More NFPA On The Road – In Denver with Gates Corporation, and Beyond

Last week we wrote about the first leg of our Colorado trip, starting with a visit to IMI Precision Engineering.
From there, we moved on to a visit to Gates Corporation, and then to Colorado Springs for a Council of Manufacturing Associations event.

At Gates we met with Pat Lee, long-time volunteer and past NFPA Board member, as well as Ken Friedman, President of Gates Americas, and human resources and engineering staff. We walked out with a lot more insight into Gates’ position in the industry, and the types of things Gates looks for in NFPA membership. We were able to answer to some of those needs, but we also have some homework ahead as we look toward ways to answer the others…which are likely to be of value of other members as well.

Pat took us to Gates’ Customer Solutions Center, which houses what is likely the world’s largest hose testing facility, as well as development labs and training space. It was quite an education in hose technology, and very impressive.

The Council of Manufacturing Associations is sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and is an opportunity for “associators” like ourselves to associate with one another and share ideas. Some participating associations span industries and supply chains much like NFPA, while others are more focused on manufacturing or distribution. Among those in attendance were some familiar and very close to our industry; the managers of the Fluid Power Distributors Association, the National Association of Hose and Accessory Distributors, and the Power Transmission Distributors Association.

We came away with a lot of ideas, from planning methods and budget process, to event management, and organizational culture change. And we found that some of our recent initiatives are moving in parallel with other associations; for example, building out new regional meetings of varied scope and format to help connect with members we see less frequently. Others are doing the same to varying degrees.

One other thing…it’s useful as association staff to experience being the new guy at an event. As one of the newbs at NAM, I was reminded of how important it is to make sure we go the extra mile introducing our own new members and new participants into the networking dynamic offered at our events.

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