Celebrating Manufacturing Day 2023 with the MEPs

If so, join us for the next MFG eCommerce Success Show, where we have the pleasure of hosting Carroll Thomas, MBA, a distinguished expert in small business and manufacturing from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Are you going to join us to celebrate Manufacturing Day 2023?

If so, join us for the next MFG eCommerce Success Show, where we have the pleasure of hosting Carroll Thomas, MBA, a distinguished expert in small business and manufacturing from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Carroll has an illustrious career championing small- and medium-sized manufacturers. As the Director of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), she orchestrated a formidable network of 1,300+ manufacturing experts in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, serving an average of 25,000 US manufacturers annually.

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As a Senior Advisor, Carroll continues her stewardship of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership and other key initiatives, showcasing her expertise in fostering manufacturing business opportunities.

With an MBA and numerous board appointments, including the Manufacturing USA Institute MxD (digital manufacturing) and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Carroll brings a wealth of knowledge and a rich narrative to the manufacturing industry and our show.

Damon and Curt are enthusiastic about the Manufacturing Day in this exciting session. With the same contagious energy, they welcome Carroll to their show.

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Curt starts the show by asking Carroll about her childhood hero as a little girl growing up. “My dad. He’s a girl-dad,” promptly answers the guest. The conversation then turns to Carroll’s career path.

Carroll responds with her deep passion for manufacturing. Her family’s bakery in Belize inspired her. She discusses her career journey, including working with QVC and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. The guest believes MEP centers are unsung heroes, supporting manufacturers during crises.

Carroll expresses her admiration for the craftsmanship and innovation in manufacturing plants, describing unique machines and products. She reflects on her deep love for the manufacturing industry and the diverse experiences that have shaped her perspective.

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After engaging with Nancy, Muhammad, and John, Damon says that diversity is necessary to develop the best solutions and stay competitive, even though the U.S. may not be a low-cost supplier.

Carroll further adds that diversity brings in a broader range of perspectives. Moreover, she acknowledges the valuable contributions of women in manufacturing. She has a special regard for the efforts of women in Texas who arrange plant tours for students of all levels.

Carroll expresses the enthusiasm and excitement surrounding Manufacturing Day. The guest compares it to a big sports event with 400,000 participants cheering and celebrating the industry. She appreciates the efforts of Damon and Curt in promoting and bringing attention to manufacturing.

Damon, sharing his personal experience, believes there are excellent career prospects in manufacturing for those who may or may not attend college.

In response, Carroll specifically mentions Ranken Technical College in Missouri, sharing her experience as the graduation speaker for the institution. She applauds the college for its diverse group of graduates, including women, men, and older individuals, all pursuing careers in various aspects of manufacturing. Carroll reveals that all 900 graduates received at least one job offer, and many had multiple offers.

The guest encourages those considering a career in manufacturing to try it out. Carroll also mentions the evolving manufacturing opportunities, such as using “cyber bombs” to digitize recipes for production processes.
In the same vein, Carroll recalls her educational background in design and how only one classmate, Tonya Lyle, pursued a career in manufacturing. She’s been exceptionally successful. She advocates exploring the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

Curt brings in a video presentation as they discuss the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP) and celebrate Manufacturing Day. He encourages viewers to stay tuned and enjoy the video.

Meanwhile, Carroll walks the viewers through the MEP, its mission, and its history. She explains that the MEP network supports small and medium-sized US manufacturers across all states, including Puerto Rico.

While answering Curt, the guest reflects on the history and growth of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, which began 35 years ago when the National Bureau of Standards became the National Institute of Standards and Technology. She explains that the MEP program is a public-private partnership to assist small to mid-sized manufacturers. Initially, there were three original MEP centers, and their goal was to expand across the country and assist manufacturers in various states, including Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

The conversation then touches on the semiconductor industry, as a funding opportunity allows suppliers to form consortiums, boosting the growth and strength of the semiconductor sector in the U.S. Carroll also talks about the role of Manufacturing USA Institutes, which engage in cutting-edge technologies and how MEP assists companies in utilizing these innovations.

Carroll discusses space manufacturing and the role of MEP in supporting companies entering the space sector. She touches upon workforce development, internships, and workforce-building initiatives supported by MEP. Carroll highlights the role of MEP in creating awareness about manufacturing opportunities through events like Manufacturing Day. She discusses the impact of automation, the use of robots and cobots in various industries, and the development of materials and 3D printing in manufacturing. Carroll expresses her enthusiasm for the diverse and innovative aspects of the manufacturing industry supported by MEP.

The conversation then touches on the semiconductor industry. This industry’s funding opportunity allows suppliers to form consortiums, boosting the growth and strength of the semiconductor sector in the US.

Carroll discusses space manufacturing and the role of MEP in supporting companies entering the space sector.She also discusses the impact of automation, the use of robots and “cobots” (collaborative robots) in various industries, as well as the development of materials and 3D printing in manufacturing.

Curt thanks Kathy, Curt’s friend, for her support of manufacturers and for playing her role in getting the people in manufacturing recognized as the heroes and backbone of the economy. He asks Carol what she’s excited about for the future of manufacturing and the younger generation’s involvement.

Carroll replies with the exciting prospects for the future of manufacturing. She discusses the loss of about 70,000 manufacturers between 2009 and now due to various factors, such as outsourcing and generational shifts. However, she notes the emerging manufacturing industry is driven by new technology and younger workers’ familiarity with advanced machinery. Carroll says new technology, like digital twins, CAD/CAM setups, and AI, is transforming manufacturing.

She believes Manufacturing Day is crucial in spreading this excitement and appreciation for the industry.
Toward the end of the show, Carroll discloses that she has served a whopping 25,000 manufacturers across the US.

The show concludes with Damon and Curt thanking Carroll for her time and enthusiasm.

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1:03:37
SUMMARY KEYWORDS
manufacturing, mep, people, carol, manufacturers, mvp, years, damon, suppliers, love, manufacturing extension partnership, country, talk, kathy, nancy, companies, plant, qvc, friend, program
SPEAKERS
Curt Anderson, Damon Pistulka, Carroll Thomas

Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everyone, it is Friday morning. And you know what? Well, Friday afternoon on the East Coast for me. It’s Friday morning on the west coast. But we are excited today because it’s Friday and you know what that means it’s time for manufacturing ecommerce success. And, wow, the first word in our show name manufacturing. We are here on Manufacturing Day. Curt Anderson, could you be more excited for our guest here today?

