As a smalltown company competing on a global scale, Vermeer Corporation is nonetheless able to hold its own—and then some. But making its roots in the farm fields where the company’s original prototype designs sprang to life presents the company with unique workforce challenges, according to talent acquisition manager Whitney Wilkinson, in addition to the normal industry pressures on recruitment and retention.

“It is difficult,” Wilkinson said. “Manufacturing takes good, quality, highly-skilled people to be successful, and we struggle with that, just like everybody else does.

At the Thinking Forward conference, Wilkinson will share the best practices that Vermeer has used to turn its small-town circumstances into a human resources asset, including a comprehensive workforce development initiative that’s nearly cradle-to-grave in its scope.

Other presentations at the June 6 event in Wichita, KS will include:

  • Elle Shelley discussing the Co-creation Movement, which is growing by bringing products to market faster through direct collaboration with customers. She will provide insights on the importance of working with customers to create streamlined innovation that brings a better customer experience and produces a mutually-valued outcome. 
  • Rusty McCarty from CustomEd reviewing five best practices for manufacturers to get young people excited and engaged in educational experiences to improve future workforce prospects.
  • James Diffely, the senior director at HIS Economics Consulting Services, providing a market update.

Register now to participate in the event, which is offered free of charge to AEM members exclusively, and take part in member engagement breakout sessions, peer-to-peer networking activities and a facility tour at Textron Aviation.

The Thinking Forward conference series is intended to help position AEM as a thought leader by articulating an industry vision and keeping members informed about potential issues that could disrupt their business models. AEM will offer five more conferences this year in Redmond, WA, Eastern, PA, Milwaukee, WI, Grapevine, TX and Duluth, GA.

For More Information

For more information on “Thinking Forward” membership events, please contact Paul Flemming, AEM senior director, membership and engagement (, tel: 414-298-4150).