Make the Most of Your AEM Membership by Getting Involved

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2/16/2024

By Luke Thornton, Vice President of Operations, Harper Industries —

As AEM members, we all get out what we put into the association. Without time, input, and collaboration, we wouldn’t have access to the valuable resources that we joined AEM for in the first place.

The association listens to members and includes members in many decisions, but we need to be present and active to direct where that time and those resources are being allocated. One way to ensure that our voices are heard is to get involved, and spend time engaging with the issues we are truly passionate about that impact our entire industry.

Harper Industries has been an AEM member for eight years, and as time has progressed the value of volunteering for committees and groups has become increasingly apparent. As the chair of AEM’s Membership Committee, I am consistently reminded of the opportunities that committees provide members to share key insights and network with their peers. I believe that more people getting involved makes for a better and more diverse experience. It benefits all of us as members, by adding more resources to the pool and making AEM a stronger and more robust organization.

Also, volunteering for a group or committee in an area you are interested in can shape our industry's future. AEM is hard at work advocating for pro-manufacturing policies at the national level, addressing ongoing workforce challenges, impacting worldwide standards, influencing regulatory developments and compliance issues, and exploring new technologies. When we participate and give our input as members, AEM can do the boots-on-the-ground work. Without member involvement, these meaningful actions could not take place.

While contributing to the industry as a whole is extremely important, I think that connecting with other members has created a lot of value for myself and my company as well. Many think of AEM’s Annual Conference and the trade shows as the main networking opportunities within the association – and don’t get me wrong, they are good opportunities to connect with other members. However, some of the most valuable networking opportunities in my mind come out of committee work; it’s a great asset to companies to show up, share insights, and gain information from members with similar goals.

Personally, I have had several experiences with other members that have informed key decisions within Harper Industries. We have been undergoing a phase of consistent growth for a while now, and I have tapped my network at AEM to see how other companies have operated in similar situations. Many of the insights that I have gained from other members have led me to be more informed and to make decisions that have benefited us in the long run. I am eager to pay it forward, and to share my own knowledge with other members in need when the time comes.

Volunteering keeps me focused on what AEM does as a whole. I try to talk to other members and AEM employees when I go to meetings, and I always take something away that is extremely useful. We are leveraging our member benefits by participating in various ways – members that only utilize the tradeshow booth discount benefits are not getting as much value as they could for their membership dues. If you are a member and are not currently involved in volunteer leadership, I would strongly encourage you to take a look at what opportunities are available and how to get involved. Without the time and effort that is put into these groups, AEM would not be the valuable resource that it is today – and it’s up to all of us to decide what direction the association goes in the future.

Luke Thornton is vice president of operations at Harper Industries, and he currently serves as Chair of the AEM Membership Committee.

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