Curt Anderson 00:31
Oops.

Damon Pistulka 00:32
Carol Thomas. I’m just I can’t even talk dude. I was ready to go live and I didn’t know I had to push the button a minute ago.

Curt Anderson 00:41
So I’m gonna come back out because I don’t know if last time I ever went so I wouldn’t care. I went back and like replayed some. I gotta go, Damon, I go. We’ve done this. Like, what? 300 times and like, I’m actually nervous. Because it’s manufacturing date. We have the queen of manufacturing. today. So Carol, Happy Friday. Happy Manufacturing Day. How are you my friend?

Carroll Thomas 01:05
Hi. Thank you happy Manufacturing Day. Listen, if you all have a chance, go visit a plant today visit a plant. And if you are in California, and you’re over there, I think it’s Bakersfield, California, visit the Jelly Belly plant. It is the end of end all plants though. But seriously, there’s a lot of there’s plants all over this country. Go visit one today. Please go visit one. Tell them how much you appreciate what they’re doing for this country and that you are a supporter of manufacturing. So there you go.

Curt Anderson 01:42
All right, well, hey, what a great way to kick. It’s like a celebration. It’s a holiday. Hey, we’ve got Whitney Houston here is here today. So David, go ahead.

Damon Pistulka 01:52
And damn it.

Curt Anderson 01:56
I’m sure. You guys, drop us a note. Let us know you’re out there. You absolutely want to connect with Carol Thomas. This is boy, we’re gonna have a ton to unpack. Now, Carol, I you know, I know if you remember my first question last time, I’m not going to ask the same question. My first question I asked. I asked who your hero was, and it was Mr. Owl. It was Mr. Alvin. Do you remember that? Yes, yes, yes. And so just share with the folks who who is Alvin. Who’s this Alvin that I’m referring to that as the hero of Carrolltown Oh, he’s

Carroll Thomas 02:25
my dad. Answer. He’s a girl dad.

Curt Anderson 02:31
It’s right. Hey Damon. I are big girl dads, and we’d love that answer. So we’re not gonna go there. We’re gonna start in something different. But just you know, for folks that missed it last time boy go back and catch our last interview with Carol. It was a blockbuster. We took a deep dive into her background. So we’re going to scratch the surface today. Here. I’m going to kind of like get people where you were. But boy, we’re going to do a deep dive and it’s a celebration for Manufacturing Day. And if you guys drop those notes in there, let us know that you’re out there. Boy, we got John here. is here today,

Damon Pistulka 02:59
Nancy. Oh, well, sorry. We got Mohammed we got Nancy. We got John tree car. Titania, engineering. Ooh, we’re just we’re just rocking this chat people. Let’s keep it going.

Curt Anderson 03:12
And you know, what we might do is a couple of times. I want to give a shout out to Nancy. So caroled Nancy O’Leary, it was she night we were together at the buffalo MEP conference, we did a little jam session together on stage. And she is a fierce fierce advocate for US manufacturing. She’s gonna be on the show in a couple of weeks Damon, and she’s doing a really cool program called manufacturing Mavericks where she’s celebrating Yes, she’s celebrating Gen Zers that are just pursuing a career. She said, Hey, they’ve got to be 22 and under. So Damon, they’re not Yeah, they’re not our age. Right? They’re not. We won’t go they’re just a little bit younger than us. But anyway, yeah, little jobs. So connect with Nancy O’Leary on LinkedIn. Follow me, Nancy. Nancy, thank you, girlfriend. We love what you’re doing.

Damon Pistulka 03:58
Yes. And remember, Nancy, you’re going to share some of those people with us. So we can announce them here during manufacturing month. Because we want to, we want to push that as far and as wide as we can,

Curt Anderson 04:09
as coming on at the end of the month. And so we’re going to reflect back on some of these young and celebrate So Nancy, thank you for what you’re doing again, guys, drop us a note. Let us know you’re out there. So Carol, this you took a very traditional career path, okay. National National Gallery of Art, to QVC. to NIST MEP to I think department of somebody in between there you did the SBDC Small Business Development Center. Then you became the director of the MVP Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Can you just walk us through your path? Take everybody through your career journey a little bit and then we’re gonna do a deep dive into manufacturing and the MEP network.

Carroll Thomas 04:51
Okay, I’m just I’m not gonna go too deep in it, but I do want to, to start off you know, really serious about this I, you know how you, you fall in love of something, and maybe you’ve tasted that that chocolate ripple ice cream for the first time, or you’ve had that Oreo cookie back sitting there waiting for you, you just, I fell deep in love with manufacturing. And then I realized part of it had to do, you know, we go way, way, way back, I had one of my grandparents had a bakery, the bakery, the largest bakery in the country, at the end, this country was the country of Belize used to be British Honduras, and get up at three o’clock in the morning with him with this, this huge oven that he had shipped there from England to make bread and with, you know, all of the guys, and I didn’t realize how much I had missed that and how much it was a part of my growing up. And I really, really, when I got back into manufacturing, with QVC, I said, Well, I, this is where I needed to be. And when I heard about the program, you know, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, which I used, you know, worked with them to help some of those manufacturers to get their products on QVC. So they could get the prices down. So they could do the asking for the silver, whatever it is they they were using to make, I said, this is this is a special program, this touches exactly where I am. And I got into it, I would say a little later than I would have loved to if I had known about it. Because I too had, you know, in my 20s, I decided, Oh, I’m gonna be a manufacturer, I’m gonna make some things. And I, I at the time there wasn’t MEP, and I really could have used their help. So when I found them, I found my place to be. And it’s been a part, even when I was over at SVA, I still kept in touch with the MEP, keep in touch with all the people, the incredible people in all of the MEP centers across the country who, you know, a lot of times are unsung heroes, you don’t hear what they do, when they go into a manufacturer say after hurricane and, and all of their equipment is underwater, and they don’t know what to do you know, how do I fix this? How do I get back into manufacturing? How do I you know, serve my clients, I’m part of this supply chain, I need to do my part to get in. This is where they come in, and you know, are there to hold their hands there to say, okay, here are the resources out there for you. You know, and just commiserate with them as they go through something and then teach them how to be resilient, so it won’t happen again. And so there’s at least 1400 saints across this country and they’re all in manufacturing. And I don’t know if this that speaks to, to what I feel about it, but I can tell you, there’s no greater trip visit or than to visit a plant. See people talk to them, see their pride in what they make. See how they make it. They make some of the machines in manufacturing plants. Of course you don’t see anywhere. And, you know, some of you may have if you’re old enough, have seen the old I Love Lucy show and she’s in the candy factory and trying to you know, help with the processing of the chocolates and and what happens there. Look at that machine. That was what back in the I don’t know. Oh, yeah, look at that machine that they were using in processing of those candies, um, the, you know, conveyor belt. I met a guy who actually makes conveyor belts, he has a company in Florida. And I said you do when you make machines for manufacturing plants? He said yes. And so um, you know, I know this is all round robin but it speaks to all of the different avenues that have had the opportunity to get in and to really learn about the industry and to love it.

