China: New Year – New Opportunities Presentation Links

The KC World Trade Center offered a program on doing business in China in February 2013.    For those not able to attend, two of the presentations from the event are available online.

Presentation on EB 5 Visas and Regional Centers by Mira Mdivani, Mdivani Law Firm, immigration attorney.  USCIS administers the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

Intellectual Property Protection in China by Evan Chuck, International Trade Group Leader, Bryan Cave LLP

If you have any questions regarding this event, or would like additional information on World Trade Center activities or events, contact Mehgan Flynn at 816-374-5469.


Workforce in 2013: Finding the Right Fit

Finding the right person for the Job – KCMN January Meeting Recap

KCMN’s January meeting featured a panel discussion led by John Emmett of Manpower. The featured panelists were Lisa Kist of Robbie Flexibles, Julie Yang-Brethauer of Torotel Products, and Clint Lancaster of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers.   John provided the attendees with Manpower’s Employment Outlook for the first quarter of 2013.  The employment outlook survey indicated that the vast majority of US employers, 72%, intend to hold steady, and 17% plan an increase, and 8% forecasting declines, which is mostly unchaged from the 4th Quarter 2012 outlook, and a slight increase over the first quarter of 2012.  Midwest manufacturers forecast closely mirrors the national outlook, with 17% forecasting gains, which is more positive than the national manufacturing average of 14% forecasting gains.

Training Resources
David Grady from Metropolitan Community College’s Business and Technology program discussed the launch of their Precision Machining Consortium Program that will launch in March 2013.  Their 16 week program concludes with the students being placed in internship opportunities.  Additional participating companies are needed, see the link here  for more information.   Rich Piper from Kansas City Kansas Community College announced plans for utilizing a $2.9 million grant for  KCKCC’s Training for Employment (T4E) program that will focus in part on advanced manufacturing skills and welding certification for the students. Rich said the new Technical Education Center (TEC) is under construction in the former Wal-Mart shopping complex at 65th and State, and hopes to be operational by the end of the year.

All of the panelists emphasized the value of promotional activity not only for the specific position needs, but also for overall positive branding for the company and manufacturing industry overall.   Julie Yang-Brethauer noted that HR professionals should have a broad based budget allocation to promote the company and the opportunities.  She travels to universities with power source engineering grads and always has a full supply of sticky notes, highlighters and other freebies to brand the company and get their name out to the student population.   Lisa Kist noted that about 30% of their recruiting budget is focused on company promotion vs individual position reporting.  While Clint Lancaster noted that the vast majority of the trailer manufacturers are small operations, they partner with the SME, who is launching a series of videos to promote careers in manufacturing. The SME’s educational outreach site Manufacturing is Cool  has some great videos promoting manufacturing. SME also has a YouTube channel.

Some non-traditional recruiting avenues were mentioned by Lisa and Clint.  One strategy is to utilize internal office staff and train them for production positions, since their work habits and reliability are already known.  All speakers stated that retention of people within the company is also a critical part of minimizing the recruiting effort for new employees.  Lisa noted that especially with entry level workers, that having a clear path to advancement is critical in helping workers understand their options and keep them committed to enhancing their skills.  Julie stated that even when workers leave Torotel for a new opportunity, they are not ostracized for that decision, and it is important that they have a positive regard for Torotel for friends or others who may be considering a position with the company.  Torotel also utilizes ‘stay’ interviews instead of exit interviews, as it provides them with valuable feedback on how they can be more responsive to employee issues.   Training new and existing people is a must, even if there is concern that training dollars may be spent on workers who may then leave for other opportunities.  Clint noted, “People may ask what if I pay to train them and they leave? My response is what if you don’t train them and they stay?”

Utilization of interns was discussed, and was  noted that interns provide not only some new ideas and perspectives, but can also be a positive promotional focus for the company, even if they don’t become permanent employees.  However, an intern program where students were not always available for follow up on project work was less successful.

Lisa and Julie both advocated utilization of programs for transitioning active duty military to the civilian workforce as a great source of potential employees. Lisa has worked with James Madril- Johnson County Veterans Employment Representative & Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist for the Kansas Dept. of Commerce – specifically for Machine Operators and Maintenance Techs.   In some cases, tax credits and training dollars are also available to help provide skills enhancement for those who may not fit the full qualification needed.

Best Practices and Takeaways from the Presenters

  • Promote opportunities through a variety of methods, vs. just running ads in the typical career outlets.
  • Make sure your internal HR person, or your recruiter if you are using them, has an accurate assessment of what skills and traits are needed in a successful candidate.
  • Know where your target employees are – and get in front of them. Utilize social media – LinkedIN, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach a broad audience and make your company more visible to prospective employees.
  • Community service and involvement is a great way to raise visibility and retain employees, who appreciate the opportunity to be part of something bigger than just their department.
  • Make sure your company website is up to date and provides prospective employees with information about the company and the culture.
  • Work with associations in your industry to promote opportunities both in your company and in the wider industry.
  • Get involved with area schools, both high school and higher education, including the counselors, to make them aware of potential career paths.

Bottom line, recruiting employees is not just about finding the right candidate; it’s also about positioning your company to have an inflow of the right people and skills both internally and in the wider marketplace.

Post-Script: Industry Week Magazine just published an article, Solving US Manufacturing’s New Talent Challenge, with more suggestions for the next skills gap in manufacturing: supervisory positions. Read the article here.

Energy Management: Now is the Time, and This is the Place

KCMN February Meeting

In a marketplace with fluctuating costs, and an uncertain regulatory environment, energy use is increasingly coming under scrutiny.  The wide variety of energy intensive processes makes it difficult for manufacturing facilities to track and manage energy costs. While the cost to purchase energy is a significant line item factor, the cheapest energy is that which you don’t use.  There are no lack of opportunities for manufacturers to trim energy consumption, but a lack of knowledge can hinder the ability to take advantage of these opportunities.  Energy engineer Gary Hogsett presented to a packed house of KCMN attendees in early 2011, so KCMN is happy to bring Gary back to provide practical, actionable solutions for dealing with this unavoidable cost of doing business.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
7:30-9:00 AM
Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas

Cost is $15 for members and $25 for guests. Guests may attend 2 meetings before having to join as a member.  Sign up today by clicking HERE , or contact Donna Gordon at 816-304-7958, or

About our Speaker  

Gary Hogsett P.E., CEM, LC, LEED-AP, Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center

Gary Hogsett serves as the worldwide President of the Association of Energy Engineers for 2012.  He received two engineering degrees specializing in industrial energy management, and has performed more than 4,000 energy studies in the last 32 years.  He is also a passionate speaker on the topic of energy, and in one respect, he’s something of a rarity: a very experienced energy engineer who has also won ten humorous speaking contests.  Join us for a fast paced, inspiring presentation which will provide recommendations for saving energy in your facility that are ready for immediate implementation.

Due to our need to cover the event costs, no shows will be billed. Cancellations will be accepted no later than 3 business days prior to an event. Cancellations of reservations paid by credit card will be assessed a $10 processing fee by the registration service, or contact us for event credit for a future event. You may register as a guest for up to 2 events before membership is required. For questions or comments, please contact Donna Gordon at 816-304-7958