The PMPA installed its new president last month at the PMPA annual meeting held in Tucson, Arizona. Jim Hemingway of Alger Manufacturing moved up from his role as first vice president to fill the position held by outgoing president Richard C. Gorton.
Mr. Hemingway’s involvement in the screw machine industry began when he was still in high school. He had a part-time job at an Ontario, California, screw machine company where he did everything from cleaning and weighing parts to boxing and delivering them. After college, he landed a job as a buyer for an HVAC company. Many of his purchases involved screw machine parts, including parts produced by Ontario-based Alger Manufacturing. He joined Alger in 1989 as sales manager.
“When I started at Alger 18 years ago, the company was already a member of PMPA,” says Mr. Hemingway. “Alger’s president at that time had been actively involved as a committee member and as a board member. Within a few months, I was attending my first Management Update meeting.”
In the mid 1990s, Mr. Hemingway served a 3-year term on the PMPA board of directors, followed by 6 years on the marketing committee. He also served another 18 months on the board to finish the term of a member who had resigned. During the past 2 years, he has held the second and first vice president positions that lead up to the
This is actually the second presidency Mr. Hemingway has assumed in 2007. In August, he was named president of Alger Manufacturing. Alger is a privately held company that employs 160 people. Its customer base is strictly commercial accounts.
“We’re primarily a very large brass house,” explains Mr. Hemingway. “But we also cut leaded steel, stainless steel and aluminum. We’ve been at the same location for 50 years, although we’ve expanded over that time. The company has a total of 75,000 square feet of space in two buildings equipped with traditional Brown & Sharpe, Davenport and New Britain machines.”
Next year, Mr. Hemingway will preside over two milestones. Alger Manufacturing will mark its 50th anniversary, and PMPA turns 75 years old. “I’m fortunate that I’ll be president of two organizations during two big anniversaries,” he says.
As president of PMPA, Mr. Hemingway leads the executive committee. “It’s my responsibility to coordinate and guide the national meetings for 2008,” he explains. He also travels around the country to conduct roundtables with members and prospective members.
Mr. Hemingway is cautiously optimistic about the precision machined products industry. “Manufacturing has been pretty good,” he says. “However, there have been some casualties and there will be some more. There’s a consolidation of very large businesses, but there’s still going to be the need for the smaller shops and their niche markets.”
The PMPA president does see a silver lining in consolidation. “I see opportunities where there’s consolidation in the customer base,” he says. “As customers buy and merge with other companies, some suppliers stand to gain a larger market share within an existing account and grow their businesses.
“The rising cost of raw materials is really one of the biggest challenges the industry faces,” he continues. “That affects all of us. It doesn’t matter what company or what market you’re supplying, everyone has been significantly impacted by increased raw material costs.”
Health care is another major concern. “There are a lot of questions to address,” says Mr. Hemingway. “How do we maintain and provide our employees with quality health care? With the escalating costs, how do we ask employees to share the burden so they continue to have good health care and the company still remains profitable?”
Offshore manufacturing also continues to be an issue for PMPA members. “It’s still having an impact,” says Mr. Hemingway. “But there have been some recent changes. Some of our members have opened up facilities or joint ventures in China. At my own company, we’ve established some contacts there, and we’ve imported a small portion of product.”
An ongoing challenge for PMPA members is meeting the growing demands of customers. “Today’s customers have higher expectations,” the president states. “They’re raising the bar and asking us to raise our own bar, which is good for the consumer. It raises the value-added and quality expectations for all of us, but it’s a challenge. The demands increase, but the willingness of customers to pay for it doesn’t always go along with it.”
As far as the future of the PMPA itself, Mr. Hemingway sees more cooperation with other industry associations. That already started at last month’s annual meeting. Members of the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), who were holding their national meeting at the same time, joined PMPA members for three events, including a joint business session.
“PMPA and PMA members have similar concerns,” Mr. Hemingway says. “We have common customers and common issues. In the future, there could be some type of an alliance between the two organizations. It would not surprise me.”
More strategic planning is also part of PMPA’s future. “Earlier this year, a strategic planning committee was put together to look at the current plan and to develop a more long-term plan for moving forward,” says the PMPA president. “We look at it from the perspective of the membership—how PMPA can best benefit its members. The strategic plan is something that we will continue to review and refine, probably on a yearly basis, as any business should.”
Mr. Hemingway sums up by pointing out the many benefits of membership in PMPA. “There is a whole menu of reasons why companies should join PMPA. I think the greatest benefit is the ability to interact with fellow members. The contacts that Alger Manufacturing has made over the past several years have been very helpful.
“If I have an issue, I know that I can pick up the phone and call one of three dozen people and ask for an opinion, whether it’s a staff issue, a manufacturing issue, anything. The best tool for that is our Listserve. The opportunity to ask a question, to throw it out to several hundred sets of eyes, several hundred people that are hopefully smarter than I am. These people can give guidance and answers on any issue, and that’s invaluable.”
Jim Hemingway can be reached at his company, Alger Manufacturing, LLC, 724 S. Bon View Ave. Ontario, California 91761. Phone: (800) 854-9833. Fax (909) 983-3351. Web site: www.Alger1.com. E-mail: jim@ALGER1.com.