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advantage Special Issue in Celebration of Connecticut Manufacturing

Vol 2, Issue 3

Connecticut Manufacturing:

Current State, Future State

Operational Excellence Business Growth

Manufacturers that move ahead and stay ahead choose CONNSTEP to guide their continuous improvement and growth strategies. Through close collaboration with our industry experts, CONNSTEP accelerates top line growth, operational efficiencies and long-term sustainability. Ready to experience a new level of success with your company? Bring us your business goals and we’ll work together to make them happen. CONNSTEP. Your total business improvement resource.



advantage Vol. 2, Issue 3

13 Made in CT



CONNSTEP is proud to launch the Made in CT Program to create a higher visibility for Connecticut’s manufacturers by showcasing products and services to the public, elected officials and interested buyers.

16 What I’ve Learned...

Paul Murphy of Electri-Cable Assemblies, discusses his philosophy on hard work, why leaders need to be accountable to those who work for them and makes the case for a strong state manufacturing strategy.



22 Current State, Future State

To commemorate Connecticut Dream It. Do It. Manufacturing Month, CONNSTEP talked with leaders from some of the state’s key industries to examine their condition in 2012. How have they weathered the recent economic slowdown and what is the forecast going forward?

4 Manufacturing Month In this special issue of advantage, we celebrate the work of our Connecticut manufacturers, touching on topics including the need for a skilled workforce, the need for collaboration, and our current and future states as an industry.


34 Blazing a New Path


Lean has turned up the heat at Metallurgical Processing, Inc. and their continuous improvement culture is white hot!

The Buzz Newsworthy trends, topics, statistics and an opportunity to ask the experts.


38 Gen NeXt, Gen Y

They’re anxious to explore new fields, eager to learn and serious about their careers. Meet the next generation – a perfect fit for modern manufacturing.

42 Why NOT Manufacturing? These days there are countless articles that seem to write-off manufacturing in general and manufacturing jobs in particular. Do not despair, the reports of our demise are premature and do not tell the whole story.




Manufacturing Month

advantage Advantage Magazine is a publication of CONNSTEP, Inc.

Welcome to manufacturing month in our state! It is a great feeling to have such dedicated support for our local industry, giving merit to the importance of the role which it plays in the Connecticut economy. They say that good things come to those who wait - certainly the manufacturing sector has learned how to be patient, endure, and “hang on” during the years where financial gain has become less and the challenges to compete have become greater. But we are not alone. This past year, I had the pleasure of participating in the Making the Future Policy Academy of the National Governors Association. Eight states participated, assembling teams to engage in and identify areas to improve innovation in the manufacturing sector. And to no surprise, there were many common threads... opportunities for improvement in areas such as networking, the need for talent, stronger research and development, and improving the overall business climate in the states in which we work.

For the small to medium size business that wants to remain competitive and grow in local and global markets, CONNSTEP provides technical and business solutions proven to have both immediate and sustainable long-term impact. Unlike other professional consultants that focus only on a single component of your business, CONNSTEP’s multidisciplinary team uses a deliberate holistic approach, providing innovative results-driven top line growth solutions that impact the entire organization. Since 1994, nine out of ten CONNSTEP clients have reported increased profitability. In 2011 alone, data provided by an independent survey credited CONNSTEP with impacts of more than $160 million dollars, including new and retained sales, and the creation and retention of nearly 1,600 jobs. Our experience and network of local, state and federal resources, make us not only unique but unequaled in our field and in our state.

Publisher Bonnie Del Conte, President & CEO CONNSTEP

In this special issue of advantage, we celebrate the work of our Connecticut


manufacturers, touching on topics including the need for a skilled workforce, the need

Rebecca Mead, Manager, Marketing & Communications CONNSTEP

for collaboration, and our current and future states as an industry. And although we know we have a long road ahead, the forward momentum has begun. Learn how Metallurgical Processing, Inc., has employed Lean strategy in a service-based business. Discover the opportunities through the new Made in CT Program, where the innovative products and services, made right here in Connecticut, are showcased. Follow the Industrial Tourism map, engage in our proud manufacturing heritage, and pay homage to those who built the foundation on which our industry stands.

Contributing Writers Ken Cook, Peer to Peer Advisors Caren R. Dickman, CRD & Associates Bill Greider, P4 Executive Lean Strategy Matin Karbassioon, CONNSTEP Michael Perrelli, CONNSTEP Susie Zimmermann, Channel Z Marketing

Contacts To subscribe:

I would also like to thank the organizations who supported this issue. Please read their profiles and learn about what they are doing to keep our manufacturing sector alive and well, serving as great resources to many of the industry’s needs. But most of all, enjoy manufacturing month! Check out the calendar of events -

To change an address: For reprints, PDF’s: For permission to copy: To pitch a story: CONNSTEP, Inc., all rights reserved. Reproduction encouraged after obtaining permission from CONNSTEP.

dedicated to an industry that, with no doubt, still makes up the backbone of our great state.

CONNSTEP Advantage Magazine is printed three times a year by CONNSTEP, Inc., 1090 Elm Street, Suite 202, Rocky Hill, CT 06067. 800.266.6672

May your reading be satisfying...


Bonnie Del Conte is the president & CEO of CONNSTEP. She can be reached at



Vol. 2, No. 3

POSTMASTER Send address changes to: CONNSTEP, Inc. 1090 Elm Street, Suite 202 Rocky Hill, CT 06067

>>> Contributors








Ken Cook is the Founder and Managing Director of Peer to Peer Advisors.

His background includes over twenty years consulting with high growth and middle market companies, focusing on marketing, sales and growth strategies. Ken’s consulting includes five years as a Senior Contract Consultant for Inc. Magazine. He’s written three books, his latest being The Wisdom of Our Peers. His fourth book, The Wisdom of Relationships, is due out this fall. Ken also writes monthly columns for The Hartford Business Journal and The Worcester Business Journal, and has written columns for The Boston Business Journal and The American Marketing Association.

Matin Karbassioon is a Lean Consultant skilled in applying best business practices and leadership principles to continuously improve productivity, quality and throughput. Mr. Karbassioon has provided consulting, training and facilitation services to small and medium size manufacturers in their pursuit of Enterprise-wide excellence. He is certified by the Supplier Excellence Alliance (SEA) to deliver the Lean Enterprise System to suppliers of Aerospace and Defense OEMs to ensure American competitiveness.


Since joining CONNSTEP in 2005, Mr. Karbassioon has successfully facilitated the transition of manufacturing companies from traditional to Lean. These organizations ranging from medical instrument to electronic component manufacturers have become more profitable through enhanced quality, shorter lead-times and increased capacity. His latest initiatives include successful deployment of Lean in healthcare, architecture as well as the government sectors.

Caren R. Dickman has over twenty-five years experience in marketing, business and grant development, for trade associations, higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations.


Currently the Communications and Grant Development Specialist at HRA, Inc., she was previously the Director of Marketing and Membership at EANE where she spearheaded the Strategic Marketing team project to re-brand the association, create a new logo, and standardize all communications. While at EANE and at CBIA she worked closely with numerous manufacturing companies throughout Connecticut on a variety of projects.

Michael Perrelli is the Marketing Specialist with CONNSTEP where he is responsible for developing the content, markets and promotions of CONNSTEP training, networking and outreach programs. Additionally, Michael works with the Manger of Marketing & Communications on organizational market development, website maintenance and trade show efforts.


Before joining CONNSTEP at the end of 2010, Michael worked for the Alcone Marketing Group, a promotional agency based in Darien and for SourceMedical in Wallingford, where he controlled multiple direct marketing and trade show efforts for the leader in ambulatory surgery center management software.

Bill Greider has spent over 20 years at Dur-A-Flex, Inc. (East Hartford, CT) as Technical Director, Operations Manager and Co-Owner. Over a seven year period, he led the company on it’s Lean journey, cut process times by eliminating non-value added activity and began Dur-A-Flex down the road to become a learning organization. During their Lean transformation, Dur-A-Flex was voted one of the “Best Places to Work” in CT four times and won national recognition as winner of the 2010 MEP Excellence in Innovation Award at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Conference in Orlando, FL.


In 2012, Bill decided that he would like to help other company’s management teams and Lean champions as an independent consultant, hoping to help secure their future success by teaching them the tools needed to turn a “continuous improvement or lean sigma department” into a culture of continuous learning.

Susie Zimmermann has more than 20 years of experience developing and managing marketing and communications for corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. In her current work with clients from both the commercial and non-profit sectors, she provides strategic consulting on branding, product launches, messaging, positioning, employee communications and comprehensive marketing programs.


Prior to launching her own consulting business, Susie managed marketing and communications programs for the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps. as well as for organizations specializing in commercial real estate, urban revitalization and health insurance.


>>> calendar

Connecticut Manufacturing Coalition Roundtables October through May

The gist: The roundtables offer a confidential forum where manufacturers share and learn about common challenges as well as best practice solutions to achieve sustainable continuous improvement and profitable growth.

Continuous Improvement Champion Certification The gist: CICC is a ten-session course providing intensive exposure to the principles and practices needed to develop and sustain the Lean Enterprise.

Approach: You will receive immediate reinforcement of the classroom

You’ll gain an invaluable network of trusted peers, business development opportunities, best practice presentations, as well as, industry related resources.

learning by applying your training to a real-life project within your organization. Together with on-site mentoring and knowledge assessments, this approach dramatically reduces the time frame from training to bottom-line results.

Who attends? Manufacturing professionals interested in

Who attends? Those tasked with implementing and sustaining a

benchmarking, networking and learning from their peers.

culture of continuous improvement within their organizations.

The next CICC program begins March 5th and runs to May 21st. Visit for complete program information.

SAVE THE DATE: Business Growth Over Breakfast October 24th

Join CONNSTEP and invited business growth and marketing experts to discuss growth strategy over breakfast. Wednesday, October 24 Inn at Middletown, Middletown, Connecticut 7:30 am to 11:00 a.m. Check for more information and to register.



Vol. 2, No. 3

>> > Ask the Experts

You have questions - Matin Karbassioon has the answers. An expert in Lean and continuous improvement, Matin answers your questions using his experience and the knowledge of industry’s top thought leaders.

How does Lean tie into my organization’s overall business strategy? During the numerous training sessions I conduct, people are quick and excited to tell me how many kaizen events they have completed within their department. But more often than not, they are hesitant or unable to tell me the improvement metrics from those events or how those events contributed to the company’s strategic goals. If Lean isn’t a part of your organizational strategy, it becomes an event-based activity that is difficult to sustain in the long run. It becomes something focused on the Lean tools themselves and not the outcomes or how the initiatives benefit the company. Often, a strategy is put in place without tactical and communication plans behind it. Some people will expect things to happen on their own, but they don’t. The value lies in having a strategic linkage to Lean initiatives and in having Lean thinking drive the strategic planning process. In that way, whatever goals you set, Lean becomes the vehicle to get you there. For example, if part of your strategy is to improve on-time delivery to your customers, you will need to define which key processes are responsible. There will undoubtedly be processes in both the office and on the manufacturing floor

C Could you use a little more balance in your life? that feed that goal. The bottlenecks could be that your “request for quote” process is too long, or your lengthy setup times have certain departments missing deliveries. If you don’t identify and work on improving those processes that directly impact on-time delivery, you may never meet your goal. If the focus was strictly on the manufacturing processes for the goal outlined above, kaizen events would be implemented haphazardly with no direction or goal. At that point, the events may or may not benefit your on-time delivery rate. Strategically approaching Lean initiatives will identify the most critical improvement opportunities, the order in which kaizen activities need to be conducted and will help define the outcomes, connected to the larger organization’s strategic goals.

