs,” said Schultz, explaining that, as the labor market shrinks, Ideal has to do the same thing with fewer people.

Schultz said !mpact could continue to help her company by expanding the breadth of its available trainings.

Training is one thing !mpact does well, according to Richards, explaining that !mpact listens to what its clients want to achieve and design a blueprint for the training needed to get there.

Workforce development will continue to be a major issue for North Dakota manufacturers, according to Richards, who said many are turning within to develop and maintain the staff they have. To help, !mpact is developing a two-year pilot program for leadership certification.

North Dakota’s manufacturing sector is strong, but there are opportunities that can help it move to the next level, according to Richards, pointing to strategies for creating partnerships between companies to expand one another’s reach.

Many manufacturers in the state compete globally, according to Richards, who says competition will continue to get stiffer, and there will be more demand and a faster pace required.

“Those that embrace it have strong options,” Richards said. “In manufacturing, I think they’re getting it.”

When it comes to adapting, !mpact also is embracing that mentality and changing its own business model to meet market needs.

Some of Richards’ previous clients want to continue to use his services, so !mpact is using the opportunity to expand its consulting to other types of businesses, such as health care and insurance.

Richards said !mpact will still focus on manufacturing but some of its business development training could apply to other industries as well.

!mpact’s name and business model change will take place March 16. Richards said his goal as the organization’s new leader is to continue what the organization has done well, but he also wants to better anticipate future needs and increase awareness of what !mpact has to offer.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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