Lean Support Small Groups

This group is composed of KCMN members who are looking for a way to interact with others who are utilizing Lean principles to improve their operations. The member group of manufacturers agrees to support each other’s efforts to make improvements along their Lean journey.

The essence of the group is as follows:

  • The group meets quarterly at a member company for 2.5 to 3 hours.
  • The host company sends out 3 dates to vote and the majority wins.
  •  Hosting includes a presentation and tour of the area of focus as part of the meeting.
  • The hosting company should determine in advance of the meeting what specific area of Lean they would like to focus on as part of their presentation and tour so that participants can come prepared to discuss and offer suggestions.
  • Participants can then offer suggestions and feedback to the host following the tour and presentation.
  • Joining the group means you have to be willing to host the group at least once every 2 years, and be open to both an honest assessment of areas for improvement, and interested in getting both positive and negative feedback.
  • Maximum benefit is attained when host company management at a level to effect change is in attendance during the feedback session.
  • Any new member must be approved by all members to avoid conflict of interest.

In addition to the regular KCMN monthly meetings, this group is an added benefit to KCMN members, as a way to help get more interaction between member companies, and for members to provide support and growth in their efforts to increase efficiencies. This group is limited in size, and new members are subject to current member approval.

Should this be of interest to you, or someone else in your company, please send their contact information to Donna Gordon at donna@kcmn.org, or 816-304-7958.

EHS Group Supports Best Practices

Mission: EHS Group is a resource for KCMN manufacturing company members to share best practices, lessons learned, new trends, or regulations that are relevant to Environmental, Health, and/or Safety professionals, in a confidential environment.

Meeting Format

The group meets every other month, in odd numbered months, usually on the 3rd Thursday of each month from 7:30-9 AM, at locations determined by the group.  September’s meeting will be hosted by SOR, Inc, and November’s meeting will be at Ingredion.

Group Benefits

-Plant tours to get feedback/solutions/showcase
-Presentations on EHS topics of interest
-Provide regulatory updates or notice of new regulations
-Exchange of ideas via an internal members-only group on Basecamp
-Information sharing on regulatory inspections

If you are a manufacturer whose membership in KCMN is current you are welcome to attend. Contact Donna Gordon at donna@kcmn.org, or 816-304-7958 to be added to the email list and Basecamp group.

Congratulations to our Spring 2017 Emerging Leaders

Seventy-five participants from 19 companies who are members of KCMN and KC-NTMA participated in our Spring 2017 Emerging Leaders Program. Of those 75, 62 earned certificates for attending at least 5 of the 6 sessions.  A second Spring Tier 1 group launched in May – Out of 30 participants, 28 earned certificates! The Emerging Leaders program is a leadership development program in partnership with KCMN members,  Johnson County Community College and the National Tooling and Machining Association’s Kansas City Chapter. It was launched in response to feedback from our members who were seeking options for improving interpersonal skills among all levels of their companies.  Sessions combine classroom instruction, with sharing of best practices and ideas and practical solutions.

Session titles include: Strengths Finder, Delegation, Cross Generational Motivation, Meeting Facilitation, and How to Read People.  To date, we have had 416 enrollments since beginning in mid-2014; 352 of those have earned certificates.  Attendees have ranged from newly promoted supervisors, to even a few company CEO’s. Among some comments of this recent group of leaders:

  • “The open discussion was the most important part of my experience”
  • “I’ve learned strategies for dealing with difficult personalities, or people I don’t like or can’t relate to”
  • “The course made me stop and ask – what am I doing to help myself?'”
  • “This makes me think about my strengths and barriers, not only for myself, but for my employees and co-workers”
  • “Our instructor is engaging, personable, and speaks from a wealth of experience”

To find out more about upcoming Emerging Leaders sessions please sign up for our meeting notice list, by contacting Donna Gordon. or 816-304-7958

EL Tier1 AP 2017 webT3 Spring 2017 -2 Emerging Leaders T2 SP 2017-2 T1 SP2017

Generational Change in Your Company?

