Manufacturers Face Challenges as They Embrace Digital Transformation

Manufacturers face multiple challenges when embracing new technologies, from hiring skilled workers to upskilling current workers. The experts at Amatrol provide technical training solutions that can be utilized by manufacturers of any size to train workers in a wide variety of topic areas, from basics like electrical and fluid power to advanced subjects like automation and programming. 

As noted in a recent eCampus News article by Simon Leigh, Senior Manager of Design & Manufacturing Education Strategy at Autodesk, manufacturers everywhere “have embraced digital transformation in the workplace, welcoming in advanced technology, new tools, and greater efficiency” and leading “to the creation of new jobs and opportunities.”

Unfortunately, because of the ongoing skills gap in manufacturing, “the existing workforce isn’t equipped with the skills necessary for these emerging roles.” Where are manufacturers looking to fill these highly-skilled positions? They’re counting on today’s students about to enter the workforce.

This creates a daunting challenge for educators. How do you adequately prepare today’s students with both the foundational knowledge they need and the advanced skills manufacturers so desperately desire? Leigh, whose background includes curriculum development and teaching engineering, believes he has the answer.

He encourages instructors to seize the day with their students:

“The lessons that we teach and the skills that we build with them in this short time are the foundation for their careers and could mean the difference between them getting hired for their dream job or getting passed over for a more experienced worker. At this crucial junction, educators have a powerful opportunity to equip students with real-world skills that they’ll use every day in their jobs. That’s why it is so important for us to understand what the most valuable skills are now, and what they will be in the future.”

Leigh strongly recommends partnering with local industries to learn firsthand what skills are needed now and into the future. Then, educators “must incorporate practical, hands-on learning opportunities for students to fully grasp design for manufacturing skills.” He also encourages instructors to “embrace less reliance on traditional degrees and welcome more specialized certifications developed in partnership with industry.”

Manufacturers must seize the day by partnering with local educational institutions to ensure that the skills they need are being taught. Moreover, they must take responsibility to upskill their current employees so that they can make the most of the new technologies they’re implementing, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, augmented and virtual reality, and advanced robotics.

While the task of preparing workers for successful careers in manufacturing during a time of digital transformation is a difficult one, manufacturers don’t have to shoulder the burden alone. The experts at Amatrol have been working alongside industry for years to design unique training programs featuring eLearning curriculum and hands-on industrial trainers.

This combination of foundational knowledge and practical, hands-on skills is essential to give learners the edge they need to be successful in a manufacturing career. Moreover, Amatrol offers a wide variety of training programs featuring the latest technologies. For more information about how Amatrol can help you prepare your students for the future of manufacturing, contact an expert at Amatrol today!

As a bank that was built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, Texas Security Bank has redefined what it means to be a community bank and true business partner. The founders of the Bank, and its leadership, understand the unique needs of business owners — from personalized service and products to online banking capabilities. With a mission to ‘Elevate the Champions of Free Enterprise,’ Texas Security Bank operates specifically with business owners in mind. With decades of banking experience, Texas Security Bank bankers understand that for entrepreneurs, banking is not just about numbers. Being an independently owned and operated bank allows the bankers to provbrensonide a different perspective, which makes the team the type of financial partner its clients trust and rely on. Texas Security Bank works seamlessly with small businesses. The pandemic allowed the Bank to demonstrate its commitment and partnership to business owners throughout the PPP process. Many banks talk about their superior customer service, but the pandemic allowed Texas Security Bank to prove that it is truly a differentiator for their business. The Bank’s true partnership with business owners, paired with its forward-thinking innovation and tools, makes it an example for community banks around the world.

Texas Security Bank values people who seek to learn and improve. We encourage people to invest in their development and take ownership of their careers. This is the person we want on our team and our customer’s team. Texas Security Bank’s commitment to educating its employees and clients separates it from others. Texas Security Bank invests more resources in Business Education for Owner Managed Businesses than other banks. Our focus on continuing education is truly unique and needed. The Bank also provides ongoing education to its bankers on the aspects of running a business, so that they can speak their clients’ language.

