31 Mar Millennials in MFG
When it comes to millennials in manufacturing, they are fairly uncommon. Either it is because of the lack of industry knowledge, the stigma of manufacturing, or maybe some other reason. However, today we will find out about the exciting roles that millennials can play in manufacturing.
In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Mike Womack. Mike is the Marketing Project Manager at NJMEP. He specializes in building a strong brand presence. Mike is a millennial who found manufacturing in a time when many have not.
The conversation started with Curt asking Mike about how he got into website development and when. To this, Mike responded by saying that he developed his very first website when he was just 6 years old. He said that one day, he asked his dad how to surf the internet and his dad showed it to him. This is when he told his father that he already knows how to develop a website.
After this, Mike also shared how he got his first job at a manufacturing agency. In between the conversation, Mike talked a little bit about millennials in manufacturing and also what they do at the NJMEP.
He said that their job is to help manufacturers become more competitive locally and globally. Apart from this also guide these manufacturers in reducing their waste and remaining more efficient and productive.
Further, into the conversation, he said that when it comes to manufacturing extension programs, every state has its own programs. This means that New Jersey MEP is a standalone organization. While talking about millennials in manufacturing, he also talked about how various business models affect digital marketing strategies as well.
After this, there was a question from the audience. Bonnie asked Mike that is there any specific sector that you work with? To this, Mike responded saying that it is mostly manufacturing. He said that they are working with the digital presence of manufacturers.
Mike also said further in the conversation that when it comes to manufacturers, they are really good at making and creating things, but they don’t put enough effort into explaining what those things are.
He said that they help these manufacturers in building their presence on digital platforms.
By the end of the conversation, Mike talked a little more about millennials in manufacturing. He said that some people still don’t know what SEO is and why should they. He said that it is not the responsibility of these people to actually know about SEO when they are running their businesses successfully.
After this, he shared how they worked at the NJMEP during the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that they digitalized all of those projects that they could and that is how they worked.
The conversation ended with Damon and Curt thanking the Guest.
Mike Womack is the Marketing Project Manager at NJMEP. At this firm, he specializes in building a strong brand presence. He also works for creating and maintaining business relationships through digital platforms such as social media and other platforms.
Apart from this, Mike has experience in Content development, copywriting, and Brand Development as well. Moreover, he is also a member of the Forbes Communication Council. Before this, Mike was a Marketing Manager at Hamilton Buhl and a Social Media Marketing Manager at Rovere Media.
As for his educational experience, Mike has a Bachelor’s degree in New Marketing Strategies from William Paterson University of New Jersey.
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Millennials in Manufacturing
manufacturing, mep, manufacturers, michael, e commerce, damon, people, meps, configurator, conversation, business, understand, new jersey, talk, linkedin, product, bonnie, create, kurt, manufacturing company
Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson, Mike Womack
Damon Pistulka 00:00
We’re gonna start the presentation. I’m going to go live on LinkedIn. We’re gonna hit. I hear the music going live on LinkedIn.
Okay, nice. All right, sugar.
Damon Pistulka 00:11
Welcome everyone once again to the manufacturing ecommerce Success Series. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka and my co host and the other co host with me today, Kurt Anderson. Kurt, take it away, brother, and you got a new shirt for us today. What’s up? I want to be a manufacturer when I grow up. Awesome, dude.
Curt Anderson 00:36
So, man, I just I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I am just so fired up for this program. guys. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for everybody here on remote. Thank you for everybody on LinkedIn live. We got Dan bigger we got Gail. I think Chris Harrington is here, Kevin. So our dear friend, guys. Thank you. Thank you. We have Damon Pistulka our wonderful host from exit your way in Seattle. My name is Kurt Anderson. And guys, I had this shirt made just this week. So and this is a configurator Chris Harrington This was made this guide I love this T shirt shop out of Philly Michael.
I went on on Tuesday, I could pick my own shirt, I could put my own writing. So for manufacturing and man, their customer service was off the charts. This was like textbook, we should copy what they do, and preach it to manufacturers. So guys, our intro today is Michael Womack. Man, I’ve been excited about this for months, I had the honor and privilege of meeting Michael through Dan Biggers Twitter chat group, which we’re going to be talking about in a couple weeks. Michael, welcome. Happy Friday. Dude, we’re so excited to have you here.
Mike Womack 01:45
I’m so happy to be here. I really am. I’m so happy to demand the introduction. And Dan, thank you so much. And it’s really nice to make your acquaintance as well. I really, really am excited for the conversation today.
Curt Anderson 01:57
So to kick things off, so to kick things off our topic. So a couple things. And Michael, I’m gonna apologize to you. I know you feel really bad because you have all your hair and you have no gray hair. I know you feel a little left out with us hanging out with the guys that have no hair. And you know, if I if I grew it out, it’s all gray. So you know, David, you know, I know about these millennials coming on our program, you know,
Damon Pistulka 02:22
we just we just got to remember wage like find one man,
you know exactly
Curt Anderson 02:26
what we’re just we’re just we’ve been on the planet a little longer, we’re more experienced. So guys, Michael Womack is with the New Jersey MEP. If the MEP is new to you, it’s the manufacturing extension partnership. And so this is a great story. So this young man graduated from college in 2015. And could go off, let me just you’re getting a good taste of this personality that charisma, the enthusiasm could have gone off and done anything. He chooses manufacturing. So my first question to you, let’s go back in time a little bit. Okay. All right. Your first website, Michael, when did you build your first website?
