NFPA Board Meets, Advances Agendas for 2020-21 Strategic Task Forces

Eric Lanke headshot 2017

By Eric Lanke, NFPA President/CEO

On February 22-23, 2021, the NFPA Board of Directors met over a series of virtual meetings to review NFPA’s strategic objectives, and to advance the agendas for its 2020-21 strategic task forces. NFPA members may not be familiar with the Board’s strategic task forces, which are used each year to address critical issues facing our industry and our association, and to help bring additional voices from outside the Board into those discussions.

Here are the four task forces, the objectives that the Board set for them for the 2020-21 fiscal year, and updates on their activities from both their October 2020 and February 2021 meetings. Each task force is themed around one of NFPA’s key ends statements, and is designed to help advance the value proposition for members within each key area.

 

Strategic Task Force 1: Effective Forum

Chair: Tony Welter, Eaton

Board members: John Campbell, Clippard Instrument Laboratory; Jon Goreham, QCC; Greg Gumbs, Bosch Rexroth; John Stenz, FORCE America

Non-Board members: Patrick Green, Kraft Fluid Power; Mark Snyder, Festo

Strategy Objective: NFPA provides an effective fluid power forum where NFPA members, OEMs, and related technology partners connect and advance our collective interests.

Task Force Priorities for 2020-21:

  1. Review member product categories and market shares, and set priorities for recruitment.
  2. Identify international companies whose inclusion would benefit U.S. members.
  3. Review developing partnerships with OEM and allied technology associations.
  4. Review ongoing impact of consolidation and adjust mitigation strategies.

Summary of October 2020 Meeting:

Priorities 1 and 3 were discussed. A thorough review of NFPA manufacturer member product categories was performed, including an analysis and any needed updates to reflect the evolution of electrified and IoT-enabled fluid power systems. The “market share” of each product category was reviewed, representing the estimated amount of the product market represented by NFPA members. Based on this analysis, three recruitment priorities were set: hydraulic filters, pneumatic products, and electronic controls. Finally, the allied technology landscape surrounding NFPA was explored, including several associations representing other motion control technologies, the industrial distribution market, and key customer markets. Several partnership opportunities with these associations were discussed, with targeted engagement of certain players in NFPA’s upcoming technology roadmapping process identified as a first priority.

Summary of February 2021 Meeting:

Priorities 1 and 4 were discussed. A review of NFPA distribution membership was performed, including an estimate for the percent of the overall fluid power distribution that it represents, and several targeted prospects were identified for recruitment. A detailed analysis of the impact consolidation within the membership has had on membership numbers, dues revenue, and conference attendance was reviewed, and a projection was made for potential future consolidation impacts on these items. To protect against future negative effects on dues revenue, a key strategy of slowly increasing dues amounts, especially on the higher dues tiers where acquiring companies tend to reside, was approved.

 

Strategic Task Force 2: Industry Statistics

Chair: Keith Simons, OEM Controls

Board members: Rick Bush, Micromatic; Jeff Hand, ROSS Controls; Scott Meldeau, Norgren

Non-Board members: Joel Edwards, Faster; Paul Ludwig, HED

Strategy Objective: NFPA provides its members with timely and accurate industry statistics and business intelligence that support improved decision-making.

Task Force Priorities for 2020-21:

  1. Review matrix of market information programs, member needs assessment, and set priorities for new program development.
  2. Launch new Business Intelligence survey program.
  3. Review changes to Confidential Shipment Statistics program.

Summary of October 2020 Meeting:

Priority 1 was discussed. The matrix of market information programs provides a mechanism to ensure that NFPA’s portfolio of programs is providing the data and qualitative information NFPA members need to improve their decision-making. After a detailed review of the matrix and of a member needs assessment, the addition of leading indicators to NFPA’s popular Stats Toolkit was approved as the developmental priority for the year. A budget for purchasing needed leading indicator data sets was approved.

Summary of February 2021 Meeting:

Priority 2 was discussed. A proposal for a new Business Intelligence survey program was reviewed and approved. The purpose of the new program will be sourcing qualitative information from and for NFPA member decision makers on a wide variety of timely topics, from COVID response, to technology trends, to any other relevant business question for which formal data programs do not provide answers.

