Outreach Center recognized for aiding manufacturer

Outreach Center recognized for aiding manufacturer

For the third time, UW-Stout has received national recognition for its technology transfer program.

The Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center (NWMOC), administered by UW-Stout, has won second place in the business assistance category of a competition conducted by the National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers (NAMTAC).

UW-Stout received NAMTAC awards on two other occasions: a first place award for technical assistance in 1987 and a first place award for technology transfer in 1991.

NWMOC won the award for its efforts to help a local manufacturer, Tiffany Fine Woods, improve operations and shore up declining profits. The center, administered by the Stout Technology Transfer Institute, is a partnership between the university; and the Chippewa Valley, Western Wisconsin, Wisconsin Indianhead, Nicolet Area, and Northcentral Technical Colleges.

Tiffany Fine Woods is one of the top 10 manufacturers in Trempeleau County, where it has operated its hardwood roughmill and dimension operation for more than 20 years. In recent years, operating costs increased while competitive pressures intensified, causing a steady decline in profits.

The first phase of NWMOC assistance involved Tiffany's participation in a four-part value added manufacturing seminar series on manufacturing modernization. As a result of the seminars, the firm realized a need to update and upgrade its manufacturing system and, consequently, applied for in-depth assistance from NWMOC to implement a modernization plan.

NWMOC conducted a formal assessment which identified focus areas for assistance. The center then worked with Tiffany to restructure its manufacturing methods, including a new Management Information System.

They also incorporated cutting-edge management strategies and technology including improvements to quality, material handling and systems control. The results were a dramatic increase in the dollar value and volume of lumber the firm could produce. This increased productivity led to a retention of 22 jobs and plans to increase the work force by 10 percent. In addition to these tangible assets, NWMOC's assistance gave the firm the assurance in management's ability to re-establish Tiffany Fine Woods as an industry leader.

The National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers is an organization composed largely of centers that are affiliated with institutions of higher education. Its members work to help transfer academic-based information and knowledge to communities and businesses in order to further economic development and enhance industrial productivity. Members provide assistance with business management, technology transfer and community economic development programs. NAMTAC sponsors an annual competition to recognize outstanding projects conducted by its member organizations in these fields.

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