Mike Womack 03:03
I was probably six or seven. And it was one of the first like, Website Builder apps that were kind of out on my old school with dial up chunk of a computer in my, in my family room. Right. And it was it was just about content and trying to get people to it really so.
Curt Anderson 03:21
So just for just kind of put it in perspective, Damon and I were probably watching Sesame Street at dust, right? So like I thought it
was it was it
Curt Anderson 03:31
was like, you know, wasn’t even heard of. So anyway. So you build your first website at six years old? Like how would what though?
Mike Womack 03:38
I asked my dad one day, I heard it on probably a cartoon or something. How do I surf the web? And he goes, Alright, here’s the, you know, here’s the internet at the time. He typed it in, I was like, Oh, I can make one of those. And I didn’t know what one of those was. So I just learned what a website was. Google how to make a website. Actually, there was no Google at the time, I just looked up how to make a website. And then there was a one website builder, it may have been Dreamweaver that I used at the time. It’s not even compatible.
That version with any of the stuff that we use today. Yeah, but I just use Dreamweaver, checked out some stuff on HTML and how to build code and just copied and pasted most of it, and then just had a form. And that was all I was at the time. Yeah. Ken and then what I was trying to do is get people to it. That’s what I was most interested about. Not necessarily building it, getting people to do it.
Curt Anderson 04:30
Trying to figure out traffic to the site. So so that okay, kind of laid the foundation there. We kind of had an idea where Michael is going to head with his career forward. So Michael, you graduated from college in 2015. Kind of pretty good. What what’s your first job? And what did that look like?
Mike Womack 04:48
So my senior year, I was helping my aunt pull up rugs from her new house that she just bought. And a guy came in there friends apparently and I started Oh, I used to babysit you when you were kids like oh how funny you know Pull it up, pull it up, rubs, pulling up rubs. And then my mom goes, you know, Craig has a marketing agency. So we started talking. And he said, You want an internship? Absolutely.
So I got an internship there my senior year, which was a requirement for my major. And I’m very thankful for William Paterson for making that happen. Start working there, part time. Then, full time, during the summer when I was doing summer classes, and he walks up to my cubicle and goes, we have to have you when you graduate, I want to hire you. So while I was in that internship, I realized most of the clients were TLD.
And manufacturers didn’t realize you know, what it was didn’t really kind of make the connection yet. But I had to read articles, I had to learn the industry. So my first job was offered to me when with that internship, and it just so happened to be an agency that worked with manufacturers and logistics companies exclusively. Wow. Awesome. Yeah.
Curt Anderson 05:55
Now, now, you showed me a funny story, the first day of your job, what did you do on the first day of your job?
Mike Womack 06:01
So again, I had a great approach. I had great professors, great teachers, great school, great education was expensive. So should have been great, right? But I sat down my first day of the internship, and how to get to work. What is work? I was the social media director, I was the one that was kicking this agencies campaign and social media campaign off the person that was supposed to be creating the services for their clients. I had no idea what to do. Not a clue, not a clue. I realized what’s going on.
I have all this knowledge. But there’s no substance. There’s no school doesn’t teach you how to do business. Yeah, it gives you a set of skills. So I googled, what does a Social Media Manager do? And it became my lifeline for a couple days.
Curt Anderson 06:56
First day in a job he told me, he told me that story. The other day, I was crying. First day, my job I’m googling, what do I do on my job? I’m like, No, I
Mike Womack 07:07
was just when social media kind of became true substance, started getting that real foundation into not just being like, a cool thing to act like an extra cool thing to have more of like this to be business critical. So it was just a time where people were starting to talk real about social media, at least from what I’ve seen. And then I just kind of implanted myself into that conversation to build that out and extrapolate that even more.
Curt Anderson 07:33
So Michael, let’s talk. Let’s talk a little bit when you when you went this direction, like what drove your passion for manufacturing?
Mike Womack 07:43
So if I didn’t have it at first, I didn’t know anything about manufacturing. I, you know, going up through school, no one talked about manufacturing, actually, everyone when it was brought up, manufacturing was dead. That’s what the conversation was right? There is no new US manufacturing. That’s all I knew. I didn’t have the wherewithal at the time growing up to realize that my mom works for a manufacturing company, and my dad works for manufacturing company. Both are based in America, ones based in Jersey.
So so but when I started working through the ad agency, again, I had to read a lot. I had to learn. I was curating posts, I had to read everything I sent out through my clients. Twitter accounts, because it’s representing them. I had to write articles, I had to write articles about the industry. And the more I learned, the more I realized, wait a second, manufacturing isn’t dead in America.
My parents worked for manufacturers, let’s move past that one. And, and and of course, it was that there’s so much happening in the industry right now. Yeah. It was a pivotal moment. Maybe it was just lucky. Maybe I just got lucky. I got in at the time where 3d printing was being spoken about in a real way, the Internet of Things was a concept that man created. It was truly a transformative time for the industry.
And I just got swept up in it. I mean, it was amazing learning more experiencing meeting the people understanding what was actually happening, looking around the room. Right now everyone here can look around the room and realize that everything in that room was manufacturing. Yeah, isn’t it and I just got swept up.
Damon Pistulka 09:14
That’s cool. That’s cool. So I just want to real quick I want to say hi to Bonnie. She’s watching us on LinkedIn and Rodney Canada’s back again. Thanks so much, Rodney. He was listening everybody last night, Kurt. So thanks everyone we’ve got Robertson’s is is on here on LinkedIn as well. Thanks a lot. But that’s you, you bring something really relevant up that man I get on this high horse all the time when I get a chance is in schools. We are not showing children that manufacturing is a viable option for a career path.
