By: Janelle Davis
Jim D’Agostino – CEO / MEP Center Director
Mike Metzgar – Business Development Manager
Scott Laundry – Senior Project Manager
Sarah Burlingame – Senior Project Manager
Marc Bicknell – Senior Project Manager
“We’re not the traditional consultants,” says Jim D’Agostino CEO and MEP Center Director for TDO (Train Develop Optimize).
Jim is a degreed mechanical engineer who has been working in manufacturing for over 20 years. He has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, in addition to his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Syracuse University.
D’Agostino has worked in several manufacturing jobs. Some of these jobs include quality roles, plant manager, and working in operations management. He has also worked in a variety of industries including automotive, precision machining, paper manufacturing and the furniture industry.
D’Agostino was recruited to TDO by a headhunter. “I was happy with my current role, but the allure of TDO, its mission, and the ability to assist numerous manufacturers in the CNY region was too much to pass up,” he admits.
TDO, based in Syracuse, NY, is a not-for-profit consulting and training organization working primarily with manufacturers. Founded by local economic development officials in 1988, TDO began as The Central New York Technology Development Organization. Covering the five-county Central NY region (Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison and Oswego), TDO became the New York State CNY Manufacturing Extension Partnership center designation (MEP). 2018 brought to TDO (Train, Develop and Optimize), a new logo, and more determination and passion than ever to reflect their mission.
“Our mission is to help those small to mid-size manufacturers,” says D’Agostino. “We help with a lot of those nitty gritty engineering and technical consulting projects that deliver hard impacts and savings for our clients,” he continues. TDO offers this assistance in order to grow the local economy. They achieve this goal by helping companies increase revenue, reduce costs, and increase productivity. A lot of the work TDO does is technical consulting and engineering support. They also look for ways to improve productivity and reduce costs.
TDO helps their clients grow by offering certifications, like the Lean Six Sigma Green and Black Belt Certifications. The Lean Six Sigma is a combination of the best attributes of “Lean Manufacturing” and “Six Sigma.” TDO offers these in-house trainings and workshops with the model to empower your company, innovate new paths, transform your organization, optimize for continuous improvement and bring to light your growth potential.
One of the more popular certifications TDO offers is Toyota Kata. “With Kata, we teach our manufacturers how to think scientifically and how to tackle those everyday obstacles to achieve their target condition or goal. It’s a structured scientific approach to continuously improve,” says D’Agostino. The Toyota Kata is offered with several options, including half day and full day simulations.
To further enhance your company, TDO offers access to free webinars via their website. These webinars cover relevant topics to move your company forward. You will learn from professionals like CEO’s and Client Development Specialists on topics such as, finance during the pandemic, grant information, and help to upskill your current workforce.
What makes TDO different
“We have shared skin in the game,” D’Agostino says.
What he means, is that after TDO finishes a project with a client, six months later the client will receive a survey from a third party asking them if TDO helped them with any of the following; create/save jobs, grow/save their sales, develop cost savings, etc. All this data is compiled into a report card they get from the federal government every quarter. This report rates them on how good of a job they are doing at hitting those impact categories. It also provides them with an assessment that they can evaluate.
“It’s a neat model we have at TDO,” D’Agostino says. He continues, “This makes us a little different because if we find that we didn’t help a client be more competitive and achieve savings and productivity improvements, then we will get a subpar score and that will affect our grant funding. We are accountable, so when we go into a job, we see ourselves as an integral part of the team and are right there alongside them.”
TDO has impacts to prove that they are making a difference with their clients. “The number of repeat clients that we have is incredible,” D’Agostino said.
Another benefit working with TDO are the multiple grant funding opportunities. As the regional MEP center, they have access to two exclusive grant funds. There are productivity funds through National Grid and NYSEG (Rochester Gas and Electric). Both companies have a reimbursable grant program offering funding between 40% and 60% of project costs. Both programs offer grants up to $40,000 for eligible applicants.
If you are a manufacturer in the five-county region working with TDO, then you can have access to those funds. From which source is dependent on who the client’s utility provider is. “40%-60% funding could make a huge difference for a manufacturer.” D’Agostino explains that a lot of times this funding is the difference between a project getting approved.
Grant funding can help small to mid-sized manufacturers reinvent themselves, increase profits, create jobs, and establish a foundation for long-term business growth and productivity.
TDO can also connect clients with the Workforce Development Institute (WDI), who also has manufacturing funds available. CNY Works has really good lucrative funds as well. Each grant application is different and TDO will help you navigate through the process.
D’Agostino says, “We are able to connect clients to a bevy of funding partners depending on their need.”
D’Agostino made sure not to miss the opportunity to highlight his team. Speaking with respect and admiration, he explains that they all have similar skills. They have two, soon to be three, senior project managers, as well as a business development manager.
“We are all degreed in engineering and computer science, and heavy with technical confidence,” He explains. “We are all experienced in lean manufacturing.” He goes on, “We have an electrical engineer, an industrial engineer, a computer scientist and I am a mechanical engineer.”
“We are a very well-rounded team!”