KCMN April Meeting Summary 

KCMN’s April meeting featured two sets of speakers who shared their company best practices for managing the generational transition as boomers are reaching retirement age.  As part of the registration process, attendees could respond to an optional survey indicating their breakdown of employees between Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers.  Company responses varied, but net result of the 20 company response was that 25% of their workforce is comprised of Boomers (born in 1946-1963). Six companies have over a third of their workforce from the Boomer generation.

Reduced Hours For Employees Transitioning to Retirement

As a way to provide an opportunity for Boomers approaching retirement to transition to retirement, rather than abruptly leave and take their experience, tribal knowledge and skills, Scott Nord, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at UltraSource, LLC, and Chris Vering, President, CFO, COO of Knit-Rite, Inc. shared their companies’ experiences with their retirement transition plans.  Both programs share many of the same elements:

–        the programs are voluntary, include a reduced hours schedule, provide benefits despite reduction in hours, and are intended to be for a mutually agreeable finite period.

–        In both cases, management has to approve individuals on a case by case basis depending on business need.

The advantage is that the transitioning employee can mentor and set the stage for their eventual replacement, and can help with personnel planning vs a 2 week notice on the way out the door.

UltraSource has had several employees choose this option, and has been successful with some minor revisions along the way. Knit-Rite just initiated their program in January, and has limited communication of this to those positions where a transition/knowledge transfer is an important consideration.  Chris also noted that their hiring guidelines are being revisited in regards to how they evaluate those with past criminal records as potential employees.  This change was driven by the lack of candidates, and includes a guidance document on the nature of the offense, kind of position, and time since the offense occurred. Chris noted that those given a second chance have been some of their most dedicated and loyal employees.

Developing a Multi-Generational Culture

The second half of the meeting was comprised of a panel of manufacturing company employees, led by Kirk Young of Job Match Assessment, who discussed how their companies are managing the transitions in their companies as the workforce becomes more Gen-X and Millennial. Brian Pittel, Engineering Manager at Continental Disc, noted that his company’s product line is very mission critical to their customers – product failure can result in injury or death. Therefore, processes and knowledge in the hands of experienced employees was needed to be captured before these people retired.  Brian has looked to strategies such as asking them to write things down/author new processes, and the use of video to visually capture key processes and concepts.

Chris Coad, Production Manager at Dimensional Innovations, stressed that their use of temp to hire drove home the need to develop more standardization of processes, despite their company actually being very Millennial-heavy. The company seeks to hire for cultural fit almost more than skills, since skills can be taught, while work ethic and cultural fit cannot. However, the process of teaching those skills must accurately reflect the demands of the product and customers, so continues to be a work in process to create accurate processes.  Kirk noted that the training methods are evolving – and that the era of creating a binder that employees will read is no longer the best methodology.  Holland Nameplate is also working hard to standardize everything to help improve training, and allow them to focus on cultural fit, hiring nice, smart, driven people who can then learn the specific job skills when they come on board.

Considerable discussion centered on the importance of culture.  Kyle Hooten, Quality Manager at Holland Nameplate noted that he came to the company for the job, but has stayed due to the culture.  All of the panelists are Millennials, who agreed on some common points that are critical for maintaining a loyal and dedicated Millennial workforce:

–        Communication:  Chris Coad noted that DI attempts to ‘over communicate’ as much as possible. Kirk noted that traditionally, Boomers subscribe to the ‘knowledge is power’ philosophy, but this creates animosity in the Millennial generation. All noted that sharing information promotes trust.

–        Focus on Culture and Teamwork: Brad Farmer, Accountant/Estimator at Holland Nameplate stressed that with a strong culture, those employees who do not work hard and contribute will weed themselves out.  DI has a keg on site, and employees can participate in ‘drink and learn’ sessions to improve their skills and build camaraderie across departments. Holland offers Beer Thursdays and company lunches once a month to share information, and build teamwork amongst the employees.

–        Flexibility:  While processes and procedures are important, there also needs to be avenues where new ideas, suggestions, or technology can play a role in improvement.  Providing more flexible work schedules when possible is a growing expectation, especially in the Millennial generation.

–        Respect: Companies have to walk a fine line between respecting the contributions of the older workers, many of which contributed to the current/historical success of the company, with the reality that the business environment and technology is changing very rapidly. The key to managing changes is to focus on showing all employees how changes can be improvements, and can make their jobs easier and/or the company more successful.

