Get on the Treadmill

Rick Carlsen
Rick Carlsen

During the Business Meeting at the ARM Annual Meeting in Cleveland, I told you that the ARM Board is working on understanding the perceived value that ARM delivers to our members, and exploring how we can create more value.  Over the past several weeks, I have spent a fair amount of time on the phone with ARM molder members, listening to them talk about what they like about ARM, and where the association can improve.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most frequently perceived benefit of ARM is “networking”.  People like the fact that ARM meetings give them a forum to talk with others who can help them solve problems.  Relationships are built and reinforced at the meetings.

Think of your ARM membership like your gym membership.  You’re not going to lose weight simply by carrying around a gym card; you need to get on the treadmill.  It’s the same thing with your ARM membership; you’re not going to meet people who can help resolve your business challenges if you don’t attend the meetings.

ARM offers 3 distinct face-to-face meeting types, aimed at different people within your company:

  1. Regional Meetings – These are held throughout the country and intended for your shop floor personnel.  ARM’s goal is to hold 4 of these meetings throughout the year
  2. Annual Meeting (the Fall meeting) – This meeting is aimed at management and technical employees.  Both general business topics and rotomolding-specific are addressed.
  3. Executive Forum (the Spring meeting) – Business owners and executive management are the focus of this meeting, which helps us work on our businesses.

On the negative side of the ledger, a criticism that I heard from some members was that meetings “aren’t as fun/technical/fresh as they used to be.”  I am well aware that the words fun, technical and fresh are not synonyms, so this criticism is a little difficult to tackle, but we are addressing it.

To keep things fresh, fun and technical, we are experimenting with adding tours at many of our meetings.  In Cleveland, about 100 participants spent a day visiting three very different manufacturing companies.  We toured Vitamix to learn about their very impressive lean journey.  We followed that visit with a plant tour at Hedstrom Plastics, who is the first molder I am aware of, to open their doors to an industry tour on this scale.  We finished up at Ferry Industries, where I was able to see a Leonardo operate (and where I may or may not have locked the keys in the bus).

Based on the success of the Cleveland tour, we are planning on touring Zappos to learn about their unique business culture.  This will happen during the Executive Forum in Las Vegas in March 2014.

We are also working on squeezing in a tour during a very busy Rotoplas, which will be held in Chicago in October.

I want to thank everyone who participated in our phone survey for taking the time out of his or her busy day to help us define the vision of ARM.

Rick Carlsen is an owner and the VP of Sales and Marketing at Solar Plastics, Inc. He is the 2013-2014 President of ARM.

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