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EMI Maintains Academics, Builds Networking Value

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Informal discussion with peers during receptions and meals has long been a valued component of the educational experience delivered by TRSA’s Ehrlich-Stempler Executive Management Institute (EMI), conducted annually at the University of Maryland. As the training program founded 51 years ago begins its second half-century Aug. 7-11, this informality is becoming more scheduled.

Two off-campus evening social activities are now incorporated into the agenda (included in the participant registration fee). Previously these outings were optional and billed separately. Now, when registering for EMI, participants simply need to request to attend them.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, they’ll take a bus tour to view illuminated national monuments in nearby downtown Washington; the following night, they’ll enjoy dinner at Lucky Strike, the vintage-mod bowling and billiards spot.

With four full days of management development classes each year, EMI primarily consists of activities led by academics and consultants experienced with the textile services industry. Interaction between participants in classrooms, sharing their everyday work experiences, makes academic exercises industry-specific. Participants begin relationships with classmates when they first attend EMI. These deepen in subsequent years as they complete the program by returning annually with original classmates three more times.

Social activities further this relationship-building, which is heralded for its importance to developing the industry’s peer networks. It’s viewed as almost as beneficial as the academic lessons taught at EMI, which keep individuals on the leading edge of their professions and improve their leadership skills.

“Even smaller companies need people besides the top executives to be leaders, especially front-line managers who work with many different customers and employees. EMI improves their skills and gives them a group of professional friends,” said Michael Lutz, a 2007 EMI graduate, who serves as CEO, American Linen Supply of New Mexico, Las Cruces, NM.

EMI participant Barbara Bailey-Polk, Roscoe Co., Chicago, who is returning in August for her third year, said that, “At EMI, you see how our companies are not in worlds of our own. We face the same issues and share the same values and we respect each other for it.”

The first-year program provides participants with practical insight that can be immediately applied to motivate and inspire co-workers and employees to streamline production, improve productivity and increase profitability, including:

  • Developing effective communications skills
  • Managing innovation and change
  • Reducing conflict
     

H. Kent Baker, finance professor at American University (DC), is the first-year class instructor and program dean. He’s been part of the EMI teaching corps since 1976, with training and consulting experience with more than 100 organizations.

EMI attracts attendees from all segments of the textile services industry, from independent companies’ owners, executives and next-generation leaders to chains’ headquarters (including HR/administration) and plant- and depot-based management (GMs, branch and department heads). TRSA member associates attend as well. Individuals who have achieved TRSA’s Certified Professional Laundry Manager (CPLM) certification receive 31 credit hours toward recertification by attending EMI.