Studies have shown that too much work can lead to a variety of stressers that sap workers’ energy, making them more prone to errors on the job, sick days, burnout and turnover. Helping individuals reach a balance between work, family and lifestyle commitments by introducing work/life balance policies can provide beneficial gains in output, morale, and overall health for company staff. Does your company have a formal or informal policy in place? A recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 24% of U.S. organizations have a formal work/life balance policy in place, whereas approximately one-half of organizations (52%) have an informal work/life balance policy. What is a work/life balance policy? Work/life balance policies help create a better balance between the demands of the job and the enjoyment of life outside of work. Initiatives within the policy can include (among others): • Not working during sick or vacation time • Working from home, telecommuting, flexible hours • Family leave policies • Fitness facilities or fitness membership assistance Why use work life balance policies? Benefits include (among others): • Attracting new employees • Helping to retain staff • Reducing sickness and absenteeism • Increasing levels of production and satisfaction • Decreasing stress and burn-out

Matin Karbassioon is a Business Growth Advisor skilled in applying best business practices and leadership principles to continuously improve productivity, quality and throughput. Since joining CONNSTEP in 2005, Mr. Karbassioon has successfully facilitated the transition of manufacturing companies from traditional to Lean. These organizations ranging from medical instrument to electronic component manufacturers have become more profitable through enhanced quality, shorter lead-times and increased capacity. Reach Matin at

According to 80% of the respondents, leadership encouragement is the most commonly used practice in ensuring employees take advantage of these policies. Managers and supervisors must take a pro-active approach to ensure their employees utilize these benefits for the better good of themselves as well as the company. SHRM’s complete findings on work/life balance policies can be found at:



BUZZ >> > Business Barometer Earlier this year, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Chris Murphy solicited input from the industry through the 2012 Survey of Connecticut Manufacturers. Following on from the 2011 survey, the legislators asked a myriad of questions on the business climate - cost of healthcare, increased competition from foreign sources, ease of finding skilled workers, availability of capital and credit, and federal, state and local taxation - and out of 5,000 manufacturers across the state, 191 provided feedback through the on-line survey, representing a broad cross-section of the industry. This was a 21% increase over last year’s survey response.

• The 2012 survey response shows that: •

The economic recovery is still a major concern for Connecticut manufacturers with 54% of respondents anticipating a flat economy for the upcoming year and only 17% of respondents anticipating an economic expansion.

Suggestions from survey respondents when asked about skilled workers “Continue to provide grant funding for skill training efforts which are company driven.” “Appropriate education is of course a requirement but add in actual, practical working experience at almost any type of work. They need to know what work really is and be responsible for their actions.”

“Work with colleges to foster apprentice type programs with manufacturers.”



Vol. 2, No. 3

There is significant optimism among the group for the future of their businesses. A high 77% feel confident in the financial future of their companies with nearly half expecting an increase in profits in 2012. The majority of respondents plan on creating jobs and increasing wages over the next year. However, the industry is still having difficulty hiring - simply finding the workers with the skills needed to fill open positions is a challenge. Connecticut manufacturers report they are still feeling the effects of foreign competition, mostly from China and the far east. One third of the respondents supply to the federal government and there is a shared sentiment among all respondents that a better job needs to be done to make the federal government a better partner to Connecticut industry.

Feedback from survey respondents when asked doing business with the government

“Stress basic math skills so younger workers have the basics to learn - let young people know the opportunities for workers with these

“Make it easier for small businesses to compete for contracts with the federal government.”

skills.” “Get more funding for the trade schools. Not every graduating high school senior is slated for a four-year college degree. We need to start giving these kids an option.”

“Changing federal policies that encourage companies to outsource or offshore their business by eliminating loopholes in the tax code and incentivizing insourcing.”

“Enforcing stronger ‘Buy American’ requirements to bring federal money back to U.S. manufacturers.”

“Increasing federal investments in STEM-based education and skills training programs.”

“Reforming the ITAR system to remove

unnecessary barriers to exportation for

those in the defense manufacturing industry.”

Smartphone Survival Guide If you own a Smartphone or tablet, you are probably well aware that they are essentially mini, portable computers. Which means, they are susceptible to many of the perils a computer might face. The most obvious is hacking and theft of identity or personal information. I referred to them as portable to remind you that they are also prone to loss or theft. As long as there are devices that collect personal information, there will always be thieves inventing new scams to try to separate you from personal information. For example, there is a new threat called smishing. This is when you get a text message with an offer to get something free by going to a link. If you go there it is generally a website that asks for information. Just by clicking the link the damage is already done. You’ll never get that $1000 gift card and there is now spyware on your phone capturing the keystrokes that you type in, such as passwords, credit card numbers, etc.. Here are a few apps to safeguard your phone against these dangers. Most of these apps are free. Smishing/Malicious Attacks Android It’s always easy to say after you have been hacked or lose your data, “I should have installed virus protection” or, “I should have backed up.” What’s really easy is installing Lookout on your phone. Lookout periodically scans your mobile device specifically looking for phishing, malware and spyware. It also checks any apps you load on your device and any websites you visit. iPhone Norton Identity Safe prevents dangerous websites from stealing your personal information. It does this by letting you know if a site is dangerous before you visit it. This can be downloaded from the AppStore for free.

Loss/Theft Android This is the first and only phone locating app that you download AFTER you’ve already lost your phone. Having Lookout on your phone is the best way to protect your phone and find it fast, but use Plan B if you have already lost your phone and didn’t already have Lookout installed. From another device, you can send the app to your phone OTA (over-the-air), as long as the phone is on. It will turn on the GPS and gmail your coordinates on a map back to you. Verizon Mobile Security provides antivirus protection to detect viruses and malware. It will also identify and warn customers of suspicious websites. That tier of the software is free. The next tier, available for $1.99/month per line, Verizon Mobile Security Premium also provides a recovery feature that allows customers to remotely locate, alarm, lock or wipe data from a lost or misplaced device using their My Verizon accounts. iPhone Find My iPhone works on iPhones, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac. This will let you use another device to find and protect your data. Find My iPhone will help you locate your missing device on a map. From there you can choose to display a message, play a sound at full volume for two minutes, remotely lock your device or erase your data from it. You can even write a message and display it on your screen. Something like, “If found, Please call me at 408-555-0198.” Your message appears, even if the screen is locked. Lookout is an easy way to protect your iOS device from loss. You can use the Internet or another phone to determine the missing device’s location. It will also back up your data and protect your personal information. Then you can send a loud alarm to pinpoint its location, even if it’s on silent. Bonnie Sharon, better known as Cellular Chloe, is the Gadgetista of Wireless Zone®. She is an advocate for the end user and spends her time pushing the envelope on all devices so she can honestly report her findings. She likes to help you get to that “a ha moment” so you and your gadgets can live happily ever after! You can find her at





I was lucky, there was and still is an excellent public technical vocational high school in my city as well as very busy and bustling manufacturing, plastics, defense, paper, electronics, heavy machinery, etc. A heavy union presence and the opportunity to make a very good living long term were attractive, as well as, being close to home and family. My parents didn’t have the money to send me to college as we had a very large family, I was the oldest of five, and since it was right after Vietnam I chose to delay going into the military and go into the workforce. At the time, there was opportunity aplenty for apprentices. So, after I graduated with training in machine technology, I was hired as a toolmaker apprentice of a small mold and tool company long since closed. But it gave me a start. I graduated on a Sunday in June 1976 and started the next day. 36 years later and I’ve had a very nice career, had to change jobs a few times but have always been in manufacturing - as a team leader, shift supervisor, manager, director, it’s been a good career. I make a good living; have good benefits and looking forward to retirement in about ten years or so. Along the way I added a dual career in the Army National Guard and have now logged 27 years with that organization with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.



I guess I struggled with the question, since I kind of ended up in manufacturing vs. actually choosing it! For me, I think the question is more of why did you choose “continuous improvement”? I started out at Kamatics in inside sales, where I worked for 18 years. When the opportunity to work on Lean Manufacturing became available, it made sense to me…flow product at the pull of the customer without stopping so the company can get paid and be able to continue operating! At the time, I was frustrated with all of the problems we were experiencing from a customer service perspective. Lots of work in process meant long lead times, difficulty finding jobs that customers were following up on therefore unhappy customers. The chance to help solve some of these problems and streamline processes was very interesting to me. I’ve been in Continuous Improvement full time since 2004. What I really enjoy about my job is learning about the company’s processes and trying to make them more efficient through teamwork, the opportunity to know people at all levels of the organization and the special satisfaction that comes when a team works to implement and sustain their new process. There are many challenges and frustrations along the way, but our lead times have improved over the years and many processes have been examined and improved. Overall, we all know our business better than we ever have in the past and we are doing well.

Flexibility is the key, being a good employee, a hard worker, sharing ideas, being a good communicator and being able to change with the times, as in my case, computers.

Continuous Improvement is a great career for anyone who believes every challenge has a solution, who loves to learn something every day and who enjoys working with teams. That being said, it is not always an easy path and you have to be perseverant and practice a lot!

- Mark Pompi

- Alice Power

Minteq Production Team Leader

Kamatics Continuous Improvement Leader


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Why did you choose a career in manufacturing?


I started my career at the end of what we would consider the value stream, or end customer deliverable. I then worked my way back through the product realization for helicopter manufacturing. I guess I was just intrigued with how everything worked. I worked on, and flew on the MH-53J Pavelow & UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for the US Air Force. When I got out of the military I worked in a military overhaul facility in Groton, Connecticut, at the 1109th Aviation Group, working on and repairing helicopters back to mission ready capability. I worked on a number of helicopters including the CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Blackhawk, etc. After that I worked for Kaman Helicopters building new production Blackhawks for Sikorsky. This was my first exposure to the production process in regards to new manufacturing processes. I learned and built a proficient knowledge base in Lean Thinking and associated disciplines. From there I worked for a helicopter parts fabricator specializing in CNC based machining, both milling and turning. From there I moved on to where I am now at TIGHITCO leading the production efforts for Composite and metal fabrication and the associated assembly processes for our fixed and rotor winged aircraft components. - Terry Chase TIGHITCO Production Manager

The Buy American Supplier Scouting Program, initiated by CONNSTEP’s federal partner, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST/MEP), employs the MEP centers across the country to find domestic suppliers when grantees subject to the Buy American requirements have not been able to do so. CONNSTEP has been involved for over two years, assisting various federal agencies, including the DOE, DOT and NIST, as we feel the program brings work back to U.S suppliers, provides business opportunity for our clients in new markets, which, in turn, creates new jobs for our local industry. Led by Frank Rio, CONNSTEP has searched for over 70 different products including heat pumps, lighting products, solar generators and water heaters with success in finding several exact matches and a dozen partial matches for suppliers to bid on. One example of a successful match is now housed in the NIST Zero Energy Model house, on the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The house is being built to demonstrate that it is possible for a house to produce more energy than it uses. Intended to be built with all domestically produced components in its construction, the contractor was planning on using a hybrid water heater made by General Electric in China, claiming to be unable to source it stateside. NIST/MEP asked the centers to find a domestic source and Frank was able to find

The NIST Zero Energy House in Maryland.

a Connecticut company that produced such a heater. After determining that it would meet all of the specifications, the contractor purchased the heater from our local supplier, the heater was delivered and installed in the

Buy American

Supplier Scouting house in November of 2011. In addition to the water heater, CONNSTEP has been tasked with identifying a Connecticut company with the expertise to reverse engineer two aircraft engine tubes that the DLA was buying from a sole source supplier. Frank identified several clients with the capabilities and they all felt the DLA was paying about six times the selling price they would ask! One company was selected and has submitted the technical data packages for the tubes to the DLA. It is anticipated that if these TDP’s are approved, the DLA will save significantly when it buys these tubes in the future. New to the Buy America Supplier Scouting Program is the Next Generation Rail initiative. The U.S. passenger rail system has lacked investment over the past 60 years and therefore the pool of manufacturing capacity has been significantly reduced. Now the federal government is planning to invest in an efficient, high-speed rail network of 100-600 mile intercity corridors with the goal of insuring safe and efficient transportation choices, promote energy efficiency and environmental quality. The DOT has established a 100% domestic content goal for all projects under this initiative and the initial project is the production of 130 high-speed rail cars for the California Department of Transportation, with the anticipation that the contracts for these rail cars will be awarded shortly and the search for domestic suppliers will commence.

and through the cooperation with our local Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) office, the program has allowed

CONNSTEP’s Bonnie Del Conte and Frank Rio visit the water heater installed at the NIST Zero Energy Model House in Maryland.

