A Note From the CEO
Two of the new faces at Manufacturer's Edge:
Jennifer Hagan-Dier, Chief Operating Officer (left)
Deborah Kerrigan, Regional Director (right)
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s still the team that counts.
It is a pleasure to write this note. Like all organizations and businesses, a year ago we were rocked literally overnight by the onslaught of a global pandemic and crashing of our business. In those first months of the most serious crisis in the company’s history, we also saw the departure of two key members of the Manufacturer's Edge team. Many companies and many people would have been discouraged, but the remaining members of our team rose to the challenge. As one of our team members said, “we thought about it all for a hot minute, then we put it behind us and went back to doing our jobs.” As we all know, it is the people you are surrounded by that determine your success or failure. With that in mind, I want to thank the team for stepping up to the challenge over the past 10 months and introduce the people and job changes we are making to ensure the continued success of Manufacturer’s Edge. 

Michelle Griffith, who has been with Manufacturer's Edge for more than 10 years (and throughout my almost 9 years with the company), has been promoted to Director of Program Operations. Michelle is a rock who keeps the wheels turning and earned this promotion with her laser focus on customers, delivery, and the MEP mission.

Ann Marie Younce, a relative newcomer to the company, has been promoted to the role of Director of Client Services. Ann Marie stepped in immediately to fill the void left by one of the aforementioned departures and, as was said to me, “Ann Marie got more done in the last 4 months than others have in the last 4 years.” We’re lucky to have her driving the delivery team and charting the course of our future services.

We are fortunate to also add a new Regional Director, Deborah Kerrigan. Deborah is a seasoned professional in the economic development world. With her work ethic, intelligence, and energy, Deborah is a great addition to the team. We look forward to her success with Manufacturer’s Edge.

Finally, we have named Jennifer Hagan-Dier as the Manufacturer's Edge Chief Operating Officer. Jennifer served as the Center Director of the Tennessee MEP for over six years and brings a deep understanding of the MEP National Network and center operations to our team. By adding Jennifer, we now have an experienced executive who can manage every aspect of our operations and also help us implement a new strategic plan.  

Each of these people is part of a great team we have built over the last few years, and I am proud to be one of them. A year ago we looked at the turmoil as a chance to improve. We are now stronger, more capable, and better positioned for the future. I know we will look back on this year and the storm we have weathered (and prospered from) and be proud that in the midst of the biggest challenge our country has faced in our lifetimes, we met it head-on and came out stronger. Kudos to you all.
Tom Bugnitz, CEO
Manufacturer's Edge
Improvements and Expansion Helps Propel the "Fairy Godmother of Fire" to New Heights
Tim and Voni Flaherty met while attending law school in Chicago and started a grand adventure that has seen them explore a variety of career opportunities. Having gone from law to banking to general management at Caterpillar, it was while living in San Antonio a few years ago that they decided to pursue buying a company of their own.

In early 2018, Warming Trends was a small Colorado manufacturing company that was gaining market share selling a very unique outdoor fire feature system. The Flahertys were intrigued by the solid brass design and industry-leading fuel efficiency of the burner systems. What really hooked them was the potential growth opportunities that they sensed below the surface. Tim and Voni purchased Warming Trends in April 2018.

Warming Trends makes the best outdoor fire feature system available on the market. The all-brass, jetted system provides unmatched fuel efficiency as well as superior flame performance. In essence, customers get big, beautiful flames with a fraction of the gas used by competitors’ products. What also sets Warming Trends apart, is the ability to customize any design down to a 2” – 3” adjustment. So, for example, if a homeowner wants a simple round fire pit, Warming Trends offers a variety of standard sizes and shapes of burners to choose from. If, however, like a recent customer, someone wants to fill a 50’ wide 125’ opening with fire and surround it with a steel bamboo forest, there is really only one option available – that is to call Warming Trends. (...)
Increased Sales: $5M
Retained Sales: $2M
Jobs Created: 27
Jobs Saved: 16

Volume 34: Resolve to Resilience
Last February, just eleven months ago, my blog topic was cyber resiliency for defense contractors. The theme of resilience resonates even more clearly today across all critical economic industry sectors, of which critical manufacturing is one of the 16 identified by the US Department of Homeland Security. In the Covid era, we have become trained in what is classified as “critical”. The manufacturing workforce figures prominently in this graphic (above) from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Before looking forward and considering the aptness of resolving to be more resilient going forward, let’s look back to where we were in February 2020. We were unmasked, socially close, but becoming mindful — one of the skills associated with resilience from an individual/psychological perspective. Those skills translate well into organizational/cybersecurity terms:

  • Purpose
  • Care
  • Relationships
  • Awareness
  • Mindfulness