Braun, an APICS instructor and former Grand Rapids APICS chapter president, said a lot of people look at the APICS course catalog and figure its programs are only for manufacturing companies.
“That’s not true. It isn’t just for manufacturing,” Braun stressed, adding that any kind of manufacturing, distribution or service industry can benefit from APICS training.
“You can have just about any kind of a business and I’ll bet you I can show you how APICS can work for that business and help make it a better place.”
APICS, short for the American Production and Inventory Control Society, was founded in 1957. The nonprofit international organization provides its members educational and professional certification programs.
APICS has more than 270 chapters in North America, each of which are managed by a volunteer board of directors that puts together an education calendar.
The Grand Rapids APICS chapter marked its 40th anniversary in March.
It holds a chapter management world record for having earned its 21st consecutive APICS Gold Award, the highest award bestowed by the parent organization.
The chapter also has been awarded a Platinum Award for 17 consecutive years.
The Gold Award recognizes a well-run chapter management program, Braun said. A Platinum Award recognizes chapters that have received a Gold Award five years running.
The local chapter, which presently has between 525 and 550 members, offers internationally recognized certification programs and individual and organizational educational programs. More specifically it offers Fundamentals of Materials and Operations Management, which covers four courses, CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management) and CIRM (Certified in Integrated Resource Management) programs, and continuing education courses in targeted subject areas.
Braun said a new course on enterprise resource planning will be introduced next year.
Currently, the fundamentals and CPIM programs are the most popular, he added.
APICS instructors are professionals either working or consulting in the field.
Braun, for instance, who has both CPIM and CIRM designations, is the materials manager for National Nail Corp. in Grand Rapids.
He has 23 years of experience in the agricultural equipment manufacturing, aerospace, textile, transportation, automotive and HVAC industries.
He told the Business Journal that the Grand Rapids chapter currently has classroom locations in Hudsonville, Holland and Traverse City.
A member of APICS since 1982, Braun estimates about 400 people in the area take APICS courses every year. The class terms run from eight to 12 weeks.
More than half of all instruction is held on-site, he added.
He also said several major employers, such as Steelcase, Johnson Controls and Bentler Automotive, prefer in-house instruction.
APICS courses are open to nonmembers, though one of the benefits of membership is a reduced cost.
In addition to cost savings, the networking opportunities are great, Braun said. The opportunities present themselves at the Grand Rapids chapter’s nine meetings a year and at the annual APICS international conference.
Also, APIC student chapters, such as those at Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University, give students network access to internships and even jobs after graduation, Braun added.
The local chapter has a working relationship with The Right Place Program, which Braun says is a lot like APICS itself.
“They’re out there to help make business run better or help improve their efficiencies. That’s basically what APICS does, too. What we do is partner with them.”
If The Right Place is planning a seminar, APICS will let its members know about it and vice versa, Braun explained.
Membership has been going down over the last couple of years, in part because of the state of the economy, he said.
It’s also down simply because there are fewer people in production and inventory control jobs than there were years ago; new technologies have replaced them.
But Braun expects APICS membership to pick up when the economy does. He’d like to see membership rise to about 900 to 1,000 people.
“I would challenge any organization out there that doesn’t have APICS members to give me a call and ask, ‘How can my employees being APICS members improve the company?’
“As long as they are willing to work at it, I would bet anything that I could show them.”