Evolution of CAMPS
Manufacturers ask for help
In 2002, during a Kent Chamber of Commerce sponsored Economic Summit; government, education, and business leaders in the Kent Valley heard the small and medium size manufacturers ask for help. These manufacturers expressed their frustration that they could not compete with off-shore competition and did not understand the changes happening in the supply chain processes of the large companies. Simply stated, they did not have a place to go to find answers or solutions.
Kent Chamber of Commerce and City of Kent respond to the plea
In 2003, the Kent Chamber of Commerce and City of Kent met and discussed the importance of the manufacturing sector to the region, with 30% of the Kent Valley jobs in manufacturing and in most cases, providing higher wage jobs. More manufacturers were contacted to validate the issues raised about off-shore competition and supply chain understanding. The response were the same and in many instances, the message more desperate.
Public and Private Partnership formed
During late 2004 and early 2005, financial support from United States Economic Development Administration (EDA), Washington State (CTED), City of Kent, Port of Seattle, and private company funds were secured to conduct a Feasibility Study to establish a transitional manufacturing economic plan to determine which manufacturing subsectors offer the greatest potential for growth and innovation. The combined funds totaled approximately $650,000. The study and plan was intended to answer the question whether there is sound financial justification for creating a center for advanced manufacturing to produce and lead the focus on what should be the appropriate functions of the center, and define the core mission of the center.
Formation of a Center for Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Council
In July 2005, an Advisory Council was formed, comprised of carefully selected leaders of government, education, and manufacturers to prepare a manufacturing focused Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP was published nationally to attract top notch research organizations. Eight top-notch proposals were submitted and considered.
Proposal Awarded and Feasibility Study commenced.
In November 2005, the research team of Hebert Research, SRI International, and Georgia Institute of Technology was selected. One major premise for the selection of this team was they brought together a regional, national, and international perspective. The research team requested that Feasibility Study be expanded to focus on Puget Sound and not just the Kent Valley. The reasoning presented was that Puget Sound is a regional economy and Kent is a subsector. At this point the center for advanced manufacturing concept became a regional initiative.
In the Puget Sound region, approximately 3,000 manufacturers exist. Most are small and medium size companies, while many are dependent on the aerospace sector, as contract manufacturers and directly impacted by the cyclical impacts of the aerospace industry. All 3,000 companies were contacted and asked to participate in the Feasibility Study. Approximately 700 directly participated in the study. The study included a charette, 6 focus groups, face to face interviews with manufacturer executives, phone interviews, and written surveys. Some manufacturers participated at more than one level. The Feasibility Team also included original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and non-manufacturing customers of manufacturing goods.
Feasibility Study completed and presented
In April 2006 the feasibility study was completed. The research team presented the full findings at a joint session with the City of Kent and Kent Chamber of Commerce and was open to the public.
When the concept of establishing a center for advanced manufacturing was presented, there was a very high level of interest with 34% of those surveyed. Another 33% indicated a moderate to high interest, but wanted to learn more what was being proposed. Those remaining showed low or no interest.
When asked what the center should provide, the companies indicated the following:
- Access to innovation; that is where are there manufacturing opportunities in emerging industries, new technologies, new processes and new product markets.
- An understanding and access to resources to help them prepare and position their companies to become supply chain capable among the industries that exist.
- Small companies realize they need outside resources to achieve their goals. They need a resource to help them find pre-qualified third party resources. (consultants, trainers, legal assistance, etc.)
- Manufacturers expressed a strong concern about not being able to find skilled workforce applicants or trainable applicants to run and grow their businesses.
- In the event they find growth opportunities, they need to know what financial resources are available.
The manufacturers indicated they wanted an organization that they could control and influence to meet their needs, thus a membership, non-profit concept was presented. Manufacturers were asked if they would financially support a membership fee based organization and what is the threshold of fee obligation they would support. This was a critical point in focusing on a self sustaining organization
The research team concluded there was a need and strong interest for the establishment of a center for advanced manufacturing. The Advisory Council began the process to develop a Business Plan RFP with the vision of a Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound (CAMPS)
Business Plan prepared
Baldwin Resource Group Inc. of Bellevue was hired to prepare a Business Plan and develop the business model around the Feasibility Study key findings. The Advisory Council deliberately chose an independent firm to prepare the Business Plan, to gain another perspective from the Feasibility Study information.