Solutions and new strategies for workforce recruiting

KCMN’s March meeting featured 4 speakers who shared their efforts to increase the pipeline of qualified workers in manufacturing and related industries.

Shannon Martinez, Program Manager with the Kansas Department of Commerce shared information about the Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand (AID) program.  Workforce AID is a business driven training solution.  The program covers costs for students to attend training programs tied directly to  technical/employability skills needed, they receive college credit and/or industry credentials, and are guaranteed an interview with employers upon program completion. To date, over 200 jobs have been filled, and about 90% of graduates are hired by the companies partnering with the program. Presentation/contact information here – Workforce AID Presentation March 2017

Torree Perderson, Executive Director of the Greater KC Chapter of NTMA talked about NTMA’s BotsKC program. As one solution to concerns that fewer young workers choose or consider manufacturing careers, BotsKC gives students an real world training opportunities in a fun and engaging environment.  The battle bots are purchased by NTMA for participating schools.  Student teams are mentored by manufacturing company employees, providing a link to companies and future career opportunities.  The program has grown rapidly in the past 3 years, and additional schools and mentors are needed. See Torree’s presentation here-  BOTS KC 2017.  The BotsKC tournament is March 25 – anyone who is interested is encouraged to attend. More information at BotsKC INDUSTRY Invitation_opt.

Greg Kindle, President of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council shared data about the growth in Wyandotte County employment, and the challenges it has created.  With $3 billion in investment over the past 5 years, the need for a stronger pipeline for employees was noted by 70% of WyCo employers.  Increased offerings for training has been developed at area and regional colleges, career academies and at the Workforce Training Assistance Center.  Workforce AID programs have been utilized as well. Additionally, WYEDC has formed a consortium of over 40 non profit, governmental, and educational programs to help get the word out about job openings. This provides employers a much broader reach to candidates without the time investment in outreach and multiple postings.  See Greg’s complete presentation WYEDC Presentation March 2017

Tim Welsh, Executive Director of the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) in Wichita, a world-class aviation and advanced manufacturing training center, where he leads NCAT’s Talent Solutions Coalition (TSC). The Coalition functions as a national aviation industry talent supply chain. TSC is retained by aviation industry employers and associations to help them source talent from multiple markets, improve talent retention and institute best practices in talent planning. The talent supply chain created includes promotion of opportunities at two and four year institutions, and sometimes high schools as well.  TSC also functions as a Center of Excellence for members to share best practices in a trusted environment. While the program launched in Wichita, it is spreading throughout the country as a way for companies to reduce talent acquisition costs.   See Tim’s presentation here: KCMN TSC Overview Additionally, NCAT is hosting a Talent Planning Management Forum March 23 & 24th in Wichita.  Click here for details.


Tier 1 Emerging Leaders Program is Launching May 3

KCMN members – we heard your feedback  – Our last Tier 1 session sold out very quickly, so we are offering another round of Tier 1 sessions this spring.   We will launch another full round of Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 sessions in late August.

Our Goal: To provide a foundation for learning the basic concepts of Leadership in a setting that encourages support and application of the concepts taught. Participants will be provided with a blend of classroom instruction, materials to utilize/retain the concepts taught, and an opportunity to apply what is learned in their workplaces. Sharing of successes, lessons learned and challenges is both encouraged and part of the curriculum in order to encourage accountability.

Participant quotes:

“I felt refreshed when I left the teacher was great the class was great. It was great classroom collaboration. I look forward to the next class.”

“I was impressed with my first session yesterday. George is a great instructor and the climate he sets in the classroom makes for a unique learning experience….as compared to sitting in an all day seminar!!!”

Emerging Leaders Sessions:

Dates and Time: Six sessions will be every 2 weeks (with some adjustment to wrap up before July 1) beginning May 3 – see dates below – from 7-9 AM at JCCC campus.

The cost: $300 per participant, to be paid in full no later than April 24.