I don’t give a rip if you’re going to be an engineer or you are being a maintenance technician or you just run a piece of equipment or a scientist. Exactly. There is there is high levels of technology There’s great careers for somebody that wants to work with their hands. There’s great careers, if you want to work with people as a manager or something like that. There’s just marketing. And they don’t even talk about it anymore.
It just bugs me. But
Damon Pistulka 10:14
that’s me. I’m sorry.
Mike Womack 10:15
I mean, I see Jeff breeland in here. I mean, his acquaintance recently, and we actually had a mutual friend that is working as a scientist for bear. Again, they’re getting in manufacturing, there’s so much every career path is in manufacturing in some way, shape, or form. Or if you want, you can work with your hands. You could be a welder. I mean, I’ve been shopping my house now I prefer my garage into a blacksmith shop. Nice. It’s fun. It’s interesting.
Curt Anderson 10:44
And Mike, you just had an awesome post. I thought the other day. So you did the State of the Union. State of the State yesterday, I believe right, right there. And I thought I saw you hit a post the average what’s the average wage for manufacturing employee in New Jersey? In New Jersey? The
Mike Womack 10:59
average salaries over $92,000 a year? Yeah.
Curt Anderson 11:04
Yeah, yeah. Just what a What a great and just man if we could bottle up that enthusiasm, and Damon just so you know. So Michael and I were trademarking this shirt. So this is, we’re going on the roadshow. And all you got to do is just listen to Michael for like, five minutes, and you just ready to run through a wall.
And just every young person so might, you know, is going to want to just plunge into manufacturing, you’re such an asset, such an incredible gift to manufacturing and the New Jersey MEP. So let’s talk about maybe talking to your peers, your generation or now, you know, if you’re getting out talking to other college kids, high school kids, you know, you’re sharing your passion enthusiasm with us. I don’t know if you know, if crustaceans, like when you’re talking to other people, about your, your enthusiasm for manufacturing.
Mike Womack 11:52
So what’s what’s awesome is actually I have a friend that just became an apprentice welder, I have made I had friends that were, maybe they graduated with me, and they they’re still doing their high school, their jobs, and I’m saying, you know, guys, there’s great opportunity.
in manufacturing, they, they blew me off at first, they blew me off, you know, the second time around, and, and then, and then when they started kind of understanding, they see me, you know, given my do my song and dance about manufacturing over and over, because I swear, this is not an act, I have a hard time for it in the manufacturing conversation off, I truly, truly think this industry is critical. And that there’s so much opportunity, because again, we can talk about, you know, industry 4.0 new technologies, cloud conductivity and the processes improvements, right?
Because that’s all new tech, right? But then you go back to the hardcore manufacturing and, and what I try to explain is that there’s two worlds to manufacturing they’re colliding right now. So get in the middle of that, learn what you can. And I’m lucky enough to work for njmp, of course. So we get to work with the apprenticeship program here with Gaines grant in New Jersey. So I get some I before COVID, and all that stuff, I was actually every Friday, they would come into the office, we do the training.
And I would take pictures, again, I’m in the marketing spot. So I get to engage with these people, one on one, learn their stories, and then reinforce how amazing it is that they’re taking the step and that their companies actually, you know, investing in their time, and investing in them as an individual to upskill professional development actually learn more to grow within their organization. But then I also kind of get to share my passion with them. This is what you guys are doing. This is amazing. I got to go tour their facilities, create friendships. So I tried to spread the message as much as possible and some friends even take the take the advice.
Curt Anderson 13:42
That’s awesome. And so Damon’s you can tell like when Mike and I are in a conversation, man, it’s just like, fly in. We’re just our passion is just flying for manufacturing. So Michael, let’s talk a little bit about the MEP for anybody that you know, they’re like me, what what are you talking about? So in a big shout out to our friend Bonnie, so I just finished a webinar for the Montana MEP I just got done like less than an hour ago.
And Bonnie was on the program. We’re having a great conversation, helping manufacturers, you know, with their e commerce strategies there. Damon, I’ve had the privilege we’re doing this big e commerce webinar series at iMac, the Illinois me, Damon just crushed it on Tuesday. We have our second part of our series kicking off there in a couple weeks. Tony, tell everybody, what is the MVP? What is the mission? What do you guys do at the MVP and like so
Mike Womack 14:33
there’s one MVP in every state. We’re not a government organization. Every MVP could work independently of its own, but the mission itself is helped or partially funded by the NIST grant, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, right? They offer grants that men are that MEP centers can draw down once they actually produce which is awesome. So the MEP has to have to actually implement has to work with manufacturers to draw down these funds to help keep the costs lower. So the manufacturers have more access to these training consulting opportunities.
So that’s the MEP system. In general, our goal is to help us manufacturers become more competitive locally and globally while also reducing waste and remaining more efficient and productive. Now, again, every state can handle their MEP a little differently. nj MEP, the New Jersey manufacturing extension program. We are a standalone organization. So again, New Jersey five years ago if you asked the New Jersey Legislature they would say what is manufacturing actually a Senate President Steve Sweeney on state of state yesterday even said that was his first conversation what manufacturing in Jersey?
