MSUToday
Published: Jan. 3, 2017

MSU’s Broad College hires managing director for Demmer Center

Contact(s): Caroline Brooks Broad College of Business brooks78@broad.msu.edu

In its effort to support Michigan businesses, Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business has hired James Franz as managing director of its Demmer Center for Business Transformation.

Franz, with over 30 years of manufacturing and engineering operations and leadership experience, will foster connections with companies, serving as the liaison between their growth operations and the Demmer Center’s strategic resources and supporting faculty. By doing so, he will promote the college’s core research functions and thought leadership within the local business community.

As one of Broad’s eight established research centers, the Demmer Center helps Michigan companies and organizations increase their competitiveness, profitability and presence in domestic and global markets, as well as opening the doors to Michigan workers for new employment opportunities.

“At the Broad College, we recognize the influence our faculty and staff have on our reputation, both in the world of higher education and to the broader business community. Making strategic hires to our research centers allows us to have our fingers on the pulse of the ever-changing business world and to be a part of business transformation across the world,” said Robert Wiseman, senior associate dean of the Broad College. “We look forward to James spearheading new initiatives at the Demmer Center, improving its offerings and introducing new strategies to current and future partners.”

Franz has specialized on “lean” business, which refers to creating and maximizing value for customers by facilitating flow and eliminating waste in processes. He was most recently co-founder and vice president of global operations for Toyota Way Academy, an organization dedicated to instilling Toyota’s value-driven corporate culture in other companies around the world. Franz has also served as a consultant to many large global entities, including Exxon Mobil, Caterpillar, SAF-Holland, Toyota and Visteon.

“I am excited for James to join the Demmer Center team. A core aspect of our mission is to make faculty expertise available to Michigan companies and organizations. James will be working with Michigan companies to identify needs and gaps in their strategies and operations and then matching and deploying faculty resources to address these opportunities for strategic transformation,” said Shawnee Vickery, professor of operations and supply chain management, faculty director of the Demmer Center and Demmer Legacy Fellow.

Franz earned a bachelor’s of science from General Motors Institute in Flint and a master’s in engineering management from the University of Michigan. He co-authored “The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement – Linking Strategy and Operational Excellence to Achieve Superior Performance in 2011,” which won the Shingo Prize for Operational Research. 

James Franz has been hired as managing director of Michigan State University's Demmer Center for Business Transformation.

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