CONNSTEP to assist clients in becoming more competitive in seeking new business with the federal government. And as the regional point of contact for the Next Generation Rail Initiative, Frank and CONNSTEP will provide new business opportunities for Connecticut rail suppliers. For more information, please contact Frank Rio at 860-513-3214 or via email at

The Buy American Supplier Scouting Program has helped CONNSTEP improve opportunities for new business for our clients, and the Connecticut manufacturing industry, through the introduction of new potential customers




people working today owe that fact to small businesses. 3.

IMHO By Bill Greider

Congratulations to all Connecticut manufacturers reading this - it means you are survivors of some one of the most difficult economic times in history.

their processes. And start NOW. Don’t have time? Chris De Conti, Director of Operations at Ulbrich Shaped Wire in North Haven says it best, “You don’t exercise when you’re hurt!” Companies that will prosper are the ones who get a little better every day! Accept the fact that we have no control over most of the things that impact our bottom lines. Control the things you can - create a culture of people who view improvement as part of their daily work. My good friend Bob Smith at Dur-A-Flex in East Hartford always says, “Can you make time to work on your business vs. in it? You can’t afford NOT to!”

I’ve put together a few thoughts - with help from a few of my friends - our humble opinions on what needs to be done for manufacturers to remain viable and competitive going forward. 1.

Adopt a “Lean” strategy. Notice I didn’t say Lean program. I know of no better way of recessionproofing your business than to create a culture of people, focused on seeing and eliminating waste, in all of the processes in your business. Customers are not asking us to get them their stuff slower! Their expectation is that you will be faster, and easy to do business with. The same processes that got us to today will NOT get us to tomorrow! Resist the urge to throw bodies at problems or demand. Challenge and show respect by teaching your team how to continuously improve



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Voice your displeasure with the albatross we call healthcare. According to Bill Waseleski, President of Century Spring Manufacturing in Bristol,“The single biggest obstacle for small manufacturers to add people is the cost of healthcare.” Get involved by petitioning your representatives. A small voice can become louder through organizations like SMA, NHMA, MAC and CBIA. Be persistent. Recruit your peers to help. Don’t give up. After all, most of the

Young people do not always see manufacturing as a viable career option. One of the single biggest complaints I hear from manufacturers is the shortage of young people with the skill set to step in and contribute. Paul Zalensky, a highly skilled toolmaker at Ulbrich, and in the trade for over 40 years, fully understands the responsibility of manufacturers to recruit their biggest asset for the future - people! We need to sell kids on the idea that there are opportunities for fulfilling careers in incredibly innovative manufacturing companies….yes, here, in Connecticut! Start now. Contact administrators, guidance counselors and teachers from your local elementary, middle and high schools. Invite them in. Show them how important you are to the world, the customers you serve, how your product makes people’s lives better. Send someone to speak. Develop a summer internship/apprenticeship program. Be proactive now to develop your future workforce.

I can’t say this strongly enough: develop a Lean mind-set, find your voice, and recruit like your life depends on it, because it does. October is Manufacturing Month here in Connecticut. With nearly 5,000 manufacturing companies contributing to 12.7% of the state’s GDP and producing 92% of our Connecticut’s exports, manufacturing’s voice should not be silent. Our best is still ahead!

Bill Greider has spent over 20 years at Dur-A-Flex, Inc. (East Hartford, CT) as Technical Director, Operations Manager and Co-Owner. Over a seven year period, he led the company on it’s Lean journey, cut process times by eliminating non-value added activity and began Dur-A-Flex down the road to become a learning organization. During their Lean transformation, Dur-AFlex was voted one of the “Best Places to Work” in Connecticut four times and won national recognition as winner of the 2010 MEP Excellence in Innovation Award at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Conference in Orlando, Florida. In 2012, Bill decided that he would like to help other company’s management teams and Lean champions as an independent consultant, hoping to help secure their future success by teaching them the tools needed to turn a “continuous improvement or lean sigma department” into a culture of continuous learning. Bill can be found writing a blog:


October 1st From aero engines to buttons, from medical devices to sports equipment, Connecticut is home to 5,000 manufacturers who employ nearly 170,000 people and generate more than 12.7 percent of the state’s GDP. Staffed by the most productive and highly skilled workforce in the world, Connecticut manufacturers are a significant driver of innovation and exports, and account for more investments in research and development than any other sector. As the Connecticut Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), CONNSTEP has developed the Made in CT Program to showcase the diversity of products and services of the Connecticut manufacturing industry - and to celebrate the companies who continue to make it in Connecticut. In cities and towns from Bridgeport to Putnam, manufacturing is the engine that powers the Connecticut economy.

Be part of Made in CT CONNSTEP is proud to launch the Made in CT Program to create a higher visibility for Connecticut’s manufacturers by showcasing products and services to the public, elected officials and interested buyers. CONNSTEP will recognize the contributions of Connecticut manufacturers, featuring those that contribute to the growth of the economy, are involved in continuous improvement, and strive to create jobs and grow their businesses. The key component of the Made in CT Program will be an online directory consisting of the state’s manufacturers and the products and services produced here in Connecticut. CONNSTEP would like you to participate -

feature your company’s products or services - in our online directory. As a Made in CT participating company, you will receive: • A free company profile on where you can showcase your products or services. Included in the profile will be your company logo, company description, contact information, company news and photos and/or videos of your products and services. •

The opportunity to become a featured manufacturer of the week - and be highlighted in a special section of the directory as well as in CONNSTEP blog posts and in Made in CT social media posts.

The opportunity to be a featured manufacturer on the NIST/MEP “Make it in America” program website with national exposure.

Access to Made in CT Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages where you can participate in the conversation about Connecticut manufacturing.

The official Made in CT logo to exhibit on your website and your product packaging. Special invitations to and advanced registration opportunities to CONNSTEP events.

Launching October 1st, the Made in CT Program will feature CONNSTEP clients through the month of October - including:

To view participating manufacturers’ profile pages and to learn more about how you can be a Made in CT manufacturer, visit


grants will stimulate the economic recovery more rapidly, thereby helping manufacturers recover more quickly. Other suggestions entail “leveling the playing field” regarding offshore competition and unfair tariffs. These are good suggestions that might help. It seems though that the overriding sentiments coming from manufacturers are simply for outside influences to just get out of the way. Owners of manufacturing firms are a pretty self reliant bunch of people. Left to their own collective talents, without unfair outside influences in play, they do pretty well in achieving success. In addressing how to move forward many manufacturing leaders do acknowledge that “more of the same” is not the answer. This economic climate demands innovative solutions in order to get back on the path of growth and job creation. One innovative approach cited as important is collaboration among manufacturers. There is recognition of the strength and value that exists throughout the manufacturing community and a realization that collaboration is a way to unlock that treasure trove of experience and expertise.

Collaborating Today for Tomorrow In any context and measured by any criteria, everyone agrees that the manufacturing sector has been especially hard hit by the recession and the slow paced recovery. Companies shrank in size to survive, some closed, and the growth and rehiring process is moving at a snail’s pace.

By Ken Cook Peer to Peer Advisors

So where do we go from here? There are some suggestions that external help in the form of state and federal programs and



Vol. 2, No. 3

Michael Molnar, chief manufacturing officer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, focusing on the manufacturing sector and the need for collaboration as a cornerstone for growth, said “Business leaders need to do a better job of working together to ensure ideas dreamed up here aren’t turned into reality in a foreign factory.”1 Another conclusion from a recent industry report said: Industry collaboration must increase; management needs to be on an accelerated learning and investment curve to continuously improve and gain market share.2 So what is this “power” that comes from collaboration? Why are a few heads better than one? One answer can be found in this old adage, “There’s a fundamental difference between a smart man and a wise man. A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid that mistake altogether.”3

better. More experience enables one to address a wider spectrum of the problems that inevitably crop up. With collaborative peers the business leader can multiply the experience level by the number of peers they collaborate with, thereby expanding the growth and potential for the business.

Collaboration is the key to opening a treasure chest of experience and solutions.

When business people share their experiences in an atmosphere of respect and mutual trust, a special kind of magic occurs: smart people become wise and their businesses grow. Another answer can be found in the story of Nobel Prize winners James Watson and Francis Crick, who discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, one of the most remarkable scientific breakthroughs of the 20th Century. Watson, on the fiftieth anniversary of the event, stated that he and Crick cracked the elusive DNA code not because they were the smartest people pursuing the answer. In Watson’s opinion that distinction belonged to Rosalind Franklin, a brilliant British scientist. “Rosalind was so intelligent,” observed Watson, “that she rarely sought advice. If you’re the brightest person in the room, you’re in trouble.” By not being the smartest people pursuing the answer, Watson and Crick often collaborated, looking for answers beyond their knowledge and experience. In a more modern context you can find a third answer from Jim Collins describing a tool he called The Council4, “The Council consists of a group of the right people who participate in dialogue and debate.” They “ask the right questions, engage in vigorous debate, make decisions, autopsy the results, and learn.” All three answers illustrate the power of collaborative thinking. Collaboration is the art of going outside your area of expertise to seek the input and ideas from people who bring fresh ideas, new perspectives, and experiences that may directly relate to the issue at hand. Collaboration in its best form produces the “whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.” defines collaboration as, “to work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.”

Q. As applied to business leadership, what did Watson and Crick know fifty years ago that is still so relevant for Jim Collins today?

If you consider participating in a collaborative circle of peers, ensure that the people in the circle are truly peers. As manufacturing is unique in comparison to other business types, your peers should be from manufacturing companies. The peers’ companies should be similar in terms of size and challenges they face.

A. Enlightened business leaders realize they cannot do it alone. Enlightened business

To ensure sustainability, commit to regular meetings. Once a month is good; at least

leaders look for opportunities to collaborate.

once a quarter is a must. Get a facilitator so the business leader is free to be a participant and focus on the content of the meeting, leaving the process to the facilitator. Have specific agenda items, but be flexible as well. Paraphrasing Gene Rodenberry, allow freedom in the meeting to go places where you dare not go before.

Collaboration is the great multiplier. It significantly increases the experience, expertise, and wisdom one can apply to any situation, challenge or issue. Collaboration brings experience, perspectives, and knowledge from “worlds” that are outside of the business leader’s world. Anuradha A. Gokhale conducted research to determine the effects of collaboration on learning. He concluded that collaborative learning fosters the development of critical thinking through discussion, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of others’ ideas. What business leader wouldn’t want that? 5

Collaboration is a must for both the industry and each individual manufacturer. Collaboration is the key to opening a treasure chest of experience and solutions. Turn on you critical thinking mind -- innovate your business – find a way to harness the energy and experience of your peers.

In its best manifestation, collaboration entails a team of peers from outside the business offering support, ideas, and accountability; independent accountability the leader usually cannot find within their own business. Consider two givens: • Leading a business is often a lonely job • Experience is often the best teacher An outside circle of collaborators addresses both of these characteristics. “Alone at the top” becomes a thing of the past. While everyone looks to the leader for direction and answers, they can now look to their collaboration peers for direct honest feedback, and an open exchange of ideas.

