The Center Celebrates 30 Years of Helping Michigan Manufacture Smarter



30-years.jpgSince 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to compete and grow. As we celebrate our 30th year in business, we reflect on the way our company has evolved with the industry over the years, as well as how some things – like our mission to support Michigan manufacturers – have never changed.

No team member at The Center understands these transformations better than our President Mike Coast, who has been with The Center for more than 25 years. His extensive tenure with our company, along with his insights on the future, are captured below.

What changes have you seen with The Center since you began working here?
When I started at the Ohio MEP Center in 1991, there were only three MEP centers in the nation. Soon after that, the Midwest Manufacturing Technology Center was created and, after a few name changes, that eventually became the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. I remember, at that time, ISO 9001 was a big issue among manufacturers. We also started conducting plant layouts early on but didn’t get into Lean until the mid-1990s. We had one person in charge of product development so we could keep growing our services according to the needs of manufacturers.

How has The Center changed along with the industry over the years?
We’ve grown and adapted our services quite a bit over the years, with a few of our staple services still very popular today. Starting with Quality mentoring, we evolved to offer a more holistic approach to business improvements using Lean. Clients thought this was extraordinary, and we had a feeling Lean wouldn’t be going away for a while. Now, we continue to train on Lean all the time, and even combine it with the technologies of Industry 4.0. Our services have changed significantly over the years to keep up with the industry, but we’ll always have Lean, Quality and Growth services. The market tells us what to do.

Why do you think it’s important to support Michigan manufacturing?
American ingenuity will always be there. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw what our nation of manufacturers was able to do. But that also brought up some supply chain issues. That’s why some sort of national supply chain database or effort would help to better serve manufacturers – because we need to make things here, and we can’t always rely on other countries.

Where do you think The Center will be 30 years from now?
I think we’ll be more focused on things like productivity and automation. We’re currently in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and there’s already talks of the Fifth. Smaller companies will always need our assistance and expertise when navigating these advancements.

Where do you think manufacturing will be 30 years from now?
Overall I think the number of small manufacturers will continue to decrease, along with employment. There’s just not enough people. Manufacturers will need to upskill workers from different industries, like retail or hospitality, to keep up with labor demands. Lean and Industry 4.0 will continue to be used to improve productivity.

Why have you enjoyed working at The Center all these years?
I used to keep track of all the facilities I visited in Michigan. I stopped when I reached 1,000. I’m still having fun. I enjoy talking to manufacturers and wish I could spend more time in plants. They’re always so proud to give tours of their facilities and show off the work they’re doing. As long as I’m having fun here, I’ll stick around.


coast_m-web3.jpgMike Coast, President
Mike Coast is President of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center), the official representative of the MEP National Network in Michigan. He is responsible for the organization’s statewide network of five offices, its innovation and growth strategies, for building and managing relationships with Michigan’s industry clients and state and federal governmental stakeholders. As a founding member of the NIST MEP National Network Leadership Team, he serves to drive innovation and Industry 4.0/Industrial Internet of Things technologies to small and medium-sized manufacturers across America.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Manufacturing, MEP National Network, The Center