The Value of Networking

Comments from an organizer of a new mold industry trade show emphasize the importance of learning from one another.
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Members of the Chicago chapter of the AMBA gather at a recent meeting. Francine Petrucci, chapter president, recently told me members have been more open to sharing in recent years.

Next spring marks the debut of Moulding Expo Stuttgart, a new trade show in Germany focused solely on the moldmaking industry. Although that might not interest anyone who can’t justify a trip across the pond, one particular phrase caught my eye when I read the news announcing the event. Here’s the full quote from Markus Heseding, president of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) Precision Tools Association (emphasis mine): “German tool and moldmaking companies are still in top position. However, maintaining this leading position is a challenge in light of international competition. It is only possible to cope with this challenge through cooperative ventures and networks between several companies.”

In the context of announcing a new trade show, “cooperative ventures and networks” could refer to a lot of different types of relationships. Broadly interpreted, however, the statement could simply mean that real improvements don’t happen occur in isolation; that new ideas and new ways of doing things rarely spring up in a vacuum. They’re far more likely to get an initial spark from someone or something outside your own four walls, whether a technology supplier, an outside consultant, a trade publication like this one, or even directly from a competing shop. Given the abundance of industry personal in the same place at the same time, trade shows can be particularly valuable in this respect.

However, recent coverage in this magazine demonstrates moldmakers are taking advantage of plenty of other networking opportunities, too. For example, Francine Petrucci, president of the Chicago chapter of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA), recently told me about how members seem far more open these days compared to the past. Two of my recent articles covered manufacturing peer groups set up to help members share best practices (one of which is dedicated to vendors of automotive tooling, an area of the industry that is forecast to experience a major capacity shortage). Finally, plenty of upcoming events provide a potential forum for learning something new. These include the Antec Conference next week, the AMBA annual conference next month, and MMT’s own Amerimold show in June, as well as various supplier open houses (scroll our news section for more industry events, which are too numerous to list here).