Our Consulting Team

Our consulting team helps businesses across Connecticut to find opportunities for top line growth and bottom line improvements. They’re seasoned experts who work in concert with your team to achieve extraordinary results. Not just consultants, they’re your advisors for the long haul, helping you implement proven tools and learn problem solving skills that serve your company in perpetuity.

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    Bonnie Del Conte
    President

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    • 860-513-3204

     

     

    Bonnie Del Conte

    President

    Primary Responsibilities

    Bonnie leads the development and execution of CONNSTEP’s strategic plan, supporting both the company’s mission and vision, and working closely with the organization’s Board of Directors to oversee strategy implementation for long-term results.

    Notable Performances

    With more than 30 years of successful corporate leadership experience, Bonnie has provided financial and tax planning services to small and midsize businesses, as well as operational management in both the service and manufacturing industries. Prior to becoming president of CONNSTEP, Bonnie was the co-founder of a woman-owned accounting and technology resource company.

    Achievements

    Bonnie is a member of the Connecticut Energy Workforce Development Consortium and the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission Advanced Manufacturing Work Group, and she has also served on the Connecticut Innovation Ecosystem Planning Group and the state’s team for the National Governors’ Association Policy Academy. She was previously an advisor to the board of the Bristol Historical Society. In 2011, she was selected as one of the “Eight Remarkable Women” in business by the Hartford Business Journal. Additionally, Bonnie has been a judge for the Connecticut FIRST robotics regional competition.

    Bonnie is a magna cum laude graduate of Central Connecticut State University, a certified public accountant, and a member of the Connecticut Society of CPAs.

  • Jack Crane staff photo

    Jack Crane
    Director, Growth & Innovation Services

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    Jack Crane staff photo
    • 203-314-8506

    Jack Crane

    Director, Growth & Innovation Services

    Primary Responsibilities

    Jack provides manufacturers with guidance and mentoring in strategic planning, marketing, new product development, and linking strategy deployment with Lean activities. He also assists manufacturers with materials problems related to fabrication and function and connects companies with UCONN’s Institute of Materials Science. Additionally, Jack helps to match inventors and start-ups seeking manufacturing assistance.

    Notable Performances

    Jack has a wealth of manufacturing experience, with a concentration in R&D, including product development and commercialization, as well as materials processing and fabrication. He also facilitated the Connecticut Metal Finishers Training Network, helping to create a 10-week basic course for metal finishers. He developed the CERT program supported by CONNSTEP, NIST, and DECD to improve growth of technology-based business in Connecticut.

    Achievements

    Jack earned a Bachelor of Science in metallurgical engineering at Purdue University and a master’s degree in metallurgical engineering at Yale University. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 papers on new products, synthesis, and fabrication of materials, and he is also the holder or co-holder of more than 30 patents related to alloys, processes, and products. Jack is a Fellow of the American Society of Materials, a recipient of the UCONN Engineering Services Award, and the first-ever recipient of the NIST/MEP Lifetime Achievement Award.

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    Mark Paggioli
    Director, Sales & Marketing

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    Mark Paggioli staff photo
    • (860) 712-4439

    Mark Paggioli

    Director, Sales & Marketing

    Primary Responsibilities

    Mark assists clients with top line growth, enhancing existing revenue stream, and removing barriers to growth through product development, strategic planning, and demand generation.

    Notable Performances

    Mark has more than 25 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in strategic development, new product development, go-to-market plans, and demand generation through both online and offline media. His background includes the alignment of internal sales processes to create meaningful reporting, and he has worked in both B2B and B2C consumer package goods and sales of service. Mark has implemented new sales management methodologies and CRM tools, launched new products, and achieved desired performance ahead of schedule. During his tenure, he has tripled an organization’s sales and worked across multiple industries, including building products, construction, manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunications, retail, and tobacco.

    Achievements

    Mark earned his Bachelor of Science in marketing at Central Connecticut State University. He also received the Cox Communication National Sales Award for his work on a new product launch.

  • Mike Stimson Staff Photo

    Mike Stimson
    Director of Operations

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    Mike Stimson Staff Photo
    • 860-513-3212

    Mike Stimson

    Director of Operations

    Primary Responsibilities

    Mike leads CONNSTEP’s team of Business Growth Consultants, focusing on identifying client needs, matching them to appropriate solutions, and delivering impactful projects that help them achieve their business objectives.

