The American Mold Builder Issue 1 2022

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ISSUE 1 2022

RECRUITING IS STEP ONE IN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Compensation on the Rise for Mold Builders Supply Chain Disruptions Hit the Industry AMBA Conference: Shifting the View

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE AMERICAN MOLD BUILDERS ASSOCIATION


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ISSUE 1 2022

RECRUITING IS STEP ONE IN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Compensation on the Rise for Mold Builders Supply Chain Disruptions Hit the Industry AMBA Conference: Shifting the View

ISSUE 1 2022 THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE AMERICAN MOLD BUILDERS ASSOCIATION

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SHIFTING THE VIEW AMBA Conference 2022

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SOLUTIONS Recruiting is Step One in Workforce Development

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BENCHMARKING American Mold Builders Increase Salaries to Remain Competitive Amid Surging US Inflation

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OUTLOOK Mold Builders Feel Supply Chain Disruptions

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INSURANCE CORNER Health Benefits Costs: What is the Magic Number?

Speak Out .................................................. 6 Product ..................................................... 18 Association .............................................. 26 Industry .................................................... 38 Calendar ................................................... 46 Ad Index ................................................... 46

Cover image courtesy of M.R. Mold & Engineering.

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AMERICAN MOLD BUILDERS ASSOCIATION 7321 Shadeland Station Way, #285 Indianapolis, IN 46256 P: 317.436.3102 • F: 317.913.2445 info@amba.org • www.amba.org

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QUALITY ISO Certification: What Do Mold Builders Need to Know?

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AMBA TEAM

Troy Nix, Executive Director Kym Conis, Managing Director Susan Denzio, Business Manager Rachael Pfenninger, Director of Strategic Execution

Advising Editor: Kym Conis Advertising/Sales: Susan Denzio PUBLISHED BY:

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TALENT New Perspectives at Family-Run Company

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PREVIEW New Plastics Expo to Come to the Midwest

2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite #101 Topeka, KS 66614 P: 785.271.5801

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ADVOCACY Closing in on a Domestic Industrial Strategy

Vice President, Editoral: Dianna Brodine Editor: Nicole Mitchell Vice President, Design: Becky Arensdorf Graphic Designer: Hailey Mann Opinions expressed in this publication may or may not reflect the views of the Association and do not necessarily represent official positions or policies of the Association or its members.

www.americanmoldbuilder.com | AMBA.org

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A MESSAGE FROM THE AMBA PRESIDENT

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s I’m writing this letter on a -15-degree, windy January morning (and a windchill factor of -30 to -40 degrees), I hope you, your families and your employees are doing well and staying healthy (and warm). I think a lot of us are glad to turn the page on 2021. I hope your shop is filled with work and the only problem you have is how you will get all the work done on time.

AMBA closed the year strong with a plant tour workshop at Legacy Precision Molds, Inc., in Grandville, Michigan. It was nice to have a smaller shop showcase its work JIM SPERBER environment and see how the company manages workflow and labor shortages. Special AMBA President thanks go out to Tom and Tyler VanRee for opening their shop to the AMBA network – Master Tool & Mold what a first-class manufacturing facility! The 2021/2022 AMBA Wage and Salary Report also was published right after the holidays, and the three-part report on hiring, onboarding and training best practices also rounded out the year. AMBA closed December with virtual roundtable discussions, which are one of the best benefits that the AMBA offers – the opportunity to connect, share and brainstorm solutions with peers. 2022 is off to a running start with the Business Forecast Report recently published. We’ve also had our State of the Industry webinar that provided some great data on which to benchmark our operations. Coming up on March 8th, the AMBA is holding its first ever virtual plant tour of Dramco Tool Co that will feature the company’s journey to learn and efficient tool set-ups. On March 15 and 22, AMBA will host a two-part virtual workshop on recruitment and retention, and on May 11-13, AMBA will host its annual conference in Itasca, Illinois, at The Westin Chicago Northwest. Registration now is open and on behalf of the AMBA Board of Directors, we look forward to connecting with you there! One exciting new resource I’d like to call to your attention is the Capacity Tool we hope to launch the end of Q1 2022. We hope this new online tool (for members only) will help to expedite the communication of open capacity within the AMBA network. As I always say, “We are stronger together!” Once again, I would like to remind you to fill out the surveys that are sent out to you so we can keep up-to-date on the pulse of the industry and what content we should be sharing in our webinars. Currently open is the Health and Benefits Survey, followed by the Shop Rate Survey due to launch in May. Your participation is greatly appreciated. As always, if you’re running into a problem or an issue that you can’t resolve or need help, please contact us at the AMBA. I’m sure we can steer you in the right direction. As this is my last letter as AMBA president, I would like to thank the AMBA for the privilege to serve. I am looking forward to the upcoming virtual shop tour and conference. Until then, take care and stay safe and healthy. God Bless all of you and God Bless American mold builders. “We are Stronger Together.” n

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OFFICERS

National President Jim Sperber, Master Tool & Mold

Secretary and Legal Counsel Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP

Immediate Past-President Toby Bral, MSI Mold Builders

Treasurer Tom Barr, TK Mold & Engineering

Vice President Don Dumoulin, Precise Tooling Solutions

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 1 2022

David Bowers II, JMMS, Inc.

Charles Daniels, Wepco Plastics Mike Devereux, Wipfli Dan Glass, Strohwig Industries Eric Karaman, Michiana Global Mold Chad LaMance, United Tool & Mold Andy Peterson, Industrial Molds Group Kenny Skar, Vincent Tool Tyler VanRee, Legacy Precision Molds


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Shifting the View: AMBA Conference 2022 MAY 11-13, 2022 – THE WESTIN CHICAGO NORTHWEST – ITASCA, ILLINOIS

AMBA Conference 2022 will re-set industry benchmarks as attendees embrace the conference theme of “Shifting the View” by taking a fresh look at how seemingly persistent challenges can become opportunities for growth and positive change. During this event, connection opportunities will hit an all-time high, as mold manufacturers engage with peers and industry suppliers to tackle pressing challenges, communicate best practices and explore practical solutions to impact each organization’s bottom line. Featured content will include business strategies, continuous improvement initiatives to produce greater efficiencies, workforce development strategies and best practices, advancements in technology to drive bottom-line impact and proven ROI, leadership and communication strategies for AMBA’s Emerging Leaders, connection opportunities to strategize with peers sharing similar job functions and more. 8

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KEYNOTE SPEAKER AND EMCEE TROY NIX

American Mold Builders Association Troy Nix is the executive director of the AMBA and serves as the master of ceremonies for the AMBA Conference 2022. Known for his spirit, enthusiasm and belief in American manufacturing, Nix delivers inspiring keynotes that never fail to spark emotion in each attendee’s inner core. This year’s message will focus on the importance of aggressively pursuing the endeavors of becoming a better leader, a better manager and better organizational contributor, particularly in the context of connecting with employees, partners and customers. Nix’s tag line “America Is What America Makes’ is an essential ideal that motivates those attending the conference to strive for excellence.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS WEDNESDAY

4:30 pm

5:30 pm

6 pm 7 pm

1pm- 4 pm

THURSDAY 7 am 8 am 8:15 am

9:45 am 10:15 am 11:25 am

12:15 pm

1:30 pm 2:45 pm 3:15 pm

Emerging Leaders Pre-Con Session – optional Welcome Reception

Business Connections over Breakfast Welcome Kick-Off Keynote: How Trust and Unity Create Transformational Change » Clint Pulver Supplier Trade Fair / Networking Break Breakout Sessions: Business Strategies Trade, 2022 Elections and Manufacturing: An Update from Washington, D.C. » Omar Nashashibi, The Franklin Partnership Networking Lunch Or Lunch and Learn with Clint Pulver Breakout Sessions: Workforce Strategies Supplier Trade Fair / Networking Break Gaining a Competitive Advantage with the 4 Cs of Attraction, Motivation and Retention » Jeremiah Sinks, Purdue MEP

FRIDAY 7 am 8 am 9:15 am 9:30 am 10:30 am

11:30am 11:45 pm

Closing Keynote » Troy Nix, AMBA Executive Director Awards Reception Awards Dinner and Celebration

Business Connections over Breakfast Peer-to-Peer Roundtable Discussions Supplier Trade Fair / Networking Break TBD Panel Keynote: Stories, Not Statistics: Where Authenticity and High-Performing Teams Converge » Alyson Van Hooser, Van Hooser Associates, Inc. Event Wrap »Troy Nix, AMBA Executive Director Conference Adjourns

ambaconference.com www.americanmoldbuilder.com | AMBA.org

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FEATURED PRESENTATIONS HOW TRUST AND UNITY CREATE TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE Clint Pulver, motivational speaker and retention expert In today’s volatile economy, organizations are finding it more difficult to adapt to expanding costs, shrinking margins, increased competition and regulation. Teamwork, accountability and purpose have diminished greatly, leaving employees fearful and paralyzed to step outside of their comfort zones. The result? Decreased revenues, morale and performance. Motivational Speaker and Retention Expert Clint Pulver offers the ultimate keynote experience that unifies, inspires and rallies sales staff, leadership teams and front-line employees to create a renewed and lasting movement within the organization. In this session, audience members will be able to: • Understand the four keys to creating a lasting movement in their job • Develop strategies that create a culture of trust and unity • Understand the power of collaboration between coworkers and management • Create an attitude of contribution and a more positive workplace culture • Overcome obstacles to break through performance limitations • Walk away with a renewed sense of safety, trust and commitment

