Tim Wiora, the new executive director and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, is quickly making his mark on the organization.
Wiora moved into the WMEP’s top leadership role following an organizational change that went into effect in January. He had served as the WMEP’s director of consulting services for the previous two years, where he helped the organization grow and generate more than $700 million of impact (sales, cost savings and capital investments) for Wisconsin manufacturers and stakeholders.
He took the reins at the WMEP from Buckley Brinkman, who became executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, which collaborates with the WMEP and the University of Wisconsin-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center to help Wisconsin manufacturers grow their businesses and become more efficient and profitable.
Wiora’s goal is to continue and accelerate the WMEP’s progression towards a data-driven, client-focused organization that helps Wisconsin Manufacturers achieve success.
“We are focusing on the services that are most impactful to our clients as we continue to develop new services and partnerships to meet the evolving needs of manufacturers,” he said. Wiora explained, “Our plan is to leverage our strong relationships with leading state manufacturers and grow our services organically. Our board of directors is comprised of Wisconsin manufacturing leaders, and we are continually researching marketplace needs and industry trends. We feel we have strong insights into how we can best help Wisconsin Manufacturers achieve their objectives whether this is growth, cost reduction, adding new capabilities, adopting new technologies, achieving certifications or refining existing operations.”
Face-to-face contact with customers will be a priority for Wiora. “I very much enjoy getting out and meeting with our clients to better understand the specific opportunities and challenges in front of them and as a way to show our appreciation for them doing business with us,” he said. Growing the capabilities and collaborations among WMEP’s staff is also crucial to future success, Wiora said. “We have a very talented staff, most with decades of experience helping Wisconsin Manufacturers. Many have deep knowledge in their area of expertise. Our plan is to increase staff collaborations with clients so that they benefit from our collective capabilities and experiences.”
As for his management style, Wiora said he wants to provide guidance for the staff while giving them the freedom to make their own key decisions.
“I want to strengthen the framework but empower people to be the painters,” Wiora said. “We talk about “eating our own cooking,” which means that to be most effective as an organization we need to draw upon the talents of our staff who are very experienced at helping other organizations. We are applying these same methodologies internally to strengthen and grow the WMEP.”
He described his management method as “open-book, open-door” and noted that keeping the staff fully informed of aspects such as the organization’s financial performance and targeted goals is also a top priority.
Wiora’s work history includes roles in both manufacturing and professional service including stops at Kraft Foods in Madison (11 years), Scientific Commercialization, Safe Bridge Solutions, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as operating his own information technology consulting operation, Wiora Business & Technical Solutions, which has focused on small and mid-size manufacturers.
“I believe these experiences provide a bridge to what we do,” he said. “I have a passion for manufacturing. Manufacturing provides the foundation for the state’s and nation’s economy. I also understand engaging manufacturers as clients. I’ve lived in both worlds.”
Fostering growth and improving the efficiency of its customers’ manufacturing operations will remain essential components of the WMEP’s mission, Wiora pointed out. “We are in business to help organizations grow and gain efficiencies and do it in a way where they can manage the change,” Wiora said.
Outside of work, Wiora is an ardent supporter of the University of Wisconsin’s athletic programs. His philanthropic efforts have focused on raising funds and awareness for cancer research. He has also served as past board president and board member at Nakoma Country Club in Madison, where he remains a member.
A native of New Lisbon, Wiora served as a charter member of the New Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce. He graduated from the University of Wisconisn-Madison in 1987 with a degree in statistics and resides in Madison with his wife Debbie, a certified public accountant.
Wiora credited Brinkman, his predecessor, with establishing a strong framework for the WMEP during his nearly five-year tenure with the organization. “I want to take the good work of my predecessor and evolve it to the next level,” Wiora said.