We don’t do that. There’s over 11,000 manufacturers in New Jersey, he’s 11,000, over 11,000 manufacturers stem firms, engineering companies, that’s an average company’s about 32 employees here. Yeah, um, so they’re small medium. And what nj MEP do is what we actively do is help engage with the industry whether that’s consulting, training, advocacy, like stay in the state, we didn’t make any money.
We weren’t, we weren’t charging people to do that. We weren’t selling product, we were connecting the industry with the with the New Jersey government to create a better environment. That’s our goal. We need to create a better environment for here, New Jersey manufacturers, and nationwide for manufacturing in general. So that’s kind of how that we create that ecosystem. We’re not an association, we do project based work, manufacturing, consulting, training, and upskilling. And that is the NDP environment in brief little taste.
Curt Anderson 16:47
That is absolutely awesome. And guys, thanks again. So john just joined us. He’s part of the Twitter group. And again, Dan, bigger, please, please drop your LinkedIn profile in the chat box. I put Michaels LinkedIn profile. Thank you, Kurt, please connect with Michael Damon myself. So you know, so again, is, you know, Michael, I’m very passionate to a lot of work with MEPs around the country.
And I think you have a program, a few slides that you want to pull up, if you want to pull those up. What we’re loving is this direction in the excitement and what you’re bringing to the table, you know, traditionally the MEPs, where they’re going to help you with ISO certifications, lean, operational excellence, you know, HR safety, a lot of these other facets. What’s super exciting, what we’re seeing now is now the MEP s are stepping up, and they’re helping manufacturers with marketing. So do you want to you want to talk about that a little bit? Yes. Are
Mike Womack 17:39
you seeing this slide with the focus in diversity on marketing strategy? Yeah, we are. Yeah. So so this is critical? Because, again, I’m so happy her you asked me to be part of this because ecommerce is something that I like to touch on. Often, it’s because a lot of people think about e commerce Amazon model, I don’t sell to consumers directly. I don’t have a widget yet. It can’t happen. Yeah. But as you can see from this, this word cloud here, then this is just NJP. But manufacturers word cloud should look like this. There’s blogs, there’s SEO, there’s email, there has to be collaboration and stop screaming, screaming, I just want to kind of put that out there for you. Hold on one second.
Damon Pistulka 18:21
So we got a question real quick from Bonnie. She says Michael, are there certain sectors you primarily work with? Or is it more general?
Mike Womack 18:29
It is all manufacturing in New Jersey, we work with all manufacturing New Jersey and because all manufacturing can take advantage of these new digital programs that we’re doing is industry 4.0. And manufacturing itself is transforming their processes their process improvements are always have transformed since the Industrial Revolution.
They’ve worked on improving their assembly line their their how they put their products together. But oftentimes they forget about how to tell people about their process improvements and how their products I always say manufacturers are really good at making stuff, but not always so great at telling people what they do, or what they sell or what they have, right. So the MEP network as a whole and in, especially in nj MVP, we’ve been focusing on new methods to help with business growth.
So the business growth suite, marketing support social media support, e commerce support, working with webinars working with with new ways, new sales channels to develop leads and actually produce yourself Damon, you and I were just talking about this right beforehand.
It doesn’t matter if you get a million hits on on your on your website, it doesn’t matter if you get if you have 10,000 followers, if you only have one customer out of that whole thing, that one customer is the when you have one customer if you have 100 customers and 100 followers on Twitter, and those 100 people buy your product every single week, that’s more valuable than having a trillion followers and no one is a customer. So, so understanding that is not always so common sense.
Yeah. Why would it be executive a manufacturing company that has a PhD in engineering only sees the number he wants as many followers as possible. So, MEP network is working to kind of explain and help and console and train manufacturing companies to understand marketing at a more fundamental level, and actually cares, the cares act, provided the MEP network with some funds, every again, every MEP center could utilize them differently, but one of the programs that njmp developed was cares marketing.
So we can actually work with you and reduce those costs to help manufacturers especially during a COVID situation, utilize different marketing channels to help build their business up. So and and that’s a long winded answer to your question is all sectors because all sectors can benefit in some way shape or form from the MVP network.
Curt Anderson 20:54
Now you’re ready to head in you know, as so I do a lot of work with different MEPs. And that’s exactly right. So the Cures Act funds are coming in and infiltrating into the manufacturers to help them the my the rep from impact Washington that I work with, when we’re on we’re on calls with clients, he comes around, he comes right out he goes, my goal is that you’re not going to pay for a thing.
That’s what he tells us manufacturers goes, that’s what I’m here for. He was I’m looking for every grant every resource every this resource partners that they have, you know, like select myself, Damon, that were coming in and trying to help elevate, you know, so that is that is phenomenal to hear a couple comments, our BFF Dan, bigger the man, the plan. MEPs are a fantastic resource of information, read them, you’ll learn a lot. He’s very active with the New York MEP, our buddy, Steve Leto, and fuse hub.
And of course, our friend, Jeff breeland, you’d be a lot cooler if you connect with me. So connect with Jeff on on. And so. So back with the MEPs. Let’s talk a little bit about, say, you know, you’re probably doing a lot of different scopes of manufacturers where Michael, you might have one that says, hey, Michael, what is Seo? So you’re going to engage that conversation, you might have someone that’s very sophisticated and be like, Hey, I’m trying to really crush my backlinks and my on site, you know, a little bit more sophisticated. How are you handling like that, that different level? or How are those conversations going with those manufacturers.