STORIES, NOT STATISTICS: WHERE AUTHENTICITY AND HIGH-PERFORMING TEAMS CONVERGE Alyson Van Hooser, author, keynote, leadership trainer, Van Hooser Associates, Inc. Leaders everywhere are scrambling to figure out how to lead, influence and impact today’s generationally diverse workforce in their businesses. It’s been a struggle for decades, and the challenge is ever more increasing. Is there a practical solution? Absolutely. And it starts with a perspective shift. Because it’s only in a person’s individual stories where leaders find answers to exactly what motivates and drives their workforce, they must focus on cultivating deep connections with employees. By starting with stories, not statistics, leaders can begin building the authentic connections with employees of any generation – ultimately solidifying their foundation for team success. Stories, Not Statistics will reveal a proven leadership strategy that creates a breeding ground for empowerment, ownership and highperformance accountability. Attendee takeaways include the following: • Discover the number one mindset shift needed to ignite engagement levels among all team members • Uncover the most valuable skill leaders must prioritize to earn loyalty from today’s diverse workforce • Break down the three stories every leader should “know and tell” to radically and authentically improve leader/employee relationships • Learn the intentional, immediately actionable process for breaking down walls and bridging gaps among team members • Determine the limitless opportunities a “Stories, Not Statistics” approach will provide teams at all levels

TRADE, 2022 ELECTIONS AND MANUFACTURING: AN UPDATE FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. Omar Nashashibi , The Franklin Partnership As President Biden continues in his second year in office, mold and die builders across the country saw a flurry of activity over the past year from Washington, D.C. AMBA’s lobbying firm The Franklin Partnership’s, Washington, D.C., Omar Nashashibi will provide insights and updates on the latest from policymakers on China tariffs, trade talks with allies, efforts to increase taxes and regulations and what steps lawmakers are taking to address workforce and supply chain challenges. The Federal Government has an outsized impact on each AMBA member business. This presentation not only will shed light onto the inner workings today, but what the election and coming year could mean for the immediate future of the mold manufacturing industry.

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SPECIAL SESSIONS EMERGING LEADERS PRE-CON SESSION THE BOTTOM-LINE PAYOFF OF PRODUCTIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION Jeremiah Sinks, Purdue MEP During this workshop, up-and-coming leaders will explore conflict, why it occurs and what it costs companies in relationship development, efficiency, work production and culture. Attendees also will learn how being intentional in leadership and process can allow them to help mitigate the costs of conflict, while producing positive opportunities for the company and its employees. Key takeaways will feature the skills and processes that can be employed to handle this challenging topic in a productive way and will be practiced by attendees through peer interaction and discussion.

HOTEL INFORMATION THE WESTIN CHICAGO NORTHWEST

LUNCH AND LEARN DEEP DIVE INTO CULTIVATION OF TEAM UNITY Clint Pulver, motivational speaker and retention expert Clint Pulver will return to the AMBA stage for a deep dive into the exploration of how the cultivation of team unity can lead to stronger morale, better performance and higher revenue. PEER-TO-PEER EXCHANGES This session is back by popular demand. Growing peer-to-peer networks is a primary component of AMBA Conference 2022. Attendees will have the chance to interact with peer groups during this session on topics that are unique to their job functions in their specific groups. Driven by past attendee feedback, these focused sessions have been highly requested and are expected to be one of the biggest hits of this year’s conference. They are a perfect way for professionals to find new ideas, expand their professional networks and explore new methods of improvement. Areas covered will be operations, owners/presidents/CEOs, sales and marketing and workforce development.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONFERENCE SPONSORS

The AMBA Conference 2022 will be held at The Westin Chicago Northwest. Beautifully situated on the grounds of Hamilton Lakes in Itasca, Illinois, this inviting hotel provides the perfect blend of services and location. In close proximity to O’Hare Airport, The Westin provides access to area attractions just outside of Schaumburg, Rosemont and downtown Chicago – only 30 minutes away. Special AMBA rate is $164/night and includes complimentary high-speed internet access in guest rooms, self-parking and workout studio access. For reservations, call 888.627.8510 or 630.773.4000 (local) and use code “AMBA”. Online reservations: www.ambaconference.com.

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RECRUITING IS STEP ONE IN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT by Nicole Mitchell, editor, The American Mold Builder

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ne of the biggest struggles for any industry today is in attracting quality candidates for open job positions. When searching for employees, it’s critical to understand what individuals are looking for in a potential workplace and how job searchers find information. From salary and benefits to community involvement, today’s employment applicants want it all. SET THE STAGE WITH COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Showing up and being involved in the community surrounding a mold building facility does more than inspire current employees; it helps get the word out about the company as well. Wepco Plastics is just one example of a manufacturing company that believes community involvement is beneficial.

“One of our four core values is impacting our community,” said Amanda Wiriya, manufacturing support director at Wepco, in the AMBA Workforce Playbook, which now is available to AMBA members at www.amba.org. The company has a strong history of partnering with local high schools and universities to promote careers, collaborate with nonprofits, participate in career fairs, bring students in for facility tours and more to engage in its community. But connecting within a community doesn’t have to be restricted to school visits and plant tours. More creative ways manufacturers – especially those in remote areas – still can interact with their communities is by collaborating with other manufacturers or simply handing out referral cards. “Don’t forget that you are offering more than a job – you are offering them a career in manufacturing with many wonderful benefits,” Wiriya said.

M.R. Mold & Engineering educates through MFG Day activities. 12

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The yearly Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) celebration gives those in the industry the perfect excuse to get involved in their communities. For MFG Day 2021, Wepco provided a variety of events for both its employees and the surrounding area – including facility tours, networking events and a competition for a $5,000 grant for educational institutions. “Manufacturing Day events address the manufacturing career myths heads-on,” Wiriya said. “That’s one of the biggest challenges to date.” Some might argue that community activities aren’t necessary since they don’t always directly result in hiring. However, those at Wepco argue that it always is worth it. “Connections created and professional relationships maintained are where the true value lies,” Wiriya said. “Our name and reputation precede us because we make the effort to be consistently and passionately involved.” By connecting with its community, Wepco has helped spread local awareness that manufacturing careers can be creative, diverse and well-compensated, addressing one of the greatest misconceptions that those outside the industry believe. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CHANNELS TO PROMOTE OPENINGS Before sharing an open position just anywhere, mold builders should look into which channels have been successful for other companies in the industry. According to the AMBA Workforce Playbook, the top recruitment channel for mold builders is Indeed.com and similar job promotion sites, such as LinkedIn or Glassdoor. After that, according to the Playbook, the majority of jobs were filled via employee referral and word of mouth. Another easy way to promote job listings is to place a career page on the company website. This gives those interested in a company an easy way to navigate to open positions. Also, linking the company career page to the company’s LinkedIn job opening drives clicks to the company websites.


Don’t underestimate employee referrals Employees only will refer friends and family to a company that they trust and enjoy, which means good referrals and word-of-mouth job applicants rely on creating a positive and rewarding experience in the workplace. Culture is critical – whether that’s shown through small offerings like free snacks in the breakroom or larger, more intense efforts that prove employees are valued contributors to organizational success. Another way to encourage referrals from current employees? Mold builders can add financial incentive by offering a bonus for referred applicants who complete the hiring process. FOCUS ON EMPLOYEE BENEFITS – TANGIBLE AND INTANGIBLE As older generations begin to retire and Generation Z enters the workforce, the traditional benefits provided by companies in the manufacturing space may not be meeting the needs of young employees. Company culture and values Younger employees often want to work for companies that share their values, and as mentioned previously, culture comes into play. For instance, many members of Gen Z prioritize a balanced work/home life and look for a more flexible work week instead of the typical “eight to five” structured shift. Gen Z also prefers to work within a diverse environment, according to the AMBA Workforce Playbook. By looking at the generational values of potential employees and implementing strategies to meet those needs within the manufacturing facility, mold builders have an advantage when potential employees are deciding between competing job offers. Training and future career paths Potential employees – especially those still in high school or completing college credit – often don’t see manufacturing as a career. Charlotte Hoffer-Canning, chief culture officer for Hoffer Plastics, shared in a presentation on Hoffer’s “Break the Mold” campaign that local high schoolers viewed manufacturing as “old school.” That’s to say, they believe the industry is filled withrepetitive, mundane tasks done in assembly line fashion that offer up no long-term career paths for its employees. Education about the manufacturing industry is needed to appeal to younger individuals who might be deciding where to take their next (or first) steps in the workforce. The promise of training – and potential upward mobility – can pull prospective employees in, and it provides a benefit to the employer, as well. While employees are shown a career path and a route to increased pay and responsibilities, manufacturing companies gain crosstrained employees

Ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram helped Hoffer Plastics reach a younger audience.

with greater value when other team members call in sick or heavy volume dictates a change in resources. It also can meet one of the key criteria that appeals to younger generations. Travis Turek, president of Nebraska-based Bruckman Rubber explained, “If employees were to get trained in all three areas of our facility, I could move them over to areas where we need more help on certain days. This gives crosstrained employees the potential for flexibility in their schedules.” Pay scale and benefits It’s no secret that industries across the US are having to increase pay scales due to the competitive job market, and mold builders are no exception (see article on page 16). Competitive wages are a must, but when a small difference in hourly rate can make the difference in a successful hire or a failed interview, those employees chasing hourly increases rarely stay for long. By offering a strong benefits page 14

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package to employees and educating them on the value of those benefits, manufacturers have another advantage in the hiring market. At Bruckman Rubber, Turek has updated the benefits offered to employees and updated them to increase the value of the benefit offered and, when possible, to make it immediately available to new hires. These include earned time off (such as an extra day off with pay after 30 days with no absences), immediate vacation accrual and an increased 401k match. While most manufacturing companies have been forced to play the wage increase game in order to hire new employees, Turek believes an employee who understands the value of benefits is more likely to stay. “We’ve increased wages to stay comparable to others in the area,” he said, “but I don’t think wages are our biggest selling point when we’re trying to bring on new employees. It’s the explanation of what we do for our employees beyond the paycheck and what the value of those benefits are for them. The majority of people are uneducated in the realm of benefits.”