“Growth is one of our core values at Texas Security Bank and we foster this through our business education initiatives. It’s important to have a growth mindset, especially as a business owner. Our speaker series and TSB Academy programs are structured to bring foundational, strategic, and functional knowledge in addition to actionable takeaways business owners can use to run better businesses”.  

To learn more about our bank including our continuing education programs visit us online at, stop by one of our local branches, or give contact me directly.

James Harrod

Associate Director – Garland

469-398-4846 –

Marketing is a critical part of running a successful business. It’s how you communicate to the wider community about your business and create opportunities for them to engage with your products and/or services. But marketing can be tricky. It’s not always clear where to start, which marketing tools to choose or how to know if your marketing efforts are working. Here are five of the biggest marketing-related challenges small business owners face and insights on how to navigate them.

To answer these questions, we reached out to Garland marketing professional Ruben Amesquita to hear his insights on five common challenges for business owners developing their marketing strategies.

Challenge #1: I feel confused between branding and marketing…what’s the difference?

The difference between marketing branding is a common point of uncertainty for many business owners. Both marketing and branding are forms of communication. Marketing and branding work together to:

  • Help the wider community become AWARE that you exist
  • Clearly communicate who you are and what you offer
  • Persuade people to take some kind of action, ideally, to become a customer!


Branding and marketing work together. “Branding is how the market perceives your product or business,” explained Ruben. “It is the “outside perception” of who you are and what you do.” The key is to make sure your outside perception and internal reality match. The perceptions and promises you make through your branding should be aligned with who you are and what you offer as a business.

Marketing on the other hand, involves all of the strategic actions you take to get that message out to your target audience. Ruben breaks this down into two stages. “Strategic marketing is crafting the message and the planning side of sending it,” he said. “Tactical marketing is where the rubber meets the road. It is how you get your message out… it can be via a postcard, a radio or tv ad, a newsprint or magazine ad, a billboard, the side of a bus, a social media post, an email or a networking event.”

Challenge #2: Marketing and branding take a lot of time, but outsourcing seems expensive. What should I do?

Download the Marketing Planning Kit

It’s always valuable to leverage the skills of marketing and branding professionals as they are equipped at keeping up with trends, applying best practices and effectively capturing your message and identity. It can be an investment, but doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive; you can always come back later and invest more in your branding and marketing strategies as your business grows. Be sure to interview several before choosing one and select one who has a proven track record of success with a variety of clients.

Challenge #3: How do I market to a specific community like Garland?

If your product or service is Garland-specific, then you’ll want to spend time getting to know your target audience. Spend time where they spend time, conduct surveys and get to know possible competitors at a local level to see how your business could stand out. The more you talk to your target audience, the more clarity you’ll have about how best to introduce them to your business.

Challenge #4: There are so many different marketing tools these days. How do I choose between in-person, paid and organic marketing strategies?

As a constantly evolving field, the marketing industry is constantly experimenting with new tools, technologies and techniques. While this makes marketing exciting and extremely customizable, it can also make it overwhelming to know what best fits your business. For example, how should you choose between digital marketing or more tactical measures like postcards and fliers?

“One is not necessarily better than the other,” advises Ruben. The key is to know your target audience: What are their pain points? How do they make purchasing decisions? Where do they get information about which brands and businesses to trust? The answers to these questions will inform your marketing strategy, including the tools you use.

For example, if you’re trying to reach a younger audience, you’ll probably want to lean more heavily on social media, which might not be the case if you’re trying to reach an older target audience. Once you develop a database of target customers, Ruben explains that the next step is to tailor the message to their needs, choosing the best strategies and methods to do that.

Challenge #5: What’s the best way to use social media?

“Social media is great and should be integral to your marketing strategy,” recommends Ruben. “It can increase your brand exposure, and it allows you to engage with your target audience. This way, you build brand trust and loyalty while developing your personality.”

The key is to know which social media platforms are best for your business and which are most utilized by your target audience. You should answer these questions as part of your branding process. You don’t want to waste time developing a persona on platforms irrelevant to your target audience.

