By Brittany Willes, contributing writer
The American Mold Builder
When it comes to problem solving and strategizing, businesses often fall into the trap of trying to reinvent the wheel as a means of addressing common issues. In recent years, professionals have discovered that the best method for solving common problems is to learn from each other’s best practices. When professionals who work in common positions are able to use one another as valuable resources, all businesses win. The American Mold Builders Association has implemented peer networking webinars to help its members connect.
“This type of networking creates a platform where business leaders can share and learn from other professionals in their industries,” stated Ben Harp, COO of Polymer Conversions, Inc. “They can learn how others are approaching key aspects of their businesses and implement those same strategies efficiently and easily – all from the comfort of their own offices.”
Harp, who has been participating in peer networking webinars for more than 10 years as a member of the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP), went on to explain: “It’s easy to become so inwardly focused on handling the day-to-day operations that we begin to unnecessarily restrict our creative sides. Participating in the events allows us to take a step back. Hearing other professionals discuss the issues they’re running into – often the same ones we face – and learning about the solutions they’ve deployed opens our eyes to other possibilities that weren’t even being considered.”
“We all fight similar battles, and it’s good to learn how different people think and resolve those issues,” said Steve Rotman, president of Ameritech Die & Mold. As a member of AMBA, Rotman recently participated in the association’s first peer networking webinar. Like Harp, Rotman found the experience to be a good way to connect with other industry professionals and discover new ways of looking at common problems. “It’s always beneficial to hear about the issues other industry professionals are running into and how they’re dealing with them,” he stated. “We’re always searching for better ways to run things, and it’s great to hear what solutions others have come up with.”
Participating in the same webinar as Rotman, John Hill, president of Midwest Mold Services, Inc., noted how these networking groups are a good way for participants to “collaborate with and expand our familiarity with others from outside our area of influence. It not only builds trust between members, it also helps us recognize whether or not we’re going in the right direction with a particular issue.”
Of course, this type of networking also has its challenges, particularly for those who are new to the experience. “When you’re new to the process, it can be somewhat overwhelming,” said Harp. “When multiple people are participating, and multiple suggestions and ideas are being put forward, it can be daunting for newer members to speak up.”
However, Harp offered this advice to those who tend to be more reserved. “Come to the platform with the courage to speak up. If there’s a particular issue you’re concerned about, chances are others in the group have the same concern. Go ahead and ask the question, because it’s almost always going to lead to a good discussion.”
“Come prepared to share and learn,” noted Rotman. “Be prepared to take notes and to be a good contributor as well as a good listener. Make sure a single voice isn’t dominating the conversation. Also realize that, with the number of ideas being given out, it may not always be practical to implement all suggestions, no matter how great they are.”
“It’s kind of a positive and negative aspect of these sessions,” stated Harp. “You’ll be discussing how to attack a problem or pursue an improvement, and suddenly there are too many good ideas to choose from. I sometimes come away from these sessions wishing we could do more, that we could deploy all of these great ideas being suggested, but that’s just not practical. The best thing to do is to make note of the ideas you like best, the ones you can most reasonably achieve. If you commit to making continuous improvements, and helping others do so as well, you’ll be amazed at what your business can achieve.”
Peer Networking: Senior Leaders
Sept. 19, 2018
One of AMBA’s primary membership benefits is the opportunity for professionals in different functional areas to connect with peers. On Sept. 19, 2018, at noon CST, AMBA will host its next Virtual Round Table, a webinar for senior leaders. This quarterly event, facilitated by AMBA Executive Director Troy Nix, will provide opportunities for mold manufacturers to share challenges with industry peers, ask questions and solve common problems. By joining such an expansive and energized group of professionals, members can access the AMBA community for virtual networking without leaving the office! To register, visit AMBA.org.