Get to Know the Client Success Team

Rob Newbold came to Manufacturer’s Edge in early 2022 and, although he may be relatively new to the team, he brought with him nearly a decade of experience working within the MEP National Network and more than two decades of experience helping companies become more successful. Recently, Rob was promoted to the position of Vice President of Client Success. We sat down with him to discuss his vast and varied professional experiences as well as his vision for the future.

Question: Those of us on the team obviously know quite a bit about your background, Rob, but can you tell our readers a little about yourself and what brought you to Colorado and to Manufacturer’s Edge?

Rob: I always tell people my family moved away from me and I wanted to follow them out west! I worked for IMEC (the Illinois MEP Center) for a little over 8 years and I knew probably 2 or 3 years in that my family was headed out west. A lot of our family lives in Arizona and my two sons decided after they graduated from high school that they wanted to move to Arizona as well. And so, I started looking around for opportunities. I connected with an ME representative through the Network and was introduced to Jennifer Hagan-Dier, the VP & COO, from there.

Colorado has always been one of those places where I dreamed of living. We used to come here when I was a kid. My dad went to school at CU Boulder and so I always had a really strong passion for Colorado. So, this was a chance to come to Colorado and bring with me some really great experiences with manufacturers and building a team and understanding what a really strong MEP can look like. To carry that forward here and help support the team that was already here making great strides has been a real thrill for me.

Prior to IMEC, I was a client. I worked as a Quality Manager for a small medical device manufacturer in Springfield, Illinois where we used IMEC to set up our FDA medical device class 1 quality system that helped us retain a major client who made up about 1/3 of our business at the time.

Prior to that, I did a number of different things. I taught for a while as a Special Education teacher at a high school. I was also a leadership consultant for a few years and much of my career was spent in the Illinois state government where I was the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation. I also worked in the Secretary of State’s office for a number of years. So, it’s been a lot of different things coming together to help manufacturers with everything from education and state government to economic development and sales and manufacturing. Working for the MEP represents the culmination of everything I’ve really enjoyed over my career.

Question: It seems that a lot of people who have worked within the MEP National Network stay with the MEP. We have two people in the leadership team alone who have previously served other states’ centers. How much did wanting to stay with the MEP factor into your decision to join the ME team?

Rob: I really wasn’t looking to go outside of the Network after I had learned so much working for the Illinois MEP. And the program itself is such a unique animal. To be able to be both private sector and public sector. To be both economic development and education. And to help make people’s businesses and therefore the lives of their families and their employees’ families better as a result of the work that we do is just the driving passion behind everything that we do. And so, it was really important to me to stay within the MEP family.

Question: You recently changed the name of your team from Client Services to Client Success. Can you talk a little bit about your thinking behind the change?

Rob: I think it’s crucial to recognize who we serve. We don’t do this because we like to tell people what to do. Rather, we like to come alongside and understand their business and help them succeed. For me, it’s a daily reminder of who we actually serve. So, Client Success puts the emphasis in the right place but it also helps us back up and take a look at are we doing to make sure we are doing everything we can to make each client successful? So, how are we working together as a team? How are we communicating? Are we creating the easiest path for a client to see forward in the sales process? How are they being treated and managed through the delivery process? So, it really changes the focus from doing something to someone to being in support of them.

Question: Looking forward, what are some of your priorities for the future of the Client Success team and the overall approach to serving Colorado manufacturers? What’s your vision for the future?

Rob: First, we need to make sure companies know that we are the go-to resource for manufacturers in the state of Colorado. I got to work with so many cool manufacturing resources in Illinois and bring a lot of them here, but I have also found just this wealth of talent already here in Colorado to help our clients solve any problem. It really is any issue they have, we have access to solutions within the National Network. If we can position ourselves as that go-to resource here in Colorado that every manufacturer knows all they have to do is call Manufacturer’s Edge and we have an answer for them, that’s a powerful thing.

Second, we are working on how we talk about the support we provide. Every time we walk in, we should be making a big impact for the client because we want them to be successful in Colorado as part of our economic development mission. The more they grow, the more people they add, the better it is for the state of Colorado and, ultimately, for the manufacturers across the country.

Beyond that, the things that will continue to be important to our team and to the manufacturers we serve are, one, how do we help you with your people development systems? The people who are working within your organization need to be developed and you can’t do that by doing the same thing you’ve always done. Technology will pass you by. People will pass you by. So, our clients have to know how to set up the people development system that works best for them and that is where we can step in. It’s going to be unique to each manufacturer but there is a way to set it up that allows them to employ, retain, and engage employees better every day. And then, two, to help manufacturers see that technology is an aid to productivity. Too often we see it as a deterrent to productivity — or that is the experience they have had. We put in a new ERP system and our productivity went down. We added a cobot and nobody uses it. I want to shift the narrative that technology is an enabler of our success. It is a force multiplier in what we are doing. So, to be able to help them see how to apply the technology in a strategic way rather than a technical way. I think that is a big distinction. Look at technology as an enabler to better your people, your processes, and your products across the board.