"There's always going to be manufacturing. We would like to help those companies that are involved to survive and thrive," says Jerry Shankel, President and CEO of Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International.
And that's exactly what the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, or FMA, has been doing since its birth in 1970, a time when Rockford was the center of fabricating in the U.S. FMA provides its 1,400 members from small fabricating companies with the tools and resources needed to improve operations.
"We're basically adult continuing education. We provide four magazines, one on fabricating, one is on stamping, one is on manufacture of tube and pipe and one is on welding," says Shankel.
FMA’s publications reach 120,000 readers worldwide. FMA also provides seminars, training sessions, and sponsors a manufacturing show called Fabtech that takes place every other year in Chicago.
CEO and President Jerry Shankel says the most important action is educating the next generation of workers with the skills they need to survive in a changing industry.
“There's going to be a shortage, the boomer generation is retiring soon, and while there won't be as many jobs, there will be a lot of jobs, especially with the shortage we have in this country," says Shankel.
Shankel says every company is struggling to compete in the world market, and services provided by FMA help companies move forward.
"We need to be able to react quicker; we need to provide service to our customers. Same is true for our organization. We provide information to our members to help them do those kinds of things," says Shankel.
FMA employs 84 people here in Rockford. Thirteen of our local companies are members of FMA.