Damon Pistulka 09:42
It’s like the birds are singing. Birds are singing the birds are saying

Curt Anderson 09:48
Amen. So Carol, if you remember last time remember I do like those little mic drop moments but then when it gets really juicy we call like a moment of silence where like we just want to say to her yes Like deeming we don’t want to break that flow, you know. So Alright, so let’s Damon, we’ve got a lot of friends here, getting the one and only Carol Thomas, do you want to float? Let’s get a

Damon Pistulka 10:11
few. Yeah, I’m gonna pull up a couple of comments here because we got some more people that are stopping by thanks so much for dropping in your comments and in everything. And then I want to drop it Wintley put it Whitney put in here because I think this is one of the cool thing. Yes, happening in manufacturing. Now. Yes, the diversity that’s happening is is awesome. And it’s been needed for many, many decades. But it’s finally feels like we’re gaining some momentum, women in manufacturing at other, just getting more diverse across the board. Because we can’t develop the best solutions if we don’t keep the diversity, growing diversity, getting better and doing that things. Because we are never going to be a low cost supplier in the US. But we can be the best,

Carroll Thomas 10:56
we can be the best. And we can be the best because in being diverse, we get the perspectives from, you know, all different kinds. Yeah, so I had a mom who makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their kids, and they know how to set it up. So it you know, it’s a little conveyor belt themselves at home. Don’t do this in in a factory, you know, you could do this in a plant, you can think about better ways to doing it. So Whitney, yes, women in manufacturing, Texas. Thank you so much for arranging all of the plant tours, and all of you all across the country. You know, thank you very much for bringing it to people’s minds, arranging those plant tours, bringing the the students in from colleges from high schools, from junior High’s from elementary, you know, to understand is to see this to have pride in and what they do out there. And Pennsylvania, they have some of this but even more in February. What’s so cool about manufacturing, I mean, oh, yeah, I mean, this is huge. They go crazy. It’s like, you know, a big football game or a big basketball game, everybody’s cheering folks on and watching how they are, you know, making things and finding out what is so cool about manufacturing. I mean, it’s loads of fun, it is loads. And, you know, it’s hard for me to pick any place around the country because it’s happening everywhere. We get upwards of 400,000 people, you know, participating throughout the month of October in Manufacturing Day manufacturing week manufacturing months, so yeah, it’s pretty cool. And I want to thank both Daymond and Kurt, what you all do to bring this to everybody? This is very special. I mean, what you all do? Really, really, really special. And I hear about it from other people are saying, Hey, did you see so and so on? Yes, I did. You know, I mean, yes, sir. Truly. And so when you asked me to be on hey, I’m all yours.

Damon Pistulka 13:11
Love it, Carol. Yeah, we love but let’s look at this. Kathy. Kathy. Yeah. Still cool.

Carroll Thomas 13:19
Yeah. Cool. Yeah. Yep. Yep,

Curt Anderson 13:22
Adelanto rules and manufacturing and many. Let me read that real quick, Dayton because Damon, we are recording podcasts and we are going audio. So for our friends at the audio. Sure. We are doing girls and manufacturing in many school districts. This is our friend Kathy McIntyre in California. Amazing what they’re doing. One new client is a 14 year old making protective sport equipment for guests. Kathy dropped the mic to you, my friend.

Damon Pistulka 13:46
And then another one too, even though Matt goosey is a Packers fan. We’ll let him go by with that. I can appreciate that. But they’ve got Matt has been doing one I think I think his dad started this with with helping people get into young young people in high school, get into machining. And now what he’s doing is amazing in Wisconsin, they’re helping people do that. It’s so incredible. Because I’ll tell you, there are so many kids that don’t get exposed to this and I’ll get up on this again. My son is 24 years old. He graduated with a bunch of people that didn’t go to college, and those people did not take advantage of manufacturing. And I’m going to tell you, I talked to him about it every time because there are wonderful careers for people that you can go to college and go into manufacturing. You can not go into college, you go into a tech program and go into manufacturing. But there are careers in manufacturing. There are Yeah, can’t. And

Carroll Thomas 14:45
I want to give a shout out to a very special place in Missouri Rankin Technical College. Let me tell you about Rankin Technical College. I got to speak. I was the The graduation speaker for them a few years back, yes. And I got to address 900. Graduates, okay. In all different parts of manufacturing, there were women who were in making machines and men and folks who are older, coming back to school getting certificates and what have you, every one of those 900 graduates had at least one job offer, and most of them had two. So if you, you know, if you’re trying to figure out, okay, what should I do? You know, I’m not sure, just try it, try it, I guarantee you, you will go through and find the place that you like, it doesn’t have to even be on the shop floor. It could be you know, if you’re great in computer science, they need, I heard something. The other day, I’d never heard about this before. They’re called Cyber bombs. So you know, build them materials, where you it’s the recipe for making, whatever it is, you’re manufacturing, well, now they need them digitally. And so that when you come up, as you know, you’re the person making whatever it is, you can now see your recipe. And when you do the next step in your production, visually in a iPad or in you know, something, yes, a tablet or something like that. Cyber bombs. Oh, like, oh, my gosh, we never heard of this before. And it’s wonderful, wonderful. Find a place. And if you’re not into it, if you’re excited about it, like I am, tell people about manufacturing to get into it. Really good jobs, really. In fact, I don’t know if I had told you, Kurt, one part, I went to school for design at Drexel. One person in my class went into manufacturing. And I’ll never forget her. Tonya Lyle tiny allows the only person that went into manufacturing. And she’s doing better than anybody, any of us, any of us. So I mean, I, why did I go into manufacture? I went to Drexel. I couldn’t, you know? Well, I did. I eventually had my own manufacturing business. But there wasn’t an MVP. And so that’s why I don’t still have my manufacturing business. Users. That’s a great resource. Yeah. Oh, yeah. That’s a

