With China and other offshore producers continuing to loom ever closer on the horizon, this year's PMPA annual meeting, to be held October 19-23 at Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California, will serve as a primer for competing successfully in what has become a global marketplace.
The 69th Annual Meeting will feature some of the best-known experts in China, global competition, and the economy, and it will provide what PMPA executive vice president Tim Andrassy describes as "a basketful of take-home values, ideas and suggestions that our members can use in their businesses."
"The goal of the meeting is to look at the market today, the competitiveness of the industry and what economic forces are outside North America," says Rob Kiener, PMPA's director of marketing & membership services.
But this meeting is for more than just PMPA members. All manufacturers involved in the precision machined products industry are invited to attend the 5 day affair to hear first-hand how they can increase their competitiveness and meet the challenges that face the industry.
More than ever, competition from abroad has become the No. 1 issue facing PMPA members, according to Mr. Andrassy. "What we're faced with are challenges that our members couldn't imagine 5 years ago, especially with an economy that—currently for us—is in the dumpster. I'm hoping our executives see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize that the light is opportunity, not an exit sign."
A Strong Line-Up of Global Experts
Leading off the 4-day educational sessions will be Todd Buchholz, an economist, author and former director of White House economic policy, who will present "Can America Compete Globally?"
Mr. Buchholz, who correctly forecasted the 2001 economic slowdown in The Wall Street Journal and predicted the retrenchment in the stock market, is a contributing editor at Worth magazine, writing the "Global Markets" column, and is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Reader's Digest. Mr. Buchholz also provides economic commentary for a variety of networks, including ABC, PBS, CBS, CNN and CNBC.
Dr. Eamon McKinney, who lived in China for more than 12 years and studied at Quinghua University in Beijing, will discuss how companies of every size must develop a "China Competency." Dr. McKinney, in his current capacity as chief executive officer of the China Business Network, has advised small firms as well as Fortune 500 corporations on dealing with China, its companies and its markets.
"McKinney will clear up many of the misconceptions surrounding manufacturing in China and provide specific information on its precision machined products industry," says PMPA annual meeting coordinator, Rob Kiener. "He'll go beyond the labor cost advantages and cultural differences to provide members a complete picture of China's markets, and how business is conducted in this region of the world."
Next up will be noted fiscal expert Delos Smith, senior business analyst for The Conference Board, who will examine the future for the U.S. economy, the North American economy and worldwide competitiveness.
Mr. Smith is frequently invited by major television and radio networks as well as business and educational groups to provide commentary on the economy.
Capping off the educational sessions will be Dr. Jeff Salz, president of Way Adventure, an adventure-based management consulting firm. His clients include 3M, Aetna, AT&T, Disney, duPont and Wells Fargo. Dr. Salz's multimedia presentation will help attendees make sense of today's world and provide some thought-provoking ideas that can be put into practice in everyday life.
Networking And New Ideas Are A Big Plus For The Annual Meeting
The PMPA's annual meeting is more than just good speakers and educational topics. "It's information sharing at the highest level," Tim Andrassy says. "Our members always provide an ongoing flow of information either at the sessions or in the time between the sessions when they interact with each other. I'm speaking of new ideas and new ways to combat the competitive challenges that are facing each of them globally."
Competition from abroad is coming from every angle, including the entire Pacific Rim, Europe and Latin America. "Look to the south and you'll see South America making inroads into the North American marketplace," Mr. Andrassy explains.
Rob Kiener notes some customers are now importing entire sub-assemblies and assembled components. "Large OEMs have gone overseas to set up shop to produce the assemblies, as well as sourcing them globally," he says.
Mr. Andrassy also notes that there has been an industry-wide consolidation that has led to bulk offshore production of commodity type items for customers.
Both Mr. Andrassy and Mr. Kiener identified another trend that is beginning to develop. A number of North American companies are providing the "value-added" service of brokering foreign made parts as a way to retain business and set up supply chains as a benefit for their customers.
"Global players like China aren't shipping a part or a number of parts, they're shipping containers," explains Mr.Andrassy. "Those containers need to be distributed in the U.S., and I think that you'll find that some of the domestic companies are taking on more of that as a value-added service."