1) How is the process of innovation different from when your grandfather started out?
Innovation was as profoundly important 40 years ago as it absolutely is now. My grandpa was an inventor, and founded the company on innovation, and being part of the movement of converting products to plastic materials. More recently, technology is the key driver shaping the process of innovation, e.g. IoT and 3D printing, but in general, looking at the history of manufacturing, innovation has always been at the table, just moving faster with technological advancements.
2) How do you stay up with current innovation trends?
I am a manufacturing junkie, but not a technical expert. I surround myself with people who are passionate about what they do, and help me as I continue finding my sea legs in the industry. I also engage in in industry and with associations, participate in events, and read most things I can get my hands on specific to my sector of manufacturing and plastic.
3) How do you keep the start-up mentality going in a forty-year-old company?
Because we approached M4 as a restart 3 years ago, we were essentially a 40-year-old startup, and wanted a mentality of hustle, heart, nimbleness, agility, and open mindedness, as well as remaining unconstrained by conventional bureaucracy, to stay at our core. Our values are built on this. We operate the organization this way.
4) What does the future of manufacturing look like?
The future looks worthwhile, challenging, and full of progress.
5) What advice do you have for our members here at mHUB?
Surround yourself with industry and technical experts who can help you get from point A to point B. Know the manufacturability and feasibility of what you are working on; understand the costs and implications; and have a solid marketing plan that appreciates user experience and market need. And, lean on the ecosystem mHUB has created, combining academia, industry, finance, and small and large makers.