Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

PMA—Who We Are, What We Are and Where We Are Going

March 3, 2020

Troy Turnbull PMA 2020 theme

Perseverance, hard work and a life-long commitment to learning—all characteristics and values that have served Troy Turnbull well throughout his lifelong manufacturing-industry journey. Having grown up in a family steeped not only in manufacturing but also in entrepreneurship, Turnbull now brings all of his background and his commitment to manufacturing and entrepreneurial spirit, to the helm of the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) as its 2020 Chairman of the Board. 

Turnbull is president of Industrial Innovations, Grandville, MI, a supplier of spray-lubrication systems and die-casting automation products, as well as a CNC machining and metal fabricator. Since he acquired the company in 2001 (“I liked the product so much, I bought the company,” he says), Turnbull hasn’t shied away from taking risks and leading it in new directions. He brings that same spirit to PMA.

Destined to Lead a Manufacturing Company

Troy Turnbull PMA’s 2020 board chairman Troy Turnbull comes from a family with a rich history in manufacturing and entrepreneurship. His father was a master mechanic and owned his own business; his great grandfather owned an automobile and truck repair shop, built from the ground up in 1926 and which still exists; and his mother operates her own hair salon that she started 45 years ago.

“My family encouraged me to learn a trade,” Turnbull recalls. That directive took many twists and turns through his youth, including participating in a diesel-mechanic program at Ferris State University; in a tool and die apprenticeship program at a Grand Rapids, MI, metal-stamping company; stints as a machine operator at a mold shop and a screw-machine company; and, eventually, as a CNC machine operator, in 1992, at Nelson Metal Products, a local die-casting company.

“As an apprentice, I often worked long, hard hours, and developed a solid work ethic and an appreciation for manufacturing,” Turnbull says. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do out of high school, but lucky for me the school offered wood shop, metal shop and auto mechanics classes, along with mechanical drafting. Without those classes, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and that education certainly prepared me well for working at Nelson Metal Products, which was growing rapidly at the time and created opportunities for me to work my way up.”

Turnbull eventually became a junior process engineer at the company, overseeing a new-product launch for one of the company’s major customers. “I worked side-by-side with quality engineers, company executives and even the company president,” he recalls, “and learned a lot. Most of all, I learned to respect everyone in the workforce, in the office and on the floor.”

Turnbull spent several years at Nelson (over two stints) and then furthered his learning journey by spending time working in another, smaller die-casting shop, and then in a press shop.

“While I found the trade that my family had asked of me—tooling, hydraulics and mechanics—working on the process side taught me so much more,” he says. “I gained experience with the casting process and machines, die design, robotics, scheduling and managing projects, and that got me on my way. I learned to listen to and respect people, and to stand up for what I believe in. 

“I’ve always been willing to take risks, too,” Turnbull continues, “which led me to Industrial Innovations and Spra-Rite, two separate companies combined into one. In 1995, while working on a project at Nelson Metal to replace a central lubrication system, I came to understand the Industrial Innovations product line. I liked it so much that in 2001, I decided to acquire a percentage of the company (based just outside of Memphis, TN), along with two other partners.” 

Turnbull and his partners eventually moved the company to Wyoming, MI, “and I started my first manufacturing facility,” he says. “We literally started with a few hand tools, a DOS-based computer and a dot-matrix printer. Luckily for me, the founding owner of the company moved to Michigan to help set up shop, teach me the business, and teach me how to be a businessman, things you just don’t learn in school.” 

In 2008-2009, the company hit hard times and the partnership dissolved. “Through pure determination, a lot of luck and the support of my family, I kept the company open,” Turnbull continues, “and I became sole owner in 2010. Without my parents and especially my wife Robyn, I would never have made it where I am today. My employees, of which many are family and close friends, all have supported me through the good times and bad.”

Since that time, the company has grown considerably, selling lubrication systems to stamping and casting facilities. In 2014, Turnbull acquired Advance Products Corporation’s Automation Division, a casting-industry supplier, and combined it with Industrial Innovations. More recently, Turnbull has sought to expand the company’s core competencies into job-shop fabrication and machining—CNC plasma cutting, drilling, forming, sawing, welding and more—as well as robotic-system integration, for numerous manufacturing applications. It operates out of a 23,000-sq.-ft. shop with 15 employees.

“Today, Industrial Innovations is about 80 percent lubrication systems and robot integration, 20 percent fabrication and machining services,” Turnbull shares. “The goal is to get to 50-50.” 

“This year is a defining one for PMA,” Turnbull shares. “Our president, David Klotz, who took over early in 2019, has a clear vision of where we need to go as an organization, and I share his views. That is: PMA should be a think tank, a source of new ideas for metal forming companies as they evolve and look to compete moving forward. We are here to train the industry—in the shop and in the front office. And while we’ve always focused on the smaller to midsized metalforming companies, we’re evolving and working with larger companies as well.”

