by Kym Conis, managing director

The American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) recently sponsored the 2017 Plastics Industry Fly-In, joining forces to carry a strong, cohesive message to representatives on Capitol Hill. Partnering with the PLASTICS Industry association and five other plastics-related associations – including the Manufacturers Association of Plastics Processors (MAPP), the Plastics Pipe Institute and the Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council and others – AMBA members and staff were among 100 plastics professionals that united under this year’s mantra, “plastics improve lives.”

As the plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing sector in the US, employing nearly one million workers in every state and congressional district, the 2017 Plastics Industry Fly-In was organized to address major policy points impacting the plastics industry, emphasizing environmental stewardship throughout the plastics supply chain and life cycle. Several major federal issues were discussed with House and Senate members, as well as their staff, in hopes that the new administration would be more receptive than the previous one. Issues on the table during the meetings included the following: lower corporate tax rates (including pass-through entities), open competition for materials for federally funded infrastructure projects, stronger free-trade policies, finding solutions for the skills gap and regulatory reform.

Of particular note to the mold manufacturing industry is the work being done at the federal, state and local levels to help find solutions to close the skills gap and train qualified workers at all skill levels for manufacturing jobs. The bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technological Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353), which has been unanimously passed in the House, provides federal support to state and local career and technical education programs to help more Americans gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the workforce. Additionally, President Trump’s executive order to revise the Department of Labor’s apprenticeship program gives more power to third parties (such as companies and trade associations) to create their own apprenticeship programs worthy of federal funding.

The entire Fly-In process was incredibly well organized and provided an unparalleled learning experience for all participants, whether seasoned advocates or first-time attendees. During the morning sessions, all attendees were provided an update on the issues from industry professionals and government officials, including the US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. During the afternoon, meetings were set with local representatives, and attendees were encouraged to tell their own stories, bring hand-outs, make connections and extend invitations for personal plant tours. AMBA member and President Justin McPhee, with Mold Craft (Willernie, Minnesota), met with local representatives and told the company’s story – its history, challenges and successes.

One of those successes is the launch of a new program called the Gen Z Connection. In conjunction with three other local manufacturing companies, Mold Craft is working with the Minnesota Department of Labor and White Bear Lake High School to offer students an interactive experience with different types of manufacturing. Through the program, students will spend a week at each of four companies learning the ins and outs of each unique manufacturing process, from product design and technical CAD software use to shop floor assembly and more. McPhee demonstrated that Minnesota manufacturing companies are doing their best to ensure local students become the next generation of highly skilled manufacturing experts. He not only piqued the representatives’ interest but succeeded in soliciting their help in furthering the effort.

Mold Craft’s experience at the Fly-In created opportunities, which is why it’s important to get in front of local elected officials and invite them to a shop tour. Whether on Capitol Hill at a Fly-In event or back home with personalized plant tours, advocacy builds connections. And building connections with local representatives is an important key to getting the kind of government support needed to ensure the future of this great industry proudly called American Mold Manufacturing.

The AMBA hopes to continue its partnership with the 2018 Plastics Industry Fly-In and make an even bigger impact at next year’s event, scheduled for mid-September 2018. Stay tuned to for more information.