    Notable Performances

    Mike has more than 30 years of leadership experience, with a focus on operational and sales excellence.  He has successfully led teams in many industries, including printing, direct marketing, aluminum extrusions, and commercial real estate development. With expertise in quality assurance, continuous improvement, plant management, international supply chains, and strategic selling, Mike brings a comprehensive perspective to helping clients achieve their business goals and objectives.

    Achievements

    Mike is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in international relations.

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    Maribel Morgan
    Strategic Business Growth Advisor

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    • 860-513-3202

    Maribel Morgan

    Strategic Business Growth Advisor

    Primary Responsibilities

    Maribel partners with Connecticut companies to build comprehensive, sustainable business plans and identify key processes, tools, and techniques for operational excellence programs and performance management models.

    Notable Performances

    Maribel’s broad and expansive expertise in global operations allowed her to lead diverse teams to new levels of success in a variety of highly competitive industries, including oil and gas production, aerospace, and medical devices. Her strong technical and business qualifications come from more than 18 years of hands-on experience in strategic planning, business unit development, project and product management, and Lean Six Sigma strategies. She has successfully analyzed critical business requirements, identified deficiencies and potential opportunities, and developed innovative and cost-effective solutions for enhancing competitiveness, increasing revenues, and improving customer service offerings.

    Achievements

    Maribel holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering with a minor in business administration from Sam Houston State University and a master’s certificate in mathematics from Ohio State University. A certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, she also serves on the Industrial Engineering Advisory Board for Quinnipiac University and the Board of Directors of the New Haven Manufacturers Association. Maribel is actively involved in her community by supporting STEM-related educational programs throughout Connecticut.

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    Anna Anderson
    Controller

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    anderson
    • 860-513-3203
    • A licensed CPA in Connecticut for 25 years

    Anna Anderson

    Controller

    Primary Responsibilities

    Anna is responsible for the financial operations of the organization including business analysis and reporting. Responsible for administration and reporting on state and federal grants including coordination of annual audit for federal and state single audit reporting.

    Notable Performance

    Anna has worked with a wide range of clients, including manufacturers, commercial printers, nursing homes, medical practices and non-profits. In addition to tax planning and filing, her career in public accounting and consulting concentrated on business analysis and strategy, system development and documentation, and problem resolution.

    Achievements

    A Magna cum Laude graduate of Western New England College, Anna holds a B.S. in Business Administration and is a member of the Connecticut Society of CPA’s.

  • Holly Ciecierski

    Holly Ciecierski
    Executive Administrative Assistant

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    Holly Ciecierski
    • 860-513-3210

    Holly Ciecierski

    Executive Administrative Assistant

    Primary Responsibilities

    Holly is responsible for CONNSTEP human resources, employee benefits, office management, and administrative support. In addition, she manages the requirements for reporting to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

    Notable Performances

    Holly has 30 years of experience in office administration and human resources, including 10 years as a human resources manager for a New Haven manufacturing company.

    Achievements

    Holly studied business administration at Gateway Community College and is certified in Microsoft Access.

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    Cindy Malota
    Controller's Assistant

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    • 860-513-3209

    Cindy Malota

    Controller's Assistant

    Primary Responsibilities

    Cindy is responsible for reconciling accounts receivable and accounts payable, as well as, assisting with payroll administration and additional accounting related duties.

    Notable Performances

    Cindy assisted in the transition to CONNSTEP new integrated information management system, creating company-wide ease of use and readily available access to pertinent information.

    Achievements

    Cindy is an alumnus of North Adams State College.

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    Nancy Swistak
    Administrative Assistant

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    swistak
    • 860-513-3201

    Nancy Swistak

    Administrative Assistant

    Primary Responsibilities

    Nancy provides administrative support and office management services to all areas of CONNSTEP. In addition, she coordinates the logistics and on-site venue management for CONNSTEP’s educational events and programs.

    Notable Performances

    Nancy has nearly 40 years of experience in administrative work and office management, including 10 years at a local newspaper and 17 years at an insurance agency.

    Achievements

    Nancy is highly organized and meticulous, a gifted raconteur, and an accomplished hiker and backpacker.

  • Mike Finnegan
    Manager, Information Technology

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      Mike Finnegan

      Manager, Information Technology

      Primary Responsibilities

      Mike creates and oversees IT strategy for the company, purchases all hardware and software, manages the operations of the server farm, regulates the network of roaming and office computers, and develops the custom database and application programs for CONNSTEP’s internal use.

      Notable Performances

      Mike has more than 30 years of experience in IT development, operations and management.

