In its effort to provide greater value to Michigan-operating businesses, Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business has hired James Franz as managing director of its Demmer Center for Business Transformation. As one of Broad’s eight established research centers, the Demmer Center assists 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.

In his capacity as managing director, Franz will foster connections with Michigan companies, serving as the liaison between their growth operations and the Demmer Center’s valuable strategic resources and supporting faculty. By doing so, he will promote the Broad College’s core research functions and thought leadership within the local business community.

James Franz

James Franz joins the Broad College’s Demmer Center

“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,” Robert M. Wiseman, senior associate dean of the Broad College said. “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 brings over 30 years of manufacturing and engineering operations and leadership to the Broad College’s Demmer Center, with a specialized focus 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. In his decades of experience, Franz has served as a consultant to large global entities, including Exxon Mobil, Caterpillar, SAF-Holland, Toyota, Visteon, among many others.

“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 at the Broad College of Business, faculty director of the Demmer Center, and Demmer Legacy Fellow.

Franz earned his bachelor of science from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan, and a master’s degree in engineering management at 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 earned him the Shingo Prize for Operational Research.

Learn more about the Demmer Center for Business Transformation