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Brian Gilmore

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There's Life in the Massachusetts Manufacturing Sector

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Oct 6, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Today is Manufacturing Day in the United States as the nation celebrates the economic contributions of companies and employees who make everything from machine tools to biopharmaceuticals.

McGovern.jpgEvery day is manufacturing day in Massachusetts, where some 245,000 highly skilled people create goods that drive research, exports and wages that surpass the state average by 25 percent. There’s life in the Massachusetts manufacturing sector, a fact that has been clearly illustrated as AIM has presented Next Century and Sustainability awards at a series of regional celebrations throughout the commonwealth this month.

In Springfield on September 28, OMG Inc. of Agawam, originally known as Olympic Fasteners, accepted the AIM Next Century Award for growing into one the nation’s foremost manufacturers of screws, washer plates, vents, adhesives and construction equipment for commercial flat roofs. The company employs about 400 people in Agawam, and recently completed a $15 million expansion of its heat-treating operations.

(Right, OMG President Hubert McGovern accepts the Next Century Award)

Two Worcester manufacturers, Table Talk Pies and AbbVie, Inc. earned Next Century Awards during a reception last night at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. Office furniture maker AIS of Leominster, meanwhile, was honored with the 2017 AIM Sustainability Award recognizing excellence in environmental stewardship, promotion of social well-being and contributions to economic prosperity.

AbbeVie’s Worcester 450,000-square foot campus research and manufacturing facility in Worcester employs 900 people. The company also operates the Foundational Neuroscience Center in Cambridge with approximately 50 scientists focusing on neurodegenerative diseases. The firm’s employees have forged a strong presence in the community with the company’s worldwide Week of Possibilities program.

The once struggling Table Top Pies is now settled into a modern manufacturing facility in the South Worcester Industrial Park. In 2016 the business posted nearly $100 million in sales, with 300 full-time and seasonal employees. In addition, Table Talk invested between $3.5 and $ 4 million in new equipment, and opened its first retail store in 20 years.

AIS, a leading office furniture manufacturer in Leominster, is also a sustainable manufacturer. The company recently deployed a state-of-the art solar energy system that produces half of their energy. AIS is also smart and strategic about the size and location of operations and uses the principles of LEAN manufacturing. Business benefits have followed. The firm has reduced energy usage by 40 percent and saved more than $ 1.6 million, while supporting 100 percent on-time delivery. 

 

Topics: Massachusetts economy, Manufacturing

Tech Foundry Earns 2017 Gould Education Award

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Apr 5, 2017 8:30:00 AM

An employer initiative in Springfield to train students for careers in information technology will receive the 2017 John Gould Education and Workforce Development Award, AIM announced today.

Tech Foundry, founded in 2013, has trained more than 100 people ranging from high school students to older workers – many from underserved and at-risk populations – to meet the accelerating demand for qualified IT workers in western Massachusetts.

Tech Foundry 2.jpgAIM will present the Gould Award at its Annual Meeting on May 5 at the Westin Waterfront hotel in Boston. Governor Charlie Baker will keynote the event, which will also include presentation of AIM Vision Awards to Fidelity Investments, Bright Horizons Family Solutions and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Tech Foundry translates open IT positions from employers into a list of specific and quantifiable skills that can be taught and measured.  Volunteers from businesses take the time to help teach the specific skills that matter most to them in candidates.

“We provide a comprehensive IT training curriculum that prepares our students for an entry-level job in IT, using skills ranging from hardware repair, network administration, programming, help desk, data analytics and many others,” said Tech Foundry’s Director of Strategic Partnerships Jonathan Edwards.

AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century long-term economic plan for Massachusetts identifies the hiring and retention of qualified employees as the primary challenge facing the Bay State economy. AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord said Tech Foundry is helping employers meet that challenge while creating economic opportunity for people with outstanding potential.

“Tech Foundry has been flexible and practical and that’s why it has posted a 65 percent placement rate for IT jobs. The organization is a worthy recipient of the John Gould Award,” Lord said.

Employers, including AIM-members such as Baystate Health, have been impressed with the Tech Foundry graduates.

"When I see a resume from someone who graduated from Tech Foundry, I know they have the necessary skills to succeed in an entry-level IT job at Baystate," IT Director Patrick Streck said at a celebration of Tech Foundry’s third anniversary in February. 

State officials, including Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, have also taken notice.

“It looked like there was a work force here. If you had dropped me in here blindfolded I would have thought I was in an IT department somewhere,” Ash said following a recent visit to the organizations Springfield headquarters.

