Our History

Our Beginnings

In 1988, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) to support small- and mid-sized manufacturers in a declining industry. To serve Oregon manufacturers, Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP) was originally formed in 1996 as part of Oregon Advanced Technology Consortium (OATC), a consortium of community colleges.

In 2001, OATC was dissolved and OMEP, Inc. was launched as an non-profit company – initially affiliated with the Oregon Institute of Technology and now fully independent. Since its inception, OMEP has served over 400 Oregon manufacturing companies and completed nearly 1,000 projects.

Over the years, our headquarters have moved to 3 different offices within the Portland area, and we’ve seen 5 presidents take charge. Chris Scherer, our current president, began as a consultant in 2003 and has been in his current role for 6 years. He’s entirely fluent in OMEP’s transformational work from the inside out.

To serve Oregon manufacturers statewide, we’ve expanded our regional offices to include Bend, Medford, Roseburg / Eugene, and Salem. OMEP has kept its focus on producing long term, sustaining results for manufacturers.

Founding Principles

OMEP was founded to help Oregon manufacturers become more competitive in the global marketplace. Today, we like to use the word ‘Results’ to capture our relentless commitment to client success. OMEP hasn’t changed this commitment in 20 years.

How Far We’ve Come

  • 1996 OMEP Founded
  • 1996 First Grant Awarded–$778,620 annually
  • 2001 6 Employees—4 Consultants
  • 2002 – 18 manufacturers served
  • 2002 First Buzz Electronics class
  • First Biennual award from the State of Oregon–$500,000.
  • 2003 Lean office introduced 2003 15 Employees—10 Consultants
  • 2011 Tools for Conscious Leadership Introduced
  • 2012 Business Transition Planning Introduced
  • 2014 Business Innovation Workshop Launched
  • 2014 Tools for Operational Excellence–Lean Fundamentals introduced
  • 2015 Selected to Continue as Oregon’s MEP by NIST–$1,794,000 annually.
  • 2015 81 manufacturers served
  • 2015 21 Employees—15 Consultants

Since its inception, OMEP has helped over 672 manufacturers accomplish 2.1 Billion in total production output. We’ve helped create and maintain over 14,000 jobs that add up to $1.12 billion in wages and benefits paid to employees.