Critical Industry Insights, Valuable Networking: AGI’s Bruce James on the Value of Attending AEM’s Product Safety & Stewardship Conference and Liability Seminar

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3/22/2024

Product Safety & Stewardship ConferenceOne of AEM’s most popular member-driven education events is just weeks away…

Set for April 22-25, 2024, in Rosemont, Illinois, AEM’s Product Safety & Stewardship Conference and Liability Seminar is the industry’s only annual conference dedicated to advancing heavy equipment manufacturing programs with custom-crafted education tracks, innovative approaches to product stewardship, and networking.

Learn more and register now.

As this year’s event draws near, AEM caught up with Bruce James, chief engineer, product safety and compliance at AEM member company AGI - Ag Growth International, and a longtime attendee of the event, to discuss why the Product Safety & Stewardship Conference and Liability Seminar are can't-miss opportunities for AEM members, how to get the most out of the attendee experience, and more.

AEM: Why do you feel it’s important for you and others in roles like yours to participate in the AEM Product Safety & Stewardship Conference and Liability Seminar on an annual basis?

James: There’s so much I can speak to about the value of this event. Having attended it annually, meeting like-minded industry peers, and securing a powerful sense of how to approach safety and compliance, AEM’s Product Safety & Stewardship Conference and Liability Seminar has really helped me grow into a role as an expert within my organization.

My position is unique here at AGI. As AGI values safety, the organization and its leaders agreed that it would be great for me to specialize in product safety and compliance. Since this was a new position to the company at the time, being able to attend this AEM event annually helped me build knowledge related to certain tasks and responsibilities and learn from experts from across the equipment industry. In that way, the Product Safety & Stewardship Conference and Liability Seminar has been immensely beneficial to helping improve our product safety and compliance program, and my role at AGI has provided a great and rewarding career path for me. 

AEM: What are you looking forward to most about this year’s gathering?

James: First and foremost, it’s the sessions related to chemical compliance. As a member of the Product Safety & Stewardship Conference Planning Committee, I’m tasked with figuring out what the best approach will be as it relates to presenting that content and ensure it can be shared both efficiently and effectively.   

Even some of the core sessions at the conference, such as safety fundamentals, for example, they offer such relevant and timely information for attendees. Each year, we try to switch up the speakers, and it always provides excellent value and fresh perspectives with regard to how people approach product safety within the industry.

In addition, the session on the new EU Safety Machinery Directive, is going to be fantastic. Mike Senneff of Product Safety Help, LLC, is such a great presenter and speaker, and he’s always able to make something complex sound understandable. Lastly, one of the sessions I’m involved with planning is related to legally defensible safety communication. It will definitely be of interest to attendees It’s all about making sure we write our technical manuals clearly and be helpful to users, while still being defensible.

AEM: How does your involvement in this conference help you more effectively tackle responsibilities related to your role?

James: When I attend sessions at this event, I’m always taking notes and listening for ideas related to strategies and tactics that could help my organization over time. The payoff might not be immediate, but it often does benefit us in the end. Incident investigation is a notable example. I went to look back at some slides on the topic I received from attending the conference, and it ended up saving me so much time when it came to developing and launching an important internal process.

AEM: Networking is a huge component of this event. Can you speak to the value that’s provided you as a leader in the industry?

James: I’ve been attending the conference since 2007. There are people I’ve met here – vendors, contractors, people that work at other companies – I’ve ended up hiring to collaborate on various projects. It’s just so beneficial to be able to meet face to face and get to know someone. You’re meeting real, quality experts at the Product Safety & Stewardship Conference and Liability Seminar, and I wouldn’t have been able to assemble all these great contacts without attending it for so many years.

AEM: Every year, a significant number of attendees to the Product Safety & Stewardship Conference and Liability Seminar are first-timers. With that fact in mind, from your perspective as a veteran attendee, what does it take to ensure you get the most out of your time spent at the event?

James: It’s so important to look at the schedule ahead of time and determine what’s important to you. For me, it’s also so important to take good notes, because it often just sparks great ideas – whether right then or at a later date. To me, that’s probably the best value from the sessions. In short, just be prepared to listen, because there really is so much to learn at this event.

For more information on AEM’s Product Safety & Stewardship Conference, contact AEM’s Helen Horner at hhorner@aem.org.

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