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and to the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth.

In 2000, the award was named after John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training in Massachusetts.

Past recipients of the Gould Award include; the late Jack Rennie, Chairman and Founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Middlesex Community College, Gordon Lankton, President and CEO (retired), NYPRO Inc., William Edgerly, Chairman Emeritus, State Street Corporation, Northeastern University, The Davis Family Foundation, Intel Massachusetts, EMC Corporation, IBM, David Driscoll Commissioner (Retired) Massachusetts Department of Education, State Street Corporation and Year UP Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Brockton High School, Manufacturing Advancement Center – MACWIC Program, Christo Rey Boston High School, CVS and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries.   

 

Topics: Education, Gould Education and Workforce Training

Manufacturing Month Shows the Future of Industry

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jun 29, 2016 2:13:14 PM

What's the best way to remind Massachusetts residents that manufacturing is alive and well in the Bay State?

The answer is for manufacturing companies to take part in National Manufacturing Day on October 7 and Massachusetts Manufacturing Month during the entire month of October.

Go to mfgday.com to register an event for free publicity and helpful ideas for hosting an event. And check out MassDevelopment’s AMP it UP! to view videos of manufacturing events. Then contact me for more information and ideas - bgilmore@aimnet.org or 617-262-1180 Ext. 322. 

Why is manufacturing important? Check out these numbers:

ManufacturingMonth2016.1.jpgManufacturingMonth2016.2.jpg      

Topics: Manufacturing, Massachusetts Manufacturing

Role of Business in Society Unchanged from 1916

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jul 22, 2015 11:02:20 AM

Editor’s Note – Associated Industries of Massachusetts is committed to the idea that only a sound private-sector economy can guarantee prosperity. It’s hardly a new idea. Then Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, and future President of the United States Calvin Coolidge delivered a full-throated defense of the role of business in society in a speech to the AIM annual dinner on December 15,1916. Here are excerpts of that speech.

In the last fifty years we have had a material prosperity in this country the like of which was never beheld before. A prosperity which not only built up great industries, great transportation systems, great banks and a great commerce, but a prosperity under whose influence arts and sciences, education and charity flourished most abundantly.

CoolidgeAs a part of this discussion we have had many attempts at regulation of industrial activity by law. Some of it has proceeded on the theory that if those who enjoyed material prosperity used it for wrong purposes, such prosperity should be limited or abolished. That is as sound as it would be to abolish writing to prevent forgery.

We need power. Is the steam engine too strong? Is electricity too swift? Can any prosperity be too great? Can any instrument of commerce or industry ever be too powerful to serve the public needs?

We are coming to see that we are dependent upon commercial and industrial prosperity, not only for the creation of wealth, but for the solving of the great problem of the distribution of wealth.

There is just one condition on which men can secure employment and a living, nourishing, profitable wages for whatever they contribute to the enterprise, be it labor or capital, and that condition is that someone make a profit by it. That is the sound basis for the distribution of wealth and the only one.

It cannot be done by law, it cannot be done by public ownership, it cannot be done by socialism. When you deny the right to a profit you deny the right of a reward to thrift and industry.

The law that builds up the people is the law that builds up industry. What price could the millions, who have found the inestimable blessings of American citizenship around our great industrial centres, after coming here from lands of oppression, afford to pay to those who organized those industries?

Shall we not recognize the great service they have done the cause of humanity? Have we not seen what happens to industry, to transportation, to all commercial activity which we call business when profit fails? Have we not seen the suffering and misery which it entails upon the people?

Let us recognize the source of these fundamental principles and not hesitate to assert them. Let us frown upon greed and selfishness, but let us also condemn envy and uncharitableness. Let us have done with misunderstandings, let us strive to realize the dream of democracy by a prosperity of industry that shall mean the prosperity of the people, by a strengthening of our material resources that shall mean a strengthening of our character, by a merchandising that has for its end manhood, and womanhood, the ideal of American Citizenship.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Massachusetts economy

CVS Health, Mass Rehabilitation Commission Win Gould Education and Training Award

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Apr 9, 2015 10:27:00 AM

A groundbreaking program developed by CVS Health and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to train people with disabilities to become pharmacy technicians will receive the 2015 John Gould Education & Workforce Development Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

CVSHealthThe Pharmacy Technician Training Program is an innovative eight-week training session developed for MRC consumers who are seeking employment and have shown interest in careers in health services. The initiative marries CVS Health’s growing need for skilled technicians at its 7,800 retail pharmacies with Mass Rehab’s commitment to training people for high-demand jobs.

