For this edition of our “Ask an Expert” series, we interviewed our own Everton H. Henriques, the Solutions Manager and Manufacturing Extension Partnership Liaison at FuzeHub. Everton plays a key role in matching manufacturers to technological resources in New York State based on the needs or opportunities they face. Click here for his full bio.
What happens first when you receive a virtual request from a company through the FuzeHub website?
I immediately contact the requester to set up a time for a phone call. If it’s an established manufacturer, usually I’ll arrange for a site visit. Visiting the facility and talking through the company’s needs in person often helps uncover the root cause underlying the issue that the requester initially identified.
If the requester is an entrepreneur or innovator, rather than an established company, our consultation usually takes place by phone. I ask questions to understand what their idea is and what resources they’ve utilized to date. And I work to help them identify their most critical problem—which may or may not be the need that they are currently prioritizing—and based on that, assign resources for them to speak with.
We have regular “matching calls” with our internal team of technical experts, and in addition to relying on our own knowledge of the ecosystem, I often consult with partners across the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership system to determine which resources are the most appropriate fit.
You co-founded and sold two manufacturing companies, including an innovative plasma display company with over 100 employees that was sold to Panasonic. What’s the most important piece of advice you would share with entrepreneurs in New York State?
The most important thing to know is that it WILL cost you more than you anticipate, and it WILL be more work than you anticipate. If you’re prepared to put the time and the funds in, that’s the beginning of the right attitude for success.
Do you see any trends in how the manufacturing industry approaches innovation and strives to be competitive?
Companies are increasingly proactive when it comes to innovation. There are manufacturers whose culture and plan is to always look to the future and proactively incorporate or create new technologies. Others are innovating out of desperation, with competition from overseas markets forcing them to look to do things simpler, faster, more efficiently, and cheaper. Increasingly, those companies recognize that to be successful in innovation and boosting their competitiveness, they must work with other organizations—resources, supply chain partners, etc.
What’s an example of a connection or project that you facilitated that reflects your passion for FuzeHub’s mission?
I’m proud of what we were able to do for ThermoAura, a nanomaterials and clean energy start-up with a novel manufacturing technology. They came to us for assistance with environmental regulatory compliance, but we ended up helping them adopt different materials and parameters that were more cost-effective and helped them to source a manufacturing line. They’ve reported significant cost savings as a result.
It’s one of many stories about how valuable it is for companies to be able to reach out beyond their own walls and get an outside perspective—in this case, highly knowledgeable entrepreneurs and innovators got the input of experienced industry veterans, through FuzeHub, to make something happen.
How would you summarize FuzeHub’s value to New York’s manufacturing landscape?
I can’t emphasize enough how valuable it is for manufacturers to have a place to go put in a request for consultation and assistance. It’s a simple process. It might be 2:00 a.m., but if you have a good idea, you don’t have to lose it—you can put a request into the portal at FuzeHub.com and someone is going to follow up about it within 24 hours. It’s a great “catch point” for manufacturers who are often too busy to project manage their own innovative ideas.
FuzeHub’s value also comes from the fact that it leverages the full New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership system and a network of other state-supported research and innovation assets. FuzeHub saves companies the time and run-around of finding their own way through that network. In today’s highly competitive business climate, it is highly worthwhile that New York State and FuzeHub are working together to put innovation tools right at the fingertips of businesses.