Sullivan Alexander is a contributor on the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston), whom you can learn more about at www.contureadvisors.com.
Sullivan recently interviewed Gary Conley, President of TechSolve.
About the interviewee:
Gary N. Conley, President of TechSolve, Inc. has been a champion for Ohio manufacturing for some 40 years. His efforts have brought the latest technologies and “future-focused” manufacturing processes to manufacturers struggling to be competitive in a global marketplace. Through Gary’s leadership and vision, TechSolve continues to be a national leader in both advanced machining technology and continuous improvement techniques. He has partnered with academic, government and industrial giants investing in research to develop intelligent machine monitoring systems, research to find new methods for materials machining and research to improve common manufacturing processes. Additionally, Gary has provided leadership for the implementation of hundreds of public/private development projects representing billions of dollars of investment. He has received awards for his contributions to the field of economic development from the President of the United States, the governors of Ohio and California, and numerous national development organizations.
Tell me about TechSolve (services offered, number of employees, location, type of customers you work with, etc.).
Cincinnati-based TechSolve, Inc. is a nationally recognized provider and Ohio’s leader in process improvement consulting across four major industry sectors: manufacturing, advanced machining, aerospace & defense, and healthcare. For more than 30 years, we have been implementing process improvement and innovation solutions in order to have our clients remain highly competitive in an ever-changing global marketplace. Our proven approach aims at eliminating extraneous costs, increasing productivity, and maximizing profits. Comprised of over 40 business specialists, engineers, and scientists, TechSolve’s teams of experts work with organizations both large and small to help identify and execute custom-tailored solutions that achieve our customers’ unique needs – for the ideal top-line growth, the best bottom-line savings, and an overall optimal experience, every time.
Tell us about the key challenges your organization faced during the slow economic recovery.
There have been two times in my working life where there was widespread fear of a major collapse of the western economic system. The first was the hyperinflation of 1978-1982, and the second was the financial bubble collapse of 2007-2009. In 2007-2009, one of the biggest challenges that faced us was the collapse of “at risk” major consumer industries such as auto with high legacy costs. The biggest challenge TechSolve faced during the downturn was convincing our employees that despite the major cuts in staff we implemented in August 2008, our remaining employees should feel secure in their employment. The second biggest challenge was to convince our sales and marketing staff that despite the downturn in the economy, there was still business to be won and that economic conditions were an obstacle to be overcome and not accepted as an excuse for non-performance.
How did you overcome the challenges, and position the business for growth?
As to the first challenge, we told our employees that we anticipated a longer and deeper recession than had been experienced in our lifetimes, explicitly representing that our staffing plan anticipated a 36 month recessionary period. As to the second challenge, we advanced a strategy that although the economy was in a tail-spin, there was still a basic book of obtainable business and niches of specific opportunity that could be pursued and result in new revenues. Again, the message was economic conditions were an obstacle to be overcome and not accepted as an excuse for non-performance.
What do you see as “hot button” issues in your member’s industries, and what are the implications?
Companies in the US are ambivalent relative to investment. The basic economic fundamentals are strong: favorable interest rates, favorable exchange rates, enhanced value of reshoring, improving housing market, declining energy costs, lots of cash on corporate balance sheets. On the other hand there is great uncertainty relative to US tax, environmental, health care, deficit management and budget policy. This is a unique configuration or positive economic trend kept in tension by “political risk” insecurity issues.
What makes your organization different from the competition?
TechSolve is a not-for-profit, mission oriented organization. We are respected for our “roll-up our sleeves, hands-on” approach that generates proven results. In fact, we use an independent third-party to capture and validate our client’s return on investment. Our experts work side by side with our clients to identify and implement cleaner, more streamlined processes, which allow our clients to develop their internal capability for process improvement. Additionally, TechSolve serves as a center in the national Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. MEP centers are linked together through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) program.