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                                           organized and more professionally run. We rely on our PMA network of con- tacts to keep us up to date on industry issues, and we’ve gotten to know indus- try suppliers who have become valued partners. Networking through PMA also resulted in contacts that help us solve technical problems or deal with business issues.”
One lesson Zierick learned through PMA networking was the need to pop- ulate advisory boards with outside peo- ple, as they bring wider perspectives than a board filled with solely family members. Succession planning was another lesson learned, as companies traveling that path identified pitfalls and the means to introduce change in a new generation of leadership.
“From smaller companies, I learned to pay attention to details such as who does the quoting,” Zierick says. “In smaller companies, the CEO always performs the quoting. Now I do the quoting because I became aware that probably the most important thing we
do is focus on how we price our prod- uct. I have learned more from my fellow metalformers than I could from a group of professors at a business school.”
As the first female chair in PMA’s history (in 2010), Zierick is keenly aware of the growing role of women in the industry and the need for networking to support that.
“For years, PMA’s Women in Metal- forming ( WIM) networking group met in a small roundtable at PMA’s Annual Meeting,” she recalls. “Now WIM has grown into the much larger Women in Manufacturing networking group, including women in any type of man- ufacturing industry. I see a lot more women involved in committees and on the PMA board.”
Networking Groups Brought Tangible Benefits
PMA’s GADA Networking group, also consisting of top-ranking executives, has allowed Robert Laystrom, presi- dent of Laystrom Manufacturing Co.,
Chicago, IL, to develop professional and personal friendships with a core group of PMA members. “Those friend- ships have helped Laystrom Manufac- turing and me personally,” he says.
For example, GADAs have helped Laystrom navigate the volatile steel market.
“Steel prices always were pretty sta- ble, but in the last decade commodity prices underwent a sea change and most of us did not know how to deal with that,” he recalls. “We went to the networking meeting thinking that we wouldn’t be able to pass along materi- al-price increases. But a few members fought that notion, saying, ‘What kind of business are you going to be if steel prices rise 10, 20 or 30 percent and you can’t get it back?’ That opened our eyes, and is a perfect example of, when something changes in the industry, how the networking group helps us deal with it more quickly than if we would have to figure it out on our own.
“That reasoning regarding steel-
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