Damon Pistulka 17:33
great resource. And Kathy did another good point here. Let’s get that up here. You know, the Community College, look at this people 60. And over. These are, these are young people that can do this well, before they’re out of high school. Same thing with Matt, Matt. They’re in Wisconsin, there’s these programs across the United States where they can get exposed to it, they can figure out what they want. And look at what she says. Right then earning six figures. High School.

Carroll Thomas 18:00
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You remember my story about what’s his name? In Indianapolis. Kaplan, he, he used to stock the local high school for students to come and do, you know, internships, he would get them to come over. And this is in high school, and then they would do a couple of summers when they were ready to go to college, he would have them come in and work for him. And as they learn different machines, they got raises, and he paid for their college, these people under 25 making $125,000 a year. And that was five years ago. Okay, five years ago. And so I said, Stu, you cannot stalk High School Students, please. Because I will hear about you on the news. What you need to do is don’t talk to the talk to the principal and say here’s what you’d like to do go to the cafeteria and find these you know

Damon Pistulka 19:07
who’s who’s the weird person in the cafeteria?

Curt Anderson 19:12
He’s the guy that send it out you know, six figure jobs. That’s

Carroll Thomas 19:15
right. Right.

Curt Anderson 19:18
becomes less talk is real quick as soon as people figure that one out, right.

Carroll Thomas 19:21
Right. And not as drug dealers as many Yeah, good.

Curt Anderson 19:27
Let’s go here, Carol. So I know we’ve got a couple of videos that we want to show when we Why don’t we jump in when we show the first one because like sometimes people might have a call at the top of the hour. So again, guys, if you just joined us, we are here with the one the only Carol Thomas and so we’re talking about the manufacturing extension partnerships. We are celebrating Manufacturing Day, which is April just going on all month. But so a Daymond talk to me, I’ve got the screen pulled up we’re gonna get an act of manufacturing. Alright, Everybody, sit back, grab your popcorn, and here we go. It’s something

19:56
else to make it real. to draw out a design, to test the concept, to build something that works, to put it in a box to ship all around the globe, innovating, designing, producing, supplying, exporting, making the products that enrich our lives that create millions of American jobs that drive our economy that impact the world, every single day. That’s US manufacturing. And that’s why we are here. Since 1988, our mission has been to serve and support the men and women of US manufacturing. Our team lives out this mission with passion and dedication. We work with those who are eager to innovate and grow, who want to find the solutions and technologies and the skills to become more competitive all around the world, proudly stating, This was made in the USA. We are the MEP national network, the only public private partnership dedicated to serving small and medium sized US manufacturers in every state and in Puerto Rico. We help make an impact on their employees, their companies and their communities. Be a part of making an impact on US manufacturing.

Curt Anderson 21:30
All right, well, how eight and I recognize a few people like summer was in there. And I know summer is a huge fan of yours, Carol?

Carroll Thomas 21:39
Oh, yeah. Oh my gosh. And me of her? Absolutely.

Curt Anderson 21:43
It’s a mutual mutual. Melissa boss, I think I thought I thought I recognized most Abasa from iMac in there. So this what a great video. I absolutely love that. So for folks that let’s let’s dive into the MEP network. And again, this is somebody that had you know, again, go back and catch the last interview with Carol, you had an illustrious career with QVC. You described like,

Carroll Thomas 22:04
infamous, you’re flying.

Curt Anderson 22:08
You’re flying first class all over the place you had, you know, you know, Barry Diller, you know, that was a fan of mine in the 90s. And like, you know, you took a deep dive, you left that and just really found your calling. I love how you’re sharing, you know, you found your passion. So let’s for folks that are new to the MVP network, like I know, we would be here all day, but just share just some of the how the MVP makes the world a better place. You mentioned 1400 STS. Let’s dig into that MVP a little bit further.

