Being There: Moldmaking Events are Occasions to Learn, Share, Connect

It is easy to wave off conferences and other trade events when life and work is all-consuming, but when it comes to events that are focused solely on moldmaking, you must make the time to be there.
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This blog is directed less to active members of the American Mold Builders Association and more to those who are less active or who do not belong to the AMBA. I would be “preaching to the choir” if I singled out active members. They know the value of showing up and truly being at industry events. They soak up the messages, the camaraderie, the lessons and more because they know how invaluable an opportunity these events are.

Having just come off of the AMBA Annual Conference, which was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is the first significant event of the year that is geared solely to moldmaking, I can say that those who chose not to participate missed out on so many levels.

Leadership: An underlying theme of AMBA conferences, leadership strategies and energizing presentations get attendees pumped up for applying what they learned to their own operations. Leading a mold shop – or any business – is a daily challenge. Hearing from peers and keynote speakers who provide relevant insights can cause a paradigm shift that helps take a company to the next level. I have interviewed several shop owners who have told me that a speaker or session at an AMBA conference triggered a significant change in company culture and how their companies are managed. One example is Tim Krieger, president of Krieger Craftsman, and you can read about his paradigm shift from the AMBA’s 2013 conference here.

Learning: Breakout sessions, lunch-and-learn sessions and keynote speakers – all provide an array of opportunities to learn new ways of managing one’s business through setting goals, implementing new or better processes and bringing employees together as a team with a single purpose. For example, keynote speaker David Horsager, MA, CSP, CPAE, is the CEO of Trust Edge Leadership Institute. He says the number one reason for someone to want to work for an organization is trusted leadership. Trust is “a confident belief in an individual or organization,” he says. “A lack of trust is your biggest expense.” He also told attendees that gratitude is the most “magnetic trait” a person can possess. 

Sharing: Several breakout sessions and panel and peer-group discussions were held during the AMBA conference. Among the most valued sessions of all involve attendees forming small groups to discuss challenges and offer solutions. One such program is the peer-to-peer exchanges, which comprise five sessions covering five different but relevant areas: Leaders and Top Management, Operations and Processing, Human Resources, Sales and Marketing and Finance, ERP, IT Professionals. Attendees choose the area that is most aligned with their job functions in their shops and interact with others to find solutions, new ideas, methods of improvement and more. It is really something to watch because there is a genuine level of understanding and sharing of experiences – small shop or large, there are many commonalities – among peers who really want to help. They understand it is for the common good, for we all are in this together.

Breakout sessions also brought groups of attendees together to discuss a variety of industry- and work-related topics such as the overall health of the moldmaking industry, navigating the process of ownership transition in a business, how to use collaboration to catch any necessary adjustments to part and mold designs early on, learning how buyers make buying decisions online and trends in metal 3D printing. The difference in these sessions is that they are moderated by industry executives and experts with panel discussions, data sharing, cross talk and question-and-answer time. Again, sharing experiences to help each other navigate through challenging times and new technologies.

Mold Builders Connect offered yet another way to share and learn peer-to-peer through open discussions around topics that are integral to running moldmaking operations. Conference attendees chose between topics like Hard Milling, Training the next generation, Employee Engagement, Better Ways to Maintain and Grow (a moldmaking company), and Scheduling (eliminating bottlenecks). 

MMT’s own Christina Fuges provided an overview of our annual Leadtime Leader Award Competition, encouraging attendees to enter their companies for 2019 (our 2018 Leadtime Leader will be announced at Amerimold in June!). Then, representatives from previous LLA shops shared their experiences and the benefits of winning. Amerimold is THE event for mold manufacturing and, like the AMBA conference, is not to be missed! Be sure to show up and reap the benefits of being there.