By Dennis Slater, AEM President
Having spent nearly four decades in our industry, I’ve made my fair share of visits to small towns and tight-knit communities to visit our members and engage with the companies tasked with manufacturing the products that build our cities and feed our world.
In looking back at all I’ve experienced in my years working on behalf of our members, it never ceases to amaze me just how committed equipment manufacturers are to getting involved at a local level and making a difference. Whether it’s a large corporation or a small, family-owned company with deep roots embedded in one particular location, our members always find a way to make their presence known and positively impact the communities they call home.
And while I’m always left impressed by these engagement efforts, I’m never surprised. After all, AEM members – regardless of who they are, where they’re located, or who they serve, recognize being part of a local community and doing good for others isn’t just one of many priorities. It’s the first priority.
So, as we celebrate Manufacturing Month this October and commemorate our industry by recognizing Manufacturing Day tomorrow, Oct. 1, I want to express my appreciation for our members who reinforce their commitment to community engagement in both word and deed, as well as build momentum for the skilled trades and equipment manufacturing through their activities in the coming days and weeks.
To me, though, every day is Manufacturing Day. Look around. The opportunities for engagement are everywhere, and I’m proud to say our members are taking advantage. Whether it’s through establishing initiatives in support of local schools and technical programs, sponsoring local sports teams and community events, holding open houses to welcome area folks into their facilities, or placing advertisement in the local newspaper, our members are finding ways – both big and small – to not only tell their own stories, but also to communicate the larger story of the equipment manufacturing industry as it continues to grow and evolve.
I firmly believe our industry is on the right side of the rapid change we’re seeing in the world today. There really is so much to look forward to in the months and years ahead. New and exciting technologies are being developed to make ag and construction equipment safer and more efficient than ever before. Sustainable practices are being developed, shared, and embraced to ensure bright future for all. And while our industry should be proud of what it’s accomplished already, the bulk of the work is just getting underway.
The rapid change happening all around us is reflected in the work we’ve done – and have yet to do – on behalf of our members and at AEM. From our efforts to build a consensus viewpoint on the future of food and building, our annual demo days spent educating policymakers and government representatives about modern technology, to name a couple of recent and notable activities, everything we do is meant to equip our members with the tools they need to adapt and prepare for the future.
I have no doubt, 10 years from now, our industry will be bigger, more vibrant, and more important than it is today. And, as things continue to evolve for equipment manufacturing, the changing nature of what AEM does will inform the public as to where we’re headed as an association. That’s because the work we do is never in search of a particular destination for our members, our industry, and the general public. It’s always been about the journey – the lessons learned, the connections made, and the good we’ve done along the way through our many services, initiatives, and programs.
So, while Manufacturing Month and Manufacturing Day are helpful reminders for us to spread the message of our industry’s accomplishments, engage with the public and invite the workforce of tomorrow to build on our past successes and contribute to all the great work that has yet to be done, it’s important to remember connecting with people – particularly at a local level – is an everyday task.
As I prepare to put the finishing touches on what has been a long and rewarding career at AEM, it’s clear to me why I never lacked for motivation when it came to serving as an ambassador for the association, our members, and our industry. Quite simply, I have yet to come across one that’s more worthy of my time, effort, and support. Again, it manufactures the products that build our cities and feed our world.
To me, it just doesn’t get much better than that.
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