Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - June 2012
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
Blazing Pathways to Business Growth
Enterprise Minnesota’s Pathways to Business Growth program enters its second year with three new companies and a multitude of past-year successes.
Enterprise Minnesota kicked off year two of its Pathways to Business Growth program on March 14 with a celebration of Enterprise Minnesota business growth advisors and program participants at Padilla Speer Beardsley in Minneapolis.
Pathways “is about assessment, discovery, where to start and what can really help an individual company the most,” said Enterprise Minnesota President Bob Kill, speaking to kickoff attendees. “Pathways to Business Growth really does represent the entire state of Minnesota. It’s a great connection, which I think shows the power of the public-private collaboration.”
Enterprise Minnesota administers the Pathways program with a $515,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST/MEP). Its mission is to help participating companies achieve profitable growth by working with Enterprise Minnesota advisors on training initiatives such as strategic planning, innovation and idea mining services, business assessments, organizational and leadership development, and marketing strategy. As part of the grant, Enterprise Minnesota is also using lessons learned from working with each company to develop industry-wide best practices for helping manufacturers drive growth within their companies, which NIST/MEP will share with MEP centers nationwide.
In 2011, Enterprise Minnesota worked with 10 companies on the Pathways grant, including The Aagard Group, Absolute Quality Manufacturing, Alexandria Pro-Fab Company, Akkerman Inc., Automated Equipment, Fiserv Solutions Inc., Ideal Aerosmith, Innovance Inc., Pequot Tool & Manufacturing and Ultra Machining Company. This year’s companies include Jones Metal Products, Harmony Enterprises and Hutchinson Manufacturing.
Jason Zoubek, sales manager at Absolute Quality in Minneapolis, says Pathways has reinvigorated his company with a new web site, new marketing plan, and newfound clarity around its mission and vision. It has also transformed Absolute Quality’s perspective on employee empowerment.
“Now, what we’re seeing is more interaction between our employees and management. They’re not as afraid,” Zoubek says. “We’re really drilling down to the lowest appropriate level to make decisions within the organization.”
Thomas Norman of Norman Consulting, who serves as the independent evaluator of the program, considers the program “uniquely effective, and uniquely trusting,” and commends its focus on individually tailored solutions.
Kill agrees: “I think this program plays a part to make companies better suppliers and better partners, and we’re really proud of all of the companies that were in it, and pleased with the three companies that are coming into it this year.”
To learn more about the Pathways to Business Growth program, visit http://www.enterpriseminnesota.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/pathways-to-business-growth-launches.html
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