The National Tooling & Machining Association: Spreading Awareness, Fostering Growth

NTMA represents the custom precision manufacturing industry on a national level.


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The National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA; Independence, OH) represents the custom precision manufacturing industry on a national level. Many of its members are small businesses that are privately owned and operated, yet this industry generates sales in excess of $40 billion a year. The NTMA’s mission is to help members of the U.S. precision custom manufacturing industry achieve profitable growth and business success in a global economy through advocacy, advice, education, networking, information, programs and services.

The NTMA’s nearly 2,000 members—organized into nearly 50 local chapters throughout the country—design and manufacture special tools, dies, jigs, fixtures, gages, special machines and precision machined parts. Organized in 1943, it was incorporated under the state laws of Ohio. From 1943 to 1964, the association maintained its principal office in Cleveland, before moving to leased offices in northwest Washington, D.C., which it occupied for approximately eight years. In 1971, the NTMA acquired land in Fort Washington, MD and began construction on a new headquarters building, taking occupancy in June 1972. A three-story addition to this building was completed in mid-1982.

In 2008, the NTMA Board of Trustees decided to sell the Maryland headquarters and relocate back to the Cleveland area. According to NTMA VP and Chief Operating Officer Rob Akers, this decision was based on the plan to form a jointly owned Association Management Company called MSI (Metalworking Services, Inc.) in Independence, OH, to perform the back office duties for multiple associations to better serve its members. “NTMA’s strategic and member-centric operations continues to be led by dedicated staff to ensure that members’ needs are met and that there is a clear and concise focus on supporting the precision manufacturing industry,” Akers emphasizes.

In 2011, to better reflect the composition of its members—and to signal a renewed focus on helping members prosper while telling the story of American manufacturing dominance and growth—the NTMA went through a rebranding process. “Our members recognize the value of the Association; however we needed a new look that best represents what we stand for and provides us with the tools that personify that,” Akers comments, “NTMA represents the best companies in the industry. They represent precision, quality, technical advancement, and so on; we needed a brand that equaled them. Along with our rebranding, we also completely reworked our website to make it more user-friendly and marketing-oriented.

Akers notes that one of the key benefits of NTMA membership is the opportunity to network locally, regionally and nationally with colleagues and peers. “All NTMA members have access to our national member directory, as well as to local chapters, with a calendar of events designed to bring members together around common concerns,” he states. “These relationships allow our members to partner to develop new opportunities, glean vital information, share best practices to common business challenges and speak with one voice on matters of public policy.”

The NTMA also holds National Purchasing Fairs each year. According to Akers, the mission of these fairs is to provide a venue for customers to find alternative domestic sources or to reshore currently offshored work, to provide OEM customers a source to the most competitive domestic vendors and to provide precision metalworking vendors access to leading industry customers. This year, the NTMA is partnering with MoldMaking Technology to bring this event to amerimold (see NTMA Contract Manufacturing Purchasing Fair Sidebar, page xx).

The NTMA also has developed a number of training programs designed to develop the skills necessary for success in precision manufacturing, which range from informal best-practices tools to online education culminating in a college degree.

NTMA training initiatives include:

•    The National Institute for Metalworking Skills: Founded by the NTMA with funding from NTMF, NIMS is the nation's only ANSI-accredited developer of precision manufacturing skill standards and competency assessments, Akers notes. “It is a source of skills-based continuing education for employees of NTMA members, offering certifications and accredited programs that translate to immediate value on the shop floor,” he states. “NIMS stakeholders represent more than 6,000 American companies.”

•    NTMA-U: This is a new program that provides an online curriculum through participating institutions of higher education, offering college credit toward an associate degree and a head start toward a future in manufacturing. Entry-level employees, those who desire more than what NIMS has to offer and those looking toward a future in manufacturing are all candidates for this program.

•    National Robotics League: This program was developed with one goal in mind: attracting the next generation of skilled worker into manufacturing careers. The program works with schools and youth based organizations and partners them with local Chapters and manufacturing companies to offer a program that engages students and educates them about the opportunities within precision manufacturing. All this is done through a combat robotics program that is exciting and engaging.

•    Regional Training Centers: Some NTMA chapters, such the Los Angeles regional chapter, have founded their own training centers aimed at bridging the gap between a high-school education and the knowledge necessary to succeed in precision manufacturing. “These benefit members by providing necessary skills while benefiting students through high placement rates,” Akers comments.

In conclusion, Akers notes, “The NTMA has the resources to do something about the issues the manufacturing industry faces. Our educational programs stimulate the talent pipeline. Our resources and roundtables help members share best practices and solve common business problems. And by speaking with one voice, we cut through media-generated perception to communicate reality to policy makers and the public.”

For More Information:
The National Tooling & Machining Association / (800) 248-6862
info@ntma.org / ntma.org