Keynote Conversation with MMA's Elyse Kopietz

This article appeared in the July 2018 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Q: Why should a manufacturer or industry supporter attend the MFG Excellence Awards?

Kopietz: Manufacturers have amazing stories to tell — the things they make, their talented team, even stories of how they started! These inspiring stories are overshadowed by the chaos of managing multi-million dollar businesses and juggling countless projects. The MFG Excellence Awards pull manufacturers out of the shadows and into the spotlight to share what makes them special. It’s a chance to celebrate manufacturing for the role it plays in Michigan’s success and recognize the companies and individuals who put so much of themselves into so many life-changing products.

Q: How is MMA building on the successful inaugural MFG Excellence Awards last year?

Kopietz:Wow, last year’s event was amazing! In 2018, we’re expanding the program to elevate its prestige and give prominent recognition to outstanding individuals and companies. Most important is every change and improvement is based on the feedback we got from last year’s attendees, leading manufacturers and industry supporters. In addition to awards for individuals and companies, we’re looking to showcase the “Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” — highlighting the cool products being made in the Great Lakes State.

Networking is going to be better than ever, too! We’ll have 150+ feet of red carpet, a reception more than double from last year, and there might even be a fairly well-known mascot decked out in green and white to join us!

Q: What is the nomination process?

Kopietz:Nominations are open now — like right now — and close in August! You can submit nominations for up to eight different awards, recognizing the many roles manufacturers play. The John G. Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award, with history dating back to 1981, has categories for both individuals and companies. There are other awards for individuals — MFG Talent Champion, MFG Emerging Leader, MFG Lifetime Achievement — and company-wide awards like MFG Innovation Excellence Award and MFG Community Impact. Go to, answer a few questions, upload supporting documents you want and click “Submit” — the nomination process has never been easier. And self-nominations are not only allowed, they’re encouraged! Just remember to get your nominations in by 8/15/18.

Q: Wait, that’s only seven awards. You said eight. What about the People’s Choice Award?

Kopietz:It’s the “Coolest Thing Made In Michigan” People’s Choice Award and it’s brand-new in 2018! This is a really exciting award and one every Michiganian can take part in. What’s “cool” to you? Is it big or small? An end-product or something along the supply chain? Is it life- altering or too amazing to ignore?

Between now and 8/15/18, share a photo and brief description on social media with the hashtag #coolestmimfg. We’ll be partnering with MLive this year and manufacturing fans can choose their favorites. The top 16 finalists will be placed into a tournament and ballots will be cast statewide for Michigan’s coolest overall thing! Post your pictures on MMA’s Facebook page or go to @MIManufacturers on Twitter or Instagram. You can also e-mail it directly to MMA’s Sarah Martin at

Q: How can industry supporters get involved in the 2018 MFG Excellence Awards?

Kopietz:Get involved by nominating an individual or company for an award before 8/15/18. Event sponsorship is also available. And, finally, join us on Thursday, 11/8/18, in East Lansing for the 2018 MFG Excellence Awards. Manufacturers deserve all the recognition in the world and a chance to tell their story — this is the night they’ve been waiting for.

About this Month's Keynote

Elyse KopietzElyse has been with MMA since May 2011 and currently serves as director of communications, marketing and events. She may be reached at 517-487-8553 or