In December of 2019, AEM announced the addition of three new staff members, all a part of the Tech and Safety Department: Technical and Safety Manager Travis Webb, Director of Product Stewardship Jeff Jurgens and Director of Global Standards and Compliance Jason Malcore.

Their incorporation was a sign of great things to come to the Association as they filled an integral void in the Tech and Safety Department. Fast forward to now, four months later, they are all playing a vital role in AEM and have already begun working on big projects for the upcoming year.

AEM sat down with all three of them to discuss their backgrounds, expertise, roles in AEM and more.

AEM: Can you provide some information about your background and how you got into the industry?

Webb: I’ve previously held a job in the construction industry doing sewer inspections and utility locating. However, most recently before coming to AEM, I was doing sales and product management for an OEM where we built a lot of really cool and unique pieces of equipment that we coined as “surface water management equipment.” It was a really great experience where I learned the A to Z’s of building a large piece of equipment from start to finish and gained an understanding of its true complexity.

As soon as I spotted the opportunity at AEM, I jumped on it. My excitement to be involved with AEM, the industry, and our member companies has only grown since then.

Jurgens: As a young adult, I had experience as an operating engineer, where I operated just about every kind of equipment our members manufacture. From there I started transferring surveyor information into useful information for the operators. That led to a job as grade control manager, which led to a job in municipal engineering, where I was forklift and bucket truck certified.

Soon thereafter, I attained a bachelor’s degree in construction and business administration, eventually pairing it with an MBA. When I saw the position at AEM, it seemed like it was the perfect culmination of all my past work and education.

Malcore: My education set me up for various governmental work such as the EPA or the Department of Energy. However, post-graduation I found myself working at Navistar, an AEM member, working in regulatory compliance, product safety and stewardship. With Navistar, I actually worked with AEM, along with companies like Komatsu and John Deere, in various compliance seminars and workshops.

After that, I worked in environmental compliance and product safety for seven years. The opportunity at AEM just happened to be a good mix between all my past experiences and ended up working out perfectly.

AEM: What is your role at AEM?

Webb: I am the Technical Manager within the Tech & Safety Services department here at AEM. I work alongside 10 others in the department that all share the same common goals and attitude toward our member companies and the industries that AEM represents.

Jurgens: I am the Director, Product Stewardship. I serve as a go-to resource at AEM regarding industry trends and pending issues in the areas of safety, regulations, compliance, and standards. I review and report technical information, standards and regulatory developments to members; respond to member inquiries on the standards development process; represent industry and members at standards and governmental meetings; stay abreast of and communicate and follow-up on technical inquiries.

Malcore: I am the Director of Global Standards and Compliance. My job is to pay attention to evolving rules, regulations and standards outside the U.S., which is a gigantic regulatory environment. I also help survey and interpret standards for application to product groups and industry sectors and then communicate this information to our members so they’re aware of the developments.

AEM: How does that role support the Association and the Industry as a whole?

Webb: For starters, the team really covers a lot of ground as a whole, not only on a national level, but a global level as well. I’m more focused on the national level, working with a variety of the 30-plus technical committees of AEM members that we support. A large portion of the groups I support are more centered around the ag industry, but I’m involved with the other sectors as well. 

AEM’s technical committees cover well over 100 different product types and provide a forum for our members to develop industry consensus in regards to maintaining global market access, developing common products applicable to all markets, and understanding global customer expectations, all with the support of safe design and use of equipment at the forefront.

In a world that is continually evolving, our industry is changing right along with it, and the tech and safety team is vital to helping identify and communicate these issues on behalf of our member companies.

Jurgens: This position is crucial to promote the safe operation of equipment and to monitor and act upon issues that could develop into technical barriers to trade. Before this role was created, the Tech and Safety team was stretched rather thin, so this position will really allow us to focus on the Association and how we can help our members.

Because our team is dealing with the manufacturers, engineers and product developers in our industry, not just our members, we have a true understanding of trends in the equipment industry. Companies sales and marketing, may be promoting a new feature or innovation, but the engineers know what is going on, sometimes years in advance.   

Malcore: The creation of this position helps fill in a blind spot that existed before. Instead of being reactive, we’ll be able to see changes as they are happening and communicate this info to our members. Having someone that has their eyes on this information at all times to report on is infinitely valuable; we never want to be caught flat-footed.

As their representative, we can pay attention to the smaller markets instead of solely focusing on major outlets, like China. This helps us, as a voice of our industry, to create a unified message regarding these issues. It’s another way we can represent and help our members perfect their business practices.

AEM: What are some key projects or initiatives you are working on right now?

Webb: The Product Safety & Compliance Seminar and Product Liability Seminar are both coming up as well. We’ve got an amazing lineup of industry professionals that are going to be presenting over the course of four days, so it’s really going to make for an impressive and educational set of events. 

The Tech and Safety team has also recently been participating in various training sessions with ASABE (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to assure we are staying up to speed with the procedures of these organizations and their relationship with ISO (International Organization of Standardization). Our member companies devote a large amount of time and effort to standards work within these organizations and we want to be able to provide them with the correct level of support when it’s needed. I look forward to future training sessions that will help us broaden our knowledge as well.

Jurgens: In the near future, we are looking to facilitate a meeting of the stakeholders from the interested AEM sectors to articulate and coordinate the status of autonomy work. From that meeting, the necessity of an autonomous committee would be explored. If beneficial, frame a charter to convene a cross sector autonomy technical committee.

Among other things, we are also planning on initiating an exchange of ideas with Marquette University or Milwaukee School of Engineering to learn about what they are teaching and how our members can leverage supply chain management under this lens of stewardship.

Malcore: Among other projects, we are currently preparing to develop a new standards database, for both domestic and international compliance issues. If a member asks a question about the safety standards for a tractor, we can go in and easily look into our accumulated knowledge in the database and accurately and efficiently deliver an answer. It will be a centralized way to easily access any information that we may have and immediately deliver it to our members.

This database will provide a great utility for ourselves and our members, and we cannot wait to finish the first phase.

For more information on AEM’s Technical and Safety Department, visit https://www.aem.org/safety-and-technical/ or contact AEM’s Curt Blades  at cblades@aem.org  or Mike Pankonin at mpankonin@aem.org.

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