Manufacturing firms receive training grants

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The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade awarded training grants up to $800 per employee to two Colorado Springs companies: the Harloff Co. Inc., a supplier of fabricated steel and laminated wood products for the medical and automotive industries; and Springs Fabrication Inc., a custom engineering metal fabricator.

The purpose of the grants is to help the companies provide operational training for improved productivity and the development of a skilled workforce.

“An organization’s employees are the driving force for sustained improvements and increased cost competitiveness,” said Joe Pentlicki, the operations manager for Harloff. “With this partially funded training opportunity, we should be able to streamline operational processes to remain competitive in our continually growing market segments while improving the skills and abilities of our employees.”

Tom Neppl, owner of Springs Fabrication, is planning to implement lean manufacturing concepts at his plant.

“Over the years, we have heard of the benefits of lean and how it can reduce waste in all facets of our business,” Neppl said. “We are anxious to introduce lean to the shop floor through the planned Kaizen events. My goal is that everyone in the company will embrace lean concepts, and we will see overall efficiency and utilization improvements in excess of 10 percent during the first year followed by significant gains in future years. Lean is a key tool that we will use to remain competitive in a global market.”

Jo Ann Miabella Galvin, a consultant with the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology, said the association will conduct the majority of the training.

“CAMT’s mission is to bring programs together that support manufacturers and technology companies in a collaborative way with the goal to strengthen the supply chain in Colorado,” Galvin said.

The Colorado First and Existing Industry Grant Programs have helped hundreds of businesses gain a competitive edge through training, said Jaki Taggart, the director of work force development for Pikes Peak Community College. The grants are jointly administered with the OEDIT and the Colorado Community College System.

Taggart oversees the grant program in the Springs area. “The overall goal of the grant program is to help businesses stay competitive and to keep jobs in Colorado,” she said.

BioScience association names marketing director

Christine Shapard has been the director of biosciences and emerging technologies for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) for two years. In January, she will join the Colorado BioScience Association as the director of marketing and communications.

Simtek acquires ZMD assets

Simtek Corp., which supplies nvSRAM (random access memory) products, is acquiring assets related to Zentrum Mikroelektronik Dresden AG’s nvSRAM product line.

The acquisition will position Simtek as the No. 1 supplier of nvSRAM products, provide access to additional customers, especially in Europe, and provide expertise for the company.

Simtek also gains nvSRAM intellectual property and access to ZMD patents.

The purchase involves $8 million in cash, $2 million in stock and more than $1 million in inventory.

According to a news release, Simtek had predicted revenue growth of 40 percent to 50 percent in 2006. This acquisition could more than double the company’s revenue from 2005 to 2006.

Simtek also is establishing a design, customer service and support center in Dresden, Germany.

“ZMD has been a formidable competitor for several years,” said Harold Blomquist, president and CEO of Simtek. “They have expanded adoption of nvSRAMs, especially in Tier 1 customers in Europe. This will immediately expand Simtek’s baseline business and market reach, and, since we are adding very little additional cost to support this business, it is expected to speed up the company’s return to sustainable profitability.”

Intelliden creates R&D center in Ireland

Intelliden Inc., a provider of automated networking solutions, has collaborated with Invest Northern Ireland, the country’s main economic development organization, to create a $5.5 million European research and development center in Belfast.

The R&D center will foster local jobs and inject more than $1.7 million annually into the Belfast economy, while strengthening Intelliden’s presence and customer base in Europe. Intelliden is investing $4.25 million in the center, and Invest Northern Ireland is allocating $1.15 million to support the facility, staff training and product development.

“Northern Ireland provides us with the critical elements to support Intelliden’s ongoing growth and commercial momentum,” said Alan Black, president and CEO of Intelliden. “The city has a highly skilled technical workforce, which makes it an ideal fit for our research and development center. And … Belfast provides us with an ideal base for serving our European customers.”

Marylou Doehrman covers technology for the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Her column appears the third Friday of every month.