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2023 Schedule will be posted in summer of ’23!

Curious for a taste? See below for the 2022 schedule.


2022 Schedule of Events

Time (MT)Description
9:00 amWelcome
9:15 amBreakout Session 1 Starts
A – Lean Manufacturing: From Adoption to Culture
B – Restructuring Culture & Benefits for Competitive Hiring & Retention
10:30 amBreakout Session 2 Starts
A – Emerging Technologies in Manufacturing
B – Reinventing Hiring: A Lean Approach to Staffing that Boosts Productivity & Reduces Waste
11:45 amGeneral Session
The New Economic Reality: What Every Manufacturer Needs to Know
12:30 pmLunch Buffet Open
1:00 pmWelcome Address & Keynote
Reimagining Leadership: Leaders Look Different than you Think!, by Dr. Roger Hall
2:30 pmTrade Show Begins
4:00 pm Networking Reception in Trade Show space
6:00 pmEvent Concludes

Breakout Sessions

Session 1 Options

Lean Manufacturing: From Adoption to Culture

Panel Moderator, Dave O’Connell, TechHelp Idaho – Dave O’Connell is TechHelp’s Manufacturing Specialist in Eastern Idaho located at Idaho State University in Pocatello. Dave was introduced to advanced manufacturing practices early in his career at General Electric (GE). Dave attended a Deming Four Day Seminar while working for GE where he learned Statistical Process Control and Continuous Improvement. He has applied these skills in every position that he has held since then. For the past 16 years with TechHelp, Dave has helped other organizations on their journey to Operational Excellence.

Chuck Ceccarelli, Inventive Group – Chuck Ceccarelli is the Regional Director of Excitement for Inventive Group. Inventive Group is a company that Chuck founded and includes 4 brands. In The Ditch Towing Products, Fish Fighter Products, Razorback Offroad, and Inventive Products. They are based in Mountain Home Idaho and have built their entire culture around Lean and the Toyota Production System. Considered to be a benchmark Lean company, Chuck and his staff enjoy mentoring other companies who are on their lean journey.

Ted Iverson, McKinsey & Company – Ted Iverson is a senior expert with McKinsey & Company and is based in Seattle Washington. His focus is moving organizations from good to great in all aspects of operational excellence. His clients represent many industries with work in both operational and transactional businesses. He is passionate about cascading purpose into strategy and driving improvement through sustainable cultures of employee engagement and enterprise alignment. His foundation is in aerospace and defense with work in fabrication and machining.

Jared Ragozzine, Bestbath – Jared Ragozzine (rhymes with magazine) is the Director of Lean & Continuous Improvement at Bestbath Systems in Caldwell. He has a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with culture-creating experience in multiple industries. His current responsibilities include tailoring a custom Lean program that resonates throughout the entire organization including HR, operations, finance, IT, sales & marketing, etc. He loves developing Lean practitioners on every level of the company to bring that focus & unity that flows value to the customer. In his experience, Jared has learned that recognizing people for their contribution is perhaps the single greatest way for an organization to advance from an early adoption of Lean Manufacturing to making it a welcomed part of the culture.

Restructuring Culture & Benefits for Competitive Hiring & Retention

Panel Moderator: Alex Stanton, ExBabylon Professional IT Solutions – Alex is the Founder CEO of Exbabylon IT Solutions, with 20 years of experience leading IT, Security and Digital Transformation for clients in engineering, aerospace & manufacturing industries. He is a strong advocate for happy employees equaling happy clients and has made people a priority throughout Exbabylon’s history, a Best Places to Work INW for three years running. He regularly speaks on his HUMAN>TECH concept, maintaining a commitment to fostering healthy work/life harmony— proving that an IT firm can grow exponentially while retaining its best humans.

Katie Kory, Human Resources Director, Advanced Thermoplastic Composites – Katie is a Human Resources leader and expert for the Lakeside Companies, the parent to ATC Manufacturing. She provides coaching and guidance for company leaders at all levels regarding workforce recruiting, development, and retention. Her passion is employee development focused on improving the quality of life for employees and leaders at work and at home. In addition to her current role, Katie has served as HR Director at portfolio company ATC Manufacturing and has a degree in Human Resource Management from Upper Iowa University.