Mike Womack 22:19
So the way nj MEP works is we’re much heavier, heavily based on project based work, we are just starting to get the support from the state and the any center network is supposed to be one third funded by federal, state, and then one third by project work. So we have to really kind of diversify our service offerings. And the way we work is by partnering with a bunch of partner resources. So we have a huge subset of resources that work with njmp as nj MEP that we can implement project based work.
So if it’s someone that’s very rudimentary ground level doesn’t know anything, we have a whole kind of educational workshop calendar njdep on the event side, that they can start understanding start working, or they can work with a resource on kind of a lower, not as robust of a marketing program, they could start with education, they can start with slight consulting and maybe support, like the cares program is 20 hours of no cost consulting work with the consulting section tapped on the end, like so you get to get through the training and then you get and you get to work with the consultant on a consultant based, you know, project based level, right?
So we kind of work whether it’s you start you know, with a consultant, you start getting in there and you start working on a backlink campaign. Or if you need to understand what a backlink is, first, we have different levels of different resources that we can employ and implement to really match your solution. Well, I
Damon Pistulka 23:50
think this is you Brian one good point here the education piece is so important because we’ve got a we’ve got a whole bunch of manufacturing executives that look like me, right? Don’t probably probably didn’t grew up before computers were really a thing and yeah, and may not may not understand what backlinks are, they may not know where their dollars should be spent in, in digital, whatever or e commerce and I really think that the educational piece that the MVPs are putting out there is so valuable for them just to get dangerous, right?
Because otherwise they have all these people coming at them with different technical solutions. And how do I watch right? Well, the education gives you that knowledge to be able to make a decision
Mike Womack 24:37
and Damon I want to make a point there’s people that look like me that that don’t know what SEO is because that’s not their space. If you’re a welder and industrial welder and you just kind of got the got the bull by the horns and start your own business with a with a rehab shop. Why do you know what SEO is? It’s not your job is to know SEO. So it’s just it’s just people. Some people are experts in metal fabrication and understanding metallurgy. I don’t know that all I know is from the from the fortune fire shows metal I should use my knives. But it’s it’s totally different when it’s not your space and you don’t have to be an expert in everything so so partner with one.
Curt Anderson 25:18
Yeah, that’s that’s a phenomenal point Damon averages we run live last night we were talking I kid around where you know, say if you take retail before you probably a little before your time, Mike or when you’re back creating that first website at six years old. But, you know, in the late 90s when it was starting to hit the internet, we’re starting to hit retail the service sector, say you know, plumbers, hair salons, which I don’t go to, but you know, so like that those service sectors were you know, they would take a phonebook ad out for anybody who remembers what a phonebook was, you would send it out and you’re set for the year.
Well, manufacturers had the luxury were like, you know what, the internet’s not gonna affect us. You know, we do trade show. Mouth, soon, so jumps in the car and jumps up sales. Well, obviously, that’s been eroding and changing. Like there’s been like little crown is nipping at their heels for years.
All sudden, COVID hits? Well, now we have no trade shows. Now. We can’t go in person. Let me let me touch on that real quick, Michael. So like it again, I work with a lot of different MEPs. You know, that hit the MEPs. Last year were like, say they were doing lean projects. I saw that’s all required to be on site. How did you guys so like even though MEPs had to pivot? How did you guys get through 2020? Or what’s the 2020 lick lick for you.
Mike Womack 26:31
So I’m really thankful, again, njmp. We work like a business. So we really kind of have to make sure that we have project based work in it. And growing up. So our team is a little larger than the average MVP center for a one center state. So we have about 40 people in our center. And we have different teams. So we have a Kathleen Baldwin, you’re amazing. If you’re listening to this and ever do, she understood that we needed to pivot she was the one that controlled all of our open enrollment. Yep. So she said, All right, we have a system for open enrollment, you get people registered, how do we now make it all digital?
So we took the projects that we could, you know, we had to understand and and kind of figure out like a electronic value stream mapping process and the value stream mapping to kind of implement that work, but immediately, Kathleen’s right on it, and started kind of shifting and working with our operations team, to figure out a system that we can make zoom links of the training that can happen out of person immediately. So we were able to start working on our calendar. The first week in March 2 week in March, we kind of had the foresight to go for it. I started hurting these trainings and these open enrollments and these implementing projects in Suzumiya.
So we actually and then, of course, from there, it’s like everything else continuous improvement. It’s yet All right, this isn’t working, let’s tweak this dial, split this knob. And now we’ve kind of created the system. We ran an entire state of the state yesterday with over I think we have over 500 people registered nurses, you really put 150 concurrent viewers at any one time. And we ran it all digitally, virtually through event platform visible and our partners clarity experiences now so we had this entire environment that we were able to build digitally because of that continuous improvement and understanding.
Curt Anderson 28:15
That’s phenomenal. That’s okay. I remember I attended a program of yours. I think like back in August, I
Mike Womack 28:20
think or not Manufacturing Day,
Curt Anderson 28:22
man around October, right manufacture data. And you guys were you were super aggressive and did an excellent job. keynote speaker if I recall, and I just I so talk about that a little bit about how you guys tell Manufacturing
Mike Womack 28:35
Day first Friday of every October 1 Friday of every October, it’s celebrated to recognize manufacturing, we’re not in the conversation a lot, unfortunately, as much as I’d like. And here in New Jersey njmp your speed spearheads that event. It’s the largest manufacturing networking event in the state. And COVID. This is something that we planned since January. I mean, it was just unbelievable. We couldn’t even fathom what was going on. We had to look forward to canceling Manufacturing Day couldn’t happen.