Once you decide which platforms to use, it’s important to develop a personality or style that fits your brand identity and the platform you’ve chosen. Think through everything from the colors and graphics you use to your tone of voice in writing. Lastly, Ruben urges consistency: “The more active you are, the more your audience will be engaged with your brand. If you’re not involved, people will eventually forget about you.” Creating a weekly schedule is the best way to develop a consistent presence.

As a rapidly growing region east of Dallas, Garland is an ideal location for a small business. At the Garland Chamber, we are excited to work with business owners spanning dozens of industries from banking and accounting to beauty salons and restaurants. We believe more entrepreneurship is critical to our city’s long-term success, but we know that opening a small business can be challenging. It can be helpful to have a clear roadmap to follow so your business can succeed.

Here are five essential steps to take to launch your business well.

Step 1: Test your idea and get feedback from your target customer

Many entrepreneurs launch products full of enthusiasm only to realize thousands of dollars and hours later that their intended customer is actually looking for something different. To avoid this, you’ll want to test your idea with individuals who represent your target customer.

This might seem overwhelming or discouraging…what if you hear feedback that requires major changes to your original idea? This is one of the risks of conducting market research, but it’s much better to face those potential changes now than to realize your product is entirely failing to reach your ideal customer down the line.

You can test your idea incrementally by asking friends and family, setting up a booth at a farmer’s market, attending fairs or doing research interviews with folks who fit your customer profile. Take the feedback you collect to incrementally refine your product or service and scale up as your product secures greater and greater market fit.

Step 2: Conduct competitor research

As an entrepreneur, you likely have an interesting product or service to offer the community and you’re understandably convinced that it’s truly amazing. While that may be true, it’s also likely that someone else offers a product or service similar to yours in the same geographic area. Before you invest significant time and money developing your idea and bringing it to market, you’ll want to take some time to investigate what’s already out there that’s similar to what you’re offering.

Download the Small Business Checklist

Depending on your product or service, this could be as simple as running a Google search for your business idea in your city (i.e., “Cinnamon rolls in Garland Texas” or “Dog washing in Garland Texas). Map a map of all the providers in your target area. Make some time to visit these businesses to get a feel for their product or service, their marketing and their clientele. The goal is to be able to identify how exactly your business will stand out from these alternatives.

Starting a business involves a lot of risk including putting yourself out there to compete against similar businesses. There’s no way to eliminate this risk entirely, but with some planning and research, you can put yourself in a position to have good success standing out.

Step 3: Get familiar with city codes, certificate requirements and licensing rules

Early in your business planning process, you’ll want to meet with someone from the Economic Development office to better understand the required processes and procedures. Be sure to ask about the following as they are essential to ensuring your business launches without a hitch:

  1. Pre-submittal meeting
  2. Commercial building permit or certificate of occupancy
  3. Zoning compliance
  4. Parking requirements
  5. Licensing requirements (if relevant)

Step 4: Outline your budget with extreme clarity

The concept of profit sometimes gets a bad rap, but a business that is profitable is one that can exist for a long time. In other words, if you believe your product or service can make life better for the people in your community, then you have a duty to make sure your business can make a profit.

Achieving profitability requires having a clear idea of your revenue and your cost and this requires creating a budget. This is probably the least-glamorous part of starting a new business, but it is simply essential. Many small businesses struggle or fall through the cracks because of large, unpredicted costs.

Avoid this pitfall by conducting a thorough cost analysis and writing down every single operational cost. If you’re not sure how much to budget for, pick up the phone and call business owners in similar fields and ask for their estimates. In fact, informational interviews with other entrepreneurs are a brilliant way to get an idea of costs you might not have known to plan for. Set up your free call with the Chamber and talk to us about our networking opportunities! We love introducing business owners to each other.

Step 5: Develop a brand and marketing strategy

Last, but not least important is having a brand and marketing strategy in place. These tools are important for communicating to the community more about who you are, what you offer and what makes your business worth visiting.

A brand includes aspects such as your logo, color scheme, fonts and motto or catchphrases that you’ll use in advertising. But a good brand is more than aesthetics. A good brand leverages design to tell the story, mission and vision of your business.