BUILD SUCCESSFUL RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGNS Despite all of the tips and tricks, recruiting the right people still can be difficult. Even pre-pandemic, unemployment rates were at a historic low, thanks to decreasing birthrates and high rates of retirement. That’s why Hoffer Plastics created the “Break the Mold” campaign during 2021, focused solely on employing younger people. Before beginning the campaign, Hoffer-Canning researched common misconceptions about the manufacturing industry by reaching out to local high school students and guidance counselors. The consensus was that students still believe long-term career paths aren’t available in the manufacturing industry, partly because they think robotics will replace humans (perhaps we can blame Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory for that one). Not only that but, “Manufacturing and trade programs were considered a landing spot for misfit students or students who struggled academically,” she said. Hoffer found guidance counselors and teens were unaware of the tuition assistance and internship and apprenticeship opportunities available through many manufacturing companies. The goals of the “Break the Mold” campaign were to bring awareness, create imagery and provide engagement. The primary target market was high school students, with secondary targets of parents, career planning resources, junior colleges and the like. For the campaign, Hoffer collaborated with Fuse Marketing – a marketing company that has experience with youth marketing as well as young people already on staff – and Imago Creative, which is a company that Hoffer Plastics typically uses for imagery and videography. Hoffer Plastics focused its campaign on Instagram and Facebook instead – Instagram for its primary target (the students) and Facebook for parents and mentors. These ads showed the manufacturing industry as a meaningful career path by following a “Do you know?” approach in its campaign, which ended in October of 2021. “Today’s young people seek jobs that provide meaning, sense of purpose, opportunities to leverage creativity and more,” said Hoffer-Canning. “Choosing and using the right partner with the right experience was, without question, critical to the success of our campaign. Having Fuse, who understood how to market to the 18- to 24-yearold demographic and work behind the scenes testing and changing things on a weekly basis, was a huge help to driving this forward. We’re making progress, but still we have a long way to go.”n

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AMERICAN MOLD BUILDERS INCREASE SALARIES TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE AMID SURGING US INFLATION by Ian Gjertson, data analyst, AMBA

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he past two years presented critical challenges and obstructions for manufacturers, including a chaotic supply chain network, labor shortages, the unpredictable global pandemic and the highest United States inflation rate since June of 1982 (7%). The American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) recognizes that manufacturing professionals need current information to benchmark their performance and evaluate the opportunities within the industry. The annual AMBA Wage and Salary Report is the leading compensation analysis attentive to the mold building industry in the US. The 2021/2022 AMBA Wage and Salary Report collected compensation data from 114 mold builders across 21 states to provide a five-year trending compensation analysis for 51 unique job positions within mold manufacturing-related companies. This report also represents more than 4,400 full-time employees and nearly 200 part-time employees. Thirty-seven of the 51 positions (73%) experienced an average increase of 11% in 2021, while the remaining 14 job positions experienced an average decrease of 7%. The total average salary change was an increase of 6.1%, which is below the United States inflation rate of 7%. The highest salary increase was for inspectors at 44%, and the most significant reduction was for press operators at -9%.

Chart 1

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AMBA’s Wage and Salary Report includes numerous improvements this year, including the format, data analysis and content delivered. Compensation data is dissected by total annual revenue ranges and the top five market segments served by mold builders in the industry: automotive, medical, consumer goods, appliance and aerospace. Additionally, a five-year trendline graph illustrates the percentage change in hourly wage for each position included in the report (Chart 1). Finally, improvements were made to the overall illustrations of data, thereby making the report easier to interpret. The national labor shortage has transcended industries, as most companies in the US have been reporting difficulty in recruiting and retaining employees. Mold builders are not exclusively competing against other manufacturers but now against every company across the country. The coronavirus pandemic normalized and popularized remote work and hybrid work. Additionally, Carmen Reinicke at CNBC reported that federal civilian employees started earning a minimum hourly wage of $15 in January 2022. Amid the national labor shortage, mold builders have implemented strategic incentives to attract new employees, such as referral bonuses, wage increases, signing bonuses, improving insurance options, providing more paid time off, negotiating a flexible schedule, investing in employee development programs, providing profit-sharing programs and providing relocation assistance. Those that utilize profit-sharing programs offer a 401(k) plan with a contribution match between 3% and 10% or an incentive-based profitsharing program, such as meeting quarterly performance objectives.


employment opportunities since May. The most common incentives for unemployed Americans returning to the workforce include hiring bonuses equal to or greater than $1,000, flexible schedules, positive work environments and the ability to work from home. The average signing bonus offered by mold builders is $714, and companies that generate less than five million dollars in annual revenue provide the highest signing bonus at an average of $1,500.

Chart 2

Mold manufacturers expect those incentive strategies to be successful, as 80% of the surveyed companies anticipate hiring new employees in 2022, and only 4% do not foresee hiring new employees. This is the highest percentage of mold builders that have forecasted an increase in their employment numbers in the past seven years (Chart 2). The US Chamber of Commerce published a study last November that provided insight into the labor and unemployment trends in the United States. This study revealed that more unemployed Americans actively are looking for

Obstructions such as supply chain network issues, material shortages, labor challenges, international conflict and potential government interference likely will continue in 2022. Mold builders must continue to adapt to some of the most substantial challenges the manufacturing industry has ever faced. AMBA will continue to support, inform and connect American mold builders to promote success. n Further data and analysis are available by purchasing the AMBA 2021/2022 AMBA Wage and Salary Report at www.amba.org/publications/.

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5 powerMOVE is a cleanroom-compatible and selflubricating pin actuation system. The lever mechanism ensures ideal force and speed for opening and closing of the pins during the injection molding process. Other functions and properties include rolling friction, stepless height adjustment and a smaller cavity distance. For more information, visit www.meusburger.com. [3] HEIMATAC RELEASES CATALOG OF ANGLE HEADS Heimatac, Prospect Heights, Illinois, announced immediate availability of a 28-page catalog on its line of angle heads for the machine tool industry. Heimatec angle heads are made from high-tensile strength aluminum, with high-precision spindle bearings to maintain the maximum concentricity possible. All the gears on the Heimatec angle heads are made from wear-resistant gear steel and are specially hardened, ground and lapped in sets to provide a smooth transmission. For more information, visit www.platinumtooling.com. [4] OPEN MIND INTRODUCES NEW SOFTWARE SUITE OPEN MIND Technologies AG, Needham, Massachusetts, introduced its latest hyperMILL® 2022.1 CAD/CAM software suite. The new software suite offers users features for improved NC programming in applications ranging from 2.5D to 5-axis. Highlights in hyperMILL 2022.1 include a new break-edge function for contour milling page 20


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6 and combined pocket milling together with a finish path allowing cutter compensation and increased efficiency for 3D plane machining. For more information, visit www.openmind-tech.com.

integrates with Hypertherm’s EDGE Connect® CNC to automatically capture machine data without the need for operator intervention. For more information, visit www.hypertherm.com.

[5] HEIDENHAIN OFFERS NEW PRODUCTS HEIDENHAIN, Schaumburg, Illinois, introduced version 1.4.0 of its StateMonitor software platform, enabling remote monitoring and data evaluation during real-time manufacturing. The StateMonitor first was introduced in 2019 and has become an important option with HEIDENHAIN TNC controls to digitally connect and evaluate machine tool data on company networks as part of the industry 4.0 initiative to boost efficiencies. It also released its new TS 760 touch probe for use with its contouring TNC and other major CNC controls. For more information, visit www.heidenhain.us.

EMUGE-FRANKEN USA EXPANDS END MILLS LINE EMUGE-FRANKEN USA, West Boylston, Massachusetts, has expanded the range of TOP-cut VAR, its most popular multi-purpose, high-performance end mills. TOP-Cut VAR end mills are a versatile variablehelix carbide solution and works well in multiple job shop applications. The TOP-Cut VAR line now is available in 4-, 5- and 6-flute configurations, with or without corner radius, and ball nose, stub, standard and long lengths in inch sizes, over 300 SKUs in total. In addition, EMUGEFRANKEN USA can provide custom variations or tool modifications of the line. For more information, visit www.emuge.com.

