Reimagining Business, Data and More in the US Mold Manufacturing Industry

By Rachael Pfenninger, director of strategic execution, AMBA

It is difficult for even the most forward-thinking companies to embrace innovation and the ways their companies can be run differently on a continual basis. Regardless of market specialization, workforce size or company capabilities, evaluating opportunities and transforming one’s business model can feel like a monumental feat – even when bankruptcy is at the door.

Lessons Learned during Covid-19
Never was this more evident than during the Covid-19 pandemic, when so many manufacturers struggled to pivot from in-person opportunities, taking months to embrace “new” ways of doing business. While many are still around to tell the tale, the unfortunate truth is that many never did pivot and are no longer in business today.

Although it presented unique challenges (some of which were temporary, others of which were not), the pandemic taught the valuable lesson that cultivating the ability to think differently in business is crucial to the survival of any individual company, as well as the industry as a whole. Even as the world has re-opened and the threat of the pandemic has receded, the US mold manufacturing industry continues to face a landscape of global competition and challenging economic conditions – which means that no matter how willing owners are, they must begin to reconsider how they approach doing business this year and beyond.

The AMBA Looks Forward
As the AMBA celebrates its 50th year, it takes seriously the ways the association, too, can improve business operations so that it can continue to drive the community-wide impact it had over the last several decades. As the competitive advantage for US mold builders, AMBA continually seeks to examine the resources it offers industry-wide so that it can advance executive and next-generation leadership and support the development of thriving organizations.

In order to engage US mold builders and evolve the ways resources are utilized by its membership, AMBA and its Board of Directors have identified the four cornerstones that will drive its strategic direction over the next several years.

Highlighted below, these include the following:

  • Fostering a peer-oriented, sharing community that helps organizations benchmark and improve operations.
  • Developing and powering strategic advocacy efforts that build business opportunities and drive member profitability.
  • Facilitating executive-level connections that generate data-driven, more savvy leaders.
  • Creating workforce-driven resources that cultivate stronger, healthier and more resilient organizations.

Reimagining Resources and Connection Opportunities
Peer connections. Benchmarking. Workforce development. Advocacy. All these areas of focus remain key components of AMBA’s strategy – but to survive, AMBA and its Board believe that “how” resources are delivered in each area must be reimagined.

“As an AMBA member, I rely on the association’s ability to connect me with other mold builders so that I can hear their challenges and learn from them,” stated Jim Sperber, Master Tool and Mold. “But I’m a small shop – I don’t have a huge staff that can pump through large quantities of data. We don’t have the ability to try tons of new ideas that may or may not be successful – we need to focus on measures that will directly impact profitability, allow me to pay my guys and help them put food on the table. So, if we can improve the accessibility of AMBA’s resources and help others like me apply these things in day-to-day business, I believe our impact will go above and beyond what we could even imagine.”

It’s easy to see how Sperber’s words play a role in the execution of AMBA’s larger strategy. For example, AMBA member companies are, on average, smaller than they have ever been. Their annual sales revenues are dropping, and so is their profitability.

As larger shops go out of business, are rolled up by private equity firms or reduce the size of their workforces, it’s more important than ever to re-think how information is delivered so that it effectively can be utilized by all US mold manufacturers – no matter how small or savvy they may or may not be.

In many ways, the industry is ready – and learning from peers and industry experts will be key. AMBA can’t only focus on how it delivers information; it also must teach “why” that information is important and guide its standardization so that mold manufacturers are using consistent, reliable benchmarks.

This guiding principle is highlighted in AMBA’s recent benchmarking efforts, such as its 2023 Business Forecast Report and its 2023 Operational Efficiencies Report, both of which include interactive elements, industry expertise and insights provided by participating US mold manufacturers.

Alongside its Board of Directors, the AMBA is utilizing its golden anniversary to reimagine connection opportunities for its members, the ways in which data can be applied to business and the methods members can use to share new technologies, continuous improvement efforts, operational efficiencies and more. Through guidance, innovation and community, the AMBA hopes that it, too, can reimagine its business, transforming how its members connect with and learn from one another – driving unprecedented, bottom-line impact for every US mold manufacturer.

More information about AMBA’s recent benchmarking efforts and AMBA’s other strategic initiatives: