Carey Manufacturing & Amatom Announces Management Changes
Industry veteran Paul Lavoie will succeed Colin Cooper as the state's chief manufacturing officer.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced the appointment Feb. 3 during a press conference at Farmington-based manufacturer Mott Corporation.
"Paul is a friendly face in Connecticut's manufacturing community, and I’m confident that he will be able to hit the ground running," Lamont said. Cooper, who served as the first chief manufacturing officer, announced his retirement late last year. "Paul Lavoie checks all the boxes," Cooper said today. "His work and experience and engagement will serve him well in the chief manufacturing role." Lavoie will spend time transitioning alongside Cooper in the coming weeks. He will report to David Lehmann, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.
CBIA, affiliates CONNSTEP and ReadyCT, and the Connecticut Manufacturers' Collaborative championed the need for the chief manufacturing officer position, which the legislature created in 2019. CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima applauded Lavoie's appointment, noting that Cooper "exceeded all expectations, fostering an unprecedented level of collaboration between the public and private sectors." "We are looking forward to being a close partner with Paul as he steps into this critical new role," DiPentima said at the Feb. 3 announcement.
"Paul always listens and absorbs before providing an opinion, a quality that will be critical in his role given the thousands of diverse manufacturers in Connecticut." "He is thoughtful in his approach and analytical, often relying on data, which will help steer him to the best decisions." "CBIA, CONNSTEP, and ReadyCT have a close relationship with Colin Cooper, and we look forward to continuing that with Paul as we develop the strategic plan to double the manufacturing sector in Connecticut over the next 10 years."
Ready for the Challenge
Lavoie said he is ready for the challenge. "How do we build a robust workforce pipeline that ensures that every job is filled by a qualified individual?" he asked. "That's a huge task, but if you don’t set big goals, you aren't going to get big results." Lavoie, who most recently was general manager of Cromwell-based Carey Manufacturing, admits his path to the CMO role was unconventional. "If 10 years ago you told me I was going to be the chief manufacturing officer of the state of Connecticut, I would have laughed at you," he said. "You never know where paths may take you."
Born and raised in Connecticut, Lavoie began his career working in sales and marketing for large corporations. From there, he became an entrepreneur and a small business owner, before he "stumbled into manufacturing and fell in love with it." He has held a number of positions within the industry, most recently at Carey Manufacturing, which produces catches, latches, and handles for commercial, industrial, and military customers.
Since joining Carey Manufacturing, Lavoie was tasked with helping the company reshore, bringing certain manufacturing and technology back to Connecticut. The process brought jobs back to the state and increased employee compensation. The company's workforce development initiatives earned it CBIA and CONNSTEP’s 2021 Workforce Innovation Award.
Part of the Solution
During his time at Carey Manufacturing, Lavoie fully immersed himself in the manufacturing sector statewide. "I want Connecticut to succeed, I want manufacturers to succeed," he said.
He sits on the Governor’s Workforce Council, chaired the Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce board of directors, serves on the i4.0 Industry Working Group, and advised U.S. Senator Chris Murphy as a member of the Manufacturing and Aerospace Advisory Council. Lavoie said he wanted to help develop solutions for growing Connecticut manufacturing and making the sector more competitive.
Lavoie has five key objectives for his new role, with workforce development top of the list. "Our number one priority is to build a robust workforce pipeline," he said. "That pipeline starts in middle school and ends at retirement. "Whether it’s reskilling, or incumbent worker training, or getting into middle schools and talking to people about manufacturing jobs, it really encompasses the whole career life cycle."
His second priority is fostering a healthy manufacturing ecosystem. Having worked in manufacturing for a decade, Lavoie knows a company is successful only when everyone in the process does their part. "If there’s a weak link in that chain, we're not going to have the kind of growth that we should have," he said.
Culture of Innovation
The third goal is establishing a culture of innovation. Lavoie believes that all businesses—including small businesses—must constantly improve their processes and productivity. "We can't do $100 million projects, or $10 million projects, or even $1 million projects," he said. "We have to do a little bit at a time. But we still must have that mindset of innovation."
His fourth objective is "gentle relentless communication," to continue raising awareness about opportunities available for manufacturers and ensuring companies are educated and engaged. A final focus for Lavoie is coordinating resources to clarify and simplify efforts and eliminate duplicative efforts. While job boards and regional partnerships across the state implement many positive programs, "in some cases there may be some duplication of effort."
Given the limited resources these groups have, Lavoie wants to make sure there is more coordination of these efforts to "up the learning curve quicker." Lavoie said Connecticut’s assets make it a great state to do business. Quality of life and educational pathways are strong, with a history of high productivity and innovation.
With that, he said his office must provide businesses the right tools to help them compete and grow. Lavoie says he is taking Cooper's advice, "the first time to introduce yourself is not when you need something," and plans to meet with stakeholders in his early days to best understand their needs. "My first day is going to be reaching out to those key people and introducing myself and getting them comfortable with who I am, so that three months from now when I need something, they'll know who I am," he said.