HASCO EXTENDS PRODUCT LINES HASCO, Lüdenscheid, Germany, has released multiple new products, including an upgraded Vario Shot nozzle range, offering a cable outlet to the middle of the nozzle. HASCO also has released a new metal powder MP/…, designed for additive manufacturing; a new ejector assembly securing system, Z732/…, which provides a damage-free transport of injection molding tools and new latch locking units. The latch locking units include double-sided latch function, offering high transferable forces and reliability. For more information, visit www.hasco.com. [6] HYPERTHERM RELEASES PRODUCTION MANAGER Hypertherm, Hanover, New Hampshire, announced the release of its production manager, an optional module for its ProNest® advanced CAD/CAM nesting software. The web-based module is designed to improve productivity, better machine up-time, boost on-time delivery and increase material utilization. The production manager 20

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[7] PROGRESSIVE COMPONENTS ADDS NEW PLATE RETAINER Progressive Components, Wauconda, Illinois, recently added a plate retainer to its plate sequencing product line. The plate retainer was designed to hold parting lines or retain floating mold plates and requires less machining. Progressive’s new plate retainer is available from the company’s CADalog, a free parts library with downloads offered in a variety of formats. For more information, visit www.procomps.com. KENNAMETAL INTRODUCES HEAVY-DUTY TURNING PRODUCT Kennametal, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, released its FIX8 heavy-duty turning system. The new system has eight cutting edges per insert and offers metal removal of steel, stainless steel and cast iron. The FIX8 reduces cutting forces up to 15%. The FIX8 tool holder features 3D coolant technology, with three coolant nozzles as well as coolant exit holes in two different locations. For more information, visit www.kennametal.com. n


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MOLD BUILDERS FEEL SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTIONS by Liz Stevens, writer, The American Mold Builder

A

s 2022 gets underway, mold builders are facing many pressures. An increased demand for products is crashing head-on into the lingering worker shortage and a crippling supply chain crunch. With the current tight material supply and rising prices, logistics madness and a booming market for consumer products, it is no surprise that mold builders have lost sleep wondering how suppliers got into this mess, how mold building is currently being impacted and when the supply chain might return to normal. HOW DID THE SUPPLY CHAIN JAM TRANSPIRE? The supply chain dilemma stems from several factors – some from before the pandemic began. Prices for imported materials already had risen in 2018 due to the previous administration’s trade and tariff policies. Then COVID-19 hit, sending shock waves that resulted in factory slowdowns or shutdowns in China that spread to the US and the rest of the world. The start of the COVID-19 crush affected industry suppliers but not in the ways that the suppliers expected. In the Spring of 2020, suppliers faced an entirely new and unpredictable future; many of them feared that the entire US economy would shut down due to the dramatic “shelter in place” orders issued in many states. Suppliers scrambled to sell what stock they had on hand and then radically scaled back their production. But then, at the start of the summer, suppliers were shocked by the unexpected: consumer demand surged rather than tanked.

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The pandemic caused a surge in demand for medicaloriented products like ventilators, PPE and coronavirus test kits. But the scope of the demand surge was much more widespread than this – nervous citizens began buying up all sorts of household supplies. Then, with the pandemic hobbling activities and travel severely restricted, home-bound Americans began a consumables and home improvement shopping spree that upped traffic along global trade routes. At the start of 2021, when industry suppliers thought that the balance of demand and supply finally had evened out, along came unprecedented winter storms in the US, including a disastrous deep freeze in Texas that crippled petrochemical plants. The still-surging import traffic flow then was hit by a whammy as cargo shipping was upended after the ship Ever Given wedged itself in the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, the US buying spree continued and the incoming goods – on ships finally able to navigate the Canal – began overwhelming US ports, rail transport and trucking, all of which also impacted the import and delivery of materials to manufacturers. As of January 2022, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 began blanketing the nation with skyrocketing contagiousness but milder disease than the Delta variant. And everyone, in every industry, in every nation, was waiting to see what would happen next. THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY For a look at the current situation and some helpful suggestions, The American Mold Builder talked to


representatives from the tooling industry. Tony Brodzeller, sales, Mastip Inc., Jackson, Wisconsin, offered insight from the perspective of a hot runner equipment manufacturer. Andrew Davis, vice president of supply chain, Swiss Steel USA Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois, contributed an assessment of how mold builders’ steel suppliers have been affected. Harry Centa, senior program manager, PartnerShip, Oberlin, Ohio, weighed in from a company that offers all facets of shipping and logistics. According to Tony Brodzeller, the supply chain issue is affecting Mastip in three distinct areas as it pertains to supplying hot runners, manifolds and other components to mold builders. “Material availability, especially round stock for nozzle bodies and bar stock for manifolds, is an area we constantly are monitoring,” Brodzeller said. “We also are seeing that suppliers for outsourced items are experiencing availability issues.” Brodzeller also pointed to the shipping delays that are a problem vexing every corner of every industry. “In response to these challenges,” said Brodzeller, “we have been very proactive with our supplier base and have stayed well ahead of any material delays. Our hot runner components primarily use fixed-size stock, so we looked at previous order history and drastically increased our supply of material on hand. Because we started this process early – in the second quarter of 2020 – we had no impact to our customer lead times.” Like many manufacturers, Mastip has invested in expanding its manufacturing capability to minimize outsourcing, thereby reducing dependence on suppliers that may be impacted by future supply chain dilemmas and reducing the associated shipping issues. “In addition,” said Brodzeller, “we have evaluated our entire supply chain and made sure we have ‘depth on our bench’ for reliable second- and third-source solutions if needed. To combat shipping delays, we have worked to improve our lead times to offset any slowdowns.” At Swiss Steel, Andrew Davis sees an entire supply chain affected by the pandemic and a slew of other factors. “The pandemic’s most visible effect – sidelining so many workers – has a top-to-bottom impact,” said Davis. “Staffing shortages affect not only our suppliers as a steel distributor; the shortages are felt in the logistics companies importing products, among the customs agents who inspect imports, and in the domestic trucking companies that deliver to our warehouse and then outbound to our customers.” During an ongoing stretch of increased demand for steel, Davis highlighted the logistics challenges. “From the

international standpoint,” Davis said, “shipping companies have changed their schedules to accommodate changes in demand, and ocean containers are less available and more expensive.” Davis cited the Suez Canal blockage as one of the impacts in the past year that affected delivery times and container availability, followed by the continuing bottleneck at the ports as everyone tries to get more product through the same number of ports with fewer workers. “The logistics headaches domestically stem from the ongoing truck driver shortage,” said Davis, “and skyrocketing demand for transportation, which has created a trucker’s market. Trucking companies have become more selective in their routings, and we have experienced increased damage to freight and delayed deliveries.” Swiss Steel has responded by working with its existing carriers to find solutions and by expanding its transportation carrier base, brainstorming with suppliers and identifying alternate suppliers. “Another thing that we are doing is planning further in advance for our transportation,” said Davis. “That is primarily for our ocean transportation. We know material is going to be page 24

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available, so we pre-book the container availability so that we can make sure that we have material coming in.” PartnerShip works with associations such as the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) to help customers save time and money in all facets of shipping and logistics, including LTL freight, truckload, tradeshow, expedited and small-package shipping. “With the carrier capacity crunch at an all-time high,” said Harry Centa, “it is important for both shippers and third-party logistics providers to take an honest look at their logistics operations. It’s key to conduct audits that evaluate both service level and cost.” Centa advised that smart shippers are strengthening their relationships with existing freight carriers and exploring alternatives to supplement their current coverage. “It’s critical to build time and flexibility into one’s shipping operations,” Centa said, “allowing for a cushion in the shipping budget, while looking critically at where adjustments can be made to offset overspending.” PartnerShip is responding to today’s challenges by offering a variety of customized shipping solutions. Allowing PartnerShip to help AMBA members spend less

on their shipping, regardless of whether it is a pallet or a package. “Through exclusive FedEx discounts available through their AMBA membership,” said Centa, “members pay less for the service they rely on for their small package shipping. PartnerShip helps members access better freight rates as well, by leveraging the relationships we have with our trusted freight carriers and passing on those savings.” Having more options available equates to increased opportunities to get shipments covered, at an affordable price. PREDICTING THE FUTURE Brodzeller can’t predict the future, but the need to shift based on conditions still exists. “The supply chain situation has been ever evolving,” said Brodzeller. “We will continue to monitor the developments and adjust as needed.” Centa anticipated that the future will remain rocky, making the present a good time to optimize shipping and logistics. “At this time, it looks as if the carrier capacity crunch will be an ongoing challenge for shippers,” said Centa. “Carriers now have the right to be picky, and prices may continue to rise as the crunch continues.” He advised that though there are fewer available trucks, there are steps that businesses can take to lessen the impact of the crisis. “Working with a logistics provider,” he said, “can expand a company’s current network of carriers. Access to exclusive discounts available through the AMBA Shipping Program also can help members spend less on small package shipping, allowing some breathing room for freight volatility.” The freight experts at PartnerShip also can identify areas where overspending is taking place, such as with accessorials or other unexpected fees. “As supply and demand continue to shift,” said Centa, “it is extra important to have a team of experts available to properly plan a company’s logistics strategy.” When asked about his prediction for the future of the steel and mold building supply chain, Davis was hopeful. “We are optimistic that there will be improvements,” he said. And the timeline for those improvements? “That continues to be the tricky part,” he added. Even as the crystal ball remains cloudy, the mold builders that position themselves to expect the unexpected and equip themselves to adapt nimbly will have a stronger hand in how their futures play out. n

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1 [1] AMBA LAUNCHES VIRTUAL PLANT TOUR WORKSHOP AMBA has long believed in the power of touring another mold manufacturing facility to learn, improve and grow. In this tradition, AMBA is excited to launch its first virtual plant tour workshop at Dramco Tool Co., March 8, 2022, where attendees will tour a member facility, share best practices, problem-solve with peers and improve operations – all without leaving the office. From its facility in Grand Island, Nebraska, Dramco Tool team members will share the following: • The company’s “strategic path to lean” • The implementation of machine set-up efficiencies • The company’s pursuit of a competitive advantage in the marketplace Learn more and register at www.amba.org/Events. [2] KEY 2022 AMBA BENCHMARKING REPORTS AVAILABLE Three key benchmarking initiatives that will help mold builders and suppliers alike prepare for 2022 now are available for purchase. The 2021/2022 AMBA Wage and Salary Report features high, low and average rates of pay across over 50 job functions commonly found in mold building (see article on page 16), while the 2022 AMBA Business Forecast Report provides an in-depth analysis of past, current and anticipated business conditions. The AMBA also has announced the release of its newest benchmarking initiative – AMBA Employee Attraction and Hiring Playbook – A Best Practices Guide – which features best practices in candidate evaluation, hiring and onboarding gathered from the AMBA member community. Additionally, the playbook features key takeaways and industry insights. Visit www.AMBA.org/ publications/browse to review each publication, access pricing and purchase. VIRTUAL WORKSHOP: ENGAGEMENT TACTICS FOR EFFECTIVE RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION March 15 and March 22, 11am – 1pm EST To help members address the fast-growing skills gap and labor challenges faced by the mold manufacturing 26