Sign up today by clicking HERE

Tier 1 –Begins May 3   Session topics and dates are below.  PLEASE NOTE: The Strengths Finder 1 & 2 are unique compared to all of our other Emerging Leaders sessions i that this is a 2-part series, so please don’t sign up someone who cannot make it to the first session.  Additionally, Strengths Finder does require the attendees to take an online assessment prior to attending the class, so we must have all registrations by April 24 with a working email for all participants in advance. 
Contact Donna Gordon at donna@kcmn.org, or 816-304-7958 for more information.

Strengths Finder 1 5/3/2017 Sondra Cave Carlsen Center 212
Strengths Finder 2 5/10/2017 Sondra Cave Regnier Center 175
Goal Setting and Employee Engagement 5/17/2017 George Ferguson Regnier Center 175
Communication 5/31/2017 George Ferguson Regnier Center 175
Delegation 6/14/2017 George Ferguson Regnier Center 175
Cross Generational Motivation 6/28/2017 George Ferguson Regnier Center 181


Workforce development: Upgrading your employees’ skills

KCMN May Meeting

Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute’s poll of a nationally representative sample of manufacturing companies noted that 84% of manufacturing executives agree there is a talent shortage in US manufacturing, and they estimate that 6 out of 10 open skilled production positions are unfilled due to the shortage. While recruiting talent is critical, at some point, manufacturers are simply poaching each other’s talent.  Increasingly, investments in the right kinds of skill development will be critical to employing the workforce of the future. Our May meeting will feature a presentation by the Full Employment Council on resources and programs that will expand your options for talent development.  Following the presentation, we will host a panel discussion by 3 area employers who have invested in innovative strategies to develop the skills needed for their workforce today, and in the future.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017    7:30-9:00 AM
River Market Event Place, 140 Walnut, KCMO

Cost is $20 for KCMN members, $25 for manufacturing company guests, and $50 for non-mfg company guests. This event is part of a 3-part workforce series: get $10 off when you register for all 3. Details at http://kcmn.org/events/spring2017 Guests may attend 2 meetings before having to join as a member.  Sign up for the May meeting only by May 5 BY CLICKING HERE or contact Donna Gordon  816-304-7958, donna@kcmn.org

Presenter: Andrea Robins, Sr. Director, Career Services, Full Employment Council, Inc.

Panel Moderator:  Leslie Scott, TechHire Program Director, Full Employment Council, Inc.

Cindy Brewer, Human Resources & Marketing at Kocher + Beck USA L.P. Cindy will discuss progress made towards integrating a CNC Machining Program in collaboration with Johnson County Community College, the Kansas Department of Commerce, Haas Automation and other local manufacturing companies. The program will be rolled out through the Kansas Department of Commerce as a Workforce AID Program. Kocher + Beck manufactures Cutting Dies and other tools used in the Labeling and Packaging Industry. Kocher + Beck is a family-owned, international Company with headquarters in Southern Germany employing about 100 people at their Lenexa facility.

Elizabeth Wenske- Mullinax, Ceva Biomune:  Liz has spearheaded Ceva’s utilization of the MT1 certificate program, which includes assessments, training (online, instructor‐led, and blended online/instructor‐led) and certifications that qualify incumbent workers, transitioning military, emerging workers and dislocated workers for employment and careers in advanced technology industries, such as manufacturing.

Heather Cox, Training Coordinator, Westrock: Westrock has integrated KCMN’s Emerging Leaders program into their development planning for their future workforce needs.  The company uses a combination of in house and formal development solutions to develop the next generation of leaders. WestRock provides dispensing solutions at their Grandview Facility.


FEClogo200pxAbout the Full Employment Council: 

The Full Employment Council, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and administrator of the American Job Centers in the Kansas City and Eastern Jackson county areas, which includes Jackson, Platte, Clay, Cass and Ray counties. Its mission is to obtain public and private sector employment for the unemployed, underemployed and those who are dislocated due to layoffs in the Greater Kansas City area.

The career centers offer a wide array of services to job seekers and employers, which include career preparation and job exploration workshops, as well as a variety of services and tools that promote current workforce trends, labor market information, job-skills training and employment and recruitment opportunities.

Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center and Missouri Enterprise are our NIST Network Affiliate Sponsors. We welcome all regional manufacturers to join us to make KCMN the central resource for manufacturing company managers and owners who are working to grow and improve their businesses across many functional areas.