Note - The concepts of organizational culture-climate come from the Burke-Litwin Model of Organizational Change. 1


3 4 5

Second, the more experience one has the

From a recent forum on growth held August 7, 2012 at The Rhode Island School of Design The New England Council and Deloitte Consulting, LLP, December 2009 Unknown Good to Great, Jim Collins, reference pages 114-116 “Collaborative Learning Enhances Critical Thinking,” Journal of Technology Education, Volume 7, #1 Fall


What I’ve Learned

>>> Paul Murphy, Director of Operations, Electri-Cable Assemblies Shelton, Connecticut, 45 years old 16


Vol. 2, No. 3

By Susie Zimmermann Photo by Nick Caito

management. Bad: top-down, one-directional,

Be as accountable to the people who

do-as-I-say. Companies take on the

work for you as much as they are

personality of the person in charge, so

accountable to you.

problems can usually be tied to a manager’s method and ability to establish culture and

“Gotta Delegate.” That’s what a post-it over

strategy and lead a team.

my desk says. That’s a big weakness of mine, so I’m trying hard to make sure that I give others

Good managers? Those who are willing

more opportunity to succeed—and fail.

to make the tough decisions and tell


grew up in Ireland, and have been

the hard truth. They have clear values and

My best lessons have come from failure. There

live what they preach.

is dignity in failure. How else can we appreciate success? I try not to protect people

in the U.S. since 1988. I came over here for a

from failure. That’s how we all learn to cope

brief work assignment, and well, 24 years have

and rise above.

passed in a flash. Soon I will become a citizen. I’ve taken my time contemplating when and if to make the decision to become a citizen, and doing this now is a sign of my great pride in being a part of this country. Growing up on a horse and chicken farm, I gained great appreciation and

Be as accountable to the people who work for you as much as they are accountable to you.

perspective for what I do now. Hard style. I learned a lot, but I’m very grateful for

should be kept in perspective. In Ireland, unemployment was chronically at 20% while I was growing up. We will bounce back. I worked for a few years consulting and started a business developing Lean software products. Being an entrepreneur is daunting but gave me a clear sense of my vulnerability, and the need to know every aspect of the business— from cash flow to expenses to sales and HR and everything in between. I also learned then the value of bartering, collaboration and relationship-building. My whole career has been in manufacturing, and I’ve seen examples of good and bad

very good at making a case for why companies should stay or move here. There’s been no clear message for the last 20 years about the competitive advantages for industry here or what kind of a manufacturing

Connecticut may not be the cheapest state to

my career in manufacturing.

especially if you are one of the 8%, it

these days. Connecticut has not been

state we are trying to be.

work and attention to detail never goes out of

While 8% unemployment is a bad number,

Manufacturing here in our state is challenging

operate in, but, for example, the state could My core values have derived over time, and I

offer the best support for business. That could be

keep a list of these values on my wall

a lead benefit that would attract companies. It

by my desk, so I’m always reminded of them

doesn’t always have to be about money

and continue to self-audit.

to make Connecticut a strong state for manufacturing. But with so many companies

Think small, then act fast and finish

here struggling to survive, we need a road map

strong. Continue to actively learn. Go

rather than left-field decisions.

and see to learn. Thirty percent of my day is on the floor, talking to my leads, mentoring,

We offer so many advantages in Connecticut—

asking what they need from me to succeed and

excellent tech, hubs for biomedical, aerospace

learning about their daily work and challenges.

and more—but I am waiting for and hoping the state will set a course for

Be a simplifier, not a complicator. Ask

the future, establish a long-term plan

tough questions though, and be prepared

that will make short-term decisions

for the ugly truth. The best boss I ever had did

strategically rather than randomly

that. I’ll never forget it.

and enable us all to understand where we’re headed and what we need to do

Live Lean—just as Lean as you know your

together to get there.

plant floor should be. Be humble and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. - SZ


Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. brings together a coalition of business and trade associations, educational institutions, economic development and workforce organizations, and manufacturers from throughout the state to focus on enhancing Connecticut’s manufacturing workforce and the industry.

Wednesday, October 3rd

Friday, October 12th

9:00 to 11:00 a.m. DT Core Demo Day Westminster Tool 5 East Parkway, Plainfield, CT 860.564.6966

8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Naugatuck Valley Comm. College 750 Chase Parkway, Waterbury, CT 203.575.8000

Founded on existing partnerships and a strong commitment to the growth of manufacturing statewide, Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. addresses a high priority among manufacturers—creating the next generation of skilled workers.

Friday, October 5th

October is all about manufacturing! Come join us for exciting events that are happening in your area and let’s proudly celebrate all that is Connecticut made! Students - learn more about what a career in manufacturing is all about. See how the right education will start you on the path to a rewarding, highpaying job! Families - find out how to steer your student toward a career in one of today’s advanced manufacturing fields. Now more than ever, manufacturing offers opportunities for them to do what they like and be nicely rewarded! Educators - help us engage and educate the next generation STEMcapable workforce. Learn more about career and educational pathways in today’s advanced manufacturing! Manufacturers - help us develop your future skilled workforce. Get involved in activities for students, families and educators to showcase today’s changing manufacturing environment!




National Manufacturing Day!

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Abbott Technical High School 21 Hayestown Avenue, Danbury, CT 203.575.8000


3:00 to 7:00 p.m. Dymotek 7 Main Street, Ellington, CT 860.875.2868

Saturday, October 6th MANUFACTURING MANIA! 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Hartford Armory 360 Broad Street, Hartford, CT

Thursday, October 11th


9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Cheney Technical High School 791 W. Middle Tpke, Manchester, CT 860.649.5396 CTHSS MFG PROGRAM OPEN HOUSE

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Prince Technical High School 401 Flatbush Ave., Hartford, CT 860.951.7112 PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE

4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Asnuntuck Community College 170 Elm Street, Enfield, CT 860.253.3000


9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Bristol Technical Education Center 431 Minor Street, Bristol, CT 860.584.8433 CTHSS MFG PROGRAM OPEN HOUSE

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Goodwin Technical High School 735 Slater Road, New Britain, CT 860.827.7736 CTHSS MFG PROGRAM OPEN HOUSE

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Kaynor Technical High School 43 Tompkins Street, Waterbury, CT 203.596.4302

Tuesday, October 16th PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE

10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. AdChem Manufacturing Technologies 369 Progress Drive, Manchester, CT 860.645.0592

Wednesday, October 17th

Wednesday, October 24th

4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Quinebaug Valley Comm. College 742 Upper Maple St., Danielson, CT 860.412.7200

7:30 to 11:00 a.m. CONNSTEP: Business Growth Over Breakfast Inn at Middletown, Middletown, CT 860.529.5120 pre-registration required:



1:00 to 6:00 p.m. ACM: Trade Show Hartford/Windsor Airport Marriott 860.513.3205 pre-registration required:

Friday, October 19th PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE

8:00 to 11:00 a.m. Manchester Community College 161 Hillstown Road, Manchester, CT 860.512.3000



1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Peter Paul Electronics Co, Inc. 480 John Downey Drive, New Britain, CT 860.229.4884

Friday, October 26th


9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eli Whitney Technical High School 71 Jones Street, Hamden, CT 203.397.4031

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Norwich Technical High School 7 Mahan Drive, Norwich, CT 860.889.8943

Saturday, October 20th PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Middlesex Community College 34B Maynard Street, Meriden, CT 203.238.6202

10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Three Rivers Community College 574 New London Tpke, Norwich, CT 860.886.0177

Wednesday, October 30th 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. CBIA: Shaping Connecticut’s Future: A Manufacturing Policy Forum Legislative Office Building, Hartford, CT 860.244.1977 pre-registration required:

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Oliver Wolcott Technical High School 75 Oliver Street, Torrington, CT 860.496.5300 PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE


9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. O’Brien Technical High School 141 Prindle Avenue, Ansonia, CT 203.732.1800


9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Wilcox Technical High School 298 Oregon Road, Meriden, CT 203.238.6260




9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Vinal Technical High School 60 Daniels Street, Middletown, CT 860.344.7100

9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Housatonic Community College 900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport, CT 203.332.5000



9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Aerospace Alloys, Inc. 11 Britton Drive, Bloomfield, CT 860.882.0019



9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Platt Technical High School 600 Orange Avenue, Milford, CT 203.783.5300 CTHSS MFG PROGRAM OPEN HOUSE

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Windham Technical High School 210 Birch Street, Willimantic, CT 860.456.3879

6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Northwestern CT Community College 2 Park Place, Winsted, CT 860.738.6300

MUSEUM OF CONNECTICUT HISTORY ERIC SLOANE MUSEUM AND KENT IRON FURNACE The Eric Sloane Museum exhibits the hand tool collection of artist and author Eric Sloane whose books captured the work environment of early rural New England. In addition to the museum, the remains of the Kent Iron Company’s blast furnace can also be viewed on the grounds. Location: 31 Kent Cornwall Road, Kent, CT 06757 Hours: May – October, Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm Website:

At the Museum of Connecticut History, you’ll find exhibits that trace the growth of the state and its role in the development of the nation, including the Colt Firearms Collection featuring the Gatling Guns which can fire 300 rounds per minute. Colt helped make Connecticut a major center of firearms manufacturing throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Location: 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106 Hours: Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm, Saturday 9am – 2pm Website:

CONNECTICUT ANTIQUE MACHINERY MUSEUM The Connecticut Antique Machinery Museum is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and demonstration of antique machinery from our rich industrial past, revolving around machinery that made Connecticut great. Exhibits include a Wolverine Diesel Engine built in Bridgeport, a large collection of operable steam engines, and a fully functional blacksmith shop.

Windso Kent

Location: 31 Kent Cornwall Road, Kent, CT 06757 Hours: May – October, Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm Website:

AMERICAN CLOCK MUSEUM Promoting the history of American-made clocks and watches Learn about American clock & watch making with an emphasis on Connecticut, once the clock capital of the United States. The museum holds the largest display of American-made clocks and watches in the world, with over 5,500 in the collection! Be sure to “Meet the Ol’ Cranks” on the first and third Fridays of each month.





Location: 100 Maple Street, Bristol, CT 06010 Hours: 10am – 5pm until December 2, 2012 Off-season hours: by appointment only. Website:

Hamde LOCK MUSEUM OF AMERICA The Lock Museum of America was built in 1972; the museum houses eight display rooms, each with a unique focus on the eras of lock making and specific lock and hardware types. One of the primary attractions is the original patent model of the Mortise Cylinder Pin Tumbler Lock designed by Linus Yale Jr. in 1865. Location: 230 Main Street (Route 6), Terryville, CT 06786 Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Sunday 1:30pm – 4:30 pm (May 7 – October 31)

MATTATUCK MUSEUM TIMEXPO: THE TIMEX MUSEUM The Timex Museum is housed in a historical brass mill building with three floors of educational, nostalgic, and interactive exhibits. Explore their collection of magnificent timepieces and innovations dating back to the Waterbury Clock Company where integrity and cutting-edge technology laid the foundation for Timex. Location: 175 Union Street, Waterbury, CT 06706 Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm Website: design:

The Mattatuck Museu the height of manufac their permanent histo metal manufacturing Naugatuck Valley. Th Waterbury’s industria images and a display factories.

Location: 144 West Main Hours: Tuesday through and Sunday, noon to 5 pm Website: www.mattatuc

NEW ENGLAND AIR MUSEUM The New England Air Museum is the largest aviation museum in New England. The museum houses over 80 aircraft and an extensive collection of engines, instruments, aircraft parts, uniforms, and personal memorabilia, including an expertly restored B-29 Superfortress, the Bunce-Curtiss Pusher, the oldest surviving Connecticut-built airplane, and the Sikorsky S-39, the oldest surviving Sikorsky aircraft. Location: 36 Perimeter Road, Windsor Locks, CT Hours: Open daily from 10am – 5pm Website:

CT HISTORICAL SOCIETY & MUSEUM Founded in 1825, the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) is a non-profit museum, research library, and education center. Visitors of all ages can explore hands-on, award-winning exhibits, participate in public programs, workshops, activities and tours, plus visit the research center to discover their own family history with access to millions of manuscripts, books, images, and artifacts. Location: One Elizabeth Street, Hartford, CT 06105 Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Friday, 12pm – 5pm and Saturday, 9am – 5pm Website:

or Locks


Willimantic Hartford

w Britain


um transports you back to cturing in the region with ory exhibit. Fifty years ago was the lifeblood of the is exhibit examines al past through oral histories, of machinery used in these

n Street, Waterbury, CT 06702 Saturday, 10am to 5pm, m

NEW BBRITAIN ITA N INDUSTRIAL INDUSTR AL MUSEUM At the he New wB Britain ita n Industria Industrial Museum you wil will discover the vast array of items pioneered an and produced produ d edd in nN New B Br Britain, ain i th the H Hardware rdw dwar C Capit Capital it of the he Wo World. ld From hhooks ok and eeyes es produced byy hand ha d iin the early 1800’s to FFafnir fni bearings, the museum’s co collection ect on celebr celebrates tes the city’s contribution co tributi n to manu manufacturing ac uring worldwide. Location: 185 Main Street, New Britain CT Location: CT Hours: Ho Hours H rs: 2pm – 5pm Monday Monday – Friday, F 12pm 2 – 5pm Wednesday or by appointment appo ntment Website:: www Website nbim

Established in 1864, Cedar Hill Cemetery encompasses 270 acres of landscaped woodlands, waterways and memorial grounds. More than 32,000 people have chosen Cedar Hill as their final resting place, including several notable residents who made significant contributions to Connecticut industry; Samuel Colt, Francis A. Pratt, and Amos Whitney. Location: 453 Fairfield Avenue, Hartford, CT 06114 Hours: Everyday from sunrise to sunset Website:

WINDHAM TEXTILE & HISTORY MUSEUM Located in the historic former headquarters of the American Thread Company, the Windham Textile Museum preserves and interprets the history of textiles, textile arts and the textile industry, with special emphasis on the experiences of the craftspeople, industrial workers, manufacturers, inventors, designers, and consumers. Location: 411 Main Street, Willimantic, CT 06226 Hours: Friday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm Website:

Industrial Tourism

THE ELI WHITNEY MUSEUM The Eli Whitney Museum was established in 1979 on the site where Whitney transformed American manufacturing in 1798. The Museum is a teaching workshop and design center. They design projects to enrich the depth and scope of hands-on learning and are the third largest provider of educational programs in the state. Location: 915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, CT 06517 Hours: Walk in projects available during open hours on Saturday (10am – 3pm) and Sunday (12pm – 5pm) Website:



Current State, Future State

To commemorate Connecticut Dream It. Do It. Manufacturing Month, CONNSTEP talked with leaders from some of the state’s key industries to examine their condition in 2012. How have they weathered the recent economic slowdown and what is the forecast going forward?

