Business Operations

Business Operations

The Company Behind the Masks: Talking to Testing Firm Intertek

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With thousands of new respirators and medical devices in production due to COVID-19, who makes sure they meet safety standards and regulations? Independent testing laboratories provide these needed services. Due to the pandemic, they’re working overtime, helping manufacturers produce equipment for doctors, nurses, other frontline workers and even the rest of us.

We talked to one company, Intertek, about how it’s responding to the new reality. Intertek is one of the largest testers of consumer and industrial products in the world, with a network of more than 1,000 laboratories in over 100 countries. It’s had to adapt to increased demand—and requests for help from companies trying to keep their employees safe.

Meanwhile, the company has also adapted to the restrictions imposed by the lockdowns.

  • Curbside pickup: With some customers unable to travel from their facilities—or even their homes—Intertek began sending out vans from its labs to pick up samples from manufacturers across the country.
  • Virtual inspections: Some of Intertek’s inspections and audits involve sending employees out to manufacturers’ facilities. As these in-person inspections became more difficult, Intertek created a virtual program called InView, through which inspectors can video chat with customers and inspect products and workspaces remotely.
  • Online training: With everyone stuck at home, Intertek has also faced a surge of requests for online and remote training courses. Led by the company’s experts, these courses cover everything from best practices to new standards to product safety pitfalls.

The last word: Intertek’s Vice President of Marketing, North America Derek Silva says, “Intertek has been testing products for more than 100 years to help ensure people’s health, safety and well-being. We recognized early on that our greatest contribution to fighting the pandemic was to keep doing what we do best, only faster and with greater flexibility for manufacturers.”

Business Operations

Let’s Go Ride a Bike: A Chat with Kent Int’l CEO Arnold Kamler

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The pandemic has brought many people around to that longstanding means of mobility and exercise, the bicycle. And for Kent International, a bicycle manufacturer with facilities in New Jersey and South Carolina, that has meant busy days as it works to meet newfound demand.

We checked in with Chairman and CEO Arnold Kamler, who told us all about the company’s response to high demand and its stringent requirements for worker safety.

The numbers: According to a study by market researcher NPD Group, demand for bicycles (and related items, like helmets) increased by 75 percent in April, compared to last year. At Kent International, they noticed, Kamler says.

  • During the peak demand period in April and May, Kent’s customers were selling between 12,000 and 15,000 bicycles per day, representing more sales than they typically see even in the 10 days before Christmas.

Strained supplies: Some of that demand has led to challenges, Kamler notes. With bicycles flying off the bike racks, Kent has put limits on what its biggest customers can order. A few months ago, one customer put in a request for about a million bicycles, to be shipped in one week—an order generated by algorithms and just not possible to fulfill, says Kamler.  Meanwhile:

  • The pandemic has interrupted global supply chains, making it difficult for Kent to get some required parts.
  • It has also hampered transportation, preventing Kent from sourcing all the trucks required to deliver its products, particularly in the Los Angeles commercial zone.

Safety procedures: Kamler says the company is putting employees first, by designing rigorous standards to reduce risk and prevent COVID-19 transmission.

  • Gloves and masks are mandatory in Kent’s facilities. (Protective eyewear was already a requirement.)
  • Temperature monitors throughout the building are used to check for fevers.
  • More spacing in the facility allows employees to practice social distancing.
  • Testing is available at a local hospital, and Kent offers testing leave so that employees who are concerned they might be sick can get checked—even if they have no symptoms.
  • Vigorous tracing ensures Kent can alert any employees who might have been exposed to a sick coworker, so they can get tested, too.

The last word: “We have a job to do: to protect our workers,” says Kamler. “We’re treating employees how we would want to be treated, and making sure they stay safe. We’re staying vigilant—because it doesn’t matter that you were perfect from April to June if you get sloppy in July.”

Press Releases

NAM Launches Cyber Cover to Protect Manufacturers

AHT Insurance and underwriter Coalition partner with the NAM to deliver cybersecurity solution

Today, the National Association of Manufacturers announced the launch of NAM Cyber Cover, an exclusive cybersecurity and risk mitigation program for its member companies and organizations. This critically important and timely offering was developed in partnership with AHT Insurance and Coalition, which specializes in underwriting cyber and technology insurance.