CVS Health and Mass Rehab will receive the award at AIM’s Centennial Annual Meeting on May 8 at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel.

“The most critical challenge before us is affording every citizen the opportunity to participate in and contribute to building our commonwealth’s future,” said Richard C. Lord, AIM’s President and CEO. “We are Mass_Rehab_Commissionpleased and proud to honor this successful collaboration between a major employer and a key public agency to prepare motivated people for productive and rewarding career paths.”

CVS Health, an AIM member company, supports the training program by sharing its pharmacy technician training curriculum and providing access to its learning-management system. MRC provides added resources and expertise around soft-skills training and job readiness to meet the needs of consumers while addressing CVS Health’s staffing needs.

The first cohort of the program was conducted during the summer of 2014 with nearly 30 pre-screened, qualified candidates. Eighty-nine percent of those candidates were hired as technicians. A second class graduated 43 consumers on March 23 in a ceremony held in the Great Hall of Flags at the State House.  Several graduates have already obtained employment and others are moving forward in the employment process with CVS.

“At CVS Health, we’re proud to offer vital job training and development services to the many communities we serve, including individuals with disabilities,” said Richard Laferriere, Lead Manager, Workforce Initiatives, for CVS Health. “We know that our best and brightest colleagues come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and experiences. Our partnership with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission is not only connecting participants with important career training opportunities, it is also connecting our company with talented individuals who are an asset to our retail pharmacy teams.”

The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth. In 2000, the award was named after John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training activities in Massachusetts.   

CVS Health operates retail pharmacies, more than 900 walk-in medical clinics, and acts as a pharmacy benefits manager for nearly 65 million health-plan members. MRC assists individuals with disabilities to live and work more independently. MRC is responsible for vocational rehabilitation, community living, and disability determination services. 

Topics: AIM Annual Meeting, Training, Workforce Training

Governor Baker Joins Effort to Re-Authorize Export-Import Bank

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Feb 23, 2015 9:09:00 AM

Charlie Baker has joined a bipartisan group of governors asking Congress to re-authorize the United States Export-Import Bank before its charter expires on June 30.

USCapitol1Associated Industries of Massachusetts, meanwhile, is dispatching its top international trade executive to Washington this week to meet with the Bay State Congressional delegation about extending the life of the 80-year-old lending institution. Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the AIM International Business Council, is expected to tell lawmakers that Export-Import is an indispensable tool for smaller and medium-sized companies looking to expand markets overseas.

Reauthorization faces significant opposition from Congressional conservatives, who argue that the bank is putting taxpayer money at risk for a purpose better addressed by the private sector.

The Export-Import Bank helps American exporters sell abroad by offering low-cost loans, insurance and guarantees against potential losses. The bank authorized $27 billion in credit during 2013 to support an estimated $37.4 billion in U.S. export sales while returning $1.06 billion in interest and fees to the Treasury.

In Massachusetts, small businesses in industry sectors as varied as food, textiles, software, plastics, machinery, chemicals, jewelry and paper have benefitted from Export-Import Bank financing during the past few years. Bay State firms report that export growth translates directly to job growth. 

Baker is among some 30 governors to sign the letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid. Former Governor Deval Patrick signed a similar letter last year.

“As governors of states whose economies and workforces depend on exports, we strongly urge you to support legislation that provides for the long-term reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) before its charter expires on June 30, 2015. The Ex-Im Bank is a crucial tool that both small and large businesses use to compete fairly in the world market, increase their exports, stimulate job creation, and contribute to the growth of our states’ economies,” governors’ letter reads.

“As the official export credit agency of the United States, the Ex-Im Bank assumes the credit and country risks that private sector lenders are unable or unwilling to accept, and without it, U.S. firms would lose many sales to overseas competitors. The Ex-Im Bank allows our companies and workers to compete on a level playing field against international competitors who receive extensive support from their own export credit agencies.”

The Ex-Im Bank helped 3,413 small companies across the nation start or expand their export business last year. In the Bay State, 57 exporters, most classified as small businesses, received assistance from the bank to facilitate more than $749 million in exports.      

 

Topics: International Trade, U.S. Congress

Expert: CEO Defines Workplace Climate

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Dec 15, 2014 8:48:17 AM

Today’s competitive environment demands fully engaged employees at all levels of an organization.  The CEO must define the leadership agenda that will drive employee engagement and superior performance for an organization, an expert told the AIM CEO Connection recently.

