Message from the 2021-22 Board Chair

Jeff Hand headshot

NFPA Continues to Strengthen the Fluid Power Industry
by Jeff Hand, President and CEO, ROSS Controls

The NFPA Board of Directors convened in Vermont in June 2021 to review NFPA’s performance over the past fiscal year and to make strategic decisions for moving the association forward into the future. As Chair of the NFPA Board for 2021-22, it was my honor to lead a number of these discussions.

The past fiscal year saw a number of successes across the association’s four high-level strategic objectives for strengthening the fluid power industry and set the groundwork for a number of exciting projects moving forward.

 

Through Effective Forum, we seek to bring our members together in ways that allow them to find new business opportunities and advance their collective interests. This past year necessitated a pivot to virtual events and new digital networking technologies, a move that removed the barriers to participation in some areas and enriched the pool of participants. The NFPA/FPIC Quarterly Conferences attained record-breaking attendance online, reaching a wide swath of the fluid power industry, and the Future Leaders Network added additional leadership development programming, enriching a larger portion of NFPA membership than before.

Networking opportunities are set to return to in-person with the upcoming Industry & Economic Outlook Conference this August, which will also mark the conclusion of our first Executive Leadership Program cohort done in collaboration with Kellogg School of Management. In-person programming will continue with the 2022 Annual Conference, taking place February 23-25 in Phoenix, which is set to be retooled to provide greater networking and education value than previous events to further help members advance their businesses.

 

Through Industry Statistics, we provide members with market data and intelligence to help improve their business decision making. Here we continued our strong participation in key programs and provided valuable updates to enhance them, including the addition of new data in the Regional Demand Report, providing more valuable state-by-state information to help inform members’ decisions.

Moving forward in this area, we plan to continue to increase value to members, including building up our Business Intelligence surveys, designed to provide timely information to members about evolving business conditions.

Through Promote Fluid Power, we provide our members with opportunities and resources to promote themselves and their technology. With more than 50 episodes and 11,000 downloads to date, the Fluid Power Forum podcast has seen significant growth over the past year, spreading the word about key advances in our industry. A new education program strategy targeting trade shows in key customer markets is set to build upon that momentum in the coming year, further pushing fluid power content to a targeted customer audience. The 2021 Technology Roadmap also saw high committee participation, including from stakeholders in key customer markets, which will enhance the value of not only the Roadmap, but also that of the associated materials and social media content made available to members and customer markets.

Through Educated Workforce, we are increasing the number of fluid power-educated students and connecting them to careers in the industry. Participation in our key workforce programs remained strong despite a pivot to virtual and hybrid schooling in many areas. Fifteen high schools are participating in the two existing Fast Track Hubs in Wisconsin and Illinois, with a third Hub expected to launch in the coming year, providing hands-on education to students as they plan the next steps in their careers. We also recognized our inaugural Power Partner, Purdue University, for its deep and continued commitment to fluid power education on its campus throughout the year. The NFPA Foundation also supported 13 fluid power clubs at universities across the country, and hosted 15 teams in two well-attended Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge events.

Moving forward into this fiscal year, we plan to accelerate the scaling of our workforce development programs. This will happen through pursuing growth in existing programs as well as the introduction of new programs that supplement and expand our existing offering by targeting new and underserved communities and better connecting students to member companies through internship support.

Our Board is excited by the many opportunities that lie ahead in the coming year, both for NFPA and the fluid power industry as a whole. Many thanks to my fellow Board members for the help they provide in shaping our organization’s and industry’s future. I’m looking forward to working with the Board, staff, and NFPA members to continue growing our organization. I am open to questions and comments as we continue to forge ahead and bring enhanced value to members. I can be reached at jeff.hand@rosscontrols.com.

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