Photo of George Bureau

George Bureau
Vice President Consulting Services

By Rich Rovito


George Bureau has faced an array of challenges during a nearly four-decade business career, but working with manufacturers, some that are fighting for their very survival, during a global pandemic stands out.

“From my career perspective, this has definitely been the most challenging because of the severity and speed. The downturn happened so fast,” said Bureau, who serves as Vice President of Consulting Services for WMEP Manufacturing Solutions.

WMEP Manufacturing Solutions is working diligently with manufacturers affected by the pandemic.

“It’s a pleasure to work alongside companies that roll up their sleeves, make improvements and achieve results,” Bureau said.

“Many manufacturers have gone through a very significant, very rapid unprecedented downturn in business conditions initially started by the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerated by national and state lockdowns,” he said. “As they’ve gone through the journey, the vast majority of them have been negatively impacted, forcing them to figure out what they need to do to survive. We’ve been there through that journey with them.”

It took several months, but many manufacturers are beginning to rebound. Some, however, remain in the throes of difficult conditions and a few have remained remarkably busy during the entire course of the pandemic, Bureau said.

“What we have done is meet manufacturers where they are,” he said. “For the really busy companies, how do we help them get product out the door? How do we help them from the perspective of manpower, processes, improved quality or even transforming them at this time so they can become much better? Then we’ve got those that are muddling along. How do we help them recover what they’ve lost and more importantly, how do we help them start to break out, recognizing that this is all in the context of an external environment that’s still changing? There’s still a lot of uncertainty that causes heartburn and trepidation for manufacturers.”

Among the WMEP services in high demand due to the pandemic are those focused on automation.

“What automation can do for you is lower your cost structure, help you socially distance employees in your workplace and augment your existing workforce,” Bureau said. “Automation can be very broad. There’s robotics, which we always tend to think about, but it can be conveying systems and systems to move materials around, anywhere where you’ve got the human element.”

Manufacturers who had been on the fence about automation are increasingly turning to the strategy, or at least undergoing an automation assessment, since the onset of the pandemic.

“All of a sudden their cash starts to dry up and they start to become worried about their future viability. Then automation becomes much more important,” Bureau said. “We were very well prepared for it. We have the right people on board, and we offer an automation assessment to start. We’ve done a number of those and have a whole series of them that are scheduled.”

The automation space is still like the “wild west,” Bureau said. “Business leaders are being bombarded with information. How do I get started? Where do I focus? Am I doing the right things? How do I do it faster?

WMEP can help them answer those questions for clients, Bureau said.

Services focused on increasing and forecasting cash flow also are in high demand, especially for companies struggling to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, Bureau added.

“There are still some companies whose business is way down. The scary part is that we still have some manufacturers that are getting worse,” he said.  “We focus on what we can do to help them survive, such as lowering their cost structure, helping them do more with less and assist them in finding cash and preserving it to help tide them over until a better time.”

The pandemic has caused WMEP to change the way it works with its manufacturing clients, moving to more of a hybrid model with work done inside factories and remotely.

Bureau’s roles during his career have included leadership, strategy, sales, marketing, quality and operations. His experience spans a spectrum of manufacturing and service sectors. These include both business-to-business and business-to-consumer channels in consumer products, paper, packaging and energy.

In his role at WMEP Manufacturing Solutions, Bureau said he enjoys working with an array of manufacturers to help them reach higher levels of success.

“It’s a pleasure to work alongside companies that roll up their sleeves, make improvements and achieve results,” Bureau said.

“My role is to help support that and make sure we have the right people and tools and and an understanding of what the client needs are. There are always challenges, but we are persistent as an organization, and we are here when they need us”

Bureau earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Science from Penn State University and an MBA from York College in York, Pennsylvania.

He and his wife, Ramona, are long-time residents of the Neenah area and are the parents of three adult children. He enjoys travel, tennis, history and following his favorite sports teams, which include the Green Bay Packers and the Penn State Nittany Lions.