Economic, Financial, Industry Experts Address Regional Manufacturing Leaders
On May 1, manufacturing leaders from the Delaware Valley region gathered at the 22nd Annual Manufacturing Executives Conference to address the future of manufacturing.
The event, hosted by DVIRC, featured Joe Berquist, Vice President and Managing Director – North America for Quaker Chemical Corporation, Scott Clemens, Chief Investment Strategist at Brown Brothers & Harriman (BBH), who addressed the economic conditions related to manufacturing trends, and financial advisors from PNC Bank who discussed the current market opportunities in capital expenditures (capex) through equipment financing and foreign exchange benefits.
During the event, Berquist guided attendees through Quaker Chemical’s strategic initiatives and discussed Quaker’s recent merger with Houghton International. The companies have a combined 250-year history as providers of process fluids, chemical specialties, and technical expertise in the global primary metals and metalworking industries, and the deal, currently awaiting FTC approval, would end a rivalry Quaker CEO Michael Barry likens to Villanova and St. Joe’s. During the conference, Berquist also addressed current trends impacting the company, such as Industry 4.0, and the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the growing millennial workforce.
“When you have millennials come into the workforce, they want to be a part of a community; something bigger than themselves,” Berquist said. He noted the importance of ensuring companies appeal to both the millennial and the baby boomer generation. “How we sell to customers today is different than 20 years ago.” Berquist emphasized the importance of investing in the customer experience, such as creating a rich website presence, and seeking new ways to innovate.
“Disruptive technologies may be scary and may change how things are done, but they create opportunities for innovation and transformation in a company.”
The manufacturing conference also featured Scott Clemens, Chief Investment Strategist at BBH, who addressed the economic conditions related to manufacturing trends, and delivered an optimistic message about the state of the economy.
“I think the outlook is cautiously positive because of the strength of personal consumption and also in financial markets because of the strength of corporate earnings. The backdrop is good,” said Clemens. “There are certainly risks, but I think the risks are more driven by sentiment than by fundamentals.”
Every year, DVIRC hosts a Manufacturing Executive Conference featuring prominent speakers and economists as a benefit for members of its Executive Network Groups. The DVIRC Network Groups provide a confidential setting where regional C-level leaders from non-competing firms share common challenges as well as best practice solutions to achieve profitable growth. Members gain a robust network of advisors, business development opportunities, best practice presentations, and industry resources.
Jason Bromiley, president of John R. Bromiley Company, a precision machine shop based in Bucks County, is a member of one of DVIRC’s Executive Network Groups, and is also engaged in consulting projects with DVIRC’s content experts on ways to incorporate lean manufacturing into his business and how to cost for competitiveness. The production machine shop, originally founded by his father over 40 years ago, operates in a state-of-the-art, 23,000 square foot facility.
“I enjoy being able to share ideas and experiences with other manufacturing executives,” said Bromiley about the DVIRC network group. “The feedback I receive from the other group members helps me learn what I’m doing right or wrong, and equips me with the knowledge to solve my business problems.” The difference between DVIRC and other network groups, according to Bromiley, is that the DVIRC group spans a variety of sectors and enables leaders to give each other feedback in a non-competitive environment. He remarked on the difficulty he faces as a business owner to step back from the day-to-day issues of his business to discuss industry-wide issues. “To sit down, not be distracted, and hear from an economist was really informative and helpful.”
“We’re so thrilled to be able to put on this event for our members every year,” said Barry Miller, President and CEO of DVIRC. “Our members are integral leaders in the manufacturing community, and the event gives them the opportunity to come together to discuss ways to take manufacturing to the next level.” Miller was pleased members extended event invitations to their colleagues to attend as their guests. “There’s so much to learn, and I hope this event gave guests a chance to see just how special the DVIRC network is.”
To learn more about DVIRC’s Manufacturing Network Groups, click here.
To attend an upcoming Network Group meeting as a guest or to learn more about membership, contact us here.