      Achievements

      Mike is a summa cum laude graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science in secondary education and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and he also completed work toward a doctorate at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

    • quality management systems consultant Jim Habecker

      James Habecker
      Quality Consultant

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      quality management systems consultant Jim Habecker
      • (860) 990-7016

      James Habecker

      Quality Consultant

      Primary Responsibilities

      Jim manages CONNSTEP’s Quality Management Services.

      Notable Performances

      Jim’s background includes more than 14 years in a variety of operational positions in both manufacturing and residential construction, where he implemented and led QMS processes. In addition to his experience in ISO/TS standards, Jim has considerable experience in leading Lean & Six Sigma projects, with a focus on integrating the QMS and Continuous Improvement processes of a manufacturing business.

      Achievements

      Jim holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Arizona State University, and he is a Six Sigma Black Belt and certified ISO 9001:2008 auditor.

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      Bill Caplan
      Business Growth Consultant

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      Bill Caplan staff photo
      • 860-529-5120 ext. 3402

      Bill Caplan

      Business Growth Consultant

      Primary Responsibilities

      Bill provides consulting services with a concentration in Lean Business Processes and facilitating the design, development, and implementation of Enterprise-Wide Lean methodologies. He is a program leader for the Continuous Improvement Champion Certification (CICC) Program and a core instructor for the CONNSTEP LEADS Program (Leveraging Executive Ability to Deploy Strategy). He provides both classroom and hands-on, on-site training and facilitation.

      Notable Performances

      Bill has more than 25 years of management experience with a focus on the applications of Lean Thinking principles. He has held a variety of positions in industrial engineering, operations, general plant management, logistics, and materials management. Bill has provided facilitation and leadership for the development and implementation of improvements at the value stream and enterprise levels, as well as focused point solution improvements.

      Achievements

      A graduate of Western New England College, Bill holds a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and a master’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in finance.

    • Matin Karbassioon

      Matin Karbassioon
      Business Growth Consultant

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      Matin Karbassioon
      • 860-529-5120 ext. 3422

      Matin Karbassioon

      Business Growth Consultant

      Primary Responsibilities

      Matin provides consulting, training, facilitation, and mentoring to manufacturers, healthcare institutions, and government agencies in pursuit of enterprise-wide excellence. He is also a program leader for the CONNSTEP Continuous Improvement Champion Certification (CICC) Program.

      Notable Performances

      Skilled in applying best business practices and leadership principles to increase productivity, quality, and throughput, Matin has developed a number of training programs in continuous improvement and problem solving techniques. Throughout his 30-year career, Matin has held key positions in engineering and operations and has successfully led global Enterprise-Wide Lean initiatives at a variety of manufacturing companies.

      Achievements

      Matin earned his Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering at the University of New Haven.

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      Bill Kirchherr
      Business Growth Consultant

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      Bill Kirchherr staff photo
      • 860-529-5120 ext. 3403

      Bill Kirchherr

      Business Growth Consultant

      Primary Responsibilities

      Bill consults with manufacturing companies, concentrating on Lean Manufacturing. He has worked on value stream mapping, work cell design, work flow, Kanban, 5S, set-up reduction, and problem solving in both shop and front office environments. He provides both classroom and hands-on training, and he also facilitates the design, development, and implementation of Enterprise-Wide Lean methodologies.

      Notable Performances

      Bill has more than 25 years of management experience, with a focus on operations and Lean Manufacturing. He has held a variety of positions in operations, production, and materials management, conducting more than 500 Kaizen and training events, and he has facilitated and led the successful implementation of improvement projects at both the point solution and value stream levels.

      Achievements

      Bill earned his Bachelor of Arts in social science at Westfield State College.

       

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      Roy Laun
      Business Growth Consultant

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      Roy Laun staff photo
      • 860-529-5120 ext. 3409

      Roy Laun

      Business Growth Consultant

      Primary Responsibilities

      Roy helps manufacturing companies with the implementation of improvements that lead to better operational and financial performance, utilizing contemporary tools such as Six Sigma, plant layout, DFM & DFMA, and Lean principles. He drives the analysis of operations and makes recommendations for improved performance, developing action plans and providing education and support.

      Notable Performances

      Roy has more than 30 years of experience at various levels of corporate management and management consulting for manufacturing and engineered products companies. His extensive knowledge of manufacturing processes extends to the press room, screw machines, die cast, injection molding, CNC, turning, milling, grinding & miscellaneous machining, finishing/plating, and various assembly/packaging operations.

      Achievements

      Roy graduated with a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the University of Hartford with a concentration in mechanical engineering, and he has a Master of Science in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He also earned an MBA in operations management from the University of Hartford.