Carroll Thomas 22:35
Okay, 35 years ago, in August of this year, 35 years, the National Bureau of Standards, became the National Institute of Standards and Technology. And with that, as part of the legislation for the program, the MEP, started as a as an organized group of professionals in a public private partnership, where the private part provides assistance to manufacturers now, there were three original MEP centers, these are organizations that were already providing assistance to manufacturers. And the idea was to take this, this successful, the successful organizations and make them into a national program that had that across the country, we’d be able to provide assistance to manufacturers and so if I probably you’ll get this wrong, but I believe it’s Michigan, South Carolina, and I can never remember the last name. One, I think it’s Pennsylvania were the first three probably wrong. But by 1998, all across the country, all states and Puerto Rico had at least one MEP center back in, like 2015. We re competed to make sure that we had the strongest organizations locally to deliver services to MEP centers and that’s where we we made it one in each state some of the states before it had several different ones. This just made it easier because the idea is this was public private not just public at the federal level but public at the state level. And the in even the mean this appel local I mean when thinking about like Chicago, and whatever, those kinds of places where they wanted to really support and grow and expand. The manufacturers that we’re in airbase and, and what they did over the course of this 35 years is to take companies that were, you know, may have been past DoD suppliers. Whereas there, there wasn’t any war during a period of time. And DoD didn’t need the suppliers. And they were starting to falter and go out of business to help them do to pivot and to go into other areas, define some of the practices, some of their production practices, what else they could make, you know, out of it. Also, during a period where, you know, there was this early on period in the 70s, I remember, or is in the 60s where, you know, everything was made in Japan. So, well, well, we can make things so we had been making things. And so this is now taking the, the manufacturers, which mostly are small, a lot of people think it’s Oh, it’s a whole lot of very large manufacturers, I mean, manufacturers, over 500 employees, which, if they’re under, that’s considered small, if they’re over, that’s large, there may be about 4400 total. And all of the rest of the manufacturers are medium and small. So they have 500 or less, and most of them 75% are like 25 employees. So you’ll find, you know, very small shops that that can be suppliers, as well as they will do a full product, they can be an original equipment manufacturer, they can be with, you know, that’s what’s considered a large manufacturer, or they can be a processor from the natural materials, to pieces, parts components, you know, there are so many different things, people when they think of manufacturing, they think of steel mills, you know, pouring, they think of metal stampers, that, you know, they think of people making one little widget at a time. But if you went out and got to see all of the different types of manufacturing, they’re out there. Like I told you the last time going to was it the the onion ring factory where you cried for the first 15 minutes? Yeah, because of what’s in the air, or you go to the Jelly Belly manufacturer. But it takes seven days to make a Jelly Belly. But that’s because of all of the flavoring and everything that they put into it. I mean, it really, there’s all kinds of things. I’ve seen cardboard made. I’ve seen street signs made. You know, I’ve seen hats made, I’ve seen medical device moles made, I mean, just everything, everything. And I tried to think what can I think of something that made all the stuff everybody’s making everything, ball bearings, I mean, literally, cough drops and shoelaces, shoe laces, that’s one of the most, you know, very different types of manufacturing the there’s a company in Rhode Island that will make shoe laces for Timberlake, timberland shoes, that uses the equipment that was made 8090 years ago. And they they still can twist and tie to make the and then in Northern Ireland, oh my gosh, one of my favorite favorite Qmr they they make holiday ornaments. You know those beautiful, intricate cut little trees and scenery and stuff they make? I mean, I and I hate to mention names of companies because there’s so many that I love to mention, and the people that work there are just, you know, that’s another thing with the MEP. They work with not only the owners of these companies because they definitely work with the owners but they work with the people who are supply those companies they work with the people on the plant floor. They they will work with their logistics people they’ll work with their competitors, their work with their, you know, complementary manufacturing processes. They work with their their original equipment manufacturers, they’re their customers, they will work with their customers to help them to and so it is It’s like a, it’s a system. I mean, and we call it a network, because now we’re working together. But originally, it was developed from a system of manufacturing across the country. And I truly believe when you think about agriculture being about 3% of the GDP, and you think about manufacturing being about eight or 9% of the GDP, far less is out there to support what’s happening in manufacturing than what’s going on in agriculture. And it’s not that I don’t think agriculture is important. But I think, you know, if we really thought about what we got out of manufacturing, we would put more into manufacturing, and we would, we would really understand it. And, and, and support it in the way that it needs to be supported. To keep us a preeminent country. I mean, this is are not just things for us to buy, but things for our security, you know, to keep the country safe, to keep us, you know, from being or if we have to be in a war for fighting it. I mean, it it, I can’t express to you the importance of what this does for our country and having the passion in it allows me to get all of my public servants. Part of me, which is a very large part of me, throughout my family, generations, throughout my family have supported you know, what our country does? Yeah. I know, I get I get really,

Curt Anderson 31:50
it’s great. It’s great. We’re just savoring that Carol that was it man preach, Carol. That was absolutely fantastic. Combination things that I want to uncover right there. So just the enthusiasm and the excitement, you know, and again, like, I’m old enough to remember, like, you know, in the 80s, there was actually, you know, government promotions of like discouraging manufacturing, almost like shaming people about manufacturing, which was, you know, whatever, we can’t go back and change the past, but it’s very unfortunate. And so we’ve just seen a very steady decline. It was, you know, looked down upon, so on and so forth. Carol, you’re here talking with Carol Thomas. We’re, we’re digging deep into the manufacturing extension partnership. I mean, now the MEP. We were just at the National Conference, every you know, the work sessions were just off the charts. Incredible. Right. Just so good. Nancy, I the other day, I was on stage with Nancy, you know, there’s now marketing, you know, automation. You talked about I Love Lucy, you know, running the conveyor belt. That was what, 7080 years ago. You know, automation is huge. That shifts the chip directive, you know, initiative is huge. Marketing, transformation. What are you seeing, what are you hearing? Let’s go into some of the like the higher tech ones, what are you super excited about with the future of MEP and manufacturing?

