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Tuesday, July 14 2020

Purdue MEP’s Partnership with City of South Bend Companies Results in New Skills and Improved Efficiencies


The South Bend mayor’s Pathways On Demand Workforce Development Program has again allowed the City to partner with the Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to train incumbent workers. This partnership between Purdue MEP and South Bend represents the second year for the On Demand program. The results have been dramatic and significant for both employers and employees in a vital time for the economy.

Most training programs teach the fundamentals and techniques, but few require participants to put that knowledge into action. In Purdue MEP’s Lean Implementation Practitioner program, participants go from concept to implementation with results-driven projects, access to industry experts, and one-on-one project coaching. The ultimate goal of Purdue MEP’s training is to put Lean into action, resulting in cost savings for companies.

Due to the approach to putting Lean into practice, City of South Bend Lean Practitioners and Lean Team Members were responsible for completing projects, which resulted in $9,717,461 of dollarized impact for participating area manufacturers.

In addition, these Practitioners and Team Members gained new skills from the certificate training they completed under the direction of the Purdue MEP.

“The City’s ongoing partnership with Purdue MEP has helped hundreds of citizens to increase their knowledge, their income and their value to their employers, while employers have seen tangible benefits in efficiencies and increased revenue,” said South Bend Mayor James Mueller. “This partnership is an outstanding example of higher education partnering with local government to empower a diverse and inclusive range of citizens and companies.  South Bend looks forward to continued partnership and programming with Purdue MEP to make our entire community even more successful.”

A total of 53 Team Members from: Abtrex Industries, Curtis Products, Elkhart Plastics, General Stamping & Metalworks, Hoosier Tank & Manufacturing, JMS Engineered Plastics, Lippert, Manufacturing Technology Inc., SPI Industries, and Masterbilt Inc., received training in the following areas: Lean manufacturing, 5S system, problem solving, and root cause analysis.

Practitioner training included: value stream mapping, quick changeover, total productive maintenance, Kaizen facilitation, project management, and a three-day kaizen event. Following their training, the 12 Practitioners were tested, completed a continuous improvement project, and formally presented overviews of their projects to business owners, coworkers, City of South Bend dignitaries and guests.

With their projects completed, the practitioners from Abtrex Industries, Curtis Products, General Stamping & Metalworks, Hoosier Tank & Manufacturing, JMS Engineered Plastics, Lippert, Manufacturing Technology Inc., and Masterbilt Inc., delivered final presentations to Purdue MEP’s Grif Maupin, the group’s training instructor, focusing on their return-on-improvement metrics. The metrics were comprised of cost savings, increased/retained sales, jobs created/retained, work-force development, new investments, and capital avoidance.

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it has highlighted the need to question the status quo in everything we do in operations. The tools that these folks learned and demonstrated in this offering are even more critical to apply to the operations in their respective companies’ continuous improvement journey. I challenge them to leverage the methods to strive for excellence,” said Grif Maupin, senior services manager of productivity and continual improvement.

The Pathways On Demand grant has the principal responsibility to deliver on the City of South Bend’s Core Values of Excellence, Innovation, Inclusion, Empowerment and Accountability. Through this partnership with Purdue MEP, the program has been successful in staying true to such values and bettering the lives and careers of those in the manufacturing industry.

“We have witnessed major changes during the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the manufacturing industry. Many are struggling. Now more than ever, we see an opportunity for all businesses to re-evaluate their strategies and make improvements to drive performance and ensure long-term survival in the years to come,” said Dietra Rosenkoetter, Sr. Industry Advisor, at Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership.


Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) provides high-value solutions to help Indiana businesses maximize their success. As advocates for Indiana's thousands of manufacturers, our staff identifies areas of improvement, streamlines processes, and ultimately increases competitiveness. Purdue MEP serves over 500 companies annually by implementing continuous improvement principles in the areas of productivity, growth, and technology.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Ranae Stewart at 317-709-0723, or email



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