Before your eyes gloss over, let’s start at the beginning and explore the why, what, and how the MEP program has come to be so important to manufacturers in our country.
The decades after WWII saw a gradual decline in our US manufacturing competitiveness. Many of our production processes had become outdated and product quality and innovation lagged behind foreign competitors. In 1988, Senator Earnest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina introduced legislation that provided for the establishment of manufacturing extension centers that would help improve US manufacturing competitiveness by introducing new technologies to small and medium sized manufacturers. Kansas’ center, MAMTC, was among the first 7 MEP centers established under this program.
But just as other centers were learning, MAMTC too, discovered that helping companies with new technologies was “expensive, untested, and too complex”. The MEP centers that were now growing across the country began instead to provide shop floor assistance in areas such as Lean, Continuous Improvement, and other forms of expertise deemed useful by companies themselves. W. Edwards Deming, perhaps the world’s most respected expert in quality and productivity improvements for the shop floor, was finally lured back from Japan where he had helped revolutionize that country’s manufacturing processes. And though he was now in his 90’s, MEPs were foremost in doing the “luring”.
MEP’s such as MAMTC have had to evolve over time, just as global manufacturing has evolved. In response to the growth of low-cost manufacturing primarily in China, MEP centers have had to focus on new areas in addition to our bread and butter shop floor services. Innovation services that look to improve top line growth are among our offerings along with introducing new export and supply chain technologies.
MEP centers now exist in all 50 state and Puerto Rico. And almost all of them and especially our MAMTC MEP here in Kansas realize that the “P” in MEP has become one of if not the most important aspects of how we serve manufacturers today. MEP’s cannot by themselves provide all that is required today in improving manufacturers’ competitiveness. That’s why we’ve created partnerships with universities, community colleges, financial specialists, IT folks, and a number of other third party providers we can call on to help us serve our clients.
Times are tough out there in many ways and as they say, we’re all in this together. And MEP’s like MAMTC, have been and will be there with all of our clients and partners just as we have since Senator Fritz Hollings introduced this legislation back in 1988.
If you're a manufacturer, or if you're interested in learning more about MAMTC and the MEP system, give me a call. We'd love to hear from you.