Carroll Thomas 33:08
Oh my goodness. First, I do want to give a shout out to Carrie Hines, and to pervy Rog, Yvonne. Yeah. And absolutely ain’t Kelly, man. The carrying and Kelly put, worked very closely with NIST MEP to put on a phenomenal absolutely phenomenal conference. And it was great for all of us. I got one day in, which was good. And and having them work together with praveena Raghavan, who’s the the MVP director and introducing it to our brand new MVP. Dara, Deputy Director like Ash row. I mean, it is it was really it was it was great. And it’s exactly why we’re that work and how they were able to work together. What I see out there, that’s, that’s really excited, oh, my gosh, where do I start? We were doing stuff with the we were in a presidential executive order so that the other agencies can work with MEP now to rather than automatically create a waiver and say, Oh, it’s not made here to find out where the things that they need are made in the US through the MEP program, so we can have more things, but with your taxpayer dollars made here in the US that that is something that we’ve been doing now it’s on a really grand scale, through the executive order and with the additional funds that were provided to the MEP centers, to allow them to have a focus area, all of them to have a focus area specific frequently on supplier scouting, to find companies right here in the US to make the things that our agencies will buy and may choose to buy outside of the US. And that alone has also made several of the larger companies bring back some of their manufacturing to the US because they say, Oh, we’re serious about this. They’re going to be looking for it to be made produced in the US. So they’re going to source it right here. That to me is very, very exciting. All of the things that of course, you know, everybody’s heard chips, chips, chips, chips, okay, what is it? What is it, they’re just announced a funding opportunity that the suppliers can, can come together and consortiums to be a part of what’s happening in the strengthening building and growing of the of the semiconductor industry here in the US. And this is in working with the other parts of urness, or Advanced Manufacturing Office, manufacturing USA Institute’s, you know, of which there are 16 across the country that are all in I would say that the sexiest of, of new technologies out there. All that cool, cool, cool stuff. So that’s what the manufacturing USA Institute’s are everything that gets everybody excited. Oh, yeah. But first, they have to visit the MVP to figure out how to, to be able to use all those exciting and sexy new technology things. And even things like space manufacturing. I remember, as Director, I participated out in Boulder, with other people across the federal government on what can we do to support commerce? You know, it as we go into space, we have the Space Force. Now. There, there weren’t any women’s spacesuits. Okay, that’s one, there’s a lot of trash up in space that needs to be given. There are lots of opportunities and MEP here is working as part of that group to to help those companies that are interested and have products and or want to pivot and go into theirs to do those kinds of things. Oh, and then let’s talk about workforce. Oh, my goodness, there are the MEP centers have been doing and supporting, helping smaller manufacturers get the the workers that they need training that they need connected for as long as they’ve been out there. It’s not been I would say, not necessarily Okay, lead with that. But when you are reconfiguring your, your plant floor or you’re trying to lean out your processes, a lot of it has to do with the people that are there. And so the NDP has always done a lot. And now, even more so in a lot of very specific things, internships and connections with different organizations in the area that the prisons, the schools, you know, really reaching out to, to build that workforce that is needed in manufacturing, Manufacturing Day started as something to help get people aware of the opportunities in manufacturing. And that started with a lot of help from the MEP centers, and even more help is coming on their automation. Oh, my goodness. We’ve had I remember, as rector, we would have some staff meeting that staff meetings, you know, meetings with the centers, and they had robots helping out with the meetings and you could see it in like, oh my gosh, this is crazy. Or going on plant tours and seeing all of the automation and all of the, the Cobots and everything that you know, that are out there. I mean, it’s unbelievable. And then let’s talk about the different types of materials that are used. That, you know, allow people to do different things. This is how I, I mean, I have actually seen everything. I don’t think there’s anything I have not seen me. I mean seriously, I’ve been thinking about the other day. I went to a company again this was another one in Rhode Island that was using different types of materials to make the seats and rides in amusement parks so that they can take the deep plunge isn’t scary half to death and had in fact one of the the rides the seats that people would get it had 25 speakers that are all around to really immerse you into the sound of the drop of, you know, the water of this Your screams. And, I mean, they’re the composites that are out there now. Incredible. And then printing, 3d printing additive manufacturing, you hear a bunch of different kinds of things. There’s a place not far from here, a microfactory Local Motors that actually printed a car, they print cars, they printed a bus autonomous, these things don’t run by themselves. I mean, I can’t I’m about to go out to California and San Francisco next week. And I’m a little nervous because autonomous vehicles I understand all the taxis are supposed to be there and I’m like, Oh my God, I don’t think I can do that. But if I see it, maybe I can handle that. But I mean, this is everything that that that MVP and I haven’t even touched on stuff but even more

Damon Pistulka 41:09
so awesome. Alicia Carol, you guys cuz your Uzi Azzam is infectious for manufacturing. And I love that I love that because it is, as listen you listen to you. And you think about our world, everything we touch just about was manufactured yet and you know it came from somewhere, is there’s a story behind it. And when you think to what you said earlier, most of the manufacturers are 25 people and under. It’s the company that’s right down the street from you. You don’t even know it. That’s the thing. That’s the thing that I this amazes me every single day when I when I realized oh my goodness. They’re making that right over there. Now. Me? Yeah. Yeah.

Curt Anderson 42:05
Yeah, half the time. They don’t have a sign up front. Yeah, nearly Yeah. Barely a sign their leg. And that’s the thing like the humility in Kirov is just sharing like, we just did a live in livestream an hour ago, whatever it was even a couple hours ago. It was manufactured in Illinois, in the business owner founded in 1997 27 years, the guy was so humble, so proud. In radon, he said, You know what? We, our processes were not good, right? They meant exactly what he said, our processes were not good. We had to reach out to the MEP, they came in and just really streamlined the whole process, you know, so let’s go here, Carl, I know you have another video that we want to share. And I know you are busy person, I want to keep you all day. Let’s get in here. And let’s go what are people saying about the MEP? Let’s go to this one. Yeah. Can you guys see that? Yes. And let’s go make it bigger. And then let’s play.

43:07
We went from a five figure number in Mexico to a six figure number. In one year, we had a 12 100% growth in our in our revenues from that export opportunity. And we were submitted without us knowing the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Week where we were told come on down in May, you’re going to receive an award, I would encourage anybody to look at the MVP program on a national level and say, Where can I get best practices, continuous improvement efficiencies that reduce my cost? Where can I get greater opportunities to grow my revenues, and have a partner that doesn’t take a lot out of me to do that? We as Americans ought to be looking at the manufacturing extension partnership, once you come out and visit me, so that you can see in real life, how we put our pants on one leg at a time, do stuff in America, using the MVP as an extension of who we are, I get two more arms because of MVP, I get two more legs because MVP, I get a library that’s bigger than my brain. Because of MVP,

44:11
I would describe our relationship as a trusted business advisor. They they’re really a partner in our business and that when we’re faced with a new challenge that we don’t have the internal resources to tackle so they really become an extension of our company, an extension of our management team. And and really a trusted business advisor and partner, to help us to innovate, to become more competitive to find new markets.

44:38
We had the idea that we wanted to grow but didn’t know how to when we started working with MEP. We were a two person company and now currently we have 28 employees. Our annual revenues have gone up roughly 10,000% MVPs relationship with us has been good for the community because snowing have we grown? Our suppliers have also grown with us we influence as many as 200 employees in our community,

45:07
before MEP. We were two people working out of a two car garage, after MEP, things change, not only do you grow, and everything around you cross

Carroll Thomas 45:26
and I got a chance to visit a couple of places. Oh my God, love those hats. Love those hats. Oh, my goodness. And the burgers are wonderful. My husband and wife, owner and they are, you know, wonderful, wonderful people. Absolutely wonderful people.

Curt Anderson 45:47
And there’s 1000s and 1000s of those stories around the country. Cathy’s still here and I think Kathy, you’re in California. In one community, we did two charts a human body and an airplane and showed the students in community, how very how many parts and medical solutions were made in their backyard?

Carroll Thomas 46:06
Great.

