WVU Industrial Extension receives perfect score from customer impact survey
Providing solutions to West Virginia manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing manufacturing across the state is the purpose of the West Virginia University Industrial Extension. A recent National Institute for Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership survey spotlights the true impact WVUIE has on the state.
Story by Adrianne Uphold, Multi-media Specialist
Recent data from the independent survey of manufacturers revealed a 100% customer impact score for WVUIE. Director Staci Miller said that the score was based on direct WVUIE clients' opinions on how well the program has partnered with small and medium-sized manufacturers in West Virginia to support operational improvement and business growth.
"Survey questions include requests for data on increased and retained sales, productivity and cost savings, improvements to plant and equipment, how many jobs created or retained and workforce skill development," Miller said. "Our projects have to deliver in those categories and our clients have to be engaged in the survey process to share their successes. Our score of 100% reflects the great work our team provides to clients and the willingness of our clients to report their impact on our behalf."
The perfect score comes from a previous score of 80% just last year. WVUIE’s customer satisfaction rate is 93%, while the national average is at 88%. While many other manufacturing centers hire third-party consultants to conduct projects with clients because they have a large manufacturing footprint, WVUIE differs. The program is one of the smallest organizations in the country, and Miller said they pride themselves on keeping a high-quality staff to personally meet with clients and deliver the projects on their production floor.
"We have eight people who work full time on staff, and in 2021 alone, we traveled 74,039 miles to reach clients," Miller said. "We drive to them, work hand-in-hand, and build long-term relationships, so they know we're invested in their sustained success."
The increase in the program's score is also a result from WVUIE Associate Director David Carrick's refined internal procedures on how WVUIE discusses project impacts with clients as soon as they develop a proposal—allowing the clients to understand the direct impact they could potentially see.
"David has created a sustainable process that allows our team to highlight the benefits of the project and potential financial impact to our clients," Miller said. "As a result, when a client is selected for a survey, they understand the impacts of our collective work. We practice what we teach our clients, including that having standard processes helps keep a business in control."
In addition to standardizing WVUIE's procedures, another significant improvement to the program's process includes the active engagement of WVUIE's Business Development Manager Jamie Cope. One of Cope's priorities is to stay connected to clients that have completed project work to gauge customer satisfaction and support the survey process. His ability to stay engaged with the client after a project is finished is a huge compontent to the success of our survey process.
WVUIE continues to make a difference for the manufacturing community from a national, state and local level. After WVUIE concluded six new projects at the steel deoxidizers and alloy additives company Fleman Production, LLC, the company reported impacts including cost savings in labor, materials, energy or overhead of $20,000 and the cost avoidance of $200,000. WVUIE provided training events, several workshops and a survey to employees at Fleman Production.
Another company, Brake Supply Co. Inc, located in Princeton, West Virginia, reported impacts of an internal auditor training project, including a $1.6 million increase in sales and $5.2 million retentions of sales as a result of the course WVUIE provided. Keeping Brake Supply's staff trained in internal auditing is critical to the business.
"While the survey results are a metric needed to maintain our status as a successful MEP center, the journey of our work which includes meeting with clients, generating proposals for work they need and then delivering on that work, is what matters," Miller said. "As our consultants deliver projects, they also build trusted relationships and are genuinely interested and invested in the manufacturers we work with. If our clients don't succeed, then we don't succeed. It's a job we take very seriously, and we know that what we do daily builds a better West Virginia for tomorrow. They teach us as much as we teach them."
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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