While the high cost of doing business in Connecticut and the perennial search for skilled labor is consistent across industries, each of these companies offers a unique perspective, with lessons and cautionary notes that can relate to all.



Vol. 2, No. 3

By Susie Zimmermann Photographs by Jennifer Fiereck and Nick Caito

registration number to set up an ancillary business. Firms seeking building permits to enable expansion may likely experience similar delays. In spite of the state’s higher cost of living, however, Guertin credits the per capita income in the state and the high caliber of employees as a plus for Connecticut’s businesses. As other commercial printers have shut their doors, Specialty has benefitted from the availability of skilled print operators who find themselves out of work. “Or if we can’t find people with the skills we need, we look for people with good raw technical and people skills who share our work ethic, and we will train them,” Guertin explains.

Specialty Printing

East Windsor, CT Unlike many of its commercial printing peers, Specialty Printing’s business has been stable over the last few years and this year the company has experienced unusually good growth. “A lot of the pent-up demand is beginning to give way as customers seem to be more comfortable introducing new products,” says Bob Guertin, chief financial officer. “People are beginning to realize that they can’t stay still forever.” Specialty Printing manufactures pressure-sensitive labels and related products for retail, medical facilities, restaurants, post offices and warehouses nationwide. The explosion of the digital age as a primary means of communication has made the need for large-scale printing nearly obsolete in many instances, and many commercial printers have suffered greatly. In contrast, Specialty Printing’s focus on package printing for shortrun jobs has kept it strongly in the game. Yet Specialty shares the concerns of other firms that the cost of operating a business in Connecticut makes it hard to compete with lower-cost regions elsewhere in the country. The state’s labor and energy costs, and an overall higher cost of living create operational and recruiting challenges. “Companies are going out of business or just leaving the state,” says Guertin, who’s also on the board for the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut. “And unfortunately, state legislators are only recently beginning to consider that these departures may not be company-specific, but in fact are representative of bigger problems.” Local regulations, restrictions and bureaucracy may also be compounding the challenges that businesses face to expand. Guertin reports it took 17 weeks to receive a

“Manufacturing has lost much of its glamour and personality, and it’s much less a career goal for young people today. That’s unfortunate because we all know of the great opportunities in manufacturing, and that small companies drive overall business growth,” argues Guertin. And with the tight workforce, Guertin has observed great mobility among employees, so he advises companies to invest in making their businesses attractive to retain employees. What does Guertin suggest the state’s businesses do to stay competitive and strong in the years to come? “Embrace technology and be vigilant about driving costs out of processes wherever possible. Strengthen your organization by always hiring the most talented individuals you can find. Seek out the financing to invest in new equipment that will improve productivity. Consider new business opportunities that may vary from your traditional business focus. And always think strategically and globally.”

Hologic, Inc.

Danbury, CT Hologic is a leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of premium diagnostic products, medical imaging systems and surgical products dedicated to serving the healthcare needs of women. More than sixty percent of the digital mammography systems in the U.S. are made by Hologic. The company has a comparable share in many other countries of the world. In FY 2011, revenues from Hologic’s breast health business headquartered in their Danbury location accounted for almost 40% of the company’s overall revenue. One of Hologic’s newest technologies is 3D mammography (breast tomosynthesis). Unlike


when manufacturing thrived and one classified ad would generate many qualified responses. Today, those engineers and other manufacturing personnel that companies like Hologic seek are hard to find, since so many have either changed careers or moved out of state. “There is some great tech talent here if you take the time to find it,” Parrilla says. “We are pleased to see the State focus on growing the labor force.”

Hologic’s Michael Parrilla with Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal during the Senator’s recent visit.

conventional 2D mammography where the presence of overlapping breast tissue can make it more difficult to detect cancer, the Hologic 3D mammography procedure allows doctors to see the breast more clearly. As a result, fewer women are called back for additional testing because of false positive results and clinicians report that the Hologic 3D mammography procedure detects cancers that may have been missed by 2D mammography. The company is enthusiastic about its market position and potential as it looks ahead. Michael Parrilla, senior vice president hopes to grow the plant and its labor force in Connecticut to meet increased sales forecasts. Yet Parrilla knows it won’t be easy to find in Connecticut the well-trained and experienced workers it will seek. “It’s expensive to both manufacture and live here,” he says, citing high tax rates among other costs. He remembers “the old days”

For the medical device industry overall, Parrilla is glad to see that the migration of manufacturing overseas in the 70s and 80s is reversing, “for all the right reasons,” as firms are recognizing that these moves did not always reduce costs or ensure quality products. Hologic’s supply chain is vast and some of its suppliers and partners have felt tremendous pressure to achieve cost-effectiveness to stay profitable. This has lead to consolidation in some cases, and Hologic has had to change some of its sources as it continues to look for the most economical, highest quality products with the best technology.

Spectrum Plastics Ansonia, CT For the plastics industry, recent years have indeed been a challenge. Companies

Bob Guertin, Specialty Printing


Vol. 2, No. 3

In spite of these barriers, Spectrum Plastics is growing. “We have had to reinvent ourselves,” explains Kelly. When the company’s electronics molding business was largely lost to Asia in 2002-2003, the company ventured into the medical device market. The move required capital investments in the facility and equipment to attract the top customers in that market. Spectrum also found similar

“Like our suppliers, we too are continually examining cost reductions and quality and tech improvements,” Parrilla notes. As with any successful business today, it’s the only way to stay competitive and profitable.”

“Manufacturing has lost much of its glamour and personality, and it’s much less a career goal for young people today. That’s unfortunate because we all know of the great opportunities in manufacturing, and that small companies drive overall business growth.”


are still losing business overseas. Making capital investments is challenging. And the numbers of skilled laborers is low. David Kelly, general manager of Spectrum Plastics Group acknowledges that the state’s high school manufacturing training programs to cultivate future workers are promising, “but it’s still difficult to grow your business in Connecticut. Sometimes it seems the only way to find the right people is when other companies go under.”

Doug Rose, president of AeroGear

opportunity in another new market: aerospace and defense. The change in direction required capital investments at a time when capital was hard to come by, but today the company is seeing that payoff in continued year over year growth. The other key to Spectrum’s recent success has been its expansion (through acquisitions and partnerships with other companies) to be able to service all of a client’s needs, from new product development through process validation and assembly. “Many other companies in plastics don’t have this all-inone capability that customers now want. As a result, many of the old mom-and-pop shops

“We need to be ready at any time to seize new opportunities.” Doug Rose, AeroGear

are going out of business.” He notes that the competition in his area has dramatically decreased while Spectrum has enjoyed doubledigit growth, due in large part to its multi-site business strategy. Customers are also looking for customization— in their products and even in their financing. “Eight years ago,” says Kelly, “the price was the price. Now customers ask how they can get it cheaper or how they can amortize the cost to make it work within their own budgets.” Of equal importance to Spectrum’s growth is its commitment to client relationships and understanding client needs. Spectrum also focuses efforts to develop and maintain the in-house skills and capital that will deliver what his customers need to be successful. “It’s important to have true ‘can-do’ engineers who are never afraid to push the limits for the customer.” As much time as he focuses on his customer relationships, Kelly also takes time to maintain a good working environment for his team. For him, it’s the relationship building that he has always loved about his business: “It’s what gets me out of bed everyday.”

Bob Guertin, CFO, Specialty Printing

Aero Gear Windsor, CT In aerospace, the pendulum between commercial and military business goes back and forth, and Aero Gear’s balance is typical for the state. “Three years ago we had 60% military and 40% commercial, and in two years it will reverse,” explains Doug Rose, president. While a company’s business stability will largely depend on the engines and aircraft program it is part of, Rose says that today the commercial side is strengthening and the military may be dropping in the face of looming deficit reduction spending decreases. “But given today’s unstable world, those numbers will likely continue to shift selectively into the future.” The long lead times in the industry also contribute to relatively consistent and stable business. Still, like in other industries, Aero Gear and its aerospace and defense peers continue to face plenty of challenges. For one, the worldwide nature of the supply chains leads to intense pricing pressures. Finding skilled workers to replace retiring specialists is also a challenge, as it is in other industries in Connecticut. Aerospace is also more vulnerable than other industries to fluctuations in overseas markets. “The very nature of today’s uncertain global economic climate can lead us all to hold back on purchases of new equipment, even though those investments may be critical for growth,” says Rose.

other regions don’t have. Much of our work includes specialized process and raw materials that our local support network quickly and easily provides, and this saves time and cost for our customers.” This unique concentration of specialists makes it hard for any new competitors to open business elsewhere. Aerospace and defense companies are working cooperatively to strengthen their core businesses through the Aerospace Component Manufacturers (ACM), which works on such mutual projects as workforce development, marketing, and Lean and advanced manufacturing.

Staff member at Spectrum Plastics in Ansonia

Particularly in a high-cost state like Connecticut, Aero Gear and others in the industry know that they need to be productive to be affordable, keep up with the latest technologies and maintain a highly skilled workforce. Rose also advises companies to continue to refine their strategies and processes to be agile so they can respond to market changes, short lead requests, pricing pressures and the global economy. “We need to be ready at any time to seize new opportunities.” - SZ

One major competitive advantage for Connecticut’s aerospace firms is what is known as Aerospace Alley, the concentration in the state of related firms and suppliers. Rose explains, “It’s a pretty unique and valuable cluster, one that


>>> Serving Connecticut Manufacturing government together on such critical policy issues as taxes, energy, the environment, and workplace conditions and benefits. The 2012 Manufacturing Policy Forum: Shaping Connecticut’s Future on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford—will prominently position manufacturers before policymakers. Everyday Needs We also address manufacturers’ everyday needs. CBIA seminars, webinars, and conferences help manufacturers run their businesses, increase profitability and competitiveness, and comply with complex state and federal regulations. Manufacturers need reliable, affordable energy to power their operations, and our Energy Connections program is helping them meet that need. We also help our members develop or obtain funding for critical capital or workforce improvements.

