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By Dusty J. Cruise, Missouri Enterprise

The term “global economy” often conjures up images of huge multinational corporations, with dozens of offices, moving shiploads of goods across countries and continents, electronically managing bills and collecting payments in a myriad of currencies, and of low labor costs and relatively minor regulation. These are things that seem to prevent small- and medium-sized American manufacturers from successfully competing with companies from distant places.

However, thousands of small- and medium-sized American manufacturers are successfully competing in the global economy every day. They’re doing it by being innovative in developing and improving their products, by finding practical solutions to everyday problems and, equally importantly, by: 

  • Engaging with their employees from the plant floor to the C-suite to create a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging a regular flow of new ideas and getting “a little better each day.”
  • Developing and implementing Quality Management Systems (ISO) and risk management techniques to operate their businesses and secure their supply chains.
  • Finding ways to conserve energy, recycle and reduce waste products to lower costs.
  • Staying close to existing customers and markets, yet quickly recognizing the opportunity to move into new markets and serve new customers (regardless of where they are located).
  • Utilizing effective maintenance programs to reduce unexpected equipment downtime and extend the life of their machinery. 

This list focuses upon only several of the many things that American manufacturing companies can do (and are doing) to level the global playing field and generate success in the global economy. This list includes a sampling of the business optimization services that Missouri Enterprise and the other Centers in the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) System provide to manufacturing companies across the country. Combined with flexibility, the entrepreneurial spirit in their DNA and their ability to identify and respond to new opportunities, this MEP assistance enables America’s small- and medium-sized manufacturers to compete successfully in the global economy.