A marketing strategy includes the various ways you plan to communicate with target customers about your business. You should package your marketing communications in your brand and utilize various tools like social media, emails and even snail-mail or fliers to get the message out there. Promotions, discounts and special offers should also be part of your marketing strategy as a way to attract new customers, especially at the beginning when fewer people will know about you. Just be sure to budget for these discounts.

Marketing is a big part of running a business and it’s often something outsourced to a professional. If you’re looking for help in this area, reach out to us. Not only do we provide business coaching but we can connect you with a marketing partner in the Garland area.

Starting a new business is easily one of the most exciting undertakings an individual can take on. It has the potential to be extremely challenging but also extremely rewarding. Following these steps will help you have a more informed (and less stressful) beginning to your entrepreneurial adventure.

The Company:

As one of the leading producers of prepared foods and sauces, the Garland Kraft-Heinz plant has been in operation since 1949. With a staff of 1,500, it’s the largest employer in Garland.

About Chris:

After almost a decade of serving as a Naval aircrewman and a rescue swimmer in the Navy, Chris transitioned to the private sector, joining the Heinz company as an Employee Development Coordinator. After 21 years and various roles that took him to every plant in the country, he was promoted to plant manager and moved with his family from Jacksonville, Florida to Plano, Texas.

His new role overseeing a plant with 1,500 employees and a huge production volume was a great fit for someone who prefers to be on the ground moving rather than sitting in a cubicle looking at a computer. He takes daily walks around the factory floor to say hello and speak to every employee. He eventually hopes to memorize everyone’s name.

Currently, one of his biggest challenges at work is reducing turnover by increasing engagement. Part of that strategy has involved designing a new facility with expanded amenities for employees.

Download the DCMA Brochure

The Case:

In 2023, the company began exploring the possibility of expanding its building to make room for expanded production. Chris met with Paul Mayer and Ayako Schuster, Garland’s director of economic development. Together, they’ve been helping Chris navigate the ins and outs of property expansion from the approvals process to advising on signage and the flow of traffic in and out of the company’s large parking lot. They’ve also provided information on utility and tax incentives that might be available.

Value of joining the Chamber:

“The support structure. If I need something I can pick up the phone, call Paul and Liz or any other team member there…and find answers and resources.”

The Business:

CarrollCLEAN specializes in the mixing and production of cleaning products for both domestic and commercial use.

About Peter:

Originally from Canada, Peter moved to Texas about twenty years ago and has been living in Garland since 2021. After various career shifts, in 2018 he acquired CarrollCLEAN and set up his own sanitation product manufacturing and packaging business. The past few years have brought a variety of challenges including supply chain and hiring issues. As a member of the Chamber and the DCMA, Peter has been able to crowdsource ideas from other manufacturers in the same boat. “It makes a difference to talk to other people who are having the same challenges and to swap ideas with them,” he said.

Download the DCMA Brochure

The Case:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing demand for cleaning products, Peter and his team needed to scale staff up to 270 people within six weeks. Working with the Chamber gave them the resources they needed to spread the word about job openings, access grant funding for training and install health protocols and screening practices in place to keep staff safe.

Value of Joining the Chamber:

“The contacts, the business and personal contacts through the Chamber with other businesses and with government agencies.”

Main Takeaway:

You don’t have to go it alone! Connecting with the Chamber can help you access professionals in similar industries who can help you brainstorm solutions to your biggest challenges.

Zoning for Businesses: What It Is and Why It Matters

One of the most important parts of the small business process is deciding where you will be physically located. The location you choose will play an important role in your brand, business model, clientele and day-to-day operations. Before choosing a location, it’s important to familiarize yourself with zoning: a critical tool urban planners use to shape the real estate pattern of the city.

Zoning can seem a bit technical, but at its core, zoning is a set of rules about what kinds of buildings and operations can exist in certain parts of the city. It involves thinking about the various land uses in a community, how those uses relate to each other and how potential new uses fit into the overall identity and future growth of the city.

