Meet Justin Gradek, OMEP’s consultant assigned to cover the Columbia River Gorge Region. Justin has been with OMEP for six years as a Senior Manufacturing Consultant. Justin consults with manufacturers around the state on a wide range of topics including capacity growth, strategy, facility layout, and equipment selection. He also does design work and coaching when called for. A portion of his time is spent on advancing manufacturing CTE programs with educators around the state.
Justin loves the flexibility in his work with OMEP. He appreciates that the agency’s mission and work style allows it’s employees to work with clients and on projects that the employees themselves are passionate about. For Justin, his work with companies in the Gorge to help create economic prosperity in the community where he lives is more than simply a professional goal – it is a personal goal as well.
“I’ve lived in The South, big cities on the east coast, California, and Europe – and there is nowhere as beautiful as the Pacific Northwest and The Gorge specifically. I also find the people of the west to embody a lot of the ruggedness and perseverance that I imagine it took to establish farming and industry on this land a couple hundred years ago. The Northwest has a lot of opportunity for people looking to build a good life while trying something new, and I think that’s me.”
Picture of Justin and partner Monica Gulley and 3 sons, taken at home in Hood River summer 2022
When asked to give an example of something innovative, progressive, or exciting in his work, Justin described OMEP’s “Ready or Not” business simulation. This 4-hour, in-person group exercise gives teams of 5-8 people leadership roles within a fictional company in order to collaboratively make decisions and investments to grow the company based on the strategy they create. Teams compete against each other during this event, and it is interesting, educational and fun. OMEP has delivered this simulation to groups as large as 300 people and as small as 30. His current work involves adapting the simulation to be incorporated into Portland Public Schools’ CTE programs, as well as around the state at various institutions throughout 2023. This simulation is good context for much of the work that OMEP does, and Justin encourages people to go through the exercise whenever possible.
Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership OMEP is best described as a “Public Non-profit” funded through NIST grants, Business Oregon state funding, and client fees. OMEP is part of the nation-wide NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, the goal of which is to advance small and medium-sized manufacturing by making business consulting available to this specific industry demographic.
OMEP has a staff of about 20 consultants based around the state. Each consultant has specialized expertise in manufacturing and a broad network of generalist skills to assist manufacturers in current and pressing challenges. The companies we work with span aerospace, medical devices, food products, assembly, construction, and primary wood and metal processing. If a company uses a process to change a product, then OMEP can likely work with them.
The range of expertise that OMEP consultants deliver fits into three broad categories:
OMEP joined the GTA with goals that are both broad and specific: to contribute to the local economy directly by helping companies who can benefit from our expertise, and to contribute indirectly by partnering with organizations that advance manufacturing through technology-focused training, working with educators to expose the next generation of workers to manufacturing opportunities, and facilitating groups working on challenges that are tangent to manufacturing.
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7650 SW Beveland St. #170
Portland, OR 97223
Contact Justin directly!