And we have a lot of advocacy programs, we have a lot of scholarships that we help fund and a lot of teams that rely on the money that we bring the food drive that actually broke over $100,000 this past year. So super proud about that. But these these events that we host help fund those opportunities. We couldn’t just say to the food drive now sorry, we’re not going to give you a check this year. It just can’t happen. So we had to move, we had to figure it out. And that’s what we did. We just got to a nose to the grindstone. We searched the internet figured stuff out, and preemptively Of course, created a virtual Manufacturing Day. So again, you just kind of got to figure it out.
Curt Anderson 29:50
And that’s what’s awesome. Like so many the MEPs like you said, You know, I know they’re nonprofits like Montana. You know, I was in that workshop earlier there at Montana State. You know, in the direct I know Like your director is very cutting edge.
JOHN W. Kennedy.
Curt Anderson 30:03
Yeah. In talking about, like his vision a little bit of like, or like how he’s embracing marketing for manufacturers e commerce talk a little bit about that, Mike.
Mike Womack 30:11
So john kennedy is one of the most forward thinking business leaders I work for. And one of the most passionate, yeah. I’m passionate about manufacturing, talk to this guy trying to
Curt Anderson 30:23
fit in that team so well, right.
Mike Womack 30:24
And it’s, it must be because he is not content with the status quo. He, he understands that New Jersey manufacturers have a harder, harder lift than most states. So we need to do more, we need to go above and beyond, we need to provide support for these manufacturers that they didn’t even know they needed until it’s there. And they say, this is exactly what we wanted, what we needed to push us through. And he just, he’s disruption could be positive. I want to get that first. He’s a disrupter things are all.
Yeah, we’re all going everything’s content. Let’s change something. Now let’s figure something out to improve. The numbers are cool, good, good. But let’s improve because the more that we can improve, the more that we can offer our states manufacturers, right. So he is absolutely a driving force. I’d say one of the key driving forces behind the success of nj MEP, as well as the success and the positive trends that we’re seeing in manufacturing here in New Jersey.
Curt Anderson 31:21
Isn’t that what a delight, you know, when you think of like, I’m using the right term, you think of the MEP s are kind of like that quasi government, you know, and when you hear that you think, you know, bureaucracies slow to change. But that is not the case whatsoever.
And I’m telling you like across the country, the Emmy peas are just so cutting edge. so passionate about helping manufacturers elevate on whatever it is, you know, getting operational excellence, I saw so and so forth, what we’re super excited about, like, you know, again, Dave, and I work in with different manufacturers. MEPs is this whole marketing initiative, in what we’re in this what I want to jump into, you know, we could talk we could be here all day,
no running ads, I’m
Curt Anderson 31:58
here. Um, you know, we’ve been talking heavy with MEPs. about like, kind of that do it with you concept? And what we’re like the manufacturers and you hit it on the head earlier, like your buddy who’s, you know, they are manufacturing circuit boards, like nobody knows, you know, 3d printing, they bend metal, they cut steel, they are the experts at x, right? They’re the widget experts. But why would they know Google? There’s no reason they had no reason to know that, you know, so now all of a sudden, they’re like, Oh, no, we need to stop being the best kept secret.
What do we do? You know, okay, well, I hear this thing about pay per click, let’s, let’s hire somebody for you know, we’re gonna pay this firm, 50 grand a year, and it’s a colossal waste of like, bad, you know, bad keywords? Or we’re gonna try to do this or try to do that. What are some of the steps that you guys are doing to try to help educate, you know, digging deep into those manufacturers? Or like, you know, how are you helping them with that SEO strategy?
Mike Womack 32:52
So we don’t walk into a company and say, I know what you need. And I know what you need to do personally, but you got to do listen to us. Yep. First off, most of our employees are manufacturers, engineers, from your past lives. But we still don’t do that. What we do is sit in with a company and understand them we listen, we do it complemented completely no cost business assessment, completely compliment confidential, as well.
So we discussed your business, what pain points are you having because sometimes one pain point you only see the bottom line, this is what’s happening, our sales are down. So we need more leads, or our sales are down. So we need to upskill our salespeople, that might be true, but you also might be missing a market.
And you might not see that because this is how close you are to your business. But if you have a professional, a professional Technical Sales individual, like like the staff on njmp, work with you to uncover these these challenges and these hidden issues, we can then provide and work with you to kind of figure out exactly what you might need, work with you to see if it sounds good for you, if it fits with your business, and then implement. So that’s what our key goal is we have to listen to you for we have to learn you first. Because we don’t know what you mean. And we can’t tell you what you need. You have to learn you
Curt Anderson 34:08
gotta learn you first that dude, that’s such a good blind man. That is phenomenal. And look at the possible impact. So say, you know, take, you know, like our Dan, our good friend, Dan bigger, you know, Dan is just a relentless marketer. He is such an inspiration, dude, you’re right here, man. And let’s just say like CVT, you know, his, his, you know, it’s a custom manufacturer, and they’re like, Hey, you know, let’s try to get some keywords going. I don’t, you know, God bless them. They just don’t know pay per click or you know, that typical job shop, like you’re saying 32 employees, but you know what, we want to come up on search.
