Nicole Wolter Featured as “Leadership in the Gear Industry” Panelist at AGMA Strategic Resources Network Event
HM Manufacturing President and CEO Nicole Wolter was invited by the American Gear Manufacturers Association to participate as a panelist at the Strategic Resources Network event in Chicago last week. The event spanned two days with a carefully curated schedule that allowed for attendees to network and grow within the gear industry. Day one included open forum discussion on industry hot topics, keynote speakers, demonstrations, and the “Leadership in the Gear Industry Panel”; day two was comprised of three guided tours of manufacturing facilities in the area.
In addition to Wolter, the panel, moderated by AGMA Committee Chairman, Ross Wegryn-Jones of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, included Cory Ooyen (President of Global Gear and Machining) and Zen Cichon (President of Innovative Rack and Gear). Each panelist spoke to common challenges and industry trends including, but not limited to, automation, the increasing impact of social media, and succession.
Widely discussed was automation and how it is changing the gear industry. Wolter, when speaking to its impact on HM Manufacturing, shared that as a custom manufacturer that changes over 10-12 times per day, with lot sizes of 1-1,000 pieces, automation does not benefit them in the way it would a company with large lot sizes. She explained that even with the advances in automation, IIOT, and robotics, the core of HM Manufacturing’s immediate future lies within investing in advanced technology, updated machining centers, and R&D. These investments produce tooling and fixtures that aid in the quick changeover system developed and utilized by HM Manufacturing. This system saves, on average, 45 minutes to one hour per set-up. In support, the company has invested over half a million dollars in new capital equipment in the last year to broaden capabilities.
HM’s social media marketing strategy is reflective of the value placed on highly skilled employees. The purpose, according to Wolter, is to establish high quality as an expected standard, and exceptional company culture as the truly distinguishing feature. “We are intentional about what is posted on social media,” says Wolter, “it isn’t just product after product. It’s people that we want to feature”. She further explains that HM employees are constantly enhancing their expertise through their diligent work and company funded certifications—which deserves to be celebrated, from the HM social media platforms to the company’s “Hall of Fame”.
As a proven industry expert, Wolter had much to contribute to the discussion of succession. She shared her perspective, recommending a mindful, realistic approach.