Q&A with Mary Ellen Doran

Director of Electronic Communications

American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA)

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You just returned from the AGMA Annual Meeting on May 12-14 in Florida. What was the focus of this year’s meeting? 

This meeting was unlike other annual meetings because it was a celebration of AGMA’s centennial. While the focus at most annual meetings tends to be on the current economic conditions, how each member’s business is faring, and the outlook for the remainder of the year, this meeting also included a look back at AGMA’s 100 years. So the focus was more of a reflection on the past and excitement for what’s to come in the next 100 years.

For the AGMA staff, we are going to harness the energy from this event and take it to our next centennial events. In the broader picture, we will continue to work for our members and explore more areas where we can continue to provide value and additional benefits for them.

How many were in attendance, and what was the feedback from attendees?

We had more than 400 attendees in total with the attendees from the American Bearings Manufacturers Association (ABMA), which was also celebrating its 100th anniversary. We received high praise for this event. Things went smoothly, the speakers were exceptional, and it was a great networking event for everyone.

What were some takeaways from the speakers?

Through the generosity of our centennial sponsors, AGMA was able to bring in high caliber speakers for this year’s Annual Meeting. These speakers hit on some of the most important factors impacting the gear industry today — workforce, politics, and economics. There were many takeaways for attendees. They learned some valuable leadership techniques, heard multiple perspectives on this unusual election cycle, and gained forecasting from reputable sources.

What is the purpose of the Annual Meeting?

Actually, the purpose of an AGMA Annual Meeting is to provide a venue for top-tier executives to network. The association would not exist if our members were not able to be successful in business. So we provide them with the opportunity to see many of their peers in the industry in one location. To do this, we work to provide outstanding speakers and social events that make it worth the time to take out of busy schedules to attend the event. 

Aside from networking, what else is important to AGMA members?

There are so many things that are important to AGMA members. But if I narrow it down to what we are hearing most from the feedback to the association, two big factors are workforce development and economic stability. Gear manufacturers across the country seek trained employees who can handle the demands of technologically advanced plants and equipment without requiring one to three years of on-the-job training. On the economic side of the equation, the simultaneous downturn of the oil and gas and mining industries is unprecedented, so factors like the price of steel and the surging value of the dollar are making more of an impact than before. Our members, as they rightly should, are looking to the economic experts for forecasting information to make decisions for the future.

What is planned for the next Annual Meeting?

The AGMA Annual Meeting Committee will meet in June to discuss the success of the 2016 event and to decide on speakers to pursue for next year’s event. The location of the 2017 AGMA/ABMA Annual Meeting will be on the other side of the country — at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas in Palm Springs, California. The meeting will be held on March 30-April 1, 2017. Save the date!

You also attended the AGMA Marketing & Forecasting Conference in April. Will you tell us a little about it?

I enjoyed the Marketing & Forecasting meeting. It’s a valuabe networking event for all of the sales and marketing teams within AGMA’s member companies, so many of the attendees have big personalities and come to talk business. For the special presentation, Randy Disharoon, VP of Global Strategic Accounts at Rexnord, gave a high-energy discussion on how selling within the gear industry has changed over his 25-year career. Even though the audience included many of his peers with similar sales experience, I think everybody found something unique to take away from his talk. 

The meat and potatoes of the Marketing & Forecasting meeting is always the presentation by IHS Economics on the results of the Gear Market Report’s latest findings. Not surprisingly, of the 10 end-user markets, aerospace is tagged with the fastest growth for the coming two quarters. Much of the other statistical information was interesting as well.

The Fall Marketing & Forecasting event will be November 19-20, again in Rosemont, Illinois. We have invited John Maketa, VP of corporate development at Performance Assessment Network. John will present “Changing Demography and the Future of Manufacturing,” in which attendees can gain an understanding of how information on shifting demography is used to accurately forecast commercial markets and economic and social trends.

What are the closing events to AGMA’s centennial celebration?

We kicked off AGMA’s centennial last year at the 2015 Gear Expo and the Fall Technical Meeting (FTM). So this year, AGMA will be hosting a centennial networking reception during the 2016 FTM in Pittsburgh on the evening of October 3 — similar to the event that we are holding at the Drake Hotel in Chicago on June 22. We encourage all members to join us for these events where we will close the centennial year of celebration. 

What can attendees expect from the 2016 FTM?

The Fall Technical Meeting will present 28 technical papers on topics that will have major effects on the future of the gear industry. The lineup this year brings top research minds from across the globe to provide insights into new materials and techniques in the industry. If you want to see what is coming on the next wave of innovation, this is the meeting not to miss. 

MORE INFORMATION  www.agma.org and join Mary Ellen Doran on Twitter @agma.