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industry, AMBA has worked with its Workforce Development Task Force to identify the focus for its newest opportunity – a two-part virtual workshop on identifying and implementing engagement tactics to help recruit and retain high-performing employees. Split into two, two-hour sessions, this professionally facilitated event will explore the six phases of the employee value stream and identify the tactics that will enable owners, executives, department heads, human resource managers and team leads to more effectively attract and retain top talent for long term. Participants and teams will walk away with effective strategies that, when employed during the employee engagement process, will help organizations • build a cohesive brand that attracts top talent through the initial “plan and align” phase, • understand how to develop effective recruitment and hiring strategies for today’s candidate-driven market, • discover how to manage current employees productively so that their engagement leads to further recruitment and future candidate referral and • learn proven ways to empower new and existing employees for higher retention and existing employees. Visit www.amba.org for more details and to register. SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES NOW AVAILABLE FOR AMBA CONFERENCE 2022 Sponsorship opportunities at AMBA Conference 2022: Shifting the View (May 11-13, Itasca, Illinois) now are available to industry suppliers. Secure a place amongst top-tier suppliers and mold manufacturers at this year’s event at The Westin Chicago Northwest, where attendees will gather to take a fresh look at how seemingly persistent challenges can become opportunities for growth and positive change. Mold builder registration is now open. For additional event details, visit page 8 or register at www.ambaconference.com.


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HEALTH AND BENEFITS SURVEY NOW OPEN AMBA has launched its 2022 Health and Benefits Survey, which will gather data related to health and benefits packages offered to employees by mold manufacturers across the US. Collected data will include the following: • Company cost and employee participation • Strategies to control cost • Current plans offered to employees • Additional benefits and retirement programs Compiled data and results will be shared at no cost to participants. To participate and gain access to the final report, contact Rachael Pfenninger at rpfenninger@amba.org.

3 secure a seat during the next discussion, email Rachael Pfenninger at rpfenninger@amba.org. NEW MEMBERS Rapid Mold Solutions 4820 Pacific Ave. Erie, Pennsylvania 16506 Barry St. Peter, sales manager Phone: 814.833.2721 Email: bstpeter@adlertooling.com page 28

[3] AMBA MOLD BUILDER AND TOOLING TRAILBLAZER OF THE YEAR AWARDS – NOMINATIONS OPEN Nominations for AMBA’s Mold Builder of the Year and Tooling Trailblazer of the Year Awards now are being accepted. AMBA members may nominate themselves or a peer, and nominees should be from member companies in good standing. Award recipients will be recognized at the AMBA Conference 2022 in Itasca, Illinois, May 1113, at The Westin Chicago Northwest, and will receive a prestigious award and a $5,000 scholarship grant from Progressive Components to be given to the educational institution, project or initiative of their choice. To submit a nomination, contact Susan Denzio at sdenzio@amba.org. EXCLUSIVE C-SUITE DIALOGUE CONTINUES FOR AMBA EXECUTIVES The sharing of challenges and best practices continues in 2022 with AMBA’s quarterly C-Suite Dialogue. This conversation – exclusively for C-suite mold building executives at AMBA member companies – focuses on a single topic or challenge identified by industry leaders and owners. Attendance is limited to the first 15 registrants. The next session will take place in March and will address the topic of customer/business management amidst current industry challenges. To learn more and www.americanmoldbuilder.com | AMBA.org

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Founded in 1999, Rapid Mold Solutions, Inc. (RMS) is an innovative, technologically sophisticated, full-service tool and die manufacturer and high-speed/high-precision machine shop. RMS services a diverse customer base in a broad range of industries and offers in-house tool design and domestic project management of offshore projects, complete tool evaluations and tooling consults, mold repair and alteration services, and an array of machining and molding services. EVCO Plastics 100 W. North St. De Forest, Wisconsin 53532 Jim Sensenbrenner, corporate tooling manager Phone: 608.846.6000 Email: jim_s@evcoplastics.com Founded in 1964, EVCO Plastics is a leading plastics manufacturing company with 10 manufacturing facilities strategically located throughout the world. With an emphasis on design for manufacturability, strategic engineering and innovative technology, EVCO is recognized as a global leader in custom plastic injection molding and mold building. EVCO partners with its customers from concept through mold construction to full-scale production with presses ranging from 28 to 3,500 tons. Prime Manufacturing Technologies 8735 Bollman Pl. Savage, Maryland 20763 Luke Chow, president Phone: 301.604.0900 Email: lchow@primemfgtech.com For over 27 years, Prime Manufacturing Technologies, Inc., has offered cost-effective, innovative manufacturing alternatives geared to streamlining and improving customer product needs. Prime manufactures plastic, metal and composite products, parts and sub-assemblies for commercial, industrial and military applications. The company’s primary goal is to offer great value, with an emphasis on quality, on-time delivery and exceptional customer service. The entire team works to bring the most flexible and cost-effective manufacturing alternatives to its clients.

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Tolerance Tool 2263 McKnight Rd. N Bay 11 North St. Paul, Minnesota 55109 Greg Kolbeck, general manager Phone: 651.770.5918 Email: gkolbeck@tolerancetool.com Tolerance Tool, LLC is an innovative mold manufacturing company that is committed to meeting the high demands of today’s moldmaking industry. Tolerance Tool understands its customers are the most important aspect to running a successful business. The company’s goal is to exceed its customers’ needs by delivering quality molds in shorter lead times at a competitive price. Visit Tolerance Tool’s website to see how it accomplishes these goals and creates customer satisfaction. M.C. Molds 125 Industrial Park Dr. Williamston, Michigan 48895 Joe Palazzolo, general manager Phone: 517.655.5482 Email: joep@mcmolds.com M.C. Molds, Inc., incorporated in 1984, is a builder of blow molds and custom tooling serving the plastics industry, and prides itself on being an expert in bottle and mold design, moldmaking, and mold repair and refurbishment. Utilizing the team’s experience, the company combines advanced blow mold and metal working technologies with design and craftsmanship to provide its customers with the most technologically advanced molds, exceptional service, quality, reduced lead times and outstanding tool life. NEW PARTNERS Bales Metal Surface Solutions 2824 Hitchcock Ave. Downers Grove, Illinois 60515 Rich Wozniak, technical service manager Phone: 630.852.4665 Email: richw@balesusa.com Website: www.balesusa.com Since 1978, Bales Metal Surface Solutions has provided incomparable surface finishes and tight tolerances, combined with a proud legacy of integrity and innovation. Bales fuses science and craftsmanship in all it does, by constantly expanding its capabilities and array of proprietary products and services. Whether in person or virtually, the Bales Team is poised and ready to solve any molding challenge. n


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HEALTH BENEFITS COSTS: WHAT IS THE MAGIC NUMBER? by Will Hinshaw, partner/founder, Captive Solutions & Options

I

nsurance reporting is wrought with charts and graphs that document figures, percentages and acronyms that are difficult to understand in terms of cause and effect. Rarely do they drive clarity and action. However, those disparate reporting sources can be simplified to a single metric that links to what business leaders care about – cost! This metric can help leaders evaluate options, monitor progress through the process and assess the impact to the health benefit plan accordingly for the next year. This “magic number” is Total Cost Per Employee Per Month (PEPM). TOTAL COST PER EMPLOYEE PER MONTH Healthcare spend is based on the sum of a multitude of unit costs. These unit costs then are consolidated and summed based on an enrolled employee – hence the term Per Employee Per Month. This methodology is necessary because employee enrollment varies from month to month. These unit costs are grouped into three “buckets” of spend: administrative costs, insurance costs and claims costs. Image 1 depicts a total cost PEPM, while the buckets categorize the metrics and the unit costs that commonly are included. USING PEPM TO EVALUATE 0PTIONS At the onset of an annual insurance contract, PEPM can serve as the basis for calculating projected total cost, as well as comparing each bucket of spend. The insurer – for either a fully insured or partially self-funded plan – and the advisor or broker will be able to consolidate total cost into a single PEPM. While this is an excellent point of comparison that levels the playing field between demographics, plan designs, service delivery and cost containment programs, the components of the PEPM

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illuminate valid points of comparison. The mix of spend articulated via the percentage for each bucket further highlights the points of comparison. Some will espouse minimal fixed costs, so claims coverage is maximized. Others will counter that greater fixed costs reduce the volatility during the policy year. The goal is to simplify the process to allow for a targeted assessment, which leads to action. Total cost PEPM and the percentages associated with each bucket, in conjunction with the rates and factors that make up those percentages, are excellent tools to create a measurable comparison. While the comparison is not “apples to apples,” it will provide insight that can lead to better outcomes. As with any business decision, the choice is the risk vs. the reward criteria, which is specific to each company. USING PEPM TO MONITOR PERFORMANCE Where the total cost PEPM really shines is in a monthly snapshot vs. the contract, budgeting and/or additional benchmarks. Given that the rates associated with service delivery and insurance premium are fixed at the contract


onset, the monthly review should focus on the claims PEPM, as it calculates into the total cost PEPM. During policy updates, the claims PEPM should be broken down into medical and pharmaceutical claims, which easily can be measured and compared year-over-year, month-tomonth, vs. projections to determine if further research is warranted. For example, given an increase in the monthly total cost PEPM vs. the projected monthly average, leadership easily can assess if the driver is increasing medical or pharmaceutical claims based on their PEPM values. If the increase is in medical claims, a quick analysis should identify the top three costs based on PEPM. Depending up on the outcome of this quick analysis, a company can determine the course of action to address the rising costs. One area of increasing cost, but easily monitored via the PEPM, is pharmaceutical claims. In addition to understanding the year-over-year costs, there are many national benchmarks for pharmaceutical PEPMs, which brokers or advisors can provide. A number of innovative and well-established cost containment programs exist to

effect change, and the vast majority of today’s programs focus on how and where to source the prescription. These international sourcing and/or patient assistance programs can drive savings from a moderate 10% to an astounding 100% subsidy. The awareness generated by PEPM monitoring can lead to specific tactics to lower costs. The complex nature of the healthcare delivery system quickly can lead to dizzying levels of detail that are difficult to assimilate into a traditional business decisionmaking process, which is why understanding total cost PEPM is necessary and beneficial to navigating through today’s healthcare challenges. n Will Hinshaw has dedicated over 25 years to leading organizations to profitable growth and superior service delivery in numerous industries over the years, including healthcare delivery, pharmaceutical, and mergers and acquisitions. For more information on the “Magic Number” or healthcare spend in general, please contact Susan Denzio, sdenzio@firstresourceinc.com.

