The North Carolina Manufacturing Conference, MFGCON, was an eventful conference that brought together 470 business leaders and manufacturers from across North Carolina’s manufacturing industry. The conference provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about the latest manufacturing trends, innovative ideas, peer solutions for operational and organizational challenges and industry networking. There were 15 different sessions over the two-day conference, covering topics ranging from workforce solutions, supply chain and business opportunities in international trade or federal contracting to predictive maintenance, automation and cybersecurity. Here’s just a few highlights of what went down at MFGCON 2023:
The conference launched with words of welcome from the conference hosts, Phil Mintz, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP), and Ben Kinney, the Publisher for Business North Carolina Magazine.
Doug Blizzard, the Chief Solutions Officer at Catapult Solutions Group, provided the opening keynote address. Blizzard spoke about retaining and attracting talent through innovative and practical methods. Blizzard asserted that organizations must create a work culture that attracts younger talent, noting that organizations that refuse to adapt will be left behind.
Allan Swicegood of American Machining Solutions facilitated the Manufacturers Panel Discussion: Thriving During Challenging Times session with well-crafted questions for the panelists: Norbert and Melissa Kozar of Precision Swiss Products East; Kuje Taylor of Omni Mold & Die; Mitch Day of Dayco Manufacturing; and Dean Harmon of Empire Machine and Fabrication. The audience learned how vital a risk management plan is but, even more importantly, how critical communication is, whether with your employees, suppliers or customers. Being agile and flexible were also emphasized.
The lunch keynote speaker on day one was Chris Chung the CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of NC (EDPNC). Chung provided attendees with an update on the economic development across North Carolina. He highlighted the importance of North Carolina staying competitive as a business-friendly state and the need to find viable land for future manufacturing growth.
On day two, Gary Salamido (NC Chamber), Ashley and Rex Carriker (Queen City Engineering), John Oswald (Mills Manufacturing) and Tim Marini (Baxter) spoke about innovative ideas their companies pursued that yielded manufacturing and organizational successes.
Geoff Foster of Core Technology Molding and Felicia Woodard, the Senior Vice President of Bank of America, discussed how Core Technologies’ business strategy changed during the pandemic, shifting the company to medical devices from aerospace and automotive during the Leading for Success session. Foster also provided a model for attracting and keeping workers. One of the benefits that Core Technologies provides its employees is a company trip to fabulous locations. (This year the team will be heading to Cabo San Lucas.)
Tim Malone, the Data Management & Programming Technician of the North Carolina Military Business Center; KeAnne Hoeg, the Director of Data Management, Marketing and Reporting at NC State University Industry Expansion Solutions and Melissa Sharp, the Associate Director of the Textiles Complex at NC State University Wilson College of Textiles participated in the Online Supplier Opportunities for North Carolina Manufacturers panel. The session introduced three online sourcing solutions to help manufacturers find critical parts or opportunities to supply necessary parts to other manufacturers. Each program provides information and data about the state’s resources. Manufactured in North Carolina (manufacturednc.com) provides data about the state’s manufacturing capabilities, Textile Connect (textileconnect.com) provides information about textile manufacturing and MatchForce (matchforce.org) has information for federal contracting opportunities.
Haleh Byrne the product lead of industrial engineering, systems and student project at NC State University Industry Expansion Solutions (IES), presented: NCSU-IES Student Projects and Timer Pro Multifaceted Utilization in Process Documentation and Improvement. Byrne spoke about how IES has developed, implemented and evaluated a model that employs supervised engineering students on customized projects. This model includes data collection on-site, data analysis, reporting and adjustment to final submission based on the client’s feedback. Byrne shared a sample of the student’s work along with the results.
The final keynote was delivered by Davide Varze, the president of Wieland Copper Products and Markus Rusznyak, the plant manager of Wieland Copper Products. Together, they spoke about Wieland Copper’s transformation from being the worst-rated out of all the Wieland locations to the best-rated in 2022. Wieland Copper not only revolutionized the organization through leadership, culture and safety but also revitalized the community of Pine Hall, North Carolina.
Following the day two luncheon, the 2023 NCMEP Leadership Awards were presented. The award winners include: TerraLoam (Sustainability Award), Precision Swiss Products East (Developing Markets Award), Mills Manufacturing (Workforce Award), FirstWave Innovation (Innovation Award) and Core Technology Molding (Manufacturing Excellence Award).
Another benefit of attending the North Carolina Manufacturing Conference is networking with fellow attendees. Manufacturers and industry leaders from North Carolina shared their experiences and made valuable connections. Throughout the event, attendees met with potential partners, suppliers and customers who will help them grow their business.
The exhibition hall was a bustling hub of activity throughout the conference. Attendees could meet with exhibitors, learn about their offerings and get hands-on demonstrations. Over 50 top-notch companies and organizations showcased their latest products, services and solutions designed to help manufacturers optimize their operations and grow their businesses.
Overall, MFGCON 2023 was an excellent platform for manufacturers to learn about the latest trends, innovations, and challenges facing the industry and connect with industry leaders. Attendees left with new knowledge, new connections, and new inspiration. We look forward to seeing what MFGCON 2024 will have in store for us!