Managing the Silver Tsunami: Strategies for success in a multi-generational workforce

According to the Manufacturing Institute, the median age of the manufacturing workforce in 2000 – at 40.5—was 1.1 years above the median age of the total non-farm workforce. By 2012, this gap doubled, with the median age in manufacturing being 44.7 years versus 42.3 years for the total non-farm workforce.  Many manufacturers are facing management teams approaching retirement age, and are seeking solutions to develop the next generation in their companies.  Join us for our April meeting, where we will discuss strategies for managing the ‘silver tsunami’.

Tuesday, April 11, 7:30 – 9:00 AM
Johnson County Community College, Regnier Center, Room 101
12345 College Blvd Overland Park, KS 66210-1299

Cost is $20 for KCMN members, $25 for manufacturing company guests, and $50 for non-mfg company guests. This event is part of a 3-part workforce series: get $10 off when you register for all 3. Details at http://kcmn.org/events/spring2017 Guests may attend 2 meetings before having to join as a member.  Sign up for the April meeting only by April 7 BY CLICKING HERE or contact Donna Gordon  816-304-7958, donna@kcmn.org

Expanding Options for Aging Workers:

Scott Nord, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, UltraSource LLC, and Chris Vering, President, COO, Knit-Rite, Inc. will be sharing their voluntary reduced hour policies.  Both UltraSource and Knit-Rite have developed policies that are structured to prolong the careers of experienced and valuable employees that meet certain criteria, while opening up a dialogue with employees for transition into retirement.  Scott and Chris will discuss their respective plans, the details of each, employee feedback, human resource & legal input when structuring such a plan and flexibility features incorporated into their plans to meet both the company and individual needs.  A question, answer and open dialogue session will be included.

Managing a multi-generational workforce: Individuals, not Generations

According to Deloitte analysis based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Gallup, 2.7 million manufacturing employees will have retired by 2025. Combined with the skills gap, employers will be facing a transitioning workforce.  Our panelists will discuss their success stories of developing a multi-generational workforce, and creating a culture where people are defined more individually than generationally.

Panel Moderator:

Kirk Young, Job Match Assessment


Kelly Anders, Director of Manufacturing, SOR, Inc.
Chris Coad, Production Manager, Dimensional Innovations
Brad Farmer, Accountant/Estimator, Holland Nameplate
Kyle Hooten, Quality Manager, Holland Nameplate
Brian Pittel, PE, ASQ SSBB, Engineering Manager, Manufacturing Support, Continental Disc Corporation

Sign-ups will include a census of your workforce – results in aggregate will be shared with the attendees as part of the presentation.

Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center and Missouri Enterprise are our NIST Network Affiliate Sponsors. We welcome all regional manufacturers to join us to make KCMN the central resource for manufacturing company managers and owners who are working to grow and improve their businesses across many functional areas.

Solutions and new strategies for workforce recruiting

KCMN March Meeting

Got talent? Increasingly, for many manufacturers, finding the talent needed to fill open positions has become more challenging. Join us for our March 7 meeting where we will present speakers who are working on strategies to not only seek out potential employees, but also build a pipeline to increase chances for success.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
7:30-9:00 AM
River Market Event Place, 140 Walnut, KCMO 64106


Greg Kindle, President, Wyandotte Economic Development Council

Wyandotte County: Workforce Solutions Wanted: Economic development used to be all about location, location, location.  Today, it could easily be said it’s all about talent, talent, talent.  Finding the workforce to meet the needs of the business community has become a challenge.  Innovation has largely allowed manufacturers to keep growing but an existing and future talent pipeline is a national issue with local implications.  Wyandotte County Economic Development Council has developed a unique workforce solutions approach that seeks to connect businesses in Wyandotte County with an existing labor pool often overlooked or disconnected from the workforce system and works with the school district to create a future talent pipeline around the industry sectors creating jobs in the county.

Torree Pederson, Executive Director, Greater KC Chapter of NTMA

Building Robots and Ties to Manufacturing BotsKC is a manufacturing workforce development program of the Kansas City National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA). BotsKC students design and build remote controlled robots to face-off in a gladiator-style competition. Through the manufacturing process of bot building, students’ imaginations are captured as they design, build and compete with their own robotic creations. Through this hands-on effort with industry partners, students gain practical knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) – all essential skills for manufacturing.