And we want to try to figure out that strategy and we want to figure out what to do. So the nice thing is from an MEP standpoint, you come in and like the lineup, Damon I always like to use How can we teach you how to fish, you know, so like the lower level folks that like that. I don’t know what like I just did this Montana, me webinar, and you’re talking about Google ads. And somebody raised a question you’re like, I don’t know what that is. How is that? Yeah, I got asked a week ago. What is Seo? You know, there’s no, there’s nothing wrong with they don’t know, now help educate them on how to use these strategies.
But look, what can happen. Michael, you come in with your expertise, your staff, and you teach them how to fish, maybe you know, more sophisticated folks, they don’t need to learn how to fish, you’re gonna fish with them. You have now you’re the trusted guide to try. And you’re like, hey, if you spend two grand on some paper, click on let’s just try it out. In what if the land a $50,000 bid? What if the latest six figure project just because they went after that keyword did a little Google ads, thanks to you guys, right? I mean, it look exactly great for you. I mean, it’s just such a great win, win win all the way around.
Mike Womack 35:55
And I just want to say, you know, I know we’re running out of time, but but again, as manufacturing, I’m gonna harp on a little bit as manufacturing has always improved their processes now they’re looking at ways to improve how they actually tell their story and engage with customers. And, and, yeah, you don’t know how to do that if you don’t know how to do that. So there’s opportunities there’s professionals, there’s people like Kurt and Damon out there that could and and the nj MEP in the MEP national network that can be there for you and that are there for you. All you got to do is reach out.
Curt Anderson 36:27
Right. And, and, and I think our friend Chris Harrington salon, right. She’s still with us. So I’m a huge, huge configurator I’m so bullish on configurators. I’m like pre anybody who wants to geek out and talk about configurators. Man, I’m in that conversation. Next Friday, we have Chris Harrington, the president of Gen alpha. And so I was, again, bring it up again, I just did a webinar. There’s a solar company out of Montana, they have a configurator on their site. So again, like working with an MEP, you know, I made this T shirt and a configurator.
By the way, you know, you can create a solar panel with a configurator. Just think of like when so let’s talk about e commerce for a second. Again, we got another we’ll sneak over Mike as we’re having so much fun. Learn about e commerce a little bit. So like that manufacturer that like, Hey, I’m a custom job shop somebody wants to make, you know, when I hear e commerce, I’m thinking of a finished good the T shirt, my pen? How do you have that e commerce conversation? Or like, are you hearing configurators? Like, what’s that e commerce conversation look like for you in Jersey with your manufacturers?
Mike Womack 37:34
So actually, after I left the ad agency, I went over to a manufacturing company because I wanted to see behind the curtain. And that manufacturer relied heavily on e commerce. I was a little confused. I said now e commerce doesn’t work for this. And they said, Excuse me, we’ve been doing this business for a while it does work because and I said okay, you’re probably right. Let me do some research and research about manufacturing e commerce and yeah, they were selling more than a product right they have one product two product three product. Well, as I was researching, I found out we there’s there’s so much more just like you said with the configurator.
If you have a custom job shop, I actually ordered some of my steel that I do for blacksmithing through a manufacturer with an e commerce platform, because I can just say how long I want my square bar, you know what kind of steel it is and mix and match and actually create my own product that then I get the purchase from the manufacturer direct. Never called them don’t know them. But I purchased their product because it’s easy. And it’s right there. And I don’t do much purchasing online. It was a conversation last week, but I had very specific points that I wanted from a manufacturer.
And I was busy. I needed that metal when I wanted that metal. So when I talk to a manufacturer about e commerce in Jersey, it’s usually it doesn’t that won’t work for us. And then it’s the education. And then it’s the understanding, it’s all comes back down to our biggest point here, education. They just don’t think and I was one of them. Didn’t think it fit. It didn’t fit the model in my head. And I was wrong. I was really wrong. There are so many there’s such cool technology out there right now that almost every manufacturer I could see. could utilize e commerce in one way shape or form.
Curt Anderson 39:18
Okay, let’s let’s take a pause right there. Ready? Dude, you’re like, You’re, you’re like a son. He’s like, fun to me. You know? Dude, you just you just warmed my heart with that comment every manufacturer let Could you please repeat that because
Mike Womack 39:36
every manufacturer in one way, shape or form could utilize e commerce. I’m getting a little old. I can’t hear
Curt Anderson 39:41
that. Well. every manufacturer should at least open your eyes, open your mind to an e commerce conversation. And when and when it’s if it’s if it’s lead gen. We have a better link or just getting a better RFQ due process or better engagement or conversation or video. That’s ecommerce. If we’re going manufacturer direct, if you can take some of your even if you’re that custom job shop, there’s an opportunity to convert your I call it your proprietary products, not me. But you take your proprietary process, and how do we convert or scale it into a proprietary product? What does that do for you, it creates your keyword strategy.
It helps you with SEO helps you with pay per click, and God forbid, it opens the door, we could go another hour on the marketplaces. You know, David and I were talking last night about just if you’d if you don’t have some type of presence on Amazon right now, and I’m not an Amazon disciple, you know, preacher, whatever. It’s scary. That’s I don’t tell you guys that good presentation. So in every location, on the slide, I have a slide 63% of all product searches.
