02 Feb 2017

Growing and Competing at the Local Level


Buckley Brinkman (MBA 1986) is executive director/CEO of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, which provides consulting services and programs to help manufacturers grow their businesses and become more profitable. In this video interview, he talks about how his organization helps small businesses in his state contribute to America’s competitiveness and economic health.

“In running manufacturing facilities, I’ve been an operations turnaround person for my entire career—except for the last five years. I would go into operations that were struggling, put them back on their feet, and move on to the next one.

“With the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, we are one of the 51 manufacturing extension partnership centers across the country to help small and medium manufacturers. We do a little bit of advocacy, just reminding decision makers how important manufacturing is to the economy in general. We do some outreach. There, we look a lot like a trade association, putting on networking and educational events to keep our manufacturers connected and up-to-date.

“And the third thing that we do is we’re arguably the best small and medium manufacturing consultant in the state. We’ve had over $3.5 billion worth of impact for our manufacturers and also saved—or created—more than 16,000 jobs.

“We generally work with manufacturers that are less than $100 million in sales. When we go into work with them, say on a project of reducing their cycle time, we’ll on average reduce that by 44 percent.

“I think what’s critical right now is understanding that 98 percent of the manufacturers in the United States are really small and medium sized. It’s that metal bender down the street, that plastic injection molder around the corner that are really providing the backbone services to places like GE, Ford, and GM.

“The impact that I’m hoping to have is to start aligning the resources that are focused on the economy, both within our state and nationally. Things are changing so quickly, and the folks on the front line really don’t have the time or the resources to identify what’s going to affect their particular business the quickest. And I want to be able to help them get on their feet. Also help national policy makers and state policy makers to say, ‘here’s how these resources really line up and we can quit duplicating our efforts across multiple fields.’ That’s how I hope to make a difference.”

(Published February 2017)

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1986, Section D
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