By formalizing ties between schools and manufacturing partners, students gain a better understanding and become enthusiastic about the career possibilities in manufacturing. Manufacturers are able to build valuable industry-school connections and workforce talent pipelines by helping BotsKC teams engineer a lean, mean, fighting machine. In other words, everybody wins.

Timothy Welsh   Executive Director, National Center for Aviation Industry

Industry Talent Supply Chains: New Sources of Aviation Talent Shortages of talent and high costs of talent acquisition are driving a growing national interest in applying supply chain management principles to talent planning management. The use of supply chain techniques in this way has recently been expanded to help the aviation industry mitigate talent shortages in its manufacturing and maintenance sectors.

National industry talent supply chains are employer-driven by design. Qualified education, training and certification organizations are organized into integrated supply chains to provide reliable talent at scale to employers and employer groups.

This presentation will explain the origins and current state of talent supply chains and provide an actual aviation talent supply chain example. Information will also be shared with the audience about various tools and methods now available for enhanced talent planning management.

Shannon Martinez, Program Manager/Recruitment Specialist Workforce AID Kansas Department of Commerce 

Workforce AID (Aligned with Industry Demand):  Kansas businesses report a shortage of qualified, skilled employees.  The Kansas Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Kansas Board of Regents implemented a project to address the skills gap in Kansas through development of a talent pipeline by aligning workforce training and education with industry opportunities and demands.  Workforce AID is nationally recognized by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and supports economic and workforce development by keeping Kansas businesses competitive and promoting a more robust economy.  Workforce AID finds, trains and delivers a skilled and certified workforce.

Cost is $20 for KCMN members, $25 for manufacturing company guests, and $50 for non-mfg company guests. Guests may attend 2 meetings before having to join as a member.  Sign up today BY CLICKING HERE  or contact Donna Gordon  816-304-7958, donna@kcmn.org  This meeting is part 1 of a 3 part series on workforce issues. Sign up for the whole series! Information at http://kcmn.org/events/spring2017

Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center and Missouri Enterprise are our NIST Network Affiliate Sponsors. We welcome all regional manufacturers to join us to make KCMN the central resource for manufacturing company managers and owners who are working to grow and improve their businesses across many functional areas.

SOR Controls Group: Growth Via New Products

KCMN – January MeetingSCG-Logo

One of SOR Controls Group key strategies for growth has been a product development approach of introducing new products to existing markets.  This tour will focus on how SOR has successfully developed and introduced several new product lines in the last couple of years.  Come see how SOR built their new product development process and integrated it into their LEAN enterprise based operating system.  SOR will share key considerations, lessons learned and the means they use to launch new products into their factories.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017
7:30-9:00 AM
SOR, Inc., 14685 West 105th St., Lenexa, KS

Attendance is limited to the first 60 attendees. Tour spots are open to current KCMN members only through December 9, after which we will open registration for guests if any spots remain.  Cost is $20 for KCMN members, $25 for manufacturing company guests, and $50 for non-mfg company guests. Guests may attend 2 meetings before having to join as a member.  Sign up BY CLICKING HERE or contact Donna Gordon  816-304-7958, donna@kcmn.org

About SOR Controls Group:

SOR Controls Group, Ltd. (SCG) is a global leader in the design and manufacture of measurement and control devices under the brands of SOR Inc., Smart Sensors Incorporated (SSi), SETEX Products and SENSOR Sampling Systems and Data Monitoring Systems. SOR Controls Group actively serves all sectors of the process industry with particular strengths in the oil & gas, petrochemical, chemical and power segments. SCG also maintains an engineering and design team capable of providing engineered-to-order systems and products when required.

With headquarters in Lenexa, KS and regional offices in Houston (TX), Beijing, and Dubai, SCG supports a network of sales and service personnel capable of addressing customer requirements in any geographic market around the world.

Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center and Missouri Enterprise are our NIST Network Affiliate Sponsors. We welcome all regional manufacturers to join us to make KCMN the central resource for manufacturing company managers and owners who are working to grow and improve their businesses across many functional areas.