Think about that. Start on Amazon now. Hmm. And these are six figure seven, you know, our buddy, our buddy Brian back, who speaks for us, wrote a book billion dollar b2b e commerce. He has clients that are selling seven figure widgets and products, our e commerce. So configurators our friend Chris Harrington, at Gen alpha product, you know, manufacturer direct, so again, Michael, that that e commerce conversation. So when you get that resistance, how do you how do you carry that conversation? Like, what’s the next step in that conversation for you
Mike Womack 41:24
is pretty right back to lean? I mean, I really do. It’s, it’s continuous improvement, you should always continuously improve your business. But also, most manufacturers probably put aside lean as an idea that they don’t understand it, they not enough until they try it. And they track that ROI. And it’s undeniable because it’s their process, right? So I always go back to if you don’t have an open mind, maybe this isn’t for you. Right? Not good. Right?
If you don’t want to improve your business, it’s not how you improve your business, though. In reality, I can’t tell you right? and force you to improve your business that’s on the business owner. But what I could do is educate, right but I could do is make help you understand the material so you can understand on your own right? And then it’s on them because there is no way that I can force you to improve your business. I can give you some examples and you’ll see for yourself, right?
Curt Anderson 42:19
So let’s get again, we could go all day. So what I love to do is So guys, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna wrap up in a minute, we go back to the tables, and I feel like I my problem, I go too long and then I deny everybody a chance to talk to you one on one so I want to be respectful of everybody. Give everybody a chance to talk to Michael one on one back at the tables. But Michael so I have two questions that we’re going to close on you and I were talking old school meets new new school and what’s better than like me and Damon couple of dudes in ar 15 hanging out with 20 something new millennials drop that message drop the mic. What’s the message?
Mike Womack 42:54
I think we’ve been talking about it’s about that old school mentality because again, I don’t say stop pull your sales people off the off the road ever. But there’s another channel out there that could potentially autonomous there could be complementing their work right you can utilize all the strategies that you’re comfortable had have proven to be beneficial and then adding another layer of opportunity on top right why why hinder yourself Why just not do more? To get more and you know, there’s they can collide and work together?
Curt Anderson 43:30
It’s it’s another channel because another channel and our buddy Greg miss you he calls it the digital twin.
Yes. So you have
Curt Anderson 43:38
your sales rep your old school sales rep. How do you take the new school and just take your sales rep. Put that person online? We’re now you’re in business 24 seven. What I’d love to preach is how can we help our customer make a buying decision on a Friday night at midnight? without having to wait for you to open up your door and Monday morning? Whether it’s e commerce configurator What have you Okay, the message to the millennials out there, Michael here got another job to Mike moment. What do you tell millennials? Just the enormous opportunities in manufacturing? What are you telling your fellow millennials right now?
Mike Womack 44:12
Don’t let the word and the stigma that word fend you away from manufacturing. Manufacturing is so vast there’s I had a Murata, Murata instruments from New Jersey, they have product on the moon right now
to the moon.
Mike Womack 44:32
Manufacturing is massive and you can do anything in it. I’m a marketer. I consider myself in manufacturing. I work with the manufacturer. I tore their plants I actively work manufacturing puts food on my table because without manufacturing, I would not have a job here. So don’t let that word pigeonhole. You. There’s so much to it.
Damon Pistulka 44:51
Yeah, yeah. You talk about that, actually the Mars rover that you see the pictures of what the wheels are wearing out. I actually ran the company that made
it that’s Amazing.
Damon Pistulka 45:00
Yeah. So every time you see it, you know, and I know that the I obviously know the guy that machined it on the big turning lathe and all that kind of stuff. And when you look at that kind of stuff people don’t understand. We
Curt Anderson 45:10
got to talk about that. And that was
Damon Pistulka 45:14
but anyway, anyway, it’s awesome. Awesome getting you here, Mike, this has been this has been spectacular because really, the energy you bring to manufacturing is awesome. And I’m sure it’s attracting millennials in because it is a good career choice for a lot of people at least take a look at it. I do want to thank everyone who’s been on LinkedIn. Our comments are just flying here on LinkedIn. We Bonnie, Rodney, Gayle, Kirsten Mohamad, we got people going on there. Thank you so much for being with us today. Because you keep it live on LinkedIn and we love that too. So Kurt, I’m gonna let you take it away so we can get back to the table and peekaboo thank you for having us. I
Curt Anderson 45:51
thank you so much for everybody. So it Mike I’m going to close on this if our friend Bonnie salon so Bonnie, God bless her women business owners, she’s in Manhattan. She has a sustainable product. She made this little plastic. She invented it herself. She has this plastic product goes on a soda cup. Yeah. And you can put your sandwich and what have you you need to connect with Bonnie go lids. It’s called so golden. She gets us you’ll love this. Michael, this is just great at your heart. 20 mil I think she’s on pushing 20 million views on Tick Tock right now she’s probably way above that by now.
Tick Tock is a manufacturer crushing it on Tick Tock. How awesome is that? We’ve got Dan bigger you know me and you are connected because of Dan and his group relentlessly marketing themselves on Twitter. Look at these great opportunities. We just got to you know, stop being the best kept secret, Michael, God bless you. Dude, you are a gift. You’re a blessing to us manufacturing. You’re a gift to the MEP network, everybody. Thank you for joining us today. Wish you a great weekend, Damon. Thank you, brother, Mike. Thank you, everybody.
Mike Womack 46:56
Thank you again for having me. Thank you.
And you got
Damon Pistulka 46:58
- I got the T shirt here. Awesome.
I love that teaser, awesome job.
Damon Pistulka 47:03
We’re shutting it down on LinkedIn live going back to the tables on remote here so people can talk with Mike if you ever want to be here with us on remote just clicking the link and you can get it there. Thanks a lot everyone. shut her down there and go in this way.