10/17/2013 | 3 MINUTE READ

Darlene Miller Brings ‘Can-Do’ Attitude and Optimism to PMPA Presidency

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“One constant for precision machining companies is that we cannot find the skilled workforce that we need, which is why I’m so adamant about educational, credentialed training programs that show there is a path to a skilled position.”

Darlene Miller, the new PMPA president as well as the president and CEO of Permac Industries, has worked toward her dreams by following the path of opportunities that has so far led her to owning a manufacturing company, founding Right Skills Now and becoming the first female president in the 80-year history of PMPA.

“I was talking to my customer service representative about this interview, and she laughed and said, ‘Isn’t it funny that you came from playing with mice in the barn on your family’s farm to talking to the president of the United States?’ It’s a great analogy; I’m a farm girl from a rural community in Minnesota, and I’ve always wanted to do something different and own a business,” says Ms. Miller, who is also president and CEO of Permac Industries, located in Burnsville, Minn. “I’ve always been in some kind of manufacturing position such as sales, marketing, product development or purchasing in my career, so when the opportunity arose to purchase Permac Industries, I followed it. I believe that you are never given a dream without the opportunity to make it come true.”

Ms. Miller is the first woman to be elected as PMPA president and has identified women in manufacturing as an area she will focus on. Her other plans as president include working with members to further improve the image of modern precision machining through credentialed training, working with schools and educators and community involvement as well as being engaged in the regulatory and policy side of the industry.

“I have been very active with the political and regulatory side of the industry. What I’m seeing from D.C. is paperwork driven and not safety driven,” Ms. Miller says.

“Businesses, like Permac, need to be engaged and involved with changing the perception of manufacturing and changing policy.”

One way of participating is developing the workforce with credentialed programs. “I have the pleasure of working with PMPA members who are engaged in working with high schools, community colleges and technical schools in their communities to create programs or modernize what currently exists. That’s a crucial step in the right direction for our industry,” Ms. Miller explains. “One constant for precision machining companies is that we cannot find the skilled workforce that we need, which is why I’m so adamant about educational, credentialed training programs that show there is a path to a skilled position.

“People are our most valuable assets in this industry. The topic of women in manufacturing is important to me because we are an asset in this field. Manufacturing shouldn’t be seen as a men-only industry; striking a good balance of men and women makes use of all of our industry’s assets,” Ms. Miller continues. “Along with showing our industry as a pathway to success to young people, we need to talk to young women, our daughters, high school students and college women. They can find value in this industry, from machinists to the C-suite. I see more daughters of our members coming into this industry and I want to continue encouraging that.”

Ms. Miller referred to the industry being at a “tipping point” with U.S. manufacturing beginning to grow.

“Growth has finally started and work is starting to come back from China,” Ms. Miller says. “We’re optimistic but cautious right now as the gloom and doom of previous years is diminishing. I am optimistic and believe that the industry will continue running with the lean practices that have developed and continue to be driven by technology.”

Another goal that Ms. Miller has is for the PMPA name to be more widely recognized through collaboration with other organizations such as NAM, NIMS, chambers of commerce, and so on. 

“PMPA has been a resource for me from Day 1. It can be lonely to run a business, and this organization takes that loneliness away and provides answers for any question,” Ms. Miller explains. “When joining PMPA, you gain access to the most up-to-date information on everything from equipment, technical questions from your department leads, HR to regulatory and governmental policies. But you also become a voice for change in the industry. Becoming a member helps precision manufacturers become engaged and make a difference in the industry.

“I volunteer a lot and serve on several boards, but I don’t do anything if I don’t love it. I am very blessed to have the most talented people in the industry, along with the best can-do attitude working with me, which affords me the time to pursue opportunities. I’m looking forward to doing many of the things I love in this role, including meeting people,” Ms. Miller summarizes. “I’m honored and humbled to have been chosen to represent the members of PMPA.”

PMPA president Darlene Miller can be contacted at: dmiller@permacindustries.com.