Putting Associations to Work for Your Shop

The American Mold Builders Association was founded in 1973 with a mission to protect the needs and interests of moldmakers while uniting an industry. The association is currently moving forward with that mission—focusing on rebranding, reconnecting and building value for its members.


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The American Mold Builders Association (AMBA; Rolling Meadows, IL) was founded in 1973 with a mission to protect the needs and interests of moldmakers while uniting an industry. The association is currently moving forward with that mission—focusing on rebranding, reconnecting and building value for its members (see AMBA Benefits Sidebar).

Richmond Tooling, Inc. (Colonial Heights, VA)—a manufacturer of plastic injection molds for small molded parts under one ounce (up to 16 cavities) in the medical, electrical, automotive, consumer, military/defense and packaging markets—has been an AMBA member since 2002.

According to President Roger McGinnis, two of the challenges the company faces are finding skilled people to make plastic injection molds and transitioning to a higher level of precision with its molds—including documentation (inspection reports) of dimensions and keeping its work within range of the close tolerances. Challenges like this—coupled with a desire to network with “like-minded people to solve similar problems and challenges—led him to join the AMBA.

Networking also is the primary reason that Do-Rite Die & Engineering (South Chicago Heights, IL)—a builder of diecast dies—joined the AMBA back in 1999. Its president Alan Szymanski notes the eight employee company is extremely busy and finds little time for networking, and he has benefitted from discussing the following business challenges he faces. “You have to be very efficient to make money,” he says. “We do not have a bullpen for extra help, and finding outside vendors for help is not easy. It adds too much to ours costs and hurts our bottom line. And, our customers are very demanding for a low price and on-time delivery, which adds to the pressure we are under, as our vendors do not often have the same sense of urgency we do.”

For Rick Finnie, president of M.R. Mold and Engineering Corp. (Brea, CA)—a manufacturer of tight tolerance, flashless LSR and plastic injection molds for the medical, aerospace, consumer products, fluid handling and various other industries—networking and finding qualified help also played a vital role in the company’s decision to join the AMBA in 2000. “We desired discussion with peers about their solutions, ideas and innovations regarding quality, employee and production issues,” he states.

Getting Results
Richmond Tooling’s McGinnis takes advantage of the webinars, shop tours and conferences the AMBA offers—citing a recent OSHA webinar, an Industrial Mold & Machine shop tour and the AMBA’s fall conference in Washington, DC as noteworthy events.

At a recent event, he chatted with Steve Rotman of Ameritech Die & Mold (Mooresville, NC) about the Apprenticeship 2000 program he helped to start, and shared his newfound knowledge with local junior college John Tyler Community College (Chester, VA). “John Tyler Community College took that information and many other ideas to start their own program to help get more high school students involved,” McGinnis says. “John Tyler Community college now recruits high school students to participate in high school machining classes paid by the surrounding machine shops and the college. We are hoping with this program we will get more knowledgeable people.” McGinnis has been meeting with advisory committees and professors to help provide direction to the program in moldmaking technologies.

Szymanski of Do-Rite Die & Engineering regularly attends chapter meetings as well as the annual convention. He enjoys being outside the shop environment to fully focus on what other mold shops are doing to improve their processes and how he can apply it to his company. “I have learned how to improve our quality, measure our performance, and explain the hidden cost of foreign tooling to our customers,” he explains. “I feel more confident in my pricing, and I have time to ask questions and listen to answers.”

He adds he has been very encouraged by the fact that he isn’t alone in the challenges his company faces. “We all share the same employee issues, demands from our customers, and lack of available help,” Szymanski states. “The AMBA provides a network of people that are positive and interested not only in their own businesses, but the overall health of the entire industry. It gives me the incentive to strive for improvement.” One of Szymanski’s takeaways from a recent meeting was that the company started sending requests for payment when they were due, rather than waiting for its customers to pay on time, so as not to run low on cash.

Richmond Tooling’s McGinnis shares similar sentiments. “I was able to utilize the AMBA network of moldmakers to increase my business by as much as $200,000 in one year,” he comments. “There have been several times I was able to work with other AMBA members to bid and win a project that I otherwise would have been too small of a company to win the whole project.” In 2011, Richmond Tooling was able to win a 12 mold project because the company partnered with JM Mold South. JM Mold South completed four of the molds and Richmond built the remaining eight.

M.R. Mold’s Finnie is in agreement, adding that joining the AMBA gave his company the opportunity to keep abreast of the latest industry trends like reshoring and finding skilled labor by taking advantage of educational and networking opportunities at conventions, conferences and shop tours. Important events for Finnie were the AMBA’s annual conventions in Las Vegas in 2011 and Grand Rapids in 2012, and the Industrial Mold & Machine shop tour.

The company also takes advantage of member discounts with freight and Office Max—to name a few—in addition to receiving the results of the Wage & Benefits survey. “This is an in-depth analysis of employee benefits and wages for 38 different mold shop job categories which helps us see if our company offers a competitive wage and benefits package,” he explains.

Finnie has taken his involvement in the AMBA one step further by serving on the Board of Directors for three years and the California Chapter President for four years shortly after M.R. Mold joined the AMBA. According to Finnie, he wanted to make a difference in the industry, the AMBA and his own company. “Because I was one of the first California companies to join the AMBA, there was no chapter established,” he says. “I took on the responsibility as President of the California chapter in order to recruit other California moldmakers, which enabled the state to have a voice in the association, network with each other and help each other work through issues.

“Joining the AMBA is minimal in cost for major benefits,” Finnie continues, “and it provides a definite return on investment through its partnership with organizations such as the USBIC (United State Business and Industry Council) and other manufacturing trade groups to keep AMBA members up-to-date on congressional activity at the federal level that impacts manufacturing. They have also lobbied in Washington on several different occasions on behalf of its members and U.S. manufacturing.”

McGinnis of Richmond Tooling succinctly sums up the advantages of belonging to this valuable trade association. “There is no downside to joining the AMBA,” he affirms. “The networking and learning opportunities only will help—and grow—your business.” The numerous benefits the AMBA offers in the form of webinars, meetings, events, forums and cost-saving programs does indeed validate McGinnis’s sentiments.

For More Information:
The American Mold Builder’s Association / (847) 222-9402
kconis@amba.org / amba.org

Do-Rite Die & Engineering / (708) 754-4355
al.do-rite@sbcglobal.net / do-ritedie.com

M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp. / (630) 853-1264
geri@mrmold.com / mrmold.com

Richmond Tooling, Inc. / (804) 520-4173
cpratt@richmondtooling.com / richmondtooling.com