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Ask an Expert: Reg Carter, Executive Director, CITEC

AskAnExpert

For this edition of our “Ask an Expert” series, we interviewed Reg Carter, executive director of CITEC, which is part of the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Reg has worked as a senior level executive, offering extensive and diverse leadership experience, both domestic and international, with companies that include General Electric, AB Electrolux, and NiSource. He brings that experience to bear leading CITEC in its mission to provide assistance to small and mid-sized manufacturers in the North Country.

CITEC covers one of the largest geographical territories in the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NY MEP) system. What makes your manufacturing market unique?
The North Country includes seven counties—Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence. The region has over 20 percent of the state’s land mass and about 2.5 percent of its population.
There are relatively large concentrations of manufacturing activities in the eastern and western portions of the region, but the distance between each is significant. It’s approximately a four hour drive from one side of the region to the other. The manufacturers that we deal with are diverse but fairly typical in total. The challenge is managing the geographic separation. Our main office is in the center of the region (Potsdam) and we also have satellite offices on the east (Plattsburgh) and west (Sackets Harbor) sides. Even so, our Business Advisors travel extensively, and the organization has a “virtual” feel.
The North Country is focused on “transportation equipment and aerospace” as its priority industry cluster, as designated by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. How is CITEC serving manufacturers in this sector?
We have over thirty companies in this cluster, and CITEC has had the opportunity to work with the majority of them providing training and consulting. Services have included innovation engineering, lean, safety, workforce and leadership development, and strategic planning. In addition, we act as a connector to other advanced manufacturing resources throughout the state. Our objective is to collaborate very closely with these companies in ensuring that they are aggressively working towards a competitive edge.
CITEC recently partnered with NAmTrans (the North American Center of Excellence for Transportation Equipment), the Development Corporation, and SUNY Plattsburgh in the organization and launch of the North Country Supply Chain Summit. The summit was attended by a variety of North Country companies, including cluster members, and provided an opportunity for organizations to discuss best practices and areas of need and to make connections within the region.
CITEC is also a member of the Transportation Equipment and Aerospace Task Force, which is a partnership approach to cluster development and includes members representing leading economic development organizations and educational institutions from the North Country region.
What are the most critical services North Country manufacturers need to compete?
The most critical services North Country manufacturers need to compete are similar to companies anywhere in the world. Essentially all manufacturers rely on materials, technology, processes, and people to produce products. Companies that compete successfully are those that continually work to optimize their performance in each of these areas. One of the most critical roles we play is helping companies assess their performance, prioritize opportunities for improvement, and follow through with implementation. In successful companies, this cycle is ongoing and never ending.
Could you share a recent success story with us?
I’ll be happy to share a success story with you. I like this one because it’s a great example of the connectivity CITEC provides in serving manufacturers.
Dunn Paper is a leading manufacturer of specialty papers for high performance, niche applications and a CITEC client. CITEC coordinated with the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) and the Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP) at Clarkson University to assist Dunn in the definition of equipment needed to remove tannins from process water pulled from the Oswegatchie River. The tannins shift the color of the paper and require chlorine to chemically bleach the color back to white.
Following definition of the equipment requirements, CITEC connected Dunn Paper with CHA, which led to the successful submission of Dunn’s application for NYSERDA equipment funding, as well as to the Workforce Development Institute (WDI) for training assistance on the new equipment.
As a result of this collaborative effort, Dunn will reduce their water consumption by 25 percent and achieve annual energy savings of over $500,000.

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