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Small Texas manufacturers are playing a big role in boosting local economies and contributing to national defense. They’re doing it more efficiently and cost-effectively, through TMAC: the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center, a program of the Technology and Economy Development Division.

Close to $44 billion was awarded to small businesses by or for the Department of Defense in 1999. Small manufacturers represent the majority of those contracts: adding significantly to the nation’s defense products.

“Small manufacturers compose a critical element in the production and knowledge system supporting our nation’s defense industrial base,” reports the National Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (NACFAM), a policy research group based in Washington, D.C.

TMAC, part of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a national network of centers, provides technical and business consulting services to America’s small and mid-sized manufacturers. It offers area defense manufacturers assistance with supply chain integration, implementation of modern techniques and systems, and adoption of productivity enhancing methods.

Since its inception in 1995, TMAC’s customers have reported more than $264 million in new or retained sales, $37 million in cost savings, $84 million in new capital investments, and more than 2,700 new or retained jobs — all resulting from changes initiated by working with TMAC.

Take Garland-based Garrett Metal Detectors. In 2001, it secured contracts to supply equipment to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. To do it, Garrett sought advice from TMAC. The collaboration produced impressive results.

“TMAC provided us the leadership for both the believers and the non-believers,” said Bob Podhrasky, Vice President and Director of Research & Development at Garrett. “As a result of this project we were able to increase production 3-4 times with the same number of people and use less space in the process.” But the project did something else as well: it equipped Garrett to deal with another, wholly unforeseen spike in its business after September 11. Its security devices can now be found in any U.S. airport and in many buildings.

Another TMAC partnership contributes to the aerospace defense industry. H.M. Dunn in Euless, Texas, specializes in manufacturing and assembling Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machining. TMAC began with an integrated software system, and has recommended the redesign of manufacturing space. The effort worked: H.M. Dunn has won contracts with Joint Strike Fighter. “We’ve come a long way in the last two and a half years, but we’re not there yet because as we get better, the goals keep getting higher,” says James E. “Red” Fultz, President, H. M. Dunn. “We have to keep getting better all the time.”

TMAC services are helping companies like these get ahead of the competition, and will continue to help them stay there.

Seven partner institutions deliver TMAC services statewide: the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a member of The Texas A&M University System; The University of Texas at Arlington; The University of Texas at El Paso; The University of Houston; Southwest Research Institute; Texas Tech University; and The University of Texas — Pan American.

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Kathy Fraser

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