Two_WomenMike Maginn, president of Singularity Group, said, “Creating a workplace climate where people feel eager to deal with challenges, where they want to contribute ideas, and where they feel personally valued is the job of the CEO.  It’s a critical job, and the good news is that there are some defined, specific actions that leaders can take to change or improve the climate.”

Maginn led a discussion about culture and climate with a dozen chief executive officers who are members of the North Shore AIM CEO Connection.  He helped the CEOs explore the nature of culture and climate:

  • Culture consists of the norms and values of an organization and defines acceptable behavior.
  • Climate is what it feels like to work in an organization, which drives employee engagement.
  • Dimensions such as clarity, standards, responsibility, recognition, teamwork, and commitment define climate.
  • Climate dimensions can be measured.
  • Day-to-day leadership actions create climate.
  • A change in leadership actions will lead to a change in climate.

There is no “right” culture and climate, so the CEO must delineate the needs of the company and its customers to capture the essence of the culture and climate that will drive the organization in the right direction.

Veda Ferlazzo Clark, the former chief executive who moderates CEO Connection, said, “CEOs are always concerned about the culture of their organization and how they can affect it to maximize performance. It often feels amorphous, but the concept of climate is specific and actionable and can help CEOs and their senior managers feel as though they can make real change.” 

The CEO Connection brings together CEOs to talk about important topics with their peers to help them make critical decisions that will drive their company’s growth. Each session of the CEO Connection includes a presentation from an outside expert, open discussion about current issues, and a company tour.

Manufacturing/industrial CEOs interested to learn more about the AIM CEO Connection may contact me (bgilmore@aimnet.org) or Gary MacDonald (gmcdonald@aimnet.org). 

Topics: CEO, Management, Manufacturing

Manufacturers, Vocational Schools Get on the Same Page

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Oct 1, 2014 9:47:25 AM

A group of Massachusetts manufacturing companies is reporting significant progress in efforts to ensure that vocational high schools are teaching students the skills that employers need.

ManufacturingDay2014This spring, 14 of the 30 Massachusetts vocational schools offering machining technology accepted an invitation from the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Initiative Collaborative (MACWIC) to test the proficiency of students enrolled in their machining programs.

Results of the testing are to be announced Monday in Northampton. By passing the Applied Manufacturing Technology Pathway Certification exam, students will earn a Level 1 MACWIC certificate in Basic Manufacturing Skills.

MACWIC designed the Applied Manufacturing Technology Pathway Certification to create a standard instruction and evaluation process to help employers evaluate the skills of a job applicant. The first of the five levels of instruction includes shop math, blueprint reading, metrology and quality inspection, safety and work readiness.

Completion of levels one and two of the Pathway can lead to a pre-apprentice certificate, while completion of all five levels can lead to an associate’s degree in manufacturing technology.

The ultimate objective is for vocational schools to adopt all or a portion of the MACWIC machining curriculum. The Pathway is also designed for use in incumbent and dislocated worker training programs.    

The Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are giving Massachusetts vocational high schools that validate their Machine Tool Technology programs against the MAWIC credential access to the Pathway curriculum and online programing to support certificate instruction. The total value of the grant is $2.5 million.

The MACWIC program has been endorsed by AIM and received the association’s Gould Education & Workforce Development Award in 2013. 

Massachusetts Vocational Schools with Machine Tool Technology Programs participating in the curriculum, testing, and online programing include:

  • Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, Marlborough
  • Bay Path Regional Vocational School, Charlton
  • Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School, Upton
  • C.H. McCann Regional Technology School, North Adams
  • Franklin County Regional Technical High School, Montague
  • Greater Lowell Regional Technical High School, Tyngsboro
  • Essex (North Shore Regional) Technical High School, Middleton
  • Putnam Vocational Technical High School, Springfield
  • Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School, Billerica
  • Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School, Northampton
  • Somerville High School, Somerville
  • Taconic High School, Pittsfield
  • Whittier Regional Vocational High School, Haverhill
  • Worcester Technical High School, Worcester

Several AIM member companies will assist MACWIC during the next year in efforts to secure participation in the certificate program by the remaining 16 vocational and technical schools that offer machining technology.  

Topics: Skills Gap, Manufacturing, Massachusetts Manufacturing

Manufacturers 'Thriving' Despite Uncertainty about Economy

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Aug 4, 2014 9:43:33 AM

Almost a third of manufacturers and distributors in New England describe themselves as “thriving” in 2014 despite a less positive view of their state and local economies than counterparts around the country, according to a new study.