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www.americanmoldbuilder.com21.07.2021 | AMBA.org 10:08:19 31


ISO CERTIFICATION: WHAT DO MOLD BUILDERS NEED TO KNOW? by Dianna Brodine, vice president, editorial, The American Mold Builder

I

SO 9001 is the international certification for quality management systems. Available in over 170 countries and built to benefit any size of organization, certification proves that the company has a strong customer focus, motivation, managerial skills and an emphasis on continuous improvement, according to the ISO website (www.iso.org). However, ISO certification is a timeintensive process – and isn’t required by most customers. Is the return on investment worth it? Two mold building companies provided insight on their experiences in obtaining ISO 9001:2015 certification, including the process, challenges and ultimate payoff. THE PROCESS Concept Molds, Schoolcraft, Michigan, builds custom tooling for the automotive, medical and industrial markets. The company is ISO 9001:2015 certified, which Program and Quality Manager Michael Rochholz called, “the ground level of certification for ISO.” Rochholz has been involved in all facets of certification, from initiation and evaluation through to auditing and maintenance – “basically start to finish,” he said, “and it’s never finished!” Concept Molds chose ISO 9001:2015 because it’s geared toward tool shops. “There are other certifications that are more appropriate for medical and aerospace manufacturers, but the basic certification of 9001:2015 fits Concept Molds very well,” Rochholz said. The company’s first attempt at certification was in 2003, although it didn’t reach full implementation. “That certification was geared toward the needs of customers – the intended purpose was sales, rather than quality,” he said. “It didn’t have true buy-in from employees because it wasn’t geared toward our needs internally. Eventually, it was dropped.” Then, ISO certification was reinitiated as a quality management system (QMS). “The purpose changed – to help us grow, do the right things and meet the values our customers expect,” Rochholz explained. “Since then, we have buy-in internally because the certification has meaning to it. The people who are involved in maintaining the system see the opportunities.” These opportunities

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include workplace autonomy, as employees can go through processes on their own – such as corrective action responses – and take ownership of the issues they see and the solutions they implement. At Legacy Precision Molds, a Grandville, Michiganbased company specializing in building high-precision plastic injection molds up to 500 ton, the ISO certification process began in June of 2020. “The first step involved meeting with consultants, asking for quotes, and doing our research” said Tyler VanRee, team leader. “From there, we overlapped that with the planning stage.” This included asking questions, such as: What should the QMS look like? How should it be structured? What are the objectives to be achieved? “Then we moved into implementation,” said VanRee, “which involved clarifying documentation, procedures and processes – and then implementing necessary changes in our organization and preparing for certification.” During the review process, Legacy Precision Molds received outside, third-party input before moving into the certification stage. “It was a 10-month process for us.” FACING THE CHALLENGES Any new or changed process will be met with some resistance or unforeseen complications. Employee Buy-In At Concept Molds, getting the employees to see the benefit of ISO implementation – especially when some of them had been around for the first attempt – was the biggest challenge. “It was originally viewed as ‘not meaningful to me’ and ‘more work for me’,” said Rochholz. “But, without employee buy-in, it’s difficult to have a meaningful quality management system because the system is everyone, not just one or two individuals.” The results changed their minds. “The primary thing we learned was that it was important to be sure our procedures were stated in a way that ensures we can fulfill our key performance indicators (KPIs),” he explained. “If the page 34


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correct standards are in place and we’re meeting our goals, we are able to achieve the outcome we’re expecting.” VanRee experienced a similar resistance at Legacy Precision Molds. “We knew right away we had to get buyin from everyone and keep them involved in the process,” he said. To that end, the company included information in its scheduled Monday shop meetings, where all employees would be updated as the processes rolled out. “Step-bystep implementation also was important, because it gave employees a chance to digest the changes and the impacts each step would have on their jobs.” Document Management Nick VanderZwaag, purchaser at Legacy, pointed to another challenge – document control. “It was important to train our employees on how to keep track of documents, including making sure they’re using the right version,” he said. “Documents should be simple as possible – keep forms to one page and consolidate as much as possible.” Although there are document control compliance systems available for purchase, Legacy chose to utilize a combination of self-management tools, including Google Forms, Excel and the company’s own database. Plan can make a difference in another paperwork challenge – change management. “If a customer approves a job and it’s sent to the floor, but then changes are requested, ISO requires you to keep track of those changes,” said VanderZwaag. “When did the change happen? Who approved it? It’s easy to overlook a revision history for production records.” He recommended simply describing the change with a note on the order document itself, and then dating and initialing the change. “It keeps all of the documentation on one page rather than having a separate log.” MAINTAINING CERTIFICATION After acquiring the ISO certification, the work toward recertification begins. At Concept Molds, the company performs scheduled internal quality audits on a semiannual basis. “We choose to break it up and do part of our quality management review and part of our internal quality audit each half of the year,” said Rochholz. “We also have surveillance and recertification audits from a third party, and the quality management system is evaluated against customer surveys and corrective actions both internally and externally.” The use of a third-party for evaluation is valuable to Rochholz. “Even though I need to stay current on ISO, I have other roles to play here,” he said, “so I rely on that professional to oversee what we’re doing and make sure we’re meeting our expectations.” 34

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At Legacy Precision Molds, “Our internal maintenance process includes quarterly internal meetings to review and update things as necessary,” VanRee said. “We also have yearly audits done by an outside firm to confirm the ISO system is effective and up to date.” RETURN ON INVESTMENT “For us, our return on investment is seeing our customers coming back to us because they value what we do,” said Rochholz. “We can see that the quality and documentation we’re providing is paramount to them, as shown by the surveys they return to us.” Having ISO certification also minimizes individual customer audits. “We can provide our ISO certificate, and customers know we have systems and standards in place, If we didn’t have certification, customers might want to come in and do an audit to see if we meet their criteria – and other customers may have different criteria. That could be a challenge to handle. He also pointed to a more structured flow of design and build, reduced quoting time and standardized training for new and existing employees as benefits realized. VanRee said, “ISO is really a structured improvement program. It adds a framework around which to execute and do things well.” Benefits at Legacy have included enhanced performance data management, improved data management, external accountability and recognition from customers. However, “The biggest return on investment is inside your own four walls,” VanderZwaag said. VanRee added, “One of the biggest misunderstandings with ISO is that ISO is going to transform my business into something I don’t want it to be,” he said. “But the opposite is true. We are the ones setting the quality objectives we want to achieve – the things important to our business. ISO provides a framework, and it tells our customers that this company is intentional in the way we handle quality.” Rochholz didn’t downplay the work that went into certification. “But I’ll tell you it’s valuable work,” he said. “We recently passed our recertification audit, which is a three-year cycle. Our system is mature, and it works very well. Some say the ISO program is too expensive, but customers say that to us as mold builders, too – and we expect them to look at us with the value we provide in mind. I would say you need to look at this system for the value it can provide to help your company be successful.” And there’s no reason to worry about perfection. “ISO 9001 is about continuous improvement,” VanRee said. “You don’t need to get everything right the first time around.” n


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NEW PERSPECTIVES AT FAMILY-RUN COMPANY by Rachael Pfenninger, director of strategic execution, AMBA

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n late 2020, Kyle Scott, project manager, Liberty Molds, Portage, Michigan, left the construction industry to join his family-run company, where he planned to share and apply developed skills in sales and relationship-building. Shortly after, he attended the AMBA 2021 pre-conference session for its Emerging Leaders Network, where he explored leadership tactics alongside like-minded peers in the industry. After just a year and a half at the company, Scott has made waves and already generated significant impact within the company. He and his uncle, Brian Scott – who currently runs the company as its president – sat down with Rachael Pfenninger, AMBA director of strategic execution, to dive into Kyle Scott’s journey into moldmaking, the role he plays in the company’s workforce development efforts and more. YOU’RE NEWER TO THE INDUSTRY. PLEASE SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU WERE DOING BEFORE JOINING THE LIBERTY MOLDS TEAM. Kyle Scott: I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, so I’m not from here, originally. I didn’t come from a moldmaking background, even though my uncle runs Liberty Molds; I actually came over from a sales role in the home building industry. WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT THE MOLDMAKING INDUSTRY SO FAR? Kyle Scott: Moldmaking has been an adjustment, absolutely. With the practical knowledge I have gained in relationship building, though, it hasn’t been too jarring. What’s been most exciting to me is the level of intelligence of everyone working here. I’m very engineer-minded, so I’ve been able to communicate easily with the team and train in the technical side of the business. Of course, there’s going to be personality differences, but overall, the level of knowledge and willingness of the team to share has blown me away.