CBIA: Helping Manufacturers Shape Connecticut’s Future Manufacturing has shaped the story of Connecticut and America for centuries. With Yankee ingenuity and impressive productivity, Connecticut manufacturers have driven our state’s economy and improved lives throughout the United States and across the globe. CBIA - the Connecticut Business and Industry Association - is proud to be part of this story. Manufacturers’ Voice For 197 years we have been the voice of Connecticut’s manufacturers and all businesses in the halls of state government. Our heritage traces back to the pioneering Society for the Encouragement of Connecticut Manufactories, formed just after the War of 1812 by the state’s leading businesspeople.

member manufacturers represent the great, worldchanging diversity of industries and innovators in Connecticut. Our job is to help Connecticut businesses succeed through a wide range of resources they need every day to work more efficiently and compete more vigorously. We do this through advocacy efforts, programs, products and services that testify to the commitment we have made to equipping Connecticut manufacturers to thrive in the global economy.

CBIA solutions for healthcare, retirement plans, workers’ compensation, life insurance, and other needs enable our members to offer their employees excellent benefits. Free member benefits include expert advice on HR and business topics from taxes to wage and hour issues. Vital to Our Future We know that manufacturing is absolutely vital to Connecticut’s overall economic health and wellbeing. And we’re proud of the manufacturers we represent - for what they have accomplished and all that they promise for Connecticut. They are, after all, key to shaping our future. We thank and salute them during Connecticut Manufacturing Month.

Capitol Ideas At the State Capitol, we champion policies promoting economic growth, a fiscally responsible state government, and a dynamic business climate that allows businesses to grow and flourish here.

Connecticut Business & Industry Association

Our CBIA research studies routinely gauge the perspectives of manufacturing executives and identify the specific needs of their businesses.


Today, CBIA is the largest and most representative business organization in the state, with 10,000 member companies.

And because manufacturers need a steady supply of highly skilled workers, CBIA’s Education Foundation has worked with policymakers and educators for decades to bring a real-world focus to our education system.

From small tooling shops to biosciences incubators and large multinational defense corporations, CBIA

Working side-by-side with Connecticut manufacturers, we help bring industry and

350 Church Street Hartford, CT 06106-1126

>>> Serving Connecticut Manufacturing It. coalition of business and trade associations, educational institutions, economic development organizations and manufacturers will continue to focus on enhancing Connecticut’s manufacturing workforce. The initiative supports the use of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)endorsed Skills Certification System to help increase the number of prepared applicants for manufacturing jobs. Launched in December 2010, Connecticut. Dream It. Do It., which is administered by CCAT, is modeled after the Manufacturing Institute’s (MI) national Dream It. Do It. program.

Enhancing Tomorrow’s Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Today CCAT leads initiatives to increase competitiveness, showcase manufacturing and promote its rewarding career paths. The economic outlook for advanced manufacturing in the state is bright and opportunities for the next generation of manufacturing workers are here today and growing. “We know that manufacturing companies in Connecticut are eager to hire a qualified workforce to meet their present needs, and that they are anxious to address the anticipated gap that will be created due to the graying of their current workforce,” stated Elliot Ginsberg, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technologies (CCAT) president and chief executive officer. “At CCAT, we promote partnerships between industry, academia and government in the region to create a new collaborative framework for addressing these 21st-century workforce and economic challenges.” October Proclaimed Manufacturing Month In recognition of the importance of manufacturing

to Connecticut’s economic prosperity, Governor Dannel P. Malloy has officially proclaimed October as Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. Manufacturing Month in Connecticut. Manufacturing Month is a part of the Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. initiative to help raise a positive awareness of manufacturing and the rewarding careers it offers. The month kicks off on October 6 with “Manufacturing Mania” at the Hartford State Armory. Mania-goers will discover the stories behind great Connecticut-made products and learn about manufacturing career opportunities through exhibits by manufacturers. As Manufacturing Month continues, activities statewide will showcase manufacturing, building on the Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. initiative. Open house activities will be held at the Connecticut community colleges and technical high schools that offer manufacturing programs. Manufacturers across the state will open their doors for the public to see what today’s manufacturing really looks like. Going forward, the Connecticut. Dream It. Do

Technology Advancement In addition to addressing current and future workforce demands, a key asset in CCAT’s effort to serve the manufacturing sector is its state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC). Centrally located at the United Technologies Research Center’s East Hartford campus, the AMC houses 3- and 5-axis mill and mill/turn machines, industrial lasers, modeling/simulation software and scanning/ metrology equipment. To ensure that CCAT is the go-to resource and best practices partner for manufacturers, the AMC frequently updates its equipment to offer customers the latest in high technology to support their short- and long-term needs. “At CCAT, we strive continually to enhance our customers’ competitiveness and technological leadership,” said Ginsberg. “With the expert staff and equipment capabilities of the AMC, we are able to customize solutions that streamline production processes, improve quality and help provide the critical competitive edge that will prepare manufacturers today for the changes of tomorrow.”

Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology 222 Pitkin Street, Suite 101 East Hartford, Connecticut 06108


>>> Serving Connecticut Manufacturing federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or other federal funds. Other SBI funding enables Connecticut manufacturers to design and develop innovations that diversify their portfolio of products or markets. Yet another initiative helps companies secure and pay for student interns. In addition to offering financial support, Deb and her team manage programs that offer business-related matchmaking, mentoring, STEM educational challenges and other highly effective services in support of economic and job growth. One of SBI’s newest programs is the Technology Talent Bridge Program, designed to cultivate (and retain) local talent and fuel the growth of the tech sector through internships for college students at small, high-tech companies. The program, launched in April, has been so successful in such a short time that CI recently extended funding to support additional student internships. CI’s funding requests are evaluated initially by CI staff and ultimately presented to the CI Board of Directors for review and action.

Connecticut Innovations Now Offers More Financing Programs

urban infrastructure, employment and tax revenues. Companies may apply for direct, guaranteed or participating loans; brownfield clean-up loans; industrial bonds; and other forms of debt assistance.

CI’s equity and risk capital investment initiatives, geared to emerging technology-based companies, are led by Peter Longo, who is assisted by a team of investment managers. These initiatives spur Now that Connecticut Innovations (CI) has merged growth in Connecticut’s technology sector – in areas with the Connecticut Development Authority including bioscience, information technology, clean (CDA), it can provide more financing programs tech, photonics and advanced materials. In addition than it could before. In addition to providing equity to providing vital, early-stage capital, CI offers its and risk capital investments and Small Business portfolio companies strategic guidance, mentoring, Innovation (SBI) funding and support, CI now marketing support and introductions to valuable offers Connecticut companies a broad array of business resources, including potential investors. This debt financing options. combination of funding and guidance is designed CI’s debt financing The combined entity will make it to help companies reach team, led by P. Joseph their potential. easier and more efficient to offer Harpie, provides capital Connecticut-based manufacturers and to help businesses CI also has a team grow in Connecticut other Connecticut companies a variety dedicated to helping when private sector small, technology-based of investment and assistance tools to lenders are unable to companies innovate, help them innovate and grow. accommodate their find collaborators – from financial needs. Joe industry, academia and his team of loan and government – and officers evaluate applicant companies across commercialize technologies. That is the SBI team, several parameters, including financial capacity, headed by Deb Santy. Through this team, CI ownership and their contributions to Connecticut’s provides funding to businesses to help accelerate economy, technology base, intellectual capital, and commercialize research conducted using

Historically, CI collaborated with CDA on financial assistance packages to help companies grow and prosper in our state. The combined entity will make it easier and more efficient to offer Connecticutbased manufacturers and other Connecticut companies a variety of investment and assistance tools to help them innovate and grow. Detailed information on CI’s initiatives can be found at and www.ctcda. com. Soon the full complement of CI initiatives will appear on one site: You may also contact us at

Connecticut Innovations 865 Brook Street Rocky Hill, Connecticut 06067

>>> Serving Connecticut Manufacturing leader in energy issues in the state, operating the longest-running and most successful natural gas aggregation project in the state. With the first-ever license to aggregate electricity buyers, MAC has established the state’s premier electric purchasing pool. MAC has also involved itself in other activities, such as insurance programs, health benefit education, environmental issues, internet security education, manufacturing training, human resource solutions and many other member-driven projects. Our staff members serve on a variety of statewide panels, commissions, study groups and committees working on behalf of manufacturers. Working with MASC, the Manufacturing Alliance Service Center, a 501 (c) (3) educational entity; MAC members have access to courses in blueprint reading, math, theory, CNC training and supervisory skills. MAC is working on several new initiatives that will benefit the manufacturing community and we look forward to rolling out those programs as we begin our third decade of service to our constituents.

The Voice of Connecticut Manufacturers at the State Capitol MAC 20 Years of Service to the Connecticut Manufacturing Industry MAC is currently celebrating its twentieth year of service to the Connecticut manufacturing sector. Born as a result of a severe industry crisis, the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut has grown into one of the state’s most influential voices for manufacturers and manufacturing issues. In 1992, Connecticut was in the midst of an economic downturn that threatened to undermine the state’s 200-year-old tradition of manufacturing excellence. More than 120,000 manufacturing jobs had been lost, and there was no apparent end in sight. Each day brought word of more layoffs, shutdowns and relocations. Two groups of manufacturers – one in Bristol, one in New Haven – had coalesced to address the unparalleled epidemic of manufacturing job losses. By mid-1992, the two had joined forces to become the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut.

MAC was incorporated in September of that year with 39 member companies. In the years since then, MAC has grown into the largest trade association in Connecticut dedicated solely to manufacturing issues. Over the years, in conjunction with our lobbying firm, Gaffney Bennett and Associates, MAC has worked tirelessly to improve the manufacturing climate of our state. Among our many accomplishments, we have become a quick resource for access to state and federal elected officials. MAC successfully lobbied to eliminate the gross receipts tax (GET) on the electric and natural gas bills and fought for the elimination of sales tax on manufacturing repair and replacement parts. From the workers’ compensation reforms of 1993 through the electric deregulation legislation and beyond, MAC has been involved in legislation that is saving manufacturers more than 1.5 billion dollars. Legislative successes are just the beginning of MAC’s involvement with improving the state’s manufacturing climate. We have become the

Over the years, MAC membership and activity have increased. At the State Capitol, MAC is a known and respected organization, working with both legislative leaders and the rank-and-file. MAC is member-driven. Members shape MAC programs, services and legislative initiatives. We dedicate our resources to your issues manufacturing issues. It is MAC’s position that the most qualified group to protect the interests of manufacturing is manufacturers.

Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut 173 Interstate Lane Waterbury, Connecticut 06705-2661


>>> Serving Connecticut Manufacturing skills to read prints and transform them into metal parts. You must be every bit the professional and not the “blue collar worker.” NESMA is trying to convince educators that Connecticut needs more technical graduates than in the past. Many students who graduate from college today cannot find work, but if they had technical and manufacturing experience they would have no difficulty. NESMA wants the educational system to recognize this and make a course correction. And NESMA is trying to convince well meaning legislators that initiatives, which they see as pro manufacturing, are not really helping the manufacturing base if their initiatives only help larger manufacturers and do nothing for the small shop. In recent years NESMA has worked closely with “Bristol Tech” to fulfill manufacturing supply needs and to borrow spring manufacturing equipment from various sources. NESMA has done this so Bristol Tech’s manufacturing program can promote spring manufacturing and manufacturing in general, as a career path.

Working together to develop the next generation workforce NESMA (The New England Spring and Metalstamping Association) began in 1956 in Bristol, Connecticut. Members of NESMA manufacture precision mechanical springs including wire forms, 4 slide and stamped parts. From its inception, the founding members realized that the two most important benefits it could offer its members were: 1) contribute to the need for a skilled and trained labor force and 2) work with the state authorities to promote manufacturing in Connecticut.

Now through strategic alliances with the Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce and the Bristol Technical Education Center, NESMA has tried to breathe life into its educational and political endeavors. NESMA realized that both educators and legislators do not often understand precisely what manufacturers need and want. In addition, manufacturing advocates must compete with other groups for diminished resources which means NESMA must have a laser beam focus when communicating with the to show educators powers that be.

