By Buckley Brinkman, Executive Director & CEO, WMEP

All signs point to a terrific 2015 for manufacturing operations. The predictions for the U.S. economy are almost universally strong; our manufacturing platform is the most competitive in the world; and manufacturers are getting stronger by aligning with new partners and opportunities. All of this activity and increased speed adds complexity, making it much more difficult for operations to go it alone. It’s important to have partners that are helping you find and make the most of opportunities.

These are the healthiest conditions manufacturing has seen in a generation. Economic experts are predicting the U.S. economy to have its best year in more than a decade. In fact, Market Watch is saying the U.S. may be a prosperous island in a struggling world. Industry Week describes how major trends all favor our manufacturing base. Experts are all saying that basic economic conditions have not been this strong for the U.S. in a long, long time.

That strength is amplified by our competitive position in the world. The U.S. is still the world’s largest market, our labor rates are competitive with our major international competitors, and we have one of the cheapest and most plentiful energy sources in the world. Who would have predicted this set of events even five years ago? American manufacturing now matches up with anyone.

Our position becomes even better as manufacturers upgrade their capabilities. Operations continue to improve through traditional methods, such as lean or QRM. Even bigger gains are being made through automation and increased engagement of entire workforces. Technology is now visible and available like never before to small and medium manufacturers. Finally, industries and communities are defining the clusters critical to their success and engaging the supply chains necessary to keep those clusters healthy.

This integration of technology, organizations, and capabilities make the entire environment much more complicated. Trends, technology, and alliances advance on multiple fronts. It’s vital to engage with people and organizations that can connect you with the forces most important to you. These experts should be able to bring out the best in your team and help you reach your goals. This engagement facility is very different from the self-sufficient, go-it-alone spirit that we often celebrate.

Make it your best year ever! Find those people who make your organization better and more connected to the world around you. These collaborators should be able to help you bring out the best in your organization and put you in the middle of the most important activities in your industry and community. If you don’t have those connections, you may be losing ground to your competition.

The WMEP can be your collaborator. We have connections to national, state, and local resources, and the wherewithal and expertise to apply what we learn. Our specialists help manufacturers across the state and are measured on their ability to deliver client impact. That impact and our non-profit status make us a unique resource that could help you and your company.

It’s time to make 2015 your best year ever! Be sure to take advantage of the strong economy by improving your operations and connecting with major initiatives. Find and align with collaborators who can help you reach your goals. Position yourself to make the most of the best manufacturing conditions in a generation. When you do, it could be your best year ever!

Happy New Year!