Montana State University

MMEC board member named to national manufacturing advisory board

March 21, 2017 -- MSU News Service

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BOZEMAN -- Jim Wright, former chair and current member of Montana State University’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center Advisory Board, has been named to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board. The NIST MEP Advisory Board is a national organization that is legislatively mandated and established pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

NIST MEP is a public-private partnership with centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico dedicated to serving small and medium-sized manufacturers. Last year, MEP centers interacted with 25,445 manufacturers, leading to $9.3 billion in new and retained sales, $1.4 billion in cost savings, $3.5 billion in new client investments, and the creation and retention of more than 86,602 jobs. The NIST MEP Advisory Board is expected to assist in identifying proactive steps that will enable small manufacturers to successfully address and implement changes in technology and the business environment in the future.

Wright said that he is passionate about the importance of manufacturing in the economy and is truly honored to be part of the MEP, both in Montana and nationally.

“NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership helps lead and define the United States as a world leader in manufacturing,” Wright said. “I am truly humbled by the diversity and experience of the existing board members and am very excited about the opportunity to work within this team to advance manufacturing in the United States.”

Wright has more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing engineering and production management across the aerospace, automotive, semi-conductor and firearms industries, with a diverse range of companies, including McDonnell Douglas, Peterbilt Motors, Applied Materials, Semitool and Proof Research. He has also spent a significant amount of time working abroad with European and Asian companies.

Wright is the current vice president of operations for Proof Research in Columbia Falls, a company that designs and manufactures carbon fiber composite firearms for both military and commercial applications. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Illinois University. Wright is also active in the northwest Montana community and serves on the board of directors for the Kalispell City Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana said he was happy to see Wright and Montana recognized with this appointment

“Montana manufacturers are truly small businesses creating good paying jobs,” Daines said. “In Montana, 81 percent of manufacturers have fewer than 10 employees, and they earn on average 17 percent higher wages. I am glad to have Jim Wright named to the advisory board of the MEP program, and I’m sure that he will help increase the competitiveness of small manufacturers.”

According to Paddy Fleming, director of the MMEC, Wright brings a passion to apply best-in-class concepts and lean manufacturing principles to help improve manufacturing within the United States.

Founded in 1996 and based in the MSU College of Engineering, MMEC provides hands-on assistance to Montana manufacturers in the areas of growth, innovation and profit enhancement.

For more information on the NIST MEP, see

More information on MMEC is available at  

Contact: Paddy Fleming, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, (406) 994-3812 or