Ron Ray, Human Resources Director, BestbathAs the Director of Human Resources and EHS, my focus is driving organizational excellence while balancing the needs of the business and those of the employees. I have over 35 years of HR leadership, talent acquisition, M & A, compensation design, employee relations, benefit design, training development, leadership development, and manufacturing management in publicly traded and privately owned businesses. As a leader at Bestbath, I form strategic partnerships between the workforce needs of multiple business areas with customer focused HR leadership and processes.

Steve Watts, President, Image National SignsSteve Watts is an Idaho Native and joined Image National Signs as President in 2019. With 140 employees, the company manufactures and installs retail signage across the United States for some of the country’s top brands.
Like many companies, Image National is challenged by a tight and expensive labor market. In 2022, the company is on pace to deliver record growth with fewer employees than the year before. Culture and employee engagement is making it happen. Steve holds a business degree from Idaho State University and resides in Boise. He enjoys skiing, biking, and hiking.

Session 2 Options

Emerging Technologies in Manufacturing

Panel Moderator: Steve Shaffer, EMC InsuranceAfter graduating from Grinnell College Steven spent time as an analytical chemist and chemistry educator before joining EMC in 2005 as an industrial hygienist supporting the Rehab the Lab program. During that journey he was asked to Chair the emerging issues committee in 2011 driving initial innovation efforts at EMC. In 2018 Steven transitioned to the Risk Improvement Innovation team supporting efforts in building sensors, including the development of a novel water detection sensor, blockchain for insurance, and workplace wearables.

Scott Weaver, NorTECH Automation & Product Specialist, Norco Inc.Scott is a twenty-seven-year Norco veteran with an in-depth knowledge of the industrial automation industry. Prior to his current position at our state-of-the-art NorTECH training and automation center in Utah, Scott was an automation consultant working with a wide variety of businesses across the Northwest.Along with his in-depth industry knowledge, Scott is passionate about helping to train and develop the the skilled labor force of the future. He sits on multiple university and college advisory boards, has judged numerous welding and skills competitions and is an AWS certified welding inspector.

Kevin Summers, Miller Electric – Kevin has over 23 years’ experience in the welding industry – Welding Engineering, Customer Support Management, Service Management, and Operations Management. Kevin currently resides in Phoenix, AZ as an automation specialist for Miller Welding Automation where he uses a servant leadership and welding expertise to help develop and grow the use of automation in the welding industry.

Ben Courtright, Universal RobotsBen Courtright has been with Universal Robots since the early days of the company. Over his 4+ years with the company he has helped hundreds of PNW companies implement robotic automation and bring manufacturing back to the region. In the state of Idaho Ben has worked with companies across almost all sectors from machining to semiconductor fabs.

Jimmy Garcia-Meza, Cloud PlugsJimmy Garcia-Meza is Co-Founder and CEO of CloudPlugs Inc., a leading Industrial IoT software company which helps organizations optimize their operations and create new revenue streams. Prior to CloudPlugs, he was CEO and co-founder of nubisio inc., a cloud storage software company, as well as CEO of FilesX, Inc., a backup software company acquired by IBM. He held several executive positions at Silicon Image (NASDAQ: SIMG) running worldwide sales, corporate development and driving the global adoption of HDMI.

Reinventing Hiring: A Lean Approach to Staffing that Boosts Productivity & Reduces Waste

Jan van der Hoop, FitFirst Technologies – Jan is president and co-founder of Fit First Technologies, a company that has revolutionized how people and organizations come together to create value. He has been instrumental in helping clients across North America reduce turnover, increase efficiencies, and generate a return on investment of more than 300% in one year – all through better people practices. His views have been featured in media across the country. Prior to Fit First Technologies, Jan had more than 20 years’ Senior Management experience in both Operations and HR, in a number of leading corporations including Hilton International Hotels, PepsiCo, and Office Depot.

Session 3

Session 3 is a group option recommended for all attendees.

The New Economic Reality: What Manufacturers Need to Know

Sam Wolkenhauer, Economist, Idaho Department of Labor

Sam Wolkenhauer is a labor economist with the Idaho Department of Labor. In addition to providing the people of Idaho with economic data, insight, and analysis, he manages several forecasting projects for the state, and produces projections of Idaho’s labor market conditions and demographics. Prior to joining the State of Idaho he earned degrees in economics and mathematics at Eastern Washington University.