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BRIAN, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF KYLE’S TRANSITION? WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE TO HIRE A FAMILY MEMBER, ESPECIALLY ONE WHO IS NEWER TO THE MOLDMAKING INDUSTRY? Brian Scott: This process really has been incredible for me. Kyle is a fast learner, so his onboarding was relatively easy. He’s taken on responsibilities that we had never envisioned. I think the greatest benefit is that I’ve gotten to know Kyle as a person rather than as a family member. We’ve been able to explore the city together, and I’ve been able to build a level of trust with him very quickly. IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’VE REALLY TAKEN YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIP TO ANOTHER LEVEL – WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE FALLEN INTO A MENTOR/MENTEE ROLE? Brian Scott: Absolutely, and it was something I never anticipated. From the beginning, Kyle and I agreed to be upfront with one another. This is a new industry, a new role and a new city for him. We both want to be sure it’s what he wants. Thankfully, because he has this willingness to learn and an ability to retain key information, I don’t think it has mattered at all that he lacks the experience some other guys in the shop might have. IT’S EXCITING TO SEE SOMEONE NEW COMING INTO THE INDUSTRY, ENJOYING NOT ONLY THE RELATIONSHIPS AND PERSONALITIES, BUT ALSO GETTING IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO SOMEONE IN THE INDUSTRY ON WHOSE EXPERIENCE YOU CAN RELY. OF COURSE, THAT TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE IS STILL NEEDED. KYLE, WHAT HAS LEARNING THAT SIDE OF THE BUSINESS LOOKED LIKE FOR YOU? Kyle Scott: I’ve spent a lot of time just researching and understanding molds, as well as utilizing the knowledge of our people here. There’s no better way to learn things like mold construction, mold function, why things need to be where they are, et cetera, than through relying on the tribal knowledge of employees who have been here a long time. It’s also really helped to have an engineering background. At the same time, even though I’m constantly


knowledge needs to be developed, et cetera. There’s just nothing better than being able to grow your own garden.

Brian Scott

Kyle Scott

learning, I’m also always pushing to make things better and different – we’re always trying to go to the next level. BRIAN, WHAT’S BEEN THE GREATEST BENEFIT OF HAVING KYLE HERE IN THE SHOP? Brian Scott: I think having Kyle here – especially because he comes from another industry – brings some new perspectives to the floor. It’s a breath of fresh air – for myself and the team – whenever we bring in people from other industries and other generations. Having those perspectives can lead to business flourishing, which is why – as long as someone has a willingness to learn – I would never hesitate to hire someone who lacks experience in the industry. We’ve always been passionate about that. HOW IS THAT PHILOSOPHY REFLECTED IN YOUR WORKFORCE? Brian Scott: We’ve always focused on bringing in younger kids. In fact, we always have one or two here in the shop. What a lot of other companies don’t realize is that we’ve had an apprenticeship program for 35 years that was developed through the local community college, and everyone who is local utilizes that. We also depend on senior moldmakers to help train them, and I’ve instituted financial incentives, such as the availability of annual bonuses, to encourage their willingness to do that. Of course, we’re fortunate to have this school relationship, but it also requires an investment of time. Jeff Dee, another family member who is a part-owner of the company, participates on the college’s strategy team, for example. He provides insight into what classes are needed, what

KYLE, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’VE BEEN FORTUNATE TO LAND AT A MOLDMAKING FACILITY WHERE THERE’S A BROAD REPRESENTATION OF GENERATIONS, BUT I’M SURE IT CAN BE OVERWHELMING WHEN SO MANY OTHERS YOUR AGE HAVE BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY A LONG TIME. WHAT WAS IT LIKE COMING TO THE PRECONFERENCE SESSION IN 2021 AND BEING IMMERSED IN THIS UP-ANDCOMING GROUP OF LEADERS AND INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS? Kyle Scott: It actually was really validating. I had only been on the job for six months – I was completely green and still just getting my feet wet. But the speaker was incredible, and he facilitated some excellent conversation that made me feel like I had quite a lot to contribute. Going to that session really set the tone for the entire conference for me. I felt more confident and prepared to be immersed with this group of people, and that’s only grown in the time that I’ve been able to spend here. IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’VE REALLY EMBRACED THIS ROLE, AND IT’S BEEN A BENEFIT TO BOTH BRIAN AND THE ENTIRE COMPANY. WHERE DO YOU BOTH SEE THIS RELATIONSHIP GOING? WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU THINK WILL BE MOST PRESSING IN THE COMING YEARS? Brian Scott: So, Kyle, let’s be direct – do you see yourself having a future here? (Starts to laugh) Kyle Scott (both laughing): Yes, definitely. I don’t plan on going anywhere. Like my uncle mentioned, bringing in new guys and training are a huge focus, and I see some challenges coming our way in that area. It’s not easy to pass knowledge from generation to generation, but I feel very encouraged by the future. n AMBA again will host a pre-conference session at AMBA Conference 2022, where other emerging leaders passionate about their path in mold manufacturing will come together for practical insights that will apply directly to their operational ability to lead. Learn more on pages 8-11. www.americanmoldbuilder.com | AMBA.org

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4 [1] WESTMINSTER TOOL PARTNERS WITH SUMITOMO (SHI) DEMAG Westminster Tool, Plainfield, Connecticut, recently introduced a new Sumitomo (SHI) Demag 354T SE-EVA-HD injection molding machine to its mold qualification technology center. The new addition will complement the company’s two injection molding presses, a 110T and 150T. Westminster Tool partnered with Sumitomo (SHI) Demag in hopes of better serving its customers’ needs. The machine’s application will accommodate upcoming medical manufacturing projects that require larger parts and higher cavitation. For more information, visit www.westminstertool.com. [2] TAD MCGWIRE NAMED CHAIRMAN OF PLASTICS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), Washington, D.C., has announced the election of Tad McGwire as chairman of the Board. McGwire is CEO and owner of Industrial Heater Corp., a recognized leader in the process heating industry, and brings nearly four decades of manufacturing experience to his new role. In addition to his role as chairman, McGwire also serves on the association’s NPE2024 Executive Committee. For more information, visit www.plasticsindustry.org. [3] HASCO UPDATES SOLIDWORKS HASCO, Lüdenscheid, Germany, recently released an update to the SolidWorks database, providing its customers with a tool with around 100 further products and the range of K standard mold units. The native data generated in the original CAD system features installation spaces, resulting in time savings during the design process. These spaces can be included in the individual design alongside the 38

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5

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geometry that needs to be removed. For more information, visit www.hasco.com. [4] HAIMER USA HIRES NEW REGIONAL SALES Steve Ellis joined Haimer USA – a company that designs, produces and sells high-precision products for metal cutting, as well as for other branches including automotive, aerospace, energy, rail and general machining – in regional sales in January 2022. In his new role, he will support end-users, distributors and partners of HAIMER in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi with sales and post-sales support. He also works with distribution partners and customers to offer quality solutions to increase productivity. Ellis has been in the industrial sales industry for 25 years. For more information, visit www.haimer-usa.com. SYBRIDGE ACQUIRES ACTION TOOLING AND LAKESHORE FIXTURE & GAUGE SyBridge Technologies, Southfield, Michigan, has completed the acquisition of Action Tooling LLC and Lakeshore Fixture & Gauge Ltd. Both transactions further expand SyBridge’s Tech & Services business unit and make SyBridge an end-to-end solutions provider. Action and Lakeshore represent SyBridge’s fifth and sixth acquisitions in 2021. For more information, visit www.sybridgetech.com. [5] KRUSE TRAINING LAUNCHES VIRTUAL TRAINING PROGRAM Kruse Training, Inc., Naples, Florida, will launch its first virtual reality training program for the injection molding industry this March and will be available for the Oculus Quest VR headsets. Kruse hopes to teach its training


program users how to become “VR molding experts” so that they can prepare for the shop floor. Classes were developed to support a molding company’s hands-on process training initiatives. For more information, visit www.krusetraining.com. PLASTIC DESIGN & MANUFACTURING TRANSFERS OWNERSHIP Plastic Design & Manufacturing, Manhattan, Montana, has transferred ownership from founder Mike Groff to the company’s existing executive team. Randy Scheid, president and CFO; James Smith, vice president, operations and engineering; and Darrell Witham, vice president, sales and marketing have acquired the business along with Sam Lazcano, vice president, of PDM MX operations, rounding out the executive team. Groff will retain a seat on the board. For more information, visit www.makeitplastic.com. [6] CONFERENCE PROGRAMS ANNOUNCED FOR DETROIT MOLDING EXPO The programs for the two free-to-attend conference theaters at the Injection Molding and Design Expo, which takes place in Detroit, Michigan, USA on May 2526, 2022, recently were announced. The speaker lineup includes senior representatives from OEMs, tier one suppliers, packaging producers and leading molders. These include Ford Motor Company, Berry Global, Faurecia, Amcor, Westfall Technik, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, Teel Plastics, Cascade Engineering and more. Located alongside the exhibition, the two conference theaters are focused on “Molding The Future” and “Designing The Future.” They each feature busy two-day programs of keynote talks, panel discussions and technology presentations. Admission to the conference theaters and the expo is free of charge. For more information, visit www.injectionmoldingexpo.com.

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ARGON ACQUIRES MATREX MOLD AND TOOL Argon Medical Devices, Inc., Frisco, Texas, announced the acquisition of Wisconsin-based Matrex Mold and Tool, Inc. Matrex produces metal injection production and prototype molds for the medical device, residential and automotive industries, and has done so since 1985. Argon was a customer of Matrex for over 25 years prior to the acquisition. For more information, visit www.argonmedical.com. n

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NEW PLASTICS EXPO TO COME TO THE MIDWEST by Nicole Mitchell, editor, The American Mold Builder

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lastics Technology Expo (PTXPO) is a new threeday event featuring an exhibit hall, education, firstlooks at the newest plastics machinery and a variety of networking opportunities for all attendees. PTXPO was created to connect processors to the plastics industry community with the goal of helping businesses succeed.

moldmaking pavilion. Examples of the newest machinery and applications that will be showcased are blow molding machines for packaging, extrusion-specific dies, conveying systems and more. Those in the moldmaking pavilion will be available to provide solutions to attendees regarding related problems.