McGaldreyMonitor2014The 2014 Regional Manufacturing and Distribution Monitor published by McGladrey finds that 62 percent of the 77 regional companies surveyed reported their status as “holding steady,” while 9 percent said they were declining. Those numbers were slightly weaker than those for the nation as a whole, a difference McGladrey attributes in part to the high concentration of biotech, life sciences and medical device companies here that face regulatory challenges and intense competition.

The survey found that only 18 percent of manufacturing and distribution companies believe the local and regional economies have a positive impact on their businesses. And in the battle among states to lure businesses and jobs, 13 percent of New England companies feel that their state’s business-development incentives effect growth, compared to 22 percent nationwide.

States with the highest grade for business incentives are North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, Indiana and New York.

“Like their national counterparts, New England companies have seen improvements, or significant improvements, in company performance due to their investments in operations practices and capability. Similarly, investments in product/material acquisition and product/process innovation have led to improvements for a great percentage of New England companies than those nationwide,” the report says.

The report finds that thriving companies share several key strategies for growth.  Forty-seven percent work to lower costs through operational efficiencies, 39 percent focus on profitable customers, 36 percent invest in equipment, 26 percent increase prices to a majority of customers and 23 percent upgrade technology.

Manufacturing companies nationally are also looking at mergers and acquisitions to grow, according to McGladrey. The value of US industrial and chemical merger and acquisitions deals doubled to $28.6 billion dollars in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2013, while the technology sector saw deal values rise to $38.1 billion during the first three months of the year.

Other report highlights include:

  • 57 percent of New England manufacturers and distributors are planning to increase their work forces;
  • 64 percent report that productivity has increased;
  • 63 percent plan to increase investment in information technology;
  • 65 percent cite material and components pricing as the greatest impediment to growth;
  • 87 percent expect health insurance costs to increase; and
  • 62 percent believe their data is at little to no risk.
  • 95 percent expect employee costs to rise.

New England companies also differed from their national counterparts in their views of federal health care reform – 55 percent of regional manufacturers consider the Affordable Care Act to be an impediment to growth, while 69 percent of companies nationwide regard ACA as a problem. The difference likely reflects the fact that Massachusetts employers have been dealing with health-care reform since the commonwealth launched its first-in-the-nation overhaul in 2006.

A number of AIM member companies participated in the McGladrey survey. McGladrey is a global provider of tax, consulting and assurance services to middle-market companies.

Topics: Massachusetts economy, Manufacturing

Re-Authorize the Export-Import Bank

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jul 21, 2014 3:45:51 PM

Thirty-one governors, including Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, urged congressional leaders last week to re-authorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) before its charter expires in September.

international.flagssmallConservatives in Washington argue that the bank is putting taxpayer money at risk for a purpose better addressed by the private sector, but state leaders of both parties recognize that it plays a vital part in meeting the needs of firms that export goods and services to global markets.

The 80-year-old Export-Import Bank borrows money from the Treasury and uses it to help American companies sell abroad by offering low-cost loans to foreign buyers or guarantees against potential losses by exporters. The bank authorized $27 billion in credit during 2013 to support an estimated $37.4 billion in U.S. export sales, including aircraft, power-generation equipment and other projects while returning $1.06 billion in interest and fees to the Treasury.  

As Joe Nocera pointed out in a recent New York Times column, the private sector does just fine in 98 percent of American export transactions. But then there’s the other two percent – the small business that wants to expand abroad but can’t find a bank to take a risk on a firm with little experience in the international marketplace; or the mid-size manufacturer for whom financing insurance by the US government is necessary because foreign competitors can offer prospective buyers financing from their governments.

Export data provided to AIM by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers underscores the use of Ex-Im services. Last year, the Ex-Im Bank helped 3,413 small companies across the nation start or expand their export business – and also helped the largest US exporter, Boeing, land aircraft sales against Airbus. In the Bay State, 57 exporters, most classified as small businesses, received assistance from the bank to facilitate more than $749 million in exports.      

The primary importance of the Ex-Im bank is for companies with sales from $2 million to $20 million whose banks worry about accounts receivable from international sales. As one lawmaker and former manufacturer said recently, “An exporter can pay a fee to the Ex-IM Bank and get account receivable insurance. Without the Ex-Im some of our business would be all but impossible.”  

In other words, the Ex-Im Bank exists precisely because the markets aren’t perfect. It supports American business competitiveness in global markets, and makes a profit for the taxpayer. Timely reauthorization should not be held hostage to ideological purity.

Topics: Financial Services, International Trade

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