Local company makes most of New Mexico manufacturers’ program

By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer

Efficiency and productivity — every business strives to improve both, and Portales’ Sunland Peanuts believe they have done just that after taking advantage of a unique state program.

New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership consults existing small and medium sized manufacturing businesses on how they can work more productively through a series of educational and consulting classes and seminars.

The organization is a non-profit organization registered in New Mexico, partnered with the
New Mexico Economic Development Department and affiliated with the U.S. Department
of Commerce.

Over the last decade, New Mexico MEP has helped increase and retain sales of around $67 million, and retained approximately 1,200 jobs state-wide in the process, according to a NMMEP press release.

“(The program) has been very successful,” said Danny Armijo, regional director of the New Mexico MEP. “There are about 1,700 small and mid-size manufacturers in the state and we help them increase and retain their sales.”

Armijo also says the program has allowed the same businesses to reinvest $26 million into their business operations.

According to Jimmie Shearer, owner of Sunland Peanuts, 12 to 15 of his employees went through the training at a time, for a total of about 90 Sunland employees now trained to work more productively.

“Going into it (there were) a lot of pessimistic attitudes,” Shearer said. “Coming out of it — the people that were the most pessimistic going in, were the most optimistic coming out.”

One example of part of the MEP’s program — an class exercise called Lean 101, is a simulated manufacturing demonstration in which workers attach lights and other parts to a board in an assembly line-like process.

“The whole purpose of this series of manufacturing (drills),” Shearer said, “was to show that if you are organized, how much more you can produce and how much easier it is on everyone.”

Shearer admitted the first few attempts weren’t successful.

“The first time through, we didn’t produce hardly anything,” Shearer said. “There was two people working like crazy, everybody else was sitting around waiting for the board to come to them so that they could do their part.”

By the end of the exercise, however, organization and communication had allowed everybody to work much more efficiently.

“When everything was organized properly and everybody was communicating properly — productivity was fantastic and nobody seemed like they were hardly working.”

According to Shearer, Portales-based bottling plant Southwest Canners also went through the program.