Q&A: Questions for Phil Mintz
Phil Mintz is the executive director of NC State University Industry Expansion Solutions (IES) and director of the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership. He has a B.S. in engineering operations from NC State and an M.S. in industrial engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Please tell us a little bit about Industry Expansion Solutions (IES).
IES was established by the state legislature in 1955 as the industrial extension service of the College of Engineering. IES has an outreach team of regional managers and specialized product delivery specialists who serve in all regions of North Carolina. Our team helps small and mid-size manufacturers, educational and research institutions, health care facilities, defense contractors, the energy industry and the public sector apply innovative technologies to improve product design, enhance operational processes, facilitate industry-specific management systems and increase health, safety and environmental knowledge.
What happens when a company partners with IES?
Through the IES network of regional managers, we visit production and service facilities and engage with leaders to capture information about their challenges and needs. Our team provides an independent assessment of company needs and works with business leaders on a plan to address any discoveries and come up with recommendations for improvement. The company can then move forward on its own, or IES can assist by helping develop a technical service or providing a customized fee-based training or project opportunity. Because we are a state agency and also have some federal support, we are able to establish a staff of highly qualified and experienced experts and through them provide a substantial amount of no-cost effort.
How has IES evolved over the years?
IES is now much more involved in ensuring public awareness of the contribution the manufacturing industry makes to North Carolina’s well-being. IES administers a recurring federal award, the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which organizes multiple state agencies and nonprofits to ensure all manufacturers regardless of size have access to programs and services for opportunities for continued growth. The unit has also evolved to support non-manufacturing industries such as healthcare.
How is IES responding to North Carolina’s economic and population growth?
Manufacturing continues to have special growth needs, and we are working on programs that provide some help through implementing Industry 4.0-related solutions such as automation and robotics, additive manufacturing and sensor technology to help companies optimize operations. We are also sensitive to the balancing of urban- and rural-based business needs. We monitor this effort closely and are always excited to see successful projects in the rural parts of the state.
What is a recent success story?
Every now and then, IES connects with a new company that is so prepared for growth that we can hardly keep up with their desire to apply what we share. We met Geoff Foster, the owner of Core Technology Molding Corporation in Greensboro, NC, shortly before the pandemic, and began supporting the company with a comprehensive assessment. We completed a training and coaching plan with leadership that resulted in their achievement of multiple industry-specific quality management certifications, which helped the company see sustained rapid growth even through the pandemic. Core Technology Molding is now a global supplier of plastic injection molded products and provides critical parts to a highly diversified group of customers including automotive, aerospace and medical devices.