 

Strategic Task Force 3: Promote Fluid Power

Chair: David Price, Hydraforce

Board members: Nicole Farrell, Fluidyne Fluid Power; Jim Kaas, Iowa Fluid Power; Roscoe Wallace, Kaiser Aluminum

Non-Board members: Christina Logan, Scott Industrial Systems; Markus Rauchhaus, Nott Company

Strategy Objective: NFPA provides opportunities and resources for its members to promote the unique strengths and inherent advantages offered by modern fluid power technology.

Task Force Priorities for 2020-21:

  1. Review and monitor creation and execution of a comprehensive industry promotion strategy.
  2. Identify and monitor progress on connecting members to future forward technology trade shows.
  3. Launch of content strategy for promotion of cutting-edge fluid power.

Summary of October 2020 Meeting:

Priorities 1 and 2 were discussed. Our current industry promotion strategy was reviewed, which focuses on three key audiences: (1) Fluid power “buyers” – OEMs or others in a position to buy more fluid power products; (2) Fluid power “users” – Machine users or people that benefit from their use that can increase their appreciation of fluid power through engagement with our promotional content; and (3) Students – young people who can be influenced to pursue fluid power education/career paths. Various programs designed to engage with these audiences were reviewed. Programmatic focus was placed on trade shows, and the role that NFPA can play in helping to promote fluid power at both “defensive” shows – those that represent markets where fluid power is losing market share to alternate technologies – and “offensive” shows – those that represent markets with true growth opportunities for fluid power. A list of shows and fluid power promotions that could occur there were reviewed and prioritized for budgeting in future years.

Summary of February 2021 Meeting:

Priorities 1 and 2 were discussed. The progress of NFPA’s industry promotion programs was reviewed, including the beginning of a new technology roadmapping process (which will help create new promotional content for other programs), the growth and traction being created by the Fluid Power Forum podcast, and a planned re-launch of the Careers website later this year, with greater focus on fluid power opportunities and connections. A proposal for the development of customized fluid power education programs at a series of customer market trade shows was also reviewed and approved.

 

Strategic Task Force 4: Educated Workforce

Chair: Tom Hunter, Husco

Board members: Ray Chambers, Muncie Power Products; Jeff Herrin, Danfoss; Jennifer Parmentier, Parker Hannifin; Jim Slone, SunSource

Non-Board members: Jeff Behling, Stauff; Bill Clippard, Clippard Instrument Laboratory

Strategy Objective: NFPA helps increase the number of technical college and university students educated in fluid power and connects them to careers in the fluid power industry.

Task Force Priorities for 2020-21:

  1. Review and monitor plans to scale NFPA’s workforce programs to influence key member geographies.
  2. Develop competencies for electrical, computer science, and controls; and engage and deploy them with education partners.
  3. Design and launch of intern program.

Summary of October 2020 Meeting:

Priority 1 was discussed. The status of NFPA’s University Power Partner program was reviewed and determined effective at engaging universities in fluid power programs and connecting them to NFPA members. Growth objectives to increase the number and regional diversification of Power Partner universities were reviewed and approved. The status of NFPA’s Fast Track to Fluid Power program was also reviewed and determined effective at helping to create an initial pipeline of talent from targeted technical colleges into NFPA member companies. Growth objectives to increase the number and regional diversification of Fast Track Hubs were reviewed and approved.

Summary of February 2021 Meeting:

Priorities 1, 2 and 3 were discussed. COVID-19-related delays in launching the third Fast Track to Fluid Power education hub were discussed, and a new timeline for launching future hubs was approved. The growth of Power Partner universities was monitored. The work of competency development task forces, focused on adding electrical, computer science, and controls competencies to NFPA’s educational curriculum requirements, was reviewed and approved. A proposal for an NFPA internship program was reviewed and approved. This new program, launching in the 2021-22 fiscal year, will provide grants to approved NFPA member company interns, and will attract more talent to the fluid power industry and help member companies invest in NFPA workforce development programs.

 

Each of these strategic task force will be meeting again in conjunction with the June 2021 Board meetings to continuing advancing our work in each of these important areas. Let me express my thanks and appreciation for their work and participation. An update following each of their meetings will appear in NFPA News.

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