During tough times, companies want to do two things: cut costs and increase sales. ISU Extension’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) shows companies how they can do both, according to director Ron Cox. “We’re focused on helping Iowa companies weather the economic downturn and emerge stronger than before.”
CIRAS has long been known for programs that help companies cut costs, namely by raising productivity. Kaizen lean management, value-stream mapping and Six Sigma are just a few of the programs CIRAS offers Iowa companies.
“We also are helping companies develop new sales channels,” Cox said. “Toward that end, we have been awarded increased funding from the Defense Logistics Agency, a unit of the U.S. Department of Defense, and have expanded our government procurement area. As government increases spending in a recession, companies have opportunities to gain access to government contracts and possibly increase sales.”
Good companies recognize that this recession won’t last forever. Their managers already are examining ways to position their companies to emerge from the recession stronger than before.
Helping companies devise those strategies is one of the most important services CIRAS can provide, Cox said. “If there is one thing the recession has taught us, it is that companies cannot do the same things they did 10 to 20 years ago and think they’re going to survive. Our global competitors will continue to threaten jobs in America. Many of the 22,000 Iowa manufacturing jobs lost so far in this recession won’t return unless we strategically grow our industries. That will require companies to truly become innovative and find new products, services and markets.”
These tasks mesh well with CIRAS’ focus on research, education and technical assistance, Cox continued. “We’re studying industry trends and we’re providing education through workshops and mentoring. We’re also providing technical assistance and access to the labs on the Iowa State campus."
He added, "The recession has caused us to reevaluate the services we offer Iowa companies and to maintain a sense of urgency in delivering these services to more businesses in our state. Despite all of the change, our core mission remains the same: to improve the performance of industry in Iowa.”