Curt Anderson 46:07
This is a very lean manufacturing innovative product. So Kathy, thank you again, for all that you do to help manufacturers. And again, I think Carol kind of theme you know, our manufacturers are the heroes of our economy. They’re the backbone, and just you know, in, you know, it was unfortunate sometimes you have to like you know, lose sight of something to realize how much you need to appreciate it or when this little thing I don’t care. Did you hear about this thing called COVID? You know, like COVID comes along. And awesome disruption, you’re like, hey, maybe we shouldn’t have ignored this industry as long. So let’s go here as we’re, why are we doing a timer? We’ve got a couple of minutes left. Carol, what are you excited about? I mean, like your boy, this enthusiasm this past hour has just been like, amen. Are you ready to run through a wall or one? Girl moving forward? What are you excited about for the future? Young folks, by all the cool kids going in manufacturing? Why are you just so thrilled on the future of manufacturing?

Carroll Thomas 47:03
Well, here’s the thing. All right. Now, you’re gonna hear this here first. Between 2009 and now, we lost about 70,000 manufacturers. And a lot had to do with some overseas, you know, to get lower prices, a lot had to do with legacy companies where the family didn’t want to take over many different reasons. But with all of the new technology with the need with a desire to have more things fade here in the US with sort of what they call the expansion. Now this is something I did read on LinkedIn. And in fact, I reposted it manufacturing supercycle, we are going into a manufacturing supercycle because those companies that mean that was too much to lose 70,000 companies was way too much to lose. And with all the things coming on now, what you have are new manufacturing, firms that are being opened up with new technology, with the people already upskilled they didn’t have to be upscaling because you have younger workers that know how to use different types of machinery, welding is not welding anymore, you now can pre well see what it’s going to look like in a digital twin, and then actually go in and do it. And when you do it, you’re doing it more efficiently, making sure that everything is correct. It’s a it’s a way to manufacture and, and like do a dry run or a pilot before you actually do it so that it cuts down on mistakes that cuts down on time that you may use on making something and then having to remake it, all kinds of things. So this supercycle is going to create a clusters around the country that maybe this cluster is very much interested in everything that has to do with medical devices or what’s plastics, extrusion and what the extrusion now is with moles with one of a kind types of manufacturing. When I had my manufacturing company it was to make very large wall decor very, very large for like I know I did for a University of Pennsylvania. The oncology ward for, you know, airport for different types of things. So each piece was different. And you had to do a lot of work beforehand. Now, you’d have a CAD CAM setup, you can see what it looks like in advance on the said, the digital twin, you have it all set up so that when you go to do it, especially those custom things, those very specialized types of things that you’re manufacturing, things that that take up precious metals, you know, titanium and different kinds of things, you’re not, you don’t have as much waste, you have a lot less expenses, you can keep your margins much better, because now you can do it digitally first, and then go ahead and actually do it. And then let’s not even talk about what’s happening with the artificial intelligence. Now that you can, you know, bring in someone who knows just a little bit about, you know, manufacturing, and get help them to learn through artificial intelligence, you know how to do it, and then they can think of how to do it better, and how to do it faster, how to do it cheaper, you know, so now you you have the additional brain, like you got your brain and you got that other brain that’s, you know, your electronic brain and your diverse group of colleagues all working together to solve a problem. It’s it is, I can, it’s way beyond exciting. It’s the kind of thing that if we have this conversation, I would say, in 2026, in October, you’re going to like, Oh, we’re in the middle of it, we’re in the middle of it, this is really happening and and you can’t even see an end to it. That’s happening. I think that the resurgence or the excitement and just say, excitement about manufacturing is gathering more steam and spreading out to people who may not have thought of manufacturing before, or only knew a very small part of manufacturing to see the scope and the breadth and the depth of what’s really making something producing something. What it means is, is it’s infecting, it’s infecting a lot more people in this country than then maybe we had before. It’s not just for the engineers anymore. It’s for all our designers. It’s for it’s for everybody. You know, manufacturing is for everybody. And that’s why one of the big reasons why we celebrate Manufacturing Day, always the first Friday in October

52:50
All right. I gotta go. I

Curt Anderson 52:52
gotta go run through a wall right now. I’ll be Yeah, it’s a renaissance, right. It’s just a renaissance and just you just feel the momentum. And again, you know, Damon that you said it earlier, like just you know, parlaying all of the tools, the resources, the gifts of everybody, right, it just, it just so exciting. Carol, what you’re describing here, just now. Damon, you heard it. We have this recorded she’s coming back on October 26. Yeah. Yeah, multiple times between now and then. But Carol, I heard we have a date. Right You and I have a date? October 26. You have it on record. So we’re gonna have you back and we’re gonna geek out in further great comments here today. We’ve got you know, love the enthusiasm. Nancy our friend again. Check out Nancy. She’s doing manufacturing Mavericks. Check her out what she’s got going on. So Nancy, thanks, Carol. Let’s take it home. We’re running. We’re running down in time. How about Damon? I might go there. I might go there with a baseball question. But anyway, before Are you baseball? Girl? Yes. Yes. Gotta do it. Yes. Yes. Girl now you’re a Maryland gal if I if I recall correctly.

Carroll Thomas 54:02
Yeah, but I’m married to a Yankees fan.

Curt Anderson 54:07
Oh, you’re married to a Yankees. Damon sorry can I so well. The Yankees are not in the playoffs this year. So like we’re seeing this

Damon Pistulka 54:13
one but the Orioles are doing really?

Carroll Thomas 54:15
Well. I definitely have been Orioles fan Orioles and a national fan. But when was the last game I went to an Orioles game just a few weeks ago so Oh yes. Had to go see it. Well, and it was another guys. Oh, honey, I’m taking you to see the Yankees but they were playing in New Orleans

Curt Anderson 54:36
in the Orioles right and who made the playoffs? Right. Oh, yeah, yeah, I turned on that one. Right. So okay. Kathy says the Phillies. Whoever your team is dropping?

Carroll Thomas 54:45
Yeah. Yeah, I do like the Phillies because I live in Philadelphia. School and everything. Yeah.

