Q&A with Edward Youdell

President and CEO The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International

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Congratulations on being named the new president and CEO of FMA. Tell us a little about your background.

Thank you. First of all I’d like to say that I’m humbled and honored to be named to this position. I’ve worked closely with Jerry Shankel over the years as the association’s group publisher, and I will continue to rely on his wisdom and guidance after he hands the reins over to me on October 1.

As for my background, I grew up in Michigan, where my father was a tool and die maker, and I studied economics at Central Michigan University. I was the first in my family to earn a college degree, so we really did achieve the American Dream, and I have a real appreciation for the skills and intelligence of people who work in manufacturing. Once I’d graduated from college I went to work for a commercial bank and learned about the inner workings of financial systems, and I then joined Cahners Exhibitions, which is now known as Reed Exhibitions and is the world’s largest tradeshow management company. I began selling exhibition space and eventually moved into running a series of electronics manufacturing events.

I worked in Chicago, and when our daughter was born my wife and I wanted to move back closer to our family in Michigan, so I was able to transfer to the publishing side of the company and began as a salesperson with Reed Business Information on publications such as Plant Engineering magazine, which gave me the opportunity to learn more about capital equipment and how industry functions. I enjoyed helping manufacturers increase their efficiencies and raise their profitability.

From there I went on to become publisher of Advanced Imaging magazine at Cygnus Business Media, which was good experience because they were a venture capital-owned publishing company. I made the transition to FMA in January of 2007, when I joined as group publisher.

That’s an interesting career path. Talk about your responsibilities
as group publisher.

I reported directly to Jerry as part of his executive team, so I was able to participate in the association’s internal decision making from the beginning, in terms of organizational goals and initiatives. But as group publisher my job involved overseeing the efforts of an exceptionally talented staff in producing The FABRICATOR—which is also translated into Spanish—the STAMPING Journal, TPJ-The Tube & Pipe Journal, and Practical Welding Today.

We acquired a title during that time, Canadian Industrial Machinery, and launched a new magazine called Green Manufacturing, which won the “Best New Magazine” award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors in 2010. Last year wasn’t the best time to launch a new magazine, but we’re taking the long view, because we believe that companies want to save money and improve efficiencies, but the business case needs to made in order to justify that decision.

What are you proudest of having accomplished in that position, and
what do the next few months hold in store?

One of the things that’s always mattered most to me is creating an environment in which people can succeed. Smart people need to be challenged and to know that they are valued, so that they will be willing to strive toward excellence rather than being afraid to make a bold move.

As I make my own bold move I’m happy that Jerry has agreed to stay on to provide guidance through December. It’s extremely comforting to know that he’ll be right next door so that I can get his input as I step into my new role. What I can say, however, is that in everything we do—whether that be the FABTECH tradeshow, our conferences and seminars, or the publications we produce—FMA will stay focused on helping our members increase their business, because that’s what brings value to the relationship.

MORE INFORMATION: Call (888) 394-4362, e-mail info@fmanet.org, or go online to [www.fmanet.org].