Train, Develop, Optimize (TDO) is the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center for Central New York, a region that spans Onondaga, Madison, Oswego, Cortland, and Cayuga counties. From Kata and Kaizen to technology commercialization and value stream mapping, TDO reported $184M in new and retained sales over a recent five-year period.


Steve Melito: Hey, welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now, the podcast that’s powered by FuzeHub. I’m your host, Steve Melito, and today we are here with Jim D’Agostino, the CEO and Center Director for Train Develop Optimize, or TDO, which is the regional MEP center for Central New York. Jim, welcome to the show.

Jim D’Agostino: Thanks for having me, Steve.

Steve Melito: It’s great to have you here. And Jim, for starters, tell us about TDO. How long have you been around? What counties do you serve? What should we know about what you do?

Jim D’Agostino: TDO is a not- for- profit consulting and training organization based in Liverpool, New York. We have been in existence since 1988, and as you mentioned, we’re the designated central New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center, or MEP Center. And as far as the counties we serve, we have the five counties, central New York region of Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, and Oswego Counties.

Steve Melito: That’s excellent. And Jim, thanks for defining what MEP means. It’s inside baseball with these acronyms and we try not to overwhelm folks with them, but we’re so familiar with them internally. What are some of TDO’s strengths? What do you do really well?

Jim D’Agostino: I would say our TDO team, we really consist of experienced senior level professionals. We all come from diverse, broad industries with a passion for helping companies increase revenue, reduce costs, and increase productivity using our business leadership process improvement and technical expertise and skills. One of the differentiating factors for us is we work hands on with organizations to develop and implement strategies that help them meet their goals and solve problems. And we really utilize a lot of different tools, but mainly for us at TDO, we accomplish complete projects through initiatives with Toyota Kata, Lean Six Sigma, workforce and leadership development, strategic planning, quality management systems, marketing and sales strategies, and really the implementation of Leading Edge technologies. And that’s just a little bit about what we do and what makes us different.

Steve Melito: So there’s a broad range of services. And Jim, are there a couple of success stories that you might outline for us? Kind of give people a sense of what you do.

Jim D’Agostino: Sure. So really we have a great number of success stories here in the five county region. Some of the bigger ones for us, and most recent ones, are companies like Currier Plastics, Northland Filter, Oneida Air Systems, and Knowles Precision Devices. And the solutions for those projects included some of the items I mentioned earlier, things like Toyota Kata, Lean Six Sigma, and training within industry. An independent survey, as you know, Steve, in the MEP system were surveyed on impacts and our ability to deliver impacts for clients. In recent survey period for us, we’ve had over $ 184 million combined of new and retained sales, $ 11 million in cost savings, $ 70 million in investments, and over 1, 500 new and retained jobs. So obviously not all from those companies I mentioned in the success stories, but we’ve got a lot of long standing and long track record of success here in Central New York, in particular with the companies I mentioned.

Steve Melito: Great. And a lot of those numbers are M with millions. Good, strong numbers, and good to hear about. So Jim, there’s an industry, it’s top of mind these days in a lot of conversation, the defense industry. And how does TDO support that industry, and how do you help with the industrial supply chain?

Jim D’Agostino: We at TDO support the defense industry both directly and indirectly. We’ve completed various lean and quality related projects with a lot of the larger defense companies that are in our region, but we’ve also done a lot of work where many suppliers and sub- suppliers in the local defense industry, a lot of those that are in that food chain there. And really a lot of the solutions we talked about, Toyota Kata, Lean Six Sigma, training within industry, a lot of those items, as we like to say, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, the tools, the things that we do, the solutions we provide are really applicable across all industries and we also like to say that really doesn’t matter how big or small your company is or how many internal resources your company might have, we have programs and initiatives that will help manufacturers of all shapes and sizes, and we tailor those solutions for the client as well. So like I said, we do a lot of work within the defense industry, particularly here in central New York, a lot of great defense manufacturers and a lot of those that are in the defense food chain that we love supporting.

Steve Melito: That’s great. And there’s a method to my madness asking about that. So not too far away, FuzeHub is getting to get back to in- person manufacturing forms. A lot of folks know them as solution forms, but we’re getting back into it in person with TDO and it’s going to be in August. On August 11th, we’re going to have a event together called Strengthening New York’s Industrial Base, and it’s going to be from 9: 00 AM to 12:00 PM. Again, August 11th. It’s in Syracuse, New York at the Holiday Inn. By then it’ll be known as the Ramada Inn, but it’s still going to be on Electronics Parkway. And Jim, we’re really happy to be doing this event with you. It’ll be a good return to ” norm.”

Jim D’Agostino: Yeah, we’re very excited about it. And as you mentioned, it’s right beside us here at TDO, so really looking forward to seeing folks again in person, as you mentioned with the Solutions Forum, really connecting companies and resources and getting back to that normal state of business.

Steve Melito: That’s right. It’s been a long time coming. It’ll be good to do that with TDO. So we’re here today with Jim D’Agostino, the CEO and Center Director for TDO in Syracuse, New York. Jim, thank you.

Jim D’Agostino: Thank you, Steve. Thanks for having me.

Steve Melito: All right. And before we sign off, I just want to remind everyone that’s listening that if you’re a manufacturing company in New York state, a technology company, if you’d like to come to this event, we would love to have you. Keep an eye out for those email communications that you’re going to get from FuzeHub. There’s also a webpage that you can use to sign up. I’m looking at one, it’s called fuzehub. com/ mfg/ expos- forums. And you can go there and you can find Strengthening New York’s Industrial Base. You can get to the landing page for that event and then register. And of course, if you can’t make this event and you’d still like some type of business or technical assistance, you can always, 24/ 7, go to and request an expert consultation and a member of our manufacturing solutions program will get in touch with you and find out what you need. So again, on behalf of New York State Manufacturing Now I’m your host Steve Melito, signing off.

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