Grand Rapids, Mich. — The American Mold Builders Association drew 220 people to its annual conference in Grand Rapids — a record for the 45-year old trade association.
AMBA's executive director, Troy Nix, said member companies are bringing more key people to the conference. In 2012, average attendance from each company was 1.5. Now, he said, it's 2.2 people.
“The AMBA used to be kind-of ownership level. And now, if you look at it, more staff is coming, because they're running the organization, right?” Nix said. “Now it's more like we're the team that's getting it done.”
The 2018 AMBA conference, held Feb. 14-16, featured presentations on trends, tabletop booths, motivational speakers and peer-to-peer sessions where attendees met in small conference rooms to discuss specific topics of management, operations, human resources, sales and marketing, and finance and information technology.
“I think the industry's starting to recognize what we're doing as far as sharing best practices,” Nix said. “There's more sharing. And when people have the takeaways, they're starting to bring more people back.”
NPE is coming up May 7-11 in Orlando, Fla. That forced AMBA organizers to move the annual conference to earlier dates than normal.
“Grand Rapids in February in an NPE year. There's no way we should have had this many people,” Nix said. He said networking and information exchange is the key to the conference.
Glenn Starkey, president of Progressive Components Inc., an AMBA exhibitor, was enthusiastic about the conference.
“Having attended these gatherings since the mid ‘90s, it was great to see the best attendance ever, along with the energy in the room reflecting the industry's strength at this time,” he said.
AMBA began in 1973 in Chicago — still a stronghold for AMBA membership. The mold making industry had many skilled craftsmen, but many lacked general business knowledge, according to a history on AMBA's website.
The first annual convention was held in 1979, in Lincolnshire, Ill.
At NPE2018, Indianapolis-based AMBA will exhibit in booth S33058.