In 1973 NESMA formalized its efforts NESMA is trying for a skilled labor force and legislators what kind of by developing Spring labor pool is needed for today’s Academy through the NESMA is trying to city of Bristol and the show educators and manufacturing environment. State of Connecticut to legislators what kind of promote manufacturing labor pool is needed for as a career option. In today’s manufacturing the fall of 1973 thirty students enrolled in the environment. The reality is you must be as much program at the Eastern High School. The program a computer operator/programmer as machinist was quite successful for several years but as grant to operate third, fourth or fifth generation CNC money disappeared the program waned. machines. You must have the math and technical

NESMA is currently evaluating the possibility of using the organization as a catalyst to unify the many different initiatives with the common goals of promoting technical education and assisting the small manufacturer in Connecticut. By doing so NESMA wants to offer the most powerful benefit to its members both for today and for the future. In addition to these efforts, NESMA does fulfill its social side. It just conducted its most successful golf outing to date and is now working on its Holiday Party.

New England Spring & Metalstamping Association 200 Main Street Bristol, Connecticut 06010


>>> Serving Connecticut Manufacturing What people say about the NHMA Ken Dugan, Managing Partner, Prestige Tool Manufacturing Company, “As a small shop (5 employees) I have limited time away from the shop, and a low budget for workshops and seminars. I was able to learn about worker training methods by other manufacturers and Lean office methods at NHMA’s lunch programs for $15, including lunch.” Senator Gary LeBeau, Chairman Connecticut Legislative Commerce Committee, “When I wanted to know the manufacturers view on the effect of equipment personal property tax legislation on their investment plans, I met with NHMA members.” NHMA Goals • Provide a forum where area manufacturers can get together in the spirit of information exchange and cooperation.

Current NHMA President Bill Neale with immediate Past President Alex Sommers at the 2012 NHMA Annual Meeting.

Building Community, Creating Positive Impact The NHMA (New Haven Manufacturer’s Association), founded in 1913, promotes and advocates causes important to the manufacturing community, educates members on business, and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and issues. Executives from member firms get together at regular bi-weekly meetings. Meetings include short presentations from local business, educational or government leaders, as well as, company tours and “round table” issue discussions.

Our membership consists of both manufacturing and non-manufacturing members. Non-manufacturing members function as advisors to the manufacturing members where a “non-selling” approach is encouraged by the organization and accepted by the members. Our diverse membership includes firms in fields such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, NHMA, founded in 1913, promotes instrumentation, and advocates causes important to the information systems, consulting, metalworking, manufacturing community, educates gas and electric utilities, members on business, and provides a banking, insurance, forum for the exchange of ideas and education and more.


Over the years, our meetings have led to many positive developments for both the members companies and their individual representatives. Our unique forum of community and business leaders focused on manufacturing is unavailable through any other organization.

Although our members currently employ over 12,000 people, it is vital that the manufacturing community in Connecticut continue to build a stronger identity by attracting more manufacturers to join our association. The low cost of membership combined with the targeted high-value services provided, make membership in the association a must for any area manufacturer that is serious about growing his or her business.

Provide networking opportunities for executives of a diverse group of area business.

Educate our members and provide relevant information through selected speakers during association meetings.

Bring critical issues to our state legislature and local governments through our alliance with other regional and state organization.

Promote manufacturing growth and opportunities for manufacturing companies.

New Haven Manufacturer’s Association P.O. Box 3657 Woodbridge, Connecticut 06525

203.387.5121 @nhmamfg

>>> Serving Connecticut Manufacturing general meetings. With the need for a skilled workforce being an on-going concern for manufacturers, the SMA tries to educate students and their parents about the opportunities available in the manufacturing industry. Members often offer tours of their facilities to interested students and their parents. Working closely with the technical schools results in greater synergy between the skills of students and needs of manufacturers. The addition of the Advanced Manufacturing Tech Center at Naugatuck Valley Community College and involvement with apprenticeship programs serve to address workforce needs of manufacturing. With an ever changing, demanding industry, the SMA provides resources to help Connecticut’s smaller manufacturers thrive.

Collaborating to Promote Connecticut’s Small Manufacturers The Smaller Manufacturers Association of Connecticut, known as the SMA, was incorporated in 1949. The SMA is an organization that serves to promote and advocate the causes of smaller manufacturing firms in all facets of their business.

In support of member manufacturers, the SMA focuses its efforts in the areas of programs, legislation, education, and membership services. It is the goal of each committee to deliver the best product(s) available to our members.

Our membership of Whether collaborating over 130 companies with other associations is comprised of both or addressing a manufacturing and particular need of a non-manufacturing manufacturing member, In support of member manufacturers, members. The mix the goal is to support the SMA focuses its efforts in the of the membership manufacturing in areas of programs, legislation, allows for industry Connecticut. education, and membership services. focused networking, aligning the needs of Recently the SMA our manufacturers established a with the support scholarship fund. This services of our nonfund enables the SMA manufacturing in a non-sales environment. to annually award two scholarships. Recipients are chosen from member companies employees’ General membership dinner meetings are held families. This effort was the latest addition to a monthly allowing time for networking, dinner and long-time focus on future workforce development. a presentation. Monthly programs focus on topics of interest to manufacturing. Recent topics have The SMA is very active with area technical high included: OSHA, healthcare, energy, and grant/ schools on various projects. A “Student of the funding opportunities. Month” from each school is recognized at our

Smaller Manufacturers Association of Connecticut P.O. Box 2025 Waterbury, Connecticut 06722


>>> Serving Connecticut Manufacturing

the arena of manufacturing. As manufacturing companies further explore and recruit this potential-filled, talented group, they derive incredible benefit. Connecting students with internships and positions in this field exposes them to job opportunities they may never have considered in the past. It will provide them with the proper tools, training, and experience to work and grow at a manufacturing company. Companies that take advantage of investing in these young, educated leaders will give themselves a leg up against their competitors. Interns can offer innovation and help increase productivity in the work place. There is an endless amount of value that can come from integrating interns into the manufacturing world. If interested in pursuing the option of having a talent young professional join your team as an intern or if you would like more information, please contact The University of Connecticut School of Business Career Center at 860-486-5136 or email us at

Next Generation Workforce Next Generation Skills Have you ever considered the value of hiring a young, bright, quick- thinking, fast- paced individual, or team of individuals, as interns? College students have a vast set of skills and are eager to gain valuable experience and knowledge about what it’s like to work in a new and changing work environment. Manufacturing companies historically have gained tremendously from investing in the hiring of student interns. Recently, the School of Business students from the University of Connecticut have added value to start-ups and small businesses by assisting companies in developing advertising strategies utilizing their skills in social media.

students know how to use marketing tools to reach an expansive audience. Manufacturing companies can benefit from a having a new set of eyes and ears to give a new perspective. School of Business students and graduates with degrees in Finance, Management, Marketing, Management Information Systems, and more, are all wellequipped and prepared with an expertise in a particular field that can be extremely beneficial to manufacturing companies.

Companies that take advantage of investing in these young, educated leaders will give themselves a leg up against their competitors.

Growing up in the age of technology, these

This diverse, educated group of students has also exposed themselves to many leadership opportunities while at the University of Connecticut. Whether it’s holding an executive position in an organization, being a student ambassador, or starting a new club, these students are all very qualified. Many however may be unaware of the vast opportunities that exist in

The University of Connecticut School of Business Career Center 2100 Hillside Road Unit 1041 Storrs, Connecticut 06269


Blazing a New Path

>> for more examples of Lean Manufacturing transformations, improving the performance, quality and profitability of Connecticut companies, visit



Vol. 2, No. 3

Lean has turned up the heat at Metallurgical Processing, Inc. and their continuous improvement culture is white hot!

by Michael Perrelli Photographs by Jennifer Fiereck


etallurgical Processing Inc. was

incorporated by John and Vera Ritoli in 1957. With four expansions in its first twenty years, the company gained a reputation among area businesses as a successful “momand-pop� heat treating factory. Elena Ritoli, daughter of John and Vera, joined MPI in 1977 and worked through various departments to gain hands-on heat treating experience before taking over as president of the company. Under her direction, the facility has expanded in two stages to triple its size and will continue on as the 3rd generation of the Ritoli family with her daughter Verneen. For the past 55 years, MPI has provided a wide range of metal treating services to regional manufacturers. The 38,000 square foot facility in New Britain, Connecticut offers hardening and softening of parts for wear resistance and machinability, as well as PVD coating, cold treating, and a variety of support services.


Accepting the Invitation

no deviation. The process has to be that

In 2010, MPI was first exposed to Lean

way,” Dennis explains. “But the one thing

when they were invited by one of their

we can change is the flow of the product

key customers to participate in a two-tier

through that process. Every process has a

value stream mapping exercise. Focusing

flow to it and the tempering department

on velocity, two-tier value stream mapping

was the common denominator to our

follows the flow of a component as if the

flow problems. It was a log jam for the

customer and supplier processes were fully

entire facility.” Through a value stream


mapping exercise, Dennis and his team discovered it wasn’t the time these

“After selecting and analyzing both

products spent in the furnace, but the

obvious and hidden improvement

process of repackaging the products and

opportunities on a particular product

moving it to the next process that created

line, we saw a lot of things that we could

the bottleneck.

improve upon as a company. It was something that became an eye opening

“We had product jammed everywhere.

moment for all of us,” says Dennis Perry,

People had to search for every order

MPI’s Customer Service Manager. “The

and constantly move products around. It

opportunity was there for us to strengthen

was the nucleus of our flow problem,”

our relationship with our customer by

says Dennis. Through the initial PRIME

taking what we were able to glean from

project, CONNSTEP led MPI in a complete

the two-tier value stream map and start

reorganization of the shop floor. A

making immediate improvements.”

numbered shelving system was installed where 5s, standard work, and visual management tools were utilized to

PRIMEtime Projects Prior to launching their first Lean initiative in 2010, CONNSTEP urged MPI to seek funding through the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund’s PRIME program. Administered by Connecticut Light & Power, the PRIME program provides businesses with training in Lean Manufacturing techniques in order to streamline product flow, eliminate or reduce waste, improve production efficiency, minimize environmental impact,

Dennis Perry shows the product prior to the heat treating process.

and reduce electrical energy consumption. “When the PRIME program was offered to us, we jumped at the chance,” Dennis added.

alleviate some of the time these products spent waiting. “It was a tough task for us and it was one that involved a significant investment on the company’s part. Through the teachings and the time CONNSTEP spent here, our people were empowered to learn, implement, adjust

The heat treating process is different than manufacturing a product due to the specifications each process requires. “We are required to heat a product at a certain temperature and duration with

and develop a procedure for all the orders that come in.” While the adjustments made in the tempering department provided benefits across the board, the bottleneck wasn’t completely eliminated as product moved down the process and into the inspection

“I believe that the people we have here at MPI are our greatest Lean tool.” Verneen Ritoli

department. “The department wasn’t capable of handling the increased flow of work. It was logical for us to attack this department next,” says Dennis. In 2011, the PRIME program was again leveraged to implement standard work



Vol. 2, No. 3

President. “I believe that the people we

“Through the teachings and the time CONNSTEP spent here, our people were empowered to learn, implement, adjust and develop a procedure for all the orders that come in.” Dennis Perry

have here at MPI are our greatest Lean tool.” MPI has since embarked on an enterprise wide Lean transformation. Stretching across every department, the transformation began with all employees completing Lean awareness training. The training took place as a company wide initiative to educate the workforce about implementing continuous improvement

and a FIFO (first in, first out) system

$350,000 in retained sales, an estimated

tools and identifying waste within their

within the inspection department. “At

$180,000 in cost savings, and led to

processes. “The people here were

the outset of this project, people were

the hiring of four new employees, but

excited to get involved,” says Dennis.

working in their own silos, unaware of the

the projects have set the stage for the

“They all saw, heard, and read about the

requirements of the next process,” Dennis

employees of MPI to take their Lean

improvements made through the previous

explains. “Not only were the guys in

journey to the next level. “Our people

Lean projects and were ready to embrace

inspection completing the rush jobs first,

are the reason these initiatives have

it in their area or department.”

but non-‘hot ticket’ products would just

succeeded,” explains Verneen Ritoli, Vice “With an additional 16 managers

sit there and miss shipping deadlines. At

expected to graduate from CONNSTEP’s

the same time, people on the floor would be unaware of the sampling requirements and not bring the correct amount to

Ensuring the quality of the customer’s parts following the heat treating process.

