NFPA Provides an Effective Forum for the Fluid Power Industry

Eric Lanke headshot 2017


By Eric Lanke
NFPA President/CEO

The NFPA Board of Directors met the week of June 18, 2018 for its annual strategic retreat. There they reviewed the program successes NFPA achieved in its 2017-18 fiscal year. In this post, I would like to share with our membership some of those successes, especially those associated with NFPA’s first major objective: Providing our members with an effective forum, where fluid power suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors can work together to advance their collective interests.

Targeted Growth: We finished the 2017-18 fiscal year with 344 members in the association – 193 manufacturers, 52 distributors, and 99 suppliers. This total represents an all-time high for NFPA. Although we lost 23 members from not renewing their dues and three more from acquisitions in the marketplace, we successfully recruited 26 new members to keep our membership total even with the year previous. When asked why they dropped, a majority of the responding members were either suppliers moving away from fluid power as a sales focus, or manufacturers who, due to time constraints, had a difficult time accessing their benefits.

Recruiting 26 new members exceeded last year’s effort of 21 new members. As part of this year’s efforts, we have better refined our prospect list and have created several new membership promotions. The most successful of these promotions was our “trial membership,” in which selected prospects were given temporary access to our market information programs, invited to attend the Annual Conference, and paired with both a member of the NFPA staff and the NFPA Board for support and reinforcement.

We also revised our definition of supplier membership this year, incorporating companies that provides products or services for additive manufacturing and Internet of Things technologies.

Member Participation: As measured by our participation scoring system, participation in association activities remains at a high level. For manufacturers, the scores dropped slightly from an average of 3.8 to 3.7 (compared to a goal of 3.5), for distributors the scores grew from an average of 3.2 to 3.3 (compared to a goal of 3.0), and for suppliers the scores grew from an average of 2.5 to 2.6 (compared to a goal of 2.0).

Leadership Engagement: The number of member companies involved in our leadership committees also remains at a high level. For manufacturers, the percentage of engaged companies stands at 38% (compared to a goal of 30%), for distributors it stands at 31% (compared to a goal of 25%), and for suppliers it stands at 27% (compared to a goal of 20%).

Networking: The percentage of member companies sending representatives to the Annual Conference grew in the past year, from 24% to 33% for manufacturers (compared to a goal of 33%), from 38% to 51% for distributors (compared to a goal of 50%), and from 16% to 24% for suppliers (compared to a goal of 25%). We believe the relative accessibility of the Orlando vs. Hawaii destinations is partly responsible for this growth. The Orlando conference was also highly evaluated, with 97% of attendees agreeing that it delivered good returns on their investments. A new Distributor Forum was added to the conference schedule, offering focused networking and education for our distributor members.

Meanwhile, the percentage of member companies sending representatives to at least one of our Regional meetings remained at a high level, with 26% of manufacturers (compared to a goal of 25%), 28% of distributors (compared to a goal of 25%), and 33% of suppliers (compared to a goal of 25%) choosing to do so.

All of these activities mean that NFPA is the place where the fluid power industry can come together in an effective forum for its own education, networking, business development, and, when needed, collective action. If you would like your company to become more engaged with NFPA, please reach out to me at or (414) 778-3351.

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