The rules about zoning are called zoning codes and these codes are placed on a zoning map of the city. You can see Garland’s current zoning map here. Consulting both the zoning map and corresponding codes will help you get a sense of how the land in a city is designated and what kinds of uses are permitted in certain parts of town. From this information, you can identify the parts of town where your business might be the best fit or help you determine that you’ll need to apply for a rezoning permit, a special exception to the code for your business.

Download the Entrepreneurship Roadmap

It’s important to think about zoning early on. Not only will it shape your business and your ability to secure a Certificate of Occupancy, but complying with the zoning codes will ensure your business is in good standing with the city from a regulatory standpoint. Failing to account for zoning from the start can prove to be an extremely costly mistake down the line. It’s also important to think about zoning early on as compliance may require you to navigate various procedures, prepare paperwork and pay certain fees, all of which can affect your business budget and timeline.

Here are three steps to ensure you properly account for zoning requirements as you plan for your business.

Step One

First, take the time to look at your city’s zoning code and map before you sign a lease. If you aren’t sure where to find your city’s code or map or how to interpret them, reach out to the Chamber staff…we’re happy to walk you through it and help you determine if your business plans fit within the code. If we don’t have all the answers, we’ll put you in touch with those who do!

Step Two

Second, if you think you’ll need a zoning change or variance, reach out to the planning department to inquire about that process and everything that’s required so you can prepare well in advance. It’s also a good idea to do your research on the rules for your area and to invest time in getting to know the community as your rezoning application may involve a community hearing component.

Step Three

Finally, be patient with the process. Complying with rules and regulations can feel exhausting, but taking the time to understand the rules, build relationships and go through necessary procedures will ensure your business is positioned to open without a glitch and be able to effectively service the community.

Hiring This Year? Four Candidate Trends to Look For

Struggling to navigate hiring in a post-pandemic world? Don’t go it alone. Our monthly HR forum is a chance to talk about the challenges you’re facing and share perspectives with other HR professionals and share advice and insight. Reach out to learn more.

As one of the industries most dramatically impacted by the global pandemic and the ensuing economic turmoil, Human Relations is facing an unprecedented time of uncertainty. Yet, with some forethought, preparation and collaboration with other HR professionals, this turbulent time in the HR industry can prove to be an opportunity for growth and creativity. Here are four trends in candidate expectations to prepare for as you plan for this year’s hiring.

Candidates will expect more flexibility

One of the biggest shifts in employee expectations is the expectation for more flexibility. During the pandemic, people had to merge their professional and personal lives in new and unexpected ways. Many found that they preferred this greater level of integration between these previously siloed sides of their lives and many will want to preserve this. They will be looking for flexible WFH policies, remote work options and overall, a work culture that understands that life happens. Company leadership should have a plan in place to address the demand for flexible work and decide in advance on the policies that allow them to support their staff while maintaining productivity.

Candidates may have ongoing sensitivity about health precautions

Even though the brunt of the pandemic has passed and life for most of us has returned to normal, many people may still have lingering health concerns. Even if they aren’t directly concerned about COVID-19, it’s likely that the pandemic left them more sensitive about public health in general. In a workplace, they may be looking for ongoing safety measures, a clear plan in case of another public health crisis and resources available to them in case they want to take extra precautions. Having a workplace plan in place to address these concerns is an effective way to stay ahead of the curve and demonstrate your company’s awareness of these issues.

More clarity around workplace preferences

For better or worse, the pandemic gave us all more time at home, which meant more time to reflect on our personal and professional goals. Many candidates are coming out of this season of reflection with greater clarity about what they’re looking for in a job and in a workplace. There’s also increased comfort around articulating those preferences and an expectation that they should be accommodated.

Download the Guide: 5 HR Challenges and How to Meet Them With Creativity

While greater clarity around goals and workplace expectations is generally a net positive, trying to accommodate everyone can quickly become unsustainable. As an HR professional, your challenge will be to find ways to encourage greater clarity around goals while reinforcing the best practices that you know are needed in order for your company to function well and achieve its goals.

Greater social consciousness

These past few years have seen heightened awareness and conversation around various social issues. Increasingly, employees are looking for companies that demonstrate awareness of these social issues and present opportunities to contribute to positive change. Employees (especially younger ones) want to feel like their work is making the world a better place and are more comfortable than older generations with bringing social and political conversations to the workplace.