For its first year, the expo will take place Tuesday, March 29 through Thursday, March 31. The show will be open 9 am to 5 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it will be open 9 am to 3 pm on Thursday. The convention will take place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, making it the first major industry event in the area since 2009.

American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) will have a booth at the event, where it will promote its newest report, the Employee Attraction and Hiring Playbook – A Best Practices Guide. The playbook features best practices and industry insights related to the attraction, hiring and retainment of high-quality, high-performing employees, and was developed in conjunction with AMBA’s 2021 Workforce Development Task Force. The playbook is only available to purchase for AMBA members; however, it can be viewed by everyone at PTXPO. The American Mold Builder also will be at the event, and all attendees will be able to pick up the latest issue of the magazine at the AMBA booth.

“While we plan on having educational presentations right on the show floor, we don’t want the Plastics Technology Expo to become a hybrid trade show-technical conference,” said Plastics Technology Editorial Director Jim Calliari. “That means that we will continue holding our Molding and Extrusion technical conferences in the fall.” PTXPO will be organized into pavilions, featuring over 200 exhibitors. This gives attendees the ability to easily plan their show experience. Categories of each pavilion include injection and blow molding, extrusion and thermoforming, auxiliary equipment, 3D printing for plastics, materials, recycling and moldmaking. Mold builders, components providers, texture and engraving specialists, mold repair equipment suppliers, tool builders, hot runner providers and more will be at the

Early Bird sales are available through February 28 for $50 per person. Beginning March 1, ticket prices will be raised to $65 and can be purchased online or onsite during the expo. If registration is completed by February 28, the PTXPO badge will be mailed, allowing for an easier check-in to the venue. For complimentary access to the general three-day PTXPO event, enter promo code 10089 at registration. n For more information on PTXPO and to find AMBAmember exhibitors, visit www.plasticstechnologyexpo.com. www.americanmoldbuilder.com | AMBA.org

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CLOSING IN ON A DOMESTIC INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY by Omar Nashashibi, co-founder, The Franklin Partnership, LLC

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he US Congress and American manufacturers are one step closer to developing a domestic industrial strategy to counter China and invest in US supply chains. After months of delay, Democrats in the US House of Representatives released their counterproposal to the Senate’s bipartisan US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) passed in June 2021 by a vote of 68 to 32. The 2,912-page legislation is titled the “America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act,” or the America COMPETES Act of 2022. Designed in both chambers to combat China’s rise in manufacturing and technology, most in Washington, D.C. expect President Biden to sign a compromise bill into law by Memorial Day and possibly as soon as March. Following the supply chain challenges in the US starting at the onset of the pandemic, calls to invest more in domestic manufacturing grew on Capitol Hill. As policymakers dug deeper, they recognized that by some estimates, China is spending up to $150 billion annually on technology investments. The Senate bill allocates $52 billion towards semiconductor manufacturing in the US and includes $100 billion for research and development, job training, education, science and technology. The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), creates a new National Science Foundation Directorate of Technology and Innovation and sets aside $5.2 billion for STEM education and workforce development. Most critical for mold manufacturers, the Senate-passed legislation unilaterally extends expired exclusions granted under the Section 301 China tariffs. This would include the lifting, by Congress, of the 25% tariffs currently in place on plastic injection molds. As part of the tariffs installed by the previous administration and continued under President Biden, tariffs are in place on molds, dies and thousands of other Chinese imports. Prior to retaining The Franklin Partnership (TFP), the US Trade Representative (USTR) granted an exclusion request to importers for Chinese plastic injection molds, allowing products to enter the US without the 25% tariffs.

The American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) worked with TFP to develop a coordinated strategy to demonstrate a sufficient capacity to meet demand and have the tariffs on Chinese plastic injection mold imports reinstated. After failing to lift the tariffs through the formal process due to objections from the AMBA and others, importers are working to bypass a process yet to restart and have Congress lift the tariffs on products granted the exclusion, including the plastic injection molds. The inclusion of this and other tariff provisions in the Senatepassed legislation led to the delays in the US House, as lead drafters of that legislation thought the Senate took too broad an approach. The House’s America COMPETES Act of 2022, also provides $52 billion to incentivize private-sector investments in semiconductor fabrication. The proposal will authorize $45 billion to improve our nation’s supply chains by preventing shortages of critical goods and ensuring that more of these goods are made in the US. To support these initiatives, lawmakers included grants, loans and loan guarantees to support supply chain resilience and manufacturing of critical goods, industrial equipment and manufacturing technology. The bill also establishes a regional technology and innovation hub program to incentivize partnerships between local governments, colleges and universities, private industry and non-profits. The US Department of Commerce is taking the lead under the House legislation and was provided $500 million to coordinate with stakeholders and incorporate industry expertise to identify approaches that domestic manufacturers could adopt voluntarily to manage supply chain risks and improve resilience. It will authorize a significant increase in funding and expansion of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, including addressing the resilience of domestic supply chains and authorizing two new competitively awarded Manufacturing USA Institutes. The streamlining of trade adjustment assistance for firms and increased funding also will help many small businesses if that provision were to become law. page 45

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page 43

Manufacturers should welcome this new attention from lawmakers in Washington; the new programs and resources to support the industrial base are an important first step toward implementing a successful industrial policy. The other component is finding workers to produce the products and meet the new demand. The Federal Government in January 2022 reported manufacturers had 858,000 job openings, and policymakers in Washington have taken notice of these well-paying career opportunities. To help address this shortage, the bill’s authors in the House created an initiative to support translational research and development to help scale up effective pre-K-12 STEM education innovations to improve the alignment of undergraduate STEM education and training with workforce needs. Most importantly, the legislation contains the National Apprenticeship Act of 2022, which is a slightly revised version of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, a bill the House passed in February 2021 and is pending in the Senate. A top priority for AMBA, the apprenticeship bill allows for the use of competency-based credentials and training in addition to hourly, while expanding funding opportunities for youth programs.

Now that the House has a measure, the real process of negotiating a final bill is underway. Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate agree the US must take action to counter the rise of Beijing. The focus is on the size of China’s economy and financial system and the financial risks it poses to global economies without a strong US industrial base and strategy. The two chambers must first reconcile their differences and approaches, particularly when it comes to trade and the tariffs on China. President Biden is committed to signing a bill addressing supply chains and countering Beijing, which leads most to believe Washington will secure a bipartisan compromise bill this Spring. Years ago, manufacturers in the US began calling for a coordinated strategy to strengthen the industrial base. While it has taken the rise of another superpower and a global pandemic, the politicians in Washington finally have gotten the message and are taking action. n Omar Nashashibi is a founding partner at The Franklin Partnership, LLC, a bipartisan government relations and lobbying firm retained by the American Mold Builders Association in Washington, D.C.

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MARCH 2022 Die Casting Executive Conference, March. 6-9, Key West, Florida, www.diecasting.org

APRIL 2022 Environmental, Health and Safety Summit (Virtual), April 27-31, www.amba.org/events

Dramco Tool Virtual Plant Tour Workshop, March 8, www.amba.org/events

MAY AMBA Conference 2022, May 11-13, 2022, Itusca, Illinois, www.amba.org/events

Virtual Workshop Series on Recruitment and Retention, March 15 and 22, www.amba.org/events PTXPO, March 29-31, Rosemont, Illinois, www.plasticstechnologyexpo.com

Injection Molding & Design Expo, May 25-26, 2022, www.injectionmoldingexpo.com

Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales......................................... www.alliancelasersales.com......................................................15 AMBA Conference 2022.......................................................... www.amba.org..........................................................................44 Boride Engineered Abrasives.................................................... www.borideabrasives.com........................................................14 Crystallume, a Division of RobbJack Corporation................... www.crystallume.com...............................................................29 DME.......................................................................................... www.dme.net..............................................................Back Cover Dynamic Surface Technologies................................................ www.dynablue.com......................................... Inside Back Cover Federated Insurance.................................................................. www.federatedinsurance.com...................................................33 Grainger.................................................................................... www.grainger.com....................................................................40 GROB....................................................................................... www.grobgroup.com.................................................................39 HASCO America, Inc............................................................... www.hasco.com........................................................................31 INCOE Corporation.................................................................. www.incoe.com.........................................................................25 iWarriors................................................................................... www.iwarriors.org.....................................................................45 Kruse Training.......................................................................... www.krusetraining.com............................................................19 Oerlikon/HRSflow.................................................................... www.oerlikon.com/hrsflow.........................................................3 PartnerShip................................................................................ www.partnership.com/12AMBA...............................................35 PCS Company........................................................................... www.pcs-company.com............................................................17 Plastic Engineering & Technical Services, Inc......................... www.petsinc.net........................................................................21 Progressive Components........................................................... www.procomps.com........................................Inside Front Cover PTXPO...................................................................................... www.ptxpo.com........................................................................42 Regal Components.................................................................... www. regalcomps.com................................................................7 R.E.R. Software........................................................................ www.rersoftware.com...............................................................24 Ultra Polishing, Inc................................................................... www.ultrapolishing.com...........................................................23 Vincent Tool.............................................................................. www.vincenttool.com...............................................................27 Wisconsin Engraving Co. Inc./Unitex...................................... www.wi-engraving.com............................................................39

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