Trade Associations and Resources
Manufacturing Industry Trade Associations
Trade associations exist for nearly every type of product that is manufactured. Whether you make clothing or car parts or credenzas, you can find a membership organization to help you network and develop professionally, as well as gain technical expertise and business solutions for your company. Here are summaries of five of the more general organizations for manufacturers, along with links to their Websites:
The largest industrial trade association in the United States, NAM represents large and small manufacturers in every industrial sector and in every state. As an advocate for its 11,000 member companies, NAM supports policies to help manufacturers create jobs, reduce production costs, and increase exports of American products. In addition to its government advocacy, NAM maintains a Resource Center, with economic statistics, and national and state manufacturing and trade data; has a Manufacturing Law Center, where pending cases can be tracked online; and partners with the Department of Commerce with its Export Promotion program, where members can receive advice on logistics and market analysis to find export markets for their U.S. manufactured products. Member benefits also include discounts on services and products such as shipping, travel, office supplies, business development databases, and employee recruiting expenses.
ASE 's slogan, Excel with AME , explains its focus as a 5,000 member organization dedicated to enterprise excellence through a practitioner to practitioner and company to company learning experience. Members learn the latest continuous improvement methods and best practices through networking with peers, attending workshops and facility tours, and at its Annual International Lean Conference. Additional member benefits include an online resource library, Target magazine, and a Leadership Development program in partnership with Arizona State University.
An international association with local chapters and technical communities, SME supports manufacturing practitioners looking for professional development and networking opportunities. Members can receive technical training either online at SME's Tooling U, or customized for their company; get SME professional certification or Lean Certification through its partnership in the Lean Alliance; have access to a library of over 17,000 technical papers; receive newsletters, Manufacturing Engineering® magazine, and a daily news feed; learn about best practices; and solve technical and business challenges at chapter meetings, conferences, and technical community meetings.
Representing itself as the voice of small business, NFIB has chapters in 50 states. In addition to free webinars on small business issues, members benefit from the combined purchasing power of the association for discounts on workers' compensation and health insurance, as well as shipping and office supplies. Members also have access to business resources with answers pertinent to small business, such as starting and running a business, labor and staffing issues, legal questions, marketing and advertising queries, financing and accounting help, and government contracting.
The Institute describes itself as part think tank and part solutions center, and lists its goals as growing and expanding: 1) the manufacturing sector; 2) individual manufacturing companies in the U.S.; and 3) a world-class manufacturing workforce. A division of NAM, the Institute is partnering with the University of Phoenix to offer a Manufacturing Skills Certification with a degree program so that students and workers can attain the real skills necessary to be employed, or reemployed, in the manufacturing industry. Companies and entrepreneurs can also partner with The Institute on manufacturing strategies, and projects to improve competitiveness and innovation in their region.
Manufacturing Industry Resources
Today's manufacturer must have reliable information at every step of the way, or every step of the supply chain, in order to stay competitive and weather economic uncertainties. Whether it is research and technology, workplace safety in the factory or shipping options to the customer, a good resource list can make the job easier and get the widget made more profitably. This section provides summaries of and links to government and private resources that will keep those gears running smoothly.
Designed to help strengthen the American manufacturing industry, Manufacturing.gov brings together key information for the manufacturing sector from both private business and the federal government. In addition to economic data and information on state and local government resources, the site has a Manufacturer's Toolbox, with publications, databases, financing information, and other business resources. Links are provided to the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and to the Manufacturing and Services (MAS) unit of the International Trade Administration.
With global news, trends and opinions on the state of the manufacturing industry, this free site offers daily industry and sector-specific news updates, audio, and blogs, as well as career-center services, and a white-paper library.
The new official small business link to the U.S. Government (replacing Business.gov), the Manufacturing page is a one-stop shopping site for some of the government assistance and regulations impacting the industry. In addition to information on obtaining financing and how to implement lean manufacturing principles, the site provides links to EPA's Environmental Regulations Guide; OSHA's Workplace Safety and Health Guide; IRS' Tax Guide for Manufacturing; and the FTC's rule and compliance information for "Made in the USA" products.
Although membership is required to access all of the information on this site, the Manufacturing page of the Website is a good resource for non-members as well. It includes daily news briefs; a library of manufacturing publications for sale; information on certification and other training programs; whitepapers to download; a calendar of events; and webinars. An electronic membership is available, providing discounts on product purchases and access to online networking.