    • Laurel Suchecki Lean Consultant CT

      Laurel Suchecki
      Business Growth Consultant

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      Laurel Suchecki Lean Consultant CT
      • 860-529-5120 ext. 3489

       

       

      Laurel Suchecki

      Business Growth Consultant

      Primary Responsibilities

      Laurel consults with a variety of companies in several industries, focusing on Lean Business Processes. Using both classroom and hands-on training, she helps clients to improve their processes in both throughput and quality, with the ultimate goal of bottom line growth.

      Notable Performance

      Laurel has more than 20 years of manufacturing experience, with a focus on continuous improvement. She has held a number of positions in operations, engineering, and management, and has facilitated events for improvement throughout North America, as well as internationally.

      Achievements

      Laurel earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of New Haven, with a minor in business administration.

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      Dean Simmons
      Marketing Services Manager

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      • 860-513-3215

      Dean Simmons

      Marketing Services Manager

      Primary Responsibilities

      Dean oversees all of CONNSTEP’s marketing efforts, including demand generation, marketing automation, and content development.

      Notable Performances

      Dean has an extensive background in marketing communications, including strategic planning, brand stewardship, and creative services in both B2B and B2C environments. Dean held a senior leadership position at one of Connecticut’s most prestigious ad agencies and was Director of Marketing for a division of Hartford Healthcare. His specialties include strategic communications, organizational engagement, lead nurturing, and product positioning. He has worked with clients in a variety of industries including aerospace, industrial tools, building products, and utilities.

      Achievements

      Dean earned his Bachelor of Science in marketing at the University of Connecticut and has worked with manufacturers including Ingersoll-Rand, Pratt & Whitney, and GE.

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      Frank Rio
      Special Projects Administrator

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      Frank Rio staff photo
      • 860-513-3214
      • A lifetime Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM)
      • Active member of the Institute for Supply Management-Connecticut (ISM-CT)

      Frank Rio

      Special Projects Administrator

      Primary Responsibilities

      Frank provides business development and Buy American Supplier Scouting for National Institute of Standards and Technology. Frank also provides other supplier scouting for CONNSTEP clients and special project services through management of client outreach programs.

      Notable Performances

      Frank has extensive experience in both the buying and selling sides in telecommunication, defense and aerospace industries. Prior to working with CONNSTEP, Frank worked in contracts management and government sales.

      Achievements

      Frank holds an M.A. in Economics from Fordham University and a B.S. in Economics from Fairfield University. He has taught classes in economics at Manchester Community College and Central Connecticut State University.

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      Bob Allard
      Business Growth Advisor

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      Bob Allard staff photo
      • 203-464-1233

      Bob Allard

      Business Growth Advisor

      Primary Responsibilities

      Bob is responsible for sales and business development in the South-Central and Southwestern Connecticut regions.

      Notable Performances

      In addition to his experience in engineering and manufacturing, Bob spent more than nine years as an executive recruiter sales trainer, specializing in the placement of engineering and manufacturing professionals and receiving client development awards for eight of those nine years. He brings extensive knowledge of business management, Lean Manufacturing, and continuous improvement to companies in his region, enabling them to innovate, grow, and build a significant competitive advantage.

       Achievements

      Bob is a past member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and the Connecticut Association of Personnel Consultants (CAPS), where he served as a board member.

    • Robert Colapietro staff photo

      Robert Colapietro
      Business Growth Advisor

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      Robert Colapietro staff photo
      • 203-530-7311

      Robert Colapietro

      Business Growth Advisor

      Primary Responsibilities

      Bob is responsible for sales and business development in the South-Central Connecticut region.

       Notable Performances

      Bob has more than 20 years of experience in driving organizations to operational success with a focus on managing human capital, recruitment, and training programs. His expertise in delivering top-notch project results and elevating technical staff capabilities helps his clients to improve their performance and profitability and increase their sales.

       Achievements

      Bob has cultivated strong client relationships, and he is recognized as an outstanding leader and negotiator who builds exceptional technical teams. He studied Marketing at Bryant University in Rhode Island.

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      Diane DeGray
      Business Growth Advisor

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      Diane-DeGray-Bio-Image-302x207_20150825
      • (860) 539-5620

      Diane DeGray

      Business Growth Advisor

      Primary Responsibilities
      Diane is responsible for sales and business development in the Northwest Connecticut region.

      Notable Performances
      Diane’s background includes working with companies in manufacturing, distribution, telecom, publishing, construction and architecture, where she focused on advising clients on target marketing, increased profitability, and strategic growth. Her focus has been on business evaluation and strategic planning with a holistic view of the client’s operations.