Top of mind for Turnbull and Klotz is helping to provide the metal forming workforce of tomorrow, and plugging the manufacturing skills gap. PMA’s METALFORM EDU online learning system sits front and center of that initiative. Designed specifically for the metal forming industry, METALFORM EDU includes 37 PMA-exclusive courses and more than 550 additional courses in precision measurement, blueprint reading, SPC, Six Sigma, lean manufacturing, safety and more. 

“METALFORM EDU has been a resounding success,” says Turnbull. “Since its inception late in 2018, the program truly has taken off. More than 100 companies have participated to date, with nearly 800 licenses.”

Late in 2019, PMA transitioned METALFORM EDU to a new platform, which users now find to be more intuitive--for both learners and for HR managers. And, it offers a whole new range of reports and analytics.

“In 2020,” Turnbull adds, “we plan to begin sourcing additional subject-matter experts for new content development, to ensure we keep up with evolving technology and remain a leader in providing training.”

Virtual Learning, Management Development

Training the industry doesn’t stop with METALFORM EDU. “In 2019, we focused on delivering high-quality virtual-learning events on a variety of professional and technical topics,” Turnbull says. “And, PMA’s Management Development Academy (MDA) remains strong. Twenty-three participants graduated from the latest MDA program, our ninth edition, in October 2019.”

At the grass-roots level, “the PMA Educational Foundation (PMAEF) and MetalForming magazine continue as proud sponsors of Manufacturing Day,” says Turnbull. “We see MFG Day as a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation. Many of our member companies host plant tours and other informational sessions to spread the word about the rewarding career opportunities available in our industry.

“Today’s stamping and tool-and-die shops, compared to the shops our parents and grandparents worked in,” Turnbull continues, “are bright-white clean and full of automation, from CNC machine tools to robotic transfer lines and welding cells. Kids love seeing metal turned into working parts.”

In addition, PMAEF, through its newly updated Center 4 Metalforming Careers website, offers resources to assist with engaging students, parents and educators on the benefits of the industry, not only during MFG day, but year-round. 

“The available resources have been developed to highlight the metal forming industry and its many fulfilling career options,” says Turnbull, “as well as provide information to manufacturers about engaging students in the industry with the goal of building a trained and quality workforce.”

New from PMAEF: a micro-grant program designed to support the industry as it works to overcome and close the manufacturing skills gap. PMAEF will provide grants of up to $5000 exclusively to PMA Districts for innovative partnerships and projects that strengthen local and regional talent pipelines. Projects must align with the PMAEF mission, “to enhance the supply of skilled workers in the metalforming industry.”

  • Those that enhance the perception of industry careers for youth or re-careering adults, including Manufacturing Day programs, STEM events and educator workshops.
  • Ongoing mentorship by employees of PMA member companies in a district working with local robotics teams during the school year and through competitions.
  • Professional development sessions featuring industry experts to address issues in workforce development and the skills gap.
  • Creation and support of apprenticeship programs.
  • Creation and support of community coalitions and cohorts that strengthen the skilled worker pipeline.

Troy-and-Robyn-Turnbull-PMA-ChairmanExamples of ideal programs:

Finally, PMAEF has partnered with PMA’s districts to award $1000 scholarships to individuals seeking a career in the metalforming industry. Each award, for one year, will be granted based on academic merit. Post-secondary students may re-apply for consideration the following year, but no applicant may receive more than two scholarship awards; trades job training and certificate program applicants are limited to one award. Details are available at

Advocacy Remains at the Forefront

Industrial-Innovations-CNC-MachiningTurnbull became actively involved in PMA in 2012, and attended the One Voice Washington, D.C., fly-in program that year to meet with congress members and promote a pro-manufacturing legislative agenda. “One Voice, a collaborative effort between PMA and the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA),” explains Turnbull, “provides lobbying and strategic communications to ensure that our industry's voice is heard on Capitol Hill and in the national media. Once I attended that fly-in and had a chance to spend time with other PMA and NTMA members, all passionate about growing manufacturing in the United States, I became further involved, including at the local district level. 

“I want to see PMA continue working with other associations, as we do with NTMA,” Turnbull continues, “to help develop the future workforce and to lobby in Washington, D.C., for policies favorable to U.S. manufacturing. Since that first fly-in, I’ve attended nearly every annual One Voice fly-in. It’s an important event for the future of U.S. manufacturing, and we need members from every state to join us. We’ll be focusing on recruiting efforts moving forward to further strengthen our advocacy efforts. The benefits are real, as evidenced by my meetings with members of congress regarding the need for a better-developed apprenticeship program in Michigan.”

