McCulloch Winner Carlberg Gets, Gives Back

Target Magazine
by M. Steele Brown
Date:  Spring, 2014

Douglas F. Carlberg is the founder, president, and CEO of San Antonio-based M2 Global Technology, Ltd., a Department of Defense (DoD) supplier.  A longtime member of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), he served for 14 years as the president of AME's Southwest Region board of directors.

In 2013 AME honored him with the Mac McCulloch Lifetime Award, which recognizes the commitment and dedication of individuals who have made significant contributions, through their leadership, in improving the products and services offered by AME in the advancement of North American manufacturing excellence.  The award also recognizes an individual's character, integrity, and leadership.

Carlberg said his fascination with lean manufacturing began when he was a mechanical design engineer at General Electric (GE).  While working as part of the team designing the mechanical packaging for the electronics on a radar system for the F-111 "Aardvark" tactical fighter jet, he said he ran into line challenges in getting the product assembled efficiently.

"I thought I had come up with a great design for the packaging and the next thing I knew, my boss came to me and said, 'Doug, it's not working,'" Carlberg said.  "Once I went out on the production floor to identify the issues, I quickly realized I had a passion for manufacturing and didn't want to go back to the engineering office."

As a result of that experience, Carlberg said he applied for GE's fast-track manufacturing management program, eventually receiving the equivalent of a Master of Industrial Engineering.

The program included coursework and assignments in four different areas in manufacturing," Carlberg said.  "Once you graduated from the program, you were on the GE fast track and relocated about every three years, as you move up the management ranks."

In his 14 years at GE, Carlberg said that he became a believer in the quality control principles espoused by W. Edwards Deming, PhD.

"Early on at GE, we really started pushing the quality principles, which later developed into lean programs," he said.  "I guess, for me, the rest is history."

Carlberg was hired away from GE by Hughes Aircraft, now a part of Raytheon, to put together a team to modernized the company's factories so they could compete with Raytheon for the rights to manufacture an AMRAM air-to-air missile for the U.S. Air Force.

"As part of that effort, we applied for an Air Force program that would help fund manufacturing technology.  This required us to share the technology with the rest of the aerospace industry," Carlberg said.  "I became the program manager and ended up being a subject expert on what I would call 'DoD manufacturing incentive programs.'  As a result, I was selected by the National Science Foundation to be part of a team for a global study on rapid prototyping.  So, as you can see, I met many people and had many experiences along the way that helped me grow."

Giving Back

Because of all the mentoring he himself received throughout his career, Carlberg said he believes it is his duty to give back.  He said he has always been active in helping universities and other schools, sponsoring co-op programs and getting students involved at the companies where he has worked.

"Today, I'm on the advisory board for Texas A&M University's business school at the San Antonio campus, and I am on the board at the University of Incarnate Word business school," he said.  "I'm also teaching lean courses at the University of Dayton and for AME.  My intent is to 'give back' and share my journey with other people, to help them in the same way that others in the industry have helped me.

Carlberg currently is a member of the board of governors for the Shingo Prize and is on the leadership team for the AME Manufacturing Excellence Award.  "I have a passion for volunteering," he said.  "The boards I'm a member of are all volunteer positions, so I spend a lot of time trying to help other people, especially with regard to AME.  AME is a great organization for networking — and while your giving your time, you also are getting something back, because you're hearing about things that can help you better your own business.  I've gotten as much out of it as I've given, and it has helped me be very successful in my career."

Carlberg said that receiving the McCulloch Award means a lot to him.  AME established the award in 2006, and it is the highest recognition the organization gives to individuals.

"It truly is an honor," he said.  "Mac McCulloch was the first president of AME and helped form the organization into what it is today.  They give only one Mac McCulloch Award each year, and the people who have received the aware before me are extraordinary individuals.  It is a real honor to have my name on that list."

A Lean, Healthy Future

Carlberg said he believes the next decade will be an exciting time for manufacturing in the United States.

"Lean manufacturing will help us restore manufacturing to North America," he said.  "American industrial manufacturing has in the past done extensive offshoring to Asia because the labor was cheaper, but soon found out that it was very expensive when they looked at the total cost.  Offshoring is not all it's cracked up to be."

Carlberg said that as people start to understand the lean principles and apply them to their businesses, re-shoring will pick up speed.

"With the price of fuel and the cost of transportation rising, if we take the lean principles and build to order or build to demand, we also reduce inventory.  That's a win-win scenario," he said.  "This is why we are seeing more industry players moving production back to North America.  Smart companies are beginning to apply these principles."