This week we’re joined by Jason Moss, CEO of the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance, to discuss the reasons he founded the organization – as well as all the incredible discoveries that he and others have made as a result! As it turns out, manufacturing associations actually increase company productivity, rather than giving away well-guarded secrets to your competitors.
1. STARTING THE GEORGIA MANUFACTURING ALLIANCE
Back in 2008, Jason was in software sales and started looking for manufacturing associations or some way to network with other manufacturers. There were plenty of small, specifically-niched groups…but none for all manufacturers in general. Why?
Jason’s biggest challenge was to unite a room of competitors.
The first meeting in February of 2008, contained 16 members to begin with – and many of them knew one another as business rivals. To break the tension, Jason started by asking, “Who here uses exactly the same equipment?”
Nobody raised their hands.
“Even if you did have the same equipment, who in here has exactly the same knowledge and contacts in the industry?” Nobody.
“I said, ‘If we’ll work together… we will be able to build an organization that will allow each of you to take on bigger projects than you would want to take on by yourself.
“Fortunately,” he told us after recalling that first meeting, “They listened. And fortunately, I was right…the rising tide lifts all ships.”
2. BENEFITS OF AN ALLIANCE
A great example of the this network’s value came in 2011, after membership had started to plateau.
Jason hosted a contest, asking all the members to write down every market in Georgia that GMA could target. The person with the most solutions written down would receive a prize…but their list had to have a minimum of ten answers.
No individual in the room managed to come up with more than six solutions…but when everyone pooled their answers, there were over fifty prospects.
That was a big light bulb moment for many people in the organization.
Manufacturing associations like the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance help manufacturers to meet their neighbors.
Jason has even seen companies sending equipment across the country to be serviced, only to be surprised when he told them that a company in the very same building complex actually offered that same service.
We just don’t know our neighbors; outsourcing has made us lose our sense of community.
“We’re here to support and grow Georgia’s manufacturing community; and we do that through plant tours, networking events, and educational sessions.
“One of the hardest things in the world to do, I have found,” Jason told us with a laugh. “Is to get a manufacturer out of their plant.” But when he does manage it, they always come away with great results.
3. DISCOVERIES THROUGH COLLABORATION
Last year, GMA hosted over 150 events with over 3,000 attendees around the state. Some of the tours included Blue Bird Bus, Kia, Gulfstream, Duracell Batteries, King’s Hawaiian Rolls, Okabashi, and plenty of others.
Attending events hosted by manufacturing associations can help industry professionals see the wide variety of solutions implemented by their peers and develop new ideas to bring into their own plant.
“We help manufacturing industry professionals go see world-class manufacturing in process, so that maybe they can take an idea or a concept and…repurpose it at their own facility.”
One of Jason’s goals is to provide training and keynote speakers based on what members want to learn, and so they send out annual surveys to keep track of different goals or shifting trends in manufacturing needs.
Common themes that have popped up for the past few years are operational excellence and leadership development; and other past hot topics have included labor force and safety concerns. But there is one consistent topic that rises to the top without fail.
Every year, the number one challenge that manufacturers want GMA to address…is always sales.
Accordingly, the alliance has made sure to host sessions for sales training and social media usage.
4. RAISING LOCAL AWARENESS
As well as hosting events for GMA members, Jason also attends conferences and meetings for local organizations – like rotary clubs and chambers of commerce – to reach the consumers who usually don’t even know about some of the manufacturers that exist just down the road.
Jason’s favorite trick is to offer a $100 bill to the first individual who can name more than five brand-name household products manufactured in the state of Georgia. In over six years, he’s only had two winners.
“We don’t know who makes stuff.
“If we don’t know who makes things in Georgia, how can we be good consumers?”
Raising that awareness, therefore, is step one. “Take Duracell Batteries,” Jason suggested during his interview. If you saw two relatively equal batteries on the shelf at the store, but you knew that Duracell was made in Georgia, wouldn’t that influence your decision?
People want to buy local…they just don’t always know what is local.
If more consumers were made aware of their local manufacturers, and Duracell were to get a 10% increase in sales…well, if the factory already employed 400 individuals, that rise could contribute to 40 new jobs!
Imagine the sort of impact that kind of movement could have if manufacturers across the state were involved. Imagine the impact that could be made on any state with manufacturing associations like Jason’s. That’s why the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance created a membership directory, and hosts events like “Buy from Georgia Month” in July, when consumers are included in the plant tours.
But of course, as we say often on IndustrialSage, the results need to be measurable.
So how does GMA quantify the impact of their awareness campaigns for Georgia-manufactured goods?
That’s why BuyFromGA.com was born.
4. A DIGITAL SOLUTION
The idea was originally to create a brick-and-mortar store of entirely Georgia-based products…but while they suspected the business model might not work in person, it could very well work online.
Consumers may not always feel like pulling out a list or going to an entirely different building to check and see if their purchases are local…but when they’re buying online, the site is far more convenient.
“If you’ve got a product or know of a product that’s made in Georgia and available on Amazon, throw us a link to the page, we’ll put it up on the site, and everybody wins.”
Amazon may not be able to filter products based on where they’re considered local…but BuyFromGeorgia.com can do it automatically, and send visitors straight to the vendors’ websites – all for free.
Now GMA can quantify the success of their awareness campaigns, with web traffic and analytics to prove the numbers.
5. THE UPCOMING SUMMIT
Their next big event, the Georgia Manufacturing Summit, will take place in the Cobb Galleria on October 10th, 2018. Past summits have focused on keynote topics like transportation, construction, or food and beverage service (Coca-Cola, anyone?) and this year’s main subject is Aerospace.
Wherever you live, finding (or building) a manufacturing alliance like this can be of great benefit not only to your own organization, but to the local economy. And if that economy for you happens to be Georgia’s, Jason and the rest of GMA are active in the community and always open to new or prospective members.
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