The task was to develop a business model, based on the desired outcomes, best practices of other similar programs, and to determine the financial feasibility as a membership organization to become a self sustaining organization.
Similar programs were contacted to determine what 'lessons learned' were discovered along their development and operational stages. The two most notable organizations contacted were:
- The Right Place, Inc. a non-profit economic development organization serving Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan.
- Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program (CAMP) a non-profit, professional organization that delivers expert, hands-on, technical, business and training services to manufacturers.
In June 2006, the Business Plan was completed.
CAMPS Pre-launch Stages
The Advisory Council began plans to launch the CAMPS program. The Feasibility Study and Business Plan development did not use all the funds allocated. The available funds were federal dollars and required an additional match of state, local, or private funds. The Feasibility Study and Business Plan were shared with local Washington State legislators, who sponsored a bill to provide additional match funding to launch the CAMPS program. These funds were awarded in July 2007.
In August 2007 a search was launched to hire a seasoned manufacturing professional as the Executive Director. In October 2007, Tom McLaughlin, a 30 year manufacturing professional, who had served in a variety of senior executive positions, was appointed as the Executive Director.
CAMPS is launched
CAMPS was officially launched in January 2008. The program is located in the Green River Community College, Kent Station Campus, in the central part of the Kent Valley.
Round Table Breakfasts:
Local manufacturers were asked to help set the priorities for the first year. A vast majority of those asked, requested a forum where they could get to know each other and network. In March 2008, the first Round Table Breakfast was held and a combined total of 28 attended, made up of manufacturers, service providers, and strategic partners who came together for the first time. Since then, the Round Table Breakfast have been held monthly and have grown to over 50 attendees. These Round Tables provide CAMPS updates, subject matter on common business topics, and lots of networking. As a result there are numerous cases of businesses doing business with each other and referrals have been made that have lead to business opportunities.
Supply Chain Development
In June 2008, CAMPS presented the first Supply Chain Boot Camp series. This program was designed to show the basic foundations of supply chain methodology and strategy development. The session was presented by CAMPS Member, Kate Vitasek, Managing Partner of Supply Chain Visions located in Bellevue, Washington. The second Supply Chain Development Program was offered in April 2009 and extended to the Alternative Energy Supply Chain processes. Supply chain efforts continue with inquiries on manufacturing capabilities with requests for quotes or making connections to non-manufacturers looking for contract manufacturing resources.
In April 2008, the CAMPS members identified the Alternative Energy markets as one they would like to consider for future manufacturing opportunities. From April to November, the CAMPS staff and several service provider members researched these industries to begin to build a data base. In November and December 2008, the various alternative energy programs were presented by the CAMPS members as part of the Round Table discussions. To establish a starting point, it was suggested that further research would focus on solar, wind, and the smart grid infrastructure sectors. In April and May 2009, the full supply chain steps are being presented.
The shortage of skilled workers for CAMPS manufacturing members continues to be a major concern and challenge. There are several issues:
- There is a shortage of skilled candidates to fill critical high skill requirement jobs
- There is a shortage of qualified applicants to train to fill these high skilled positions
- Many of the existing training programs are not compatible to the skill requirement in the companies – in essence, in many cases the skill training in the classroom is not in sync with those needed on the production floor
- There will be a high number of retirements over the next five to ten years and the replacement pool is not sufficient to meet the anticipated needs
CAMPS has been working with the manufacturers to identify a solution that matches the job skill training to the skills needed on the production floor. A Structured On-the-job Training Pilot Program is being launched by CAMPS and funded in part by a private foundation grant from BuRSST for Prosperity. Green River Community College is partnering with CAMPS in the development of this customized, on-site training model.
CAMPS will continue to provide programs that meet the manufacturers' needs. The main thrust will be to continuously listen to the manufacturers and work as a group to provide for a strong manufacturing base, across all sectors and industries.
To learn more about CAMPS and to become part of this unique and revolutionary program contact:
Tom McLaughlin, Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Nixon, Business Development Manager at email@example.com