      Achievements
      Diane holds certificates from Central Connecticut State University in Lean Manufacturing, Project Management, Sales and Business Development, and Leadership/Emotional Intelligence. She is also a Six Sigma Back Belt. With several awards in sales, marketing, and fund raising, she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Society for Marketing Professional Services for many years, as well as the Springfield/Hartford Goodwill Advisory Council and the JETS Employment Transitioning Services.

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      EJ Howard
      Business Growth Advisor

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      EJ_Howard
      • (860) 539-4908

      EJ Howard

      Business Growth Advisor

      Primary Responsibilities

      EJ is responsible for sales and business development in the Northeastern and Southeastern regions of Connecticut.

      Notable Performances

      EJ has more than 15 years of business-to-business solution and sales management experience, including work in back office operations, marketing, advertising, and employing social media as a business development tool. As a certified Continuous Improvement Champion, his broad command of Lean manufacturing principles enables him to deliver top line sales growth to CONNSTEP clients.

      Achievements

      EJ graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Physical Education. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Human Resources Association of Central Connecticut and the Connecticut Society of Association Executives, as well as the Corporate Committee for the Cherish the Children Foundation.

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      John McCarroll
      Business Growth Advisor

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      • 860-985-1134

      John McCarroll

      Business Growth Advisor

      Primary Responsibilities

      John assists owners and executives of small- and mid-sized Connecticut manufacturers in planning and deploying game-changing continuous improvement.

       Notable Performances

      John has more than 40 years of manufacturing expertise, including several general management roles, primarily in the aerospace industry. He owned and operated his own manufacturing company for 10 years, and his extensive background also includes R&D, total supply chain management, global purchasing initiatives, marketing, and Lean Manufacturing.

       Achievements

      A graduate of the University of Michigan, John earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

       

    CONNSTEP solved a huge problem for us and helped us bring our delivery rate to 100%. As a direct result of that, we have been awarded with an increase in business which, ultimately, will also benefit (our supplier) Har-Conn.”

    CT manufacturer Pegaasus

    Chris DePentima

    CEO, Pegasus Manufacturing Inc.

    “We view the team at CONNSTEP as trusted advisors and enjoy an open relationship with them.  We use lean and continuous improvement to fully engage our staff, be responsive to our customers’ needs and remain competitive.”

    bob luther lexproducts

    Bob Luther

    CEO, Lex Products

    “I see great value in the new experiences and perspectives CONNSTEP brings to our business, at reasonable prices. They’re not like consultants, they’re like partners in the business – willing to roll up their sleeves and help.”

    AGRussell logo

    Mark Burzynski

    President, Arthur G Russell Co

    “CONNSTEP has proved to be a tremendous resource for ESI. CONNSTEP has helped us to adapt to today’s marketplace and remain a quality minded, competitive global player. Our ISO/TS16949 implementation process was efficient and rewarding. I look forward to our future projects with CONNSTEP.”

    esi CT manufacturer

    Ron Delfini

    President, Engineering Specialties Inc.

    “CONNSTEP worked with FuelCell Energy to educate and facilitate Lean initiatives and to help meet our needs to establish an overall production improvement plan. This plan has been utilized over a period of time as a ‘guiding light’ to spur numerous improvements that dramatically reduced our product cost.”

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    Tom Lucas

    Manager, Fuel Cell Energy

    “CONNSTEP is a valuable partner to Hologic, providing the expertise and ‘outside eyes’ everyone needs to keep their continuous improvement on track. We are now well-positioned on a dynamic growth path and look forward to a long-term relationship with CONNSTEP.”

    Hologic_Logo-footer-testimonial

    Greg Safarik

    VP Manufacturing Operations, Hologic

    “Our experience working with CONNSTEP has brought us benefits we never expected. It’s a great team to work with!”

    mft-logo-footer-testimonial

    Bruce Wheeler

    VP of Operations, Metal Finishing Technologies Inc.

    “The goals of the team were to reduce manufacturing lead-time, reduce floor space utilized, and increase worker productivity. All the goals were met. CONNSTEP helped us to better compete.”

    Tornik CT manufacturer

    Dan Rubbo

    General Manager, Tornik LLC

    “The Business Growth Program is working well for us. We enhanced our website following the meetings to improve our SEO and become more visible to search engines. The segment on negotiating …  promoted changes in our thinking and improved how we interact with customers. The mentoring between sessions was helpful in boosting our progress.”

    CT manufacturer Colonial Spring

    Bill Lathrop

    President, Colonial Spring Co.

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