Gratitude Aplenty for PMA Members that Serve the Association

As he prepares to take the helm as PMA’s board chairman for 2020, Troy Turnbull expresses his sincere appreciation to those that served alongside him in 2019 on the 2019 PMA Executive Committee, for the association’s chairman Troy Roberts:

  • Dave Arndt, president and CEO, Pentaflex, Inc.
  • Jeff Aznavorian, president, Clips & Clamps Industries
  • Chuck Cederberg, president, Larson Tool & Stamping Co.
  • James Barrett, president, Link Systems
  • Brian Murphy, vice president of sales, Eagle Metals Inc.

And, he welcomes and thanks those serving beside him in 2020:

  • Troy Roberts, CEO, Beanstalk Collaborative Community
  • Jeff Aznavorian, president, Clips & Clamps Industries
  • Brian Murphy, vice president of sales, Eagle Metals Inc.
  • Doug Johnson, president, Marion Manufacturing Co.
  • Gene Lambert, vice president of sales, Batesville Tool & Die

“I would especially like to thank David Arndt (and his wife Kathy), PMA’s 2018 past chair,” Turnbull adds, ”for mentoring me for the past several years. Your leadership will be felt for years to come at PMA and I truly appreciate the advice and friendship we share. 

“I also want to thank Troy Roberts (and his wife Amy), 2019 past chair, for his leadership and accounting skills that helped many of us on the PMA board understand more than just basic finance. I appreciate your leadership through a complete restructuring of the association. We would not have improved without your dedication. 

"And, finally, thanks to Ron (and Julie Lowry) of Dayton Rogers, our 2016 chairman. Words cannot express my appreciation for you, and our friendship. You offered a hand, and without your leadership, PMA would not be moving into the next 75 years. Thank you for trusting me to lead the association in 2020.”

Since attending the fly-in, Turnbull’s been an active participant, and leader, in the West Michigan PMA district, and now serves as its secretary. He’s taken a leadership role in growing its annual golf outing and its Suppliers Night tabletop exhibition, two big revenue generators for the district. At the same time, the district now contributes back to the industry—supporting, for example, local robotics programs and bus tours of local metal forming companies for students, as part of Manufacturing Day activities.

PMA oversees 17 districts, all strategically located in areas across the country to provide member companies with local access to education, social events and industry networks. “We would like the districts to get even more involved in contributing to the success of PMA’s key initiatives,” says Turnbull. “Many of them hold annual events—suppliers’ nights (tabletop exhibitions), golf outings, etc.—that generate a considerable amount of revenue. We need to explore how the districts and headquarters can work more closely together on other ‘pillar’ initiatives for PMA, including workforce development and advocacy. This falls under the, ‘Where we are going’ part of my platform for 2020.” 

Facilitating Networking Opportunities

Another emphasis for Turnbull and the PMA board of directors remains encouraging member participation in the association’s numerous activities, first and foremost its structured and facilitated networking groups. Some of these groups of like-minded metal forming professionals meet in person, others communicate online. 

Turnbull helped to start, in 2017, one of the newest such groups, nicknamed the Cellar’s Club. It comprises executives from 19 companies who meet semi-annually to discuss primarily sales-related topics. “Facilitator Mark Frasco (founder and president of COACT Associates, Toledo, OH) has been working with us on a variety of performance measures to help grow our businesses,” Turnbull says, “including website search-engine optimization, customer-relationship management and repetitive performance measures. He keeps us on track with strategic planning at a high level to help us improve our top-line performance.

“These networking groups, of which there are five, put together and managed by PMA, represent a terrific benefit for members,” Turnbull stresses, “but we need more participation, more active members—especially from the next generation of company leaders.”

Strong Messaging

Industrial-Innovations-conference-room“Who is PMA?,” asks Turnbull, circling back to his theme and its important questions. “We are a group of member companies whose executives, middle managers and other employees believe that they need a place to share knowledge and learn from each other, and seek to build a strong coalition to influence and advocate for workforce development and other favorable policies.”

Industrial-Innovations-Plasma-CuttingWhere are we going? “PMA will continue its efforts to become the premier training provider throughout North America, via METALFORM EDU,” says Turnbull. “This work is vital to helping our members, and the industry, succeed and grow, in 2020 and beyond. Throughout the remainder of this year and into 2021, we’ll develop a workforce-development committee charged with developing a playbook to help guide metal formers as they begin to use and embrace METALFORM EDU.” MF

Industry-Related Terms: Center, CNC, Core, Die, Forming, Lines, Transfer
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Industrial Innovations, Inc.

Technologies: Management


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