Manufacturing Matters Conference set for May 9 in Milwaukee

Posted on Apr 17, 2012 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
Posted by of Insight Publications

Take-away strategies to attract and retain skilled and motivated workers, create a culture that embraces innovation, and drive growth through e-business and continuous improvement are the key topics of focus at the May 9 Manufacturing Matters! Conference in Milwaukee.

The annual conference hosted by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) is designed to provide immediate and tangible benefits to busy manufacturing executives and operations staff. “We’ve been talking to manufacturers all year to make sure that this content is relevant, timely, and worth the investment of one day away from the plant,” said Buckley Brinkman, CEO of WMEP. “We know that manufacturers are extremely busy, so we’ve targeted one-hour sessions for executives and operations staff that are highly interactive and provide information they can take back and immediately use to improve their operations.”

The day-long event will be held at the Frontier Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. For more information or to register visit

“We’ve gathered an incredible array of resources, along with a range of networking venues to increase the benefit to manufacturers,” says WMEP’s Executive Director Buckley Brinkman.

Here’s a look at some of the event highlights:

  • Finding talented workers is the hottest topic for manufacturers today. Morning keynote, Tim Sullivan, former president and CEO of Bucyrus International Inc. and now special consultant for business and workforce development for the state of Wisconsin, will share his insight into the skills gap from two perspectives – as a manufacturing executive and as a key leader in the State’s approach to addressing the issue.
  • The challenge of managing a business through a period of rapid growth, especially in a struggling industry, is the focus on the Afternoon Keynote address. Aaron Jagdfeld, president and CEO of Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems and winner of the 2011 Manufacturer of the Year award, will share his story of managing growth, promoting innovation and the role that all manufacturers have to play in promoting the industry within their own communities.
  • Featured speakers include Adam Hartung and Sarah Miller Caldicott, kicking off the new Innovation Track. The author of ‘Create Marketplace Disruption: How to stay ahead of the competition’, Hartung will distill the knowledge gained from 20 years of practical experience in driving change and profit. Caldicott, author of ‘Innovate Like Edison,’ and the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, will share her unique insights into the methods necessary to create an innovative organization based on collaborative teams.
  • Prominent industry thought leaders and senior executives from award-winning Wisconsin manufacturing firms will share best practices and insights. Panelists include manufacturing leaders from Phoenix Products Company, Milwaukee; TCI (Trans Coil, Inc), Milwaukee; Plastic Components, Inc., Germantown; MetalTek, Waukesha; Didion Milling, Cambria; Quick Cable, Franksville; Molded Dimensions, Inc., Port Washington; Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp., Port Washington; Rockline Industries, Sheboygan; and Galloway Company, Neenah.
  • New this year are “WEDC Idea Exchange Rooms” that will connect presenters with manufacturers in order to share ideas, information and solutions to issues related to Talent Management and Innovation. The rooms will be open all day and attendees are invited meet with presenters and their peers.
  • Got a question for a state agency or a banking expert? The conference offers two new ways to get the info you need.
    • State Agency Listening Posts Agency personnel will be available throughout the day to answer manufacturers’ questions. Participating state departments include: the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC); Transportation (DOT); Natural Resources (DNR); Safety and Professional Services (DSPS); Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); Workforce Development (DWD); and Veterans Affairs (DVA).
    • Experts are available all day in the Ask an Expert area. Specialists are taking 20 minute appointments throughout the day. Appointments can be booked at
  • Also new this year is the Food & Feed Track, which will review the steps manufacturers can take to become compliant with safety regulations as well as how to avoid common pitfalls during safety audits.
  • Multiple break-out sessions are divided into two channels this year: Executive and Operations. The Executive channel will focus on advanced talent management, workforce development, innovation, E-business solutions, and capital/finance; and the Operations channel will focus on continuous improvement, food & feed, and quality/regulatory/legal awareness.