FIRESTORM Asks the Important Questions to Help Your Business

FIRESTORM Webinar“FIRESTORM is the nationally recognized leader in Crisis Management, helping clients minimize disaster exposure and plan for crisis”. On April 12th, the NJMEP and FIRESTORM hosted a webinar on the Intelligence Network. At this webinar FIRESTORM proposed several questions that allowed business owners, management officials, and supervisors to open a discussion regarding the level of readiness their businesses have to assess and resolve situations. Even for those who already have a preparedness plan in place, they also allowed those businesses to explore areas of evaluation.

FIRESTORM asked us to consider the worse possible events that could happen; would your business be ready to handle it? What if a hurricane, a public brand damaging event, or a loss of a major supplier were to occur; do you have an action plan in to help assess the situation regardless of the caliber of the event? The questions asked allowed each person attending the webinar to reflect on their own business and make adjustments they see fit, if necessary.

FIRESTORM also pointed out that major events do not only affect businesses. They can affect other communities, environments, businesses, or business constituents that could indirectly impact your business. It could cause a ripple effect and FIRESTORM opened the conversation of being prepared to ride the wave.

But businesses should not only focus on how to prepare for internal effects but prepare for the external effects as well. Knowing how to stay informed and how to inform others is key; regardless of how big or small the situation is or how big or small the business is. FIRESTORM reminded us to “stay in the know” so that situations do not escalate once the information reaches the public. Especially now that social media is at the forefront of information sources. Having a preparedness plan, or evaluating an existing plan, is something that all businesses should think about from all angles. Thank you to Firestorm for reminding us of that.

FIRESTORM has opportunities for assessments, analysis, training and communication. If you would like to know more information, please visit their website at

Manufacturing Apprenticeships to Benefit New Jersey

manufacturing apprenticeshipsIn any successful business, after a demand is established from the consumer, you cannot increase revenue without increasing production. It’s a simple relation of the law of supply and demand. But it can be difficult to increase production without an influx of skilled employees, which can be the case in the manufacturing industry. An effective way to resolve this matter is through manufacturing apprenticeships.

Manufacturing apprenticeships give students and future employees a learning experience inside the trade; it acts as a paid training program. Max Daetwyler Corp. was recently featured in an article on TechTarget’s website for participating with 5 other North Carolina Manufacturers in a program called Apprenticeship 2000. This program is “a four-year program of community college classes in mechatronics and advanced manufacturing coupled with paid worksite apprenticeships”. What makes this program stand out above other manufacturing apprenticeships is that they have an extended eight-month interview process where students attend an open house and an orientation to be evaluated on their skill level. After review, the accepted students will participate in the six-week summer trial period and if qualified, will be offered the apprenticeship. It is a long process but it insures that the program is a good fit for the students and that the students are a good fit for the program.

Apprenticeship 2000, as well as other manufacturing apprenticeships, bring great opportunities for companies; especially for those looking to hire more skilled employees and expand their company. Once manufacturers in New Jersey have established a registered apprenticeship program, the sponsoring companies would be able to hire skilled employees that they personally train on their equipment and machines. And students will have more incentive to not only continue with the trade post-graduation, but inspire students to enroll in manufacturing programs. New Jersey manufacturing could highly benefit from programs like these.

What You Don’t Repair You Destroy

Critical maintenance failings that risk the long-term health and productivity of British manufacturing are highlighted in a recent report published by Bosch Rexroth UK. The report, What You Don’t Repair You Destroy, catalogs a series of problems affecting manufacturing maintenance practices that threaten productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.

Published in conjunction with the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET), the report surveyed 300 engineers in a variety of roles from manufacturing director through to maintenance engineer. Key findings include 71% of engineers describing their maintenance practices as reactive or planned; 50% stating that maintenance training budgets have stagnated or decreased in recent years and that the majority of maintenance engineers receive only five days training or less every year.

Alastair Johnstone, managing director of Bosch Rexroth UK, said: “We have been concerned for some time that maintenance practices and skills have not kept pace with advances in machine complexity. “This report suggests that UK manufacturing is walking a tightrope, with dated maintenance practices and budgetary constraints posing a critical risk to the long-term health of our manufacturing base. More strategic maintenance, such as condition monitoring and preventive maintenance techniques, are the exception rather than the rule. He added: “This report is, of course, a snapshot. There are outstanding examples of maintenance practices in British manufacturing, you only need to look at the car industry as a prime example of that. But, it is vitally important that the rest of the industry follow suit and take a longer-term view of maintenance and its positive impact in order to safeguard the UK’s impressive productivity statistics which are, rightly, celebrated.”

The report covers keys areas of maintenance, including resource, planning and monitoring, critical machinery, obsolescence and training and includes verbatim quotes from engineers who took part in the research, which detail their concerns about the role of maintenance in manufacturing and the challenges faced on a daily basis.

The report can be downloaded here.

4 Trends to Watch in Credit Cards

Your customers all use them. So do you. Here’s four emerging trends with credit cards:

1. Mobile and Alternative Payments Are Reshaping the Consumer Experience. New innovative payment methods are quickly gaining popularity. With the rise of mobile devices, consumers are increasingly turning to mobile and alternative payment options. Cash, checks, and credit cards could eventually become relics of the past. POS mobile payments reached $35 billion in 2014, and strong growth is expected through 2017, according to the report Mobile and Alternative Payments in the U.S., Forth Edition.

2. The Small Business Card Market Is Positioned for Growth. The U.S. small business card purchase value is an estimated $505 billion, up 10.1 percent from 2013, according to Packaged Facts, a leading publisher of market research. The market for U.S. small business cards is expected to grow into 2016. Several factors contribute to the upswing, including increased industry innovation, employment growth, and favorable macroeconomic trends. For more information, see the Financial Services for Small Businesses in the U.S. Third Edition report.

3. Co-Branded Credit Cards Are Attracting Millennials.  In an intensely competitive market environment, a variety of players are pursuing affluent consumers by offering co-branded credit cards with more rewards and deeper benefits. According to a 2015 report titled Co-Branded and Affinity Cards in the U.S. Fifth Edition, co-branded credit cards generated $809 billion in U.S. purchase value. Visa captured the greatest share at 47 percent, followed by MasterCard at 30 percent, and American Express at 23 percent. Co-branded cards are working to draw in more millennials, at a time when it is increasingly difficult for marketers to rely on brand loyalty.

4. Affluent U.S. Consumers Remain a Key Target Market. Because affluent consumers tend to use their credit cards frequently, spend large amounts of money, and pay on time, they are an important target market for credit card companies, particularly during turbulent economic times. Credit card companies market to luxury consumers by offering access, concierge services, security, and exclusivity. World Elite MasterCard, for example, entices affluent households with an on-call personal travel advisor, luxury benefits and amenities, and VIP promotions. Although emerging luxury markets are expanding rapidly in places like China, the U.S. luxury market remains the world’s largest. According to the Federal Reserve Bulletin, there are 11.53 million millionaire households in the United States.