John W. Kennedy Set to Retire After 11 Years of Leading NJMEP and the New Jersey Manufacturing Industry

Kennedy Ready to Pass the Torch to Long-Time Board Chair and Current COO, Peter Connolly  

Cedar Knolls, New Jersey: John W. Kennedy has been a driving force behind the New Jersey manufacturing industry since he took over in 2012 as CEO for the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP). Since then, NJMEP has worked with thousands of New Jersey manufacturers, supported their growth in excess of $4 billion in realized value, and helped the state understand the true value of this often-overlooked industry. Kennedy will be stepping down on May 31st , at which time Peter Connolly—current COO—will take the reins as CEO and Center Director at NJMEP.  

“I want to thank everyone that has worked alongside me and NJMEP, for their energy and push that helped us get through Superstorm Sandy, COVID, and—now—how we’re handling the Supply Chain & Reshoring issues that includes the Off-Shore Wind Build-Up. None of these things can be handled by a single individual,” Kennedy stated. 

Howard McIlvaine, VP of Operations for UNEX Manufacturing, Inc. and NJMEP Board Chair shared, “John has given so much of himself to NJMEP and the entire manufacturing industry. His commitment to the people that drive manufacturing forward has taken NJMEP to new heights and shined a spotlight on the challenges domestic manufacturers face. Not only has he highlighted the challenges of local manufacturers, but he has also led NJMEP and the state to develop solutions to these disruptions to create a more competitive business landscape. He will be missed but I’m excited to work with Peter Connolly to continue John’s legacy of progress for New Jersey manufacturing!” 

Furthermore, Peter Connolly shared his enthusiasm by saying, “I joined the board over 12 years ago and worked with John to ensure NJMEP provides the best possible support to the New Jersey Manufacturing Industry. I watched as the business grew and the impact on manufacturers soared,” he continued, “I’m excited to pick up where John is leaving off and continue driving NJMEP forward, to ensure manufacturing receives the support it needs to thrive here in New Jersey and nationwide. Manufacturing drives our country forward and I’m proud to be part of that initiative.” 

John W. Kennedy has helped NJMEP become the top- rated Manufacturing Extension Program in the country. He brought the company from a 12-person operation to supporting nearly 50 full-time employees and over 200 independent industry resources. During this time, NJMEP has grown to be a leader in the NIST MEP National Network, supporting the nationwide push to help individual manufacturing businesses all across the country grow, become more profitable and efficient. Peter Connolly is poised to take over for Kennedy on June 1st and will build off these successes to continue expanding NJMEP’s reach, impact, and position as a national manufacturing leader.  

About NJMEP: ​NJMEP helps to improve the profitability and competitiveness of small to medium-sized manufacturers in New Jersey. Backed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), NJMEP enables organizations to enhance their productivity and efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve employee performance. For more than 20 years, NJMEP has used its extensive network of connections and proven track record of success to help manufacturers adapt to the latest innovative technologies and best practices to realize nearly $8 billion in value.​ 

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