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MAC Resource: Increasing the Odds of Success

By Bill Baldino, Vice President, Associated Industries of Massachusetts

The challenges of operating a manufacturing business in Massachusetts seem to increase daily. Fierce, lower-cost competition, both domestically and internationally, coupled with the increased costs of energy, raw materials, transportation, and employee benefits – especially health insurance – have resulted in an erosion of top line sales and bottom line profits. A seemingly never-ending array of existing and proposed legislative and regulatory compliance issues only adds to the grave situation that manufacturers, along with many other businesses are facing.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), the largest employer association in the Commonwealth, is a leading advocate on Beacon Hill, on behalf of the state’s business community. John Regan, AIM’s executive VP of government affairs, at a recent meeting of association’s Plant Manager Roundtable, made the startling revelation that fewer than 50 of the 1,000+ business-related bills that are filed in the legislature every two years, and tracked by AIM, would have a positive effect on the Massachusetts business climate and to your company’s bottom line.

This paints a very gloomy picture as it seems that the odds for success are stacked against manufacturers. So what are the options? Move operations to a lower-cost state or country? Outsource or purchase products from China or India? Downsize operations or get out of the business altogether? These are very real choices and may be the only choices for some companies. However, before such a draconian decision is made, consider some other possibilities.

  • Communicate with all employees about the pressures the company faces, without being pessimistic. Employees should know the realities of business and understand that everyone in the company is a stakeholder in its success. Do not assume they aren’t interested or that they won’t understand.
  • Provide training opportunities to all members of your staff which includes supervisors, sales, customer service, and your individual contributors. Don’t use the excuse that you can’t afford the money or the time. The truth is that you can’t afford not to help them obtain, and retain, the skills they need to make your company more successful.
  • Create vendor relationships with Massachusetts companies whenever possible. That’s the best way to stimulate our economy.
  • Participate in peer group organizations such as AIM’s Plant Manager and Human Resource roundtables and other groups that are designed to provide support, information and best practices. No need to attempt to solve all of your problems on your own. Learn from the experiences of others and share your own experiences with them.
  • Contact the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) to learn how Lean Manufacturing methodologies can positively influence efficiency and productivity in your organization.
  • Work with AIM’s Government Affairs group to have your voice heard by the state’s legislature. Make sure AIM has insight from you and your business so they can better support you and your business. 
  • Take advantage of the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Grant programs. These are enormously beneficial programs designed to help you enhance the skills of all of your employees in numerous areas. Tapping into these funds will result in a significant return on your investment of your company’s time and resources.

There is no silver bullet for all of the problems businesses face today but implementing the points noted above will greatly increase your odds of success.

Bill Baldino is a VP in AIM’s Employer Resource Group and can be reached at 617-899-4951 or [email protected].


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