Continuous Improvement Champion Certification program, we will have

inspection. We had people searching for

the leaders in place to leverage that

products all the time.”

eagerness and make continuous improvement a lifetime commitment.

With the FIFO system implemented

It will never be perfect, but that’s what

and employees given direction through

makes it continuous.”

standard work, an accurate flow of product and information became visible

As MPI continues to move along on

within the department. This led to a

their Lean journey, every one of their

reduction in turn time from seven days to

58 employees will be involved in their

five and a 20 percent increase in capacity.

Lean implementation initiatives in

“Everyone on the floor wonders why we

an effort to establish a sustainable

didn’t do this before. It’s hard to look

continuous improvement culture. With

at the past and think about going back

the skill set and the knowledge of

to the old way of doing business.” says

Lean manufacturing now present, the

Frank Medina, MPI’s Production Manager.

management team at MPI is confident in

“Lean and continuous improvement isn’t

their people and are planning for future

something that is going away and people


are excited about that.” - MP Ready to Move Forward Not only have the PRIME projects yielded results of $585,000 in increased sales,


Adam Wakeley of Spectrum Plastics Group in Ansonia.



Vol. 2, No. 3

next Gen Gen Y By Caren Dickman Photographs by Jennifer Fiereck


hey’re anxious to explore new fields, eager to learn and

serious about their careers. Meet the next generation – a perfect fit for modern manufacturing. “When I was younger I had no idea what a mold maker was” claims James Fuoco, 24. He just became one after completing his toolmaker apprenticeship at Spectrum Plastics Group in Ansonia, Connecticut. “I wasn’t very good in manufacturing but that’s why I chose it. I wanted to become better.” Adam Wakeley, 18, succeeded – he is now a mold maker apprentice working with James at Spectrum Plastics Group. These “Gen Y’s” are all under 25 and all graduated from vocational technical schools in Connecticut. There are other fields in which they could apply their talents but they chose manufacturing even though they weren’t sure what to expect. What they did know is that it is a large and varied industry with many opportunities. Each wants to create and build, each likes math and each likes to


work with his/her hands. James Fuoco

“Interest in the toolmaking

worked as an automotive mechanic.

trade declined over the

Dan Buyak’s choice was between

last generation, but we are

plumbing and toolmaking. Both selected

encouraged by the renewed

manufacturing because of its career

interest we see and hope that


it continues. Manufacturing is alive and well in Connecticut

Vanessa Bogus was leaning towards

and we need these workers,”

culinary arts until she explored

Cathie Pragano, Human

manufacturing. Her teacher’s

Resources Director at Stewart

enthusiasm was infectious, “He was

EFI, thinks the state and local

the best teacher I’ve ever had. He made

schools need to support this.

manufacturing look exciting. He showed me what I could do and the things I

Spectrum Plastics, Stewart

could make. It’s awesome.”

EFI, and Straton Industries are manufacturers of precision

Today’s manufacturing is clean,

products. Spectrum Plastics

high-tech, cutting-edge. It’s not

makes precision molded

what their families knew, yet their

plastics; Stewart EFI precision

families also influenced their decisions.

James Fuoco of Spectrum Plastics Group in Ansonia.

stamping; and Straton Industries, precision machining.

Engineering runs in the Buyak family blood. Dan’s father and grandfather

Adam Wakeley’s father and uncle worked

were manufacturing engineers. Dan,

in the trades. He learned a lot from them

Each of these companies have an

18, is a toolmaker apprentice at Stewart

but manufacturing was more appealing

ongoing need for skilled labor including

EFI in Thomaston, Connecticut. He is

because he knew nothing about it. Adam

toolmakers, engineers, quality inspectors,

also studying mechanical engineering at

wanted to explore it and knows he made

machine operators and others. They

Naugatuck Valley Community College. He

the right choice.

all maintain that these are the hardest positions to fill.

believes knowledge of both fields will be In spite of the economic downturn and


companies and jobs leaving, there are still

Each company uses many of the

Vanessa‘s Dad did mechanical work

many companies that are thriving here

traditional - and some not so traditional -

but she considers herself the first one

in Connecticut and to remain viable they

recruiting channels, but ultimately depend

in her family to jump into the new

need skilled employees. These companies

upon the vocational technical schools for

manufacturing world. Age 17, she is

offer solid careers and competitive salaries

qualified candidates, but find that some

a quality control inspector at Straton

– and they need the talents of people like

of the manufacturing programs in these

Industries in Stratford, Connecticut.

Adam, Vanessa, Dan and James.

schools are not as robust as they used to be. Some schools stopped offering manufacturing courses when state funding was lost. Without strong support from the state, or from their local school

“Interest in the toolmaking trade declined over the last generation, but we are encouraged by the renewed interest we see and hope that it continues. Manufacturing is alive and well in Connecticut and we need these workers.” Cathie Pragano, Stewart EFI

system, each company has to create its own solutions. Bullard-Havens Technical School in Bridgeport no longer offers a manufacturing concentration so Dave Cremins, President of Straton Industries in Stratford, Connecticut, works closely with Platt Technical High School in Milford. Platt’s manufacturing technologies



Vol. 2, No. 3

age of 50, Stewart EFI needed a creative solution for developing skilled labor. Their remedy is to expand the apprenticeship to 9,000 hours. This gives them the flexibility to customize the program but also to meet state guidelines for the 8,000 hour apprenticeship. Stewart EFI’s rotational apprenticeship program begins with 4,000 to 5,000 hours in the tool room learning all of the equipment. From there, apprentices move into the quality department for two to three weeks, then into machine maintenance to learn machine repair. Following this, apprentices move into the engineering department for two Dan Buyak works with his journeyman at Stewart EFI in Thomaston.

program has a solid reputation as

would be nice if the community colleges

being progressive and responsive. Dave

re-instated the Plastics Specialization

encouraged the school to strengthen the

Certificate Program that was available up

quality control curriculum because of its

until about five years ago.” Without it, the

importance to manufacturing. Vanessa

company relies upon Emmett O’Brien High

graduated from Platt and her interest in

School in Ansonia to feed their toolmaker

quality control landed her a position with

pipeline. To date, Spectrum has hired six

Straton Industries.

apprentices from Emmett. Once Spectrum hires apprentices, it provides them with

Straton Industries maintains a competency

on-the-job training in conjunction with

matrix for all of its employees, using

multiple mentors. They also offer seminars

cross-training to fill today’s temporary

and online training.

gaps (illness, vacation, etc.) and to prepare their workforce for tomorrow.

Cathie Pragano at Stewart EFI misses the

Their employees range in age from 17

“PTX Program” at Kaynor Technical High

to 65 and according to Dave Truax,

School in Waterbury, “This was a very

General Manager, it’s a challenge to hire

successful apprenticeship program for

completely trained employees because

toolmakers until the state stopped funding

technology changes so rapidly. “It’s also a


challenge to find quality workers because the apprenticeships are gone.”

Stewart EFI employs three current apprentices who are graduates of Oliver

Straton’s answer is to hire people who

Wolcott Technical School in Torrington.

have solid, basic knowledge and skills and

It has the fundamental manufacturing

train them in-house. Their training consists

technology curriculum shared by some

of on-the-job training, mentoring and

of the other vocational schools, but

specialized external classes. Management

they don’t teach blueprint reading, a

assigns new hires a mentor according to

manufacturing basic. The company had

their level of experience.

to hire external trainers for this and basic shop math.

John Eastham, Operations Manager at Spectrum Plastic Group, thinks “It

With 80% of their workforce over the

weeks and conclude their apprenticeship with 4,000 hours in production learning to set up machines and shadow other toolmakers. This program better matches employee skills with company needs. A journeyman leads the apprenticeship program and incorporates a team of mentors into the process. The team comes from different areas of the company, including other toolmakers and supervisors. Since the state no longer funds apprenticeship programs, this investment now falls on Stewart EFI. The company pays the state for the apprenticeship and pays the employees $1,200 to purchase the tools they will need. After all of the investment that these three companies have put into finding and training these employees, you can be sure they will protect their investment. They offer a variety of incentives including competitive salaries, ongoing learning and opportunities to advance. At the same time they are offering the next generation a chance to explore the unknown, to learn new fields and to enter exciting careers. - CD


Why NOT Manufacturing? Frank Johnson Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut These days there are countless articles that seem to write-off manufacturing in general and manufacturing jobs in particular. Do not despair, the reports of our demise are premature and do not tell the whole story. From my cat-bird seat at MAC, I have ample opportunity to interact with manufacturers. And through our affiliation with MASC, a non-profit training program for present and future manufacturing employees, I have lots of opportunity to chat with the students that are upgrading their skills in areas that include shop math, blueprint reading and CNC operator training. Many of these adult students are re-imagining their career path after either losing their jobs in another economic sector, or having tried a variety of low-paying jobs, or realizing there was no future in those endeavors. So, why not try manufacturing? The truth is that many sectors of our economy that were once considered recession-proof are turning out to be anything but. Finance, real estate, hospitality and even hospitals have been shedding jobs of late. Frank J. Johnson is the president of MAC, the

Manufacturing jobs in Connecticut pay annual wages exceeding $70,000 per year. In 2010, the average U.S. manufacturing worker earned $77,186 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all industries earned $56,436 annually. Most manufacturing jobs come with basic health care, retirement plans and good working conditions. Typically, longevity in a manufacturing job exceeds that in other sectors and advancement is almost always a possibility if an employee demonstrates good basic skills, a willingness to learn and a good work ethic. Despite all of the disparaging reports about outsourcing and off-shoring, the United States remains the world’s largest manufacturing economy producing 21% off all global products. And according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), U.S. manufacturers are the most productive workers in the world - far surpassing the worker productivity of any other major manufacturing economy, leading to higher wages and better living standards.

Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut, Inc., that he founded with two member companies in 1992. Celebrating its twentieth year of service to CT manufacturers, MAC is currently located in Waterbury. Frank is a registered lobbyist. MAC operates aggregated natural gas and electric purchasing programs to save manufacturers money on their utility purchases. Frank served on and eventually chaired The Connecticut Energy Advisory Board and served for several years on the Energy Conservation Management Board . Frank has served on numerous boards and commissions.

Manufacturing in Connecticut contributes $29 billion to the state economy representing 13% of the state’s GDP. And every manufacturing job supports employment in other sectors. Every manufacturing company uses an accounting firm, legal services, food and hospitality businesses, printing services, insurance services, shipping companies and freight carriers as well as local health care providers and hospitals. Manufacturing remains the engine of the economy; driving other sectors to success when manufacturing succeeds.

He served for twenty years as the chairman of the Bristol

Manufacturing and manufacturers built Connecticut. In the early 1900’s it was the manufacturing leaders that created the local banks. Early industrialists donated local land for parks, constructed housing, supported local charities, fostered the growth of retail businesses and, most of all, obtained the patents vital to their and our success.

He resides in Bristol with his wife Cheryl.

Almost every Connecticut native boasts of a grandfather, an uncle, or their own father coming to Connecticut to pursue a job in manufacturing, going on to build a successful career and a wellsupported family. Yet somewhere along the line these manufacturing success stories gave way to assertions that every student needs a four year college degree or better to succeed. Certainly there is value in education but just as surely there are many who are not cut out for white collar jobs but enjoy the challenge of testing their mind in other ways. Manufacturing jobs these days require logic based skills and critical thinking in addition to mechanical and computer skills. High school students, people who are displaced in other sectors and individuals looking to redirect their careers would be wise to consider training for today’s modern manufacturing jobs. The money is there, the benefits are there and yes - despite the news - the future is still there and will be for decades to come. So, WHY NOT manufacturing?



Vol. 2, No. 3

Zoning Commission, stepping aside several years ago to become chairman of the Bristol Downtown Development Corporation (BDDC). Frank is the immediate past president of the Tunxis Community College Foundation Board and is a past president of the Bristol Historical Society.


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CONNSTEP advantage magazine, Vol 2, Issue 3  

The CONNSTEP advantage magazine is published by CONNSTEP, Connecticut's Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Volume 2, Issue 3 is a special...