AMBA Conference: A "Whirlwind" of Activity

From energizing leadership-focused keynotes and peer-to-peer discussion groups, this year’s AMBA Conference attracted many fresh faces from leading area mold shops, and the MMT Editorial Team was there to meet them.


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My favorite time of the year for MoldMaking Technology has to be Amerimold. It has been the brand’s main event since 1999 and something very personal to me, as I develop the programming each year and work with the Events Team on other aspects of the show. Amerimold has grown each year since its debut and has become the place for mold builders and their customers to come together to learn and network. 

However, a close second is the annual American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) Conference. What’s special about this event for me is that I am an attendee and tabletop exhibitor, so this time I’m the one learning and networking without the added pressure of being part of the Events Team. And this year’s conference in Itasca, Illinois, presented a lot of opportunities to do just that.

This annual AMBA Conference used to be an annual Convention that was held every winter in some exotic warm locale to which every member brought his or her family. In MMT’s early days my husband and I were blessed to attend these events, which helped establish many of the strong industry relationships and friendships that I still have today. Although the location and timing of this annual association event have changed over the years, its purpose and what I get out of it have not. And this year’s conference was no exception.

Not only did Senior Editor Cyndi Kustush, Assistant Editor Heather Wintle and I work MMT’s tabletop passing out some cool MMT giveaways and conducting surveys, we met many fresh faces at some of the leading mold builders in the area—who we immediately invited to our 30-Under-30 Happy Hour taking place at Amerimold on June 12 in Rosemont, Illinois, at 4:30 pm at the MMT Booth 314

I was also able to carve out some time to record a few Manufacturing Alliance Podcasts with the AMBA Executive Board, United Tool and Mold and Harbour Results.

With a theme of Strategies. Executed. the AMBA produced another successful event with a day-and-a-half of leadership-focused presentations as well as breakout discussion groups on both business issues and technology trends, such as human resources, operations and processing, sales and marketing, tariffs/trade, finance, diversification strategies, scheduling/ERP and workforce development.

However, the real focus of this annual conference is the line up of energizing keynotes. This year the opening keynote presenter was Chris McChesney of Franklin Covey who really hit home. He demonstrated how the four disciplines of execution can be used to manage the whirlwind of urgent, day to day activities without devouring the time needed today to successfully execute tomorrow’s major initiatives.

1. Managers and work teams don’t know the goal. 

2. Managers and teams don’t know what to do to achieve the goal.

3. They don’t keep score.

4. They are not held accountable.

Another presenter, Kirk Weisler, explained the difference between culture building and team building. Team building is going to the gym once a year. Culture building is going to the gym every day for a 5- to10-minute intense workout that focuses on building relationships, trust, clarity of vision and purpose. He taught us how to build a more engaged and positive culture.

The final keynote who ended the event on a high note was General Stanley A. McChrystal. He used field-tested leadership lessons to stress a uniquely inclusive model of leadership that focuses on building teams capable of relentlessly pursuing results. He shared stories from his career that revealed a four-star management strategy, concentrating on openness, teamwork and forward thinking.

Other highlights of the event included two highly regarded AMBA Awards: Mold Builder of the Year and Tooling Trailblazer of the Year. The AMBA Mold Builder of the Year Award was
instituted to recognize outstanding contributions made by an AMBA member. The recipient of this prestigious award is always an outstanding business leader dedicated to the industry and an active member of AMBA. This year the honor was given to an emotional Rick Finnie of M R Mold & Engineering of Brea, California for his 40 + years in the industry actively involved in the AMBA since 1999 as well as many education-related activities, and most importantly his commitment to his team and always thinking outside the box (more details to come).

The AMBA Tooling Trailblazer of the Year was established to recognize AMBA member
accomplishments that have resulted in a notable impact in the area of education. This year’s winner is Century Die Company for its Mold Maker Professional for a Day job shadowing and Green Box Derby initiatives, involvement on local workforce and education committees, and other efforts (details in upcoming posts).

And last but not least there was karaoke ... that’s all I’ll say about that. The folks that were there know:-)

Mark your calendars for next year’s event April 29 to May 1 at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Thank you to the whole AMBA team for continuing to bring mold builders together at this annual conference and inviting MMT to be a part of it.

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