Curt Anderson 54:53
You got a little silly background. So Carol hurt. Here’s my here’s my question for you. Are you ready? Are you sitting down for this one? All right. All right. Here we go. Okay, let’s pretend we’ll go with the Yankees. Okay, we’ll go with the Yankees since uh, you know you’re married to Yankee fan. So let’s say hypothetically This is a pure hypothetical we’re asking for a friend. Okay? So it’s a bottom of the ninth. There’s a runner on second base item of the night, there’s two outs. It’s a tie score and there’s a runner on second base. Okay? The manager for the Yankees is Aaron Boone and Aaron Boone looks down on the bench and he says hey, Thomas Carroll get up to the plate hit run because I’ve got dinner reservations I’ve got to get out we got to finish this game for goodness gracious as a fan are getting unsettled we need a win. We need that runner to score can you please go up and hit the running the winning run? Okay, you grab your bat. Yeah, you’re walking to the plate that what is your walk up song? Oh oh my gosh, what is your way to hit in the winning run? Is what is Carol Thomas’s walk everybody the MVP network wants to know so we’re dying. What is cool Thomas’s walk up song.

Carroll Thomas 56:14
We are the champions. We are the

56:21
that’s a new one. That’s awesome.

Curt Anderson 56:25
Gerald, that was impressive. Because he didn’t know. Right here, right. Did you see the irony? Did you see the irony in the manufacturing queen? Who did she pick for a band Queen crane. So alright, so guys wind down. So Carol Thomas. Thank you. We applaud you We salute you. We send you tons of love and just we just cannot express our gratitude for your just your tenacity, your fierce enthusiasm for manufacturing this wonderful career that you’ve had guys connect with Carol on LinkedIn, check out the MEP network, check out your local MEP. Most importantly go out and like high five a manufacturer just give them a pat on the back. Tell them how awesome the iron curves are young folks get in their demon takeaways from you dude, what are your thoughts on

Damon Pistulka 57:18
I just think this is a great way for us to kick off manufacturing month and to be able to talk with you Carol and just just feel the enthusiasm that you bring to the table and the manufacturers and your experience and and just happy to be able to be here today and and celebrate manufacturing. What

Carroll Thomas 57:36
Thank you Damon, I can see the excitement in your eyes and like he’s gonna explode effect. And then current carts gone. He’s done. Yeah. He’s toast, you know, he kept away. From me there everybody. Listen, if you know a manufacturer that does not know about MEP, please, please, please help them. I mean, truly help them and tell them about the MVP because it we will not be the best kept secret anymore. And if you have a friend that you don’t tell them about MVP, they’re going to be upset with you. If you already know about them, and you haven’t told them. I’m not kidding you. I’m telling you, if there had been an MEP back then Carol would never have gone to QVC would never have gone to NIST MEP. I would still be running my my plant. Thank you. Well,

Curt Anderson 58:34
you know, I’ve one last question for it. Carol. I have one less. Okay. Great career you just mentioned National Gallery of Art, you’re an entrepreneur QVC we’ve got any p your supplier, I think what your supply chain rule, you’re in the supply chain side of things, right. When to SPDC back to MEP became the director? What was the best decision that you made throughout your incredible career? What was the what do you feel was the best decision and you can be humble, you can be modest, whatever. What do you feel was the best decision that you made through your career? Hmm,

Carroll Thomas 59:12
well, I think I told you, Kurt that I had a point at QVC where I was really good buyer, I could really you know, negotiate a great deal get good product and stuff. And I did that with a gentleman where he lost his his home and then he committed suicide. I just sat myself down and say okay, who are you You know alone who are you what is your purpose here in life and I walked away from a much much more lucrative position to come to to be a and be honored to work with what I call the saints, the manufacturing ascension partnership network of people in every single center at NIST MEP. And with all of the partners, including this, including parts of commerce, including, you know, across the federal government, and every single organization out there in the manufacturing ecosystem, doing that was was the best decision I have ever made.

Curt Anderson 1:00:39
Yeah, great. And you know what? Oh, that’s be thankful there wasn’t an MVP back then. Because you brought your superpowers your talents into the world. And just think of like, how many manufacturers that you’ve had an impact on? And you’ve shared how like you went to all 50 states? You visit dozens, hundreds, probably, you know, I don’t know. 1000s. But you know, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds

Carroll Thomas 1:01:01
20. Almost 25,000.

Damon Pistulka 1:01:03
Is it? 25,000? Yes. Oh, my goodness.

Carroll Thomas 1:01:10
You don’t make anything that I haven’t seen. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 1:01:12
so awesome.

Curt Anderson 1:01:15
So I could keep you here. You and I could chat all day, so and we won’t we won’t even get into like that creepy guy that came up gave me a huge hug at the National MVP conference. We were like, Hey, who is this guy? Right. And I just gave her a big bear hug. So I was so excited. Oh, well, why down? So guys, thank you for joining us today. Thank you for being just wonderful guests, your guests in attendance here. Thank you for joining us. And so thank you go out and celebrate Manufacturing Day. Carol. Thank you. We send tons of love to you. We appreciate you. We’re gonna have you back over and over again. Guys just go out and be someone’s inspiration just like our dear friend this amazing young woman Alvin’s daughter just be an inspiration like Alvin’s daughter Damon take it away

Damon Pistulka 1:02:10
wow that’s all I’m gonna say. You know we get lucky here Kurt you and I get to talk with all these awesome people from manufacturing and how we’re celebrating you know in manufacturing months but Carol it’s very special to be able to have you on and talk and hear your enthusiasm and share our passion for manufacturing and and and why we should be proud of what we can do here in the United States. So I want to thank everyone that listened. We had a ton of comments today if we didn’t get to you and get you on the screen. Sorry, but we we appreciate you we appreciate you listening. We appreciate the comments and and as Kurt said, go out and tell people about this. Tell people about manufacturing. Tell them about manufacturing. tell young people tell people coming out of college, tell people that want to find a different career about manufacturing, right because there’s a place for him. So

Curt Anderson 1:03:06
retired people and hey, and we’ve got the iMac bus tour. We’re gonna be live here with the iMac plus tour on Monday at 1230 Eastern time. 1130 Central so we will see you guys on the bus. So alright, yep. And

Damon Pistulka 1:03:18
later today, I’m actually doing a webinar on m&a University, for manufacturers about keys to building a business someone will actually want to buy. So, have a great day everyone and we’ll be back again, hanging out with this one second girl. You

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