Real Solutions to Workforce Needs

Date: September 11, 2019
Time: 9 am - 1 pm
Location: Conference Center 1, Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta Campus
Registration Fee: $50

Northeast Iowa manufacturers struggling to modernize and grow can learn new strategies that impact their bottom line in any economy. The challenge businesses encounter could be economic uncertainty, technological advancements or the right company workforce to meet industry demand. This new conference hosted by Northeast Iowa Community College provides solutions to tackle these workforce challenges and many others.

During this half-day, manufacturing conference you will:

  • Gain insights on strategies that expand capacity without increasing your workforce.
  • Understand how to use emerging technology to free up labor.
  • Hear proven solutions to address low workforce trends.

You can also register by phone at 844.642.2338, ext. 1399.


9:00 am - Welcome
Wendy Mihm-Herold, Northeast Iowa Community College and Mike O'Donnell, CIRAS

9:15 am - Using Lean to Develop People and Increase Capacity
Moderator: Teresa Hay McMahon, ILC Program Director, CIRAS

The people in any company are the most valuable asset. How can you effectively develop those people so that they continue to grow in value by enhancing productivity? Hear how other companies have effectively deployed Lean/continuous improvement to do just that. How did they get started? What lessons did they learn? What would they do differently? This panel explores the power of Lean to impact your entire operation. Panelists include:

  • Mark Geistkemper, Director of Continuous Improvement, Camso
  • Engineering Services and Products Company
  • Chris Rees, Plant Manager, Henderson Manufacturing
  • and more to come!

10:00 am - How to Free Up Labor by Using Emerging Technologies
Presenters: Chris Hill, TAP Director & MEP Associate Director, CIRAS and Abhay Grover, Manager, Digital Manufacturing Lab, CIRAS

Understand how to utilize technologies to address workforce issues within your organization and the questions you need to answer.

10:30 am - Networking Break

10:45 am - Company Panel: Implementing Technology to Free Up Labor
Moderator: Chris Hill, CIRAS

Hear from Iowa manufacturers that have implemented technologies as a part of their strategy to alleviate workforce constraints. Panelists include:

  • Joel Stavers and Teresa Weber, ATEK
  • Randy Decker, President, Decker Precision Machining
  • Zachary Thoma, Director of Business Development, Padget Technologies
  • Chad Huntington, Vice President, Human Resources, AY McDonald

11:30 am - Technology Provider Introductions
Moderator: Mike O'Donnell, CIRAS

  • Daren Manternach, Halter Automation
  • Zachary Thoma, Director of Business Development, Padget Technologies
  • RAMCO Innovations

11:45 am - Lunch and Provider Networking Session

Booths include:

  • Halter Automation
  • Iowa Lean Consortium
  • Northeast Iowa Community College
  • Padget Technologies
  • RAMCO Innovations

1:00 pm - Adjourn

Presenter Bios

Abhay Grover

Abhay GroverAbhay spent nearly 3 years working in John Deereā€™s India Engineering Center as a continuous improvement leader. He then served nearly 2 years as a senior quality engineer for Hagie Manufacturing, leading integration of advanced data management and analytical tools for the factory. He holds a Six Sigma Green Belt certification from American Society for Quality (ASQ).

Abhay is the Manager of the Digital Manufacturing Lab Powered by Alliant Energy. The Lab supports the deployment of advanced technology within Iowa manufacturers. Serving CIRAS from 2019.

Chris Hill

Chris HillChris has worked with manufacturing companies for more than 26 years. He has held a variety of manufacturing, purchasing, quality, engineering project and program management roles for both domestic and international projects. He spent his last seven years in industry, leading new product development programs for one of the world's largest appliance manufactures, with responsibility for design, manufacturing, purchasing, and quality. Chris has worked with companies from around the world to resolve cost, timing, process, and quality issues. He utilized advanced engineering and manufacturing methods to reduce development cycles and improve manufacturing efficiencies. He holds numerous American Society for Quality (ASQ) certifications, a BSI Lead Auditor certification, and numerous domestic and foreign patents.

Chris is the Technology Assistance Program (TAP) Director and MEP Associate Director. In these roles he leads CIRAS efforts in building technical skills and deploying advanced technology in Iowa manufacturers. Serving CIRAS since 2013.