Seeing that this can have both positive and negative impacts on work culture, hiring managers should be extremely proactive in deciding with leadership how these conversations will be navigated and positive ways the company can position itself as socially conscious.

Ultimately, the shifts around hiring and work due to COVID-19 present an opportunity to rethink how we work and to be creative in addressing the new needs emerging in a post-pandemic world. One of the best practices for any HR professional is to make time to hear from other colleagues in the field, which is why we host a monthly HR forum. This is a chance to talk about the challenges you’re facing, share perspectives with other HR professionals and discover new solutions. Reach out to learn more!

The Business:

Known for its “seriously fun beers,” Lakewood Brewing Company recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The Taproom and Beer Garden features interesting flavors including a Guava Sour, a Salted Caramel Milk Stout and a Pumpkin-spiced Dunkel.

The Business Owner:

Born in Belgium, Wim Bens has lived in Texas since he was seven years old. His search for a Belgian-style beer led him to start brewing in his garage with a friend. This hobby ultimately led to a career change. In 2011, he earned his American Brewers Guild certification and opened Lakewood Brewery in 2012.

Download the DCMA Brochure

The Case:

In 2019, Lakewood purchased an additional building. During the inspection process, Wim learned they would have to install a new sprinkler in order to bring it up to code. Not prepared for an additional $50K expense, Wim called the Chamber which connected him with the fire department. After a visit to the site and listening to staff explain that the space would mainly be used for storage, the sprinkler requirement was waived.

Main Takeaway:

Sometimes city codes aren’t nuanced enough to account for particular businesses’ situations. Having someone in your corner who can connect you with the right department can help you find a more tailored response to your situation.

Value of Joining The Chamber:

“Connecting people to businesses or connecting businesses to each other.”

The Business:

Charles and Eleanor Garrett founded their metal-detection company in 1964 out of their home garage. A metal-detecting enthusiast, Charles decided to design his own detector after finding himself unsatisfied with what was available at the time. In 1968, Charles patented a special coaxial search coil winding technique which became the first to overcome search coil drift. Eventually coming to be known as zero drift, this feature forever changed the industry and Garrett was established as an industry leader. The company began its segue into commercial detectors in 1983 when Charles Garrett was approached to design a metal detector for the 1984 Summer Olympics. Since then, the company has provided quality products for both hobbyist treasure hunters and the professional security market.

About Steve:

In 2017, Steve Novakovich brought his nearly two decades of experience to Garrett as CEO, where he blends his interest in product design with his engineering, management and finance experience. He’s also a hobbyist treasure hunter and enjoys traveling to rallies to meet other hunters and see Garrett products in action. The coolest thing he’s ever found? A 600-year-old Crotal Bell in England.

Case #1:

During the height of COVID-19 shutdowns, Garrett, which had been classified as an essential business, needed to keep running, but wanted to bring their staff back in safely. After a phone call to the Chamber, Steve was connected to Occumed who sent a nurse practitioner to the site and conducted temperature checks for several weeks until they were able to install a temperature-checking machine that could perform the same function.

Download the DCMA Brochure

Case #2:

After the Texas freeze of 2021, Steve found himself facing a massive company parking lot that was entirely frozen over. With ice on the road, it was impossible for his staff to return to work. Steve called Paul Mayer on his cell and explained the situation, seeking a recommendation on who to call. Within just a few days, two snow plows were on site to free the lot from ice.

Main Takeaway:

Having connections who can refer you quickly to relevant solutions can save you precious hours and dollars. On his own, Steve said it would have taken us much longer to solve these challenges. “I wouldn’t have known which provider was the right one and probably would have lost a few days trying to figure it out.”

Value of Joining the Chamber:

“It brings you into the business community, connects you with other people who either have the same kinds of problems or have solutions.”

Featured Member

Colleague Tranzit

Colleague Tranzit is a professional transportation organization; providing safe, convenient and quality transportation service to accommodate Business, Group, and Personal travel needs. Your Best Colleague in Travel.