“Modern manufacturers are deploying advanced technologies that are transforming what we make and how we make it. This rapid digitization and the workplace disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic have created new and unprecedented risks for our members,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Our partnership with AHT and Coalition will help protect our industry from cyberattacks and ensure we can continue to lead our economic recovery and renewal.”

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, nearly two-thirds of manufacturers currently have no cyber insurance, and many manufacturers have no plans to invest in improved cybersecurity measures or data protection efforts. Recognizing the significant threat cyber vulnerabilities pose to its diverse membership, the NAM led the creation of Cyber Cover.

“The inimitable exposures manufacturers face, coupled with an unrelenting target on the industry, necessitates a pivot in how cyber programs are structured,” said AHT President and CEO David Schaefer. “We look forward to helping NAM members make that pivot to manage risks up front and protect themselves against cyberattacks.”

NAM Cyber Cover offers full support for responding to and recovering from potential risks and cyberattacks, differentiating it from traditional, standalone insurance.

“Manufacturers are more reliant on technology than ever before and more in need of a solution to survive catastrophic security failures and data breaches,” said Coalition Founder and CEO Joshua Motta. “We’re proud to partner with the NAM and AHT to revolutionize the way manufacturers mitigate cyber risk, providing security tools to prevent incidents and incident response support to mitigate losses, together with the safety of insurance.”

To learn more about NAM Cyber Cover, visit www.namcybercover.org

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

About AHT Insurance

AHT Insurance is a brokerage and consulting firm offering property and casualty, employee benefits, retirement, personal and international services for a wide range of industriesnotably receiving national recognition for its practices in areas including technology, manufacturing, government contracting and nonprofits. https://www.ahtins.com

About Coalition

Coalition combines comprehensive insurance and free cybersecurity tools to help businesses manage and mitigate cyber risk. Backed by A+/A rated insurers Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Argo Group, Coalition provides companies with up to $10 million of cyber and technology insurance coverage in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. https://www.coalitioninc.com

Business Operations

“It Takes One Part Not to Make a Car”: An Interview with ALOM’s Hannah Kain

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ALOM President and CEO Hannah Kain has been playing one of the most complex games imaginable: trying to retool global supply chains during a pandemic. And meanwhile, she’s overseeing the supply chain management company’s “aggressive” production of COVID-19 testing kits, while also manufacturing protective equipment for its customers and employees. We talked to Kain recently about what these complicated operations look like from the inside—and how manufacturers can adapt to supply chain uncertainty.

The supply side: A single finished good—say a car—could easily require thousands of parts from multiple countries, notes Kain (who is also an NAM board member). Now imagine that every single one of those parts could be held up on its journey. And that’s only the beginning.

  • Here’s a risk factor that no one is thinking about, Kain says: “If we are manufacturing overseas, who is governing those places?” Companies need to fly engineers out to their foreign facilities to check certifications, labor conditions, etc. And now they often can’t.
  • Meanwhile, freight rates have significantly increased, with rates from China “multiplying by a factor of 5.”
  • Plus, many companies operate in multiple locations, each with different COVID-19 rules and restrictions. ALOM, for instance, works out of 19 locations around the world, Kain adds.

Put it all together, and it’s a recipe for anxiety. Kain says, “I remember someone from an automaker saying once—it takes 2,500 parts to make a car; 1 part not to make a car.”

The demand side: COVID-19 has reconfigured the market, Kain notes. Demand for medical supplies and home electronics went “through the roof,” while demand for other products cratered. This situation created what she calls the “pulsing supply chain”—i.e., “the disjunction between demand fluctuations and ability to meet them.”

So what’s her advice? For other manufacturers and supply chain experts: “Anyone who can react faster is going to win the game.” Agility is a necessity, in other words. Here are some of the tactics that ALOM and its customers have tried:

  • Keep products unconfigured (or un-customized) until as late as possible in the production process—so the same part can be used for different purposes. The finishing touches can be added the day of shipment. “Customers think the products are sitting on shelves, but in fact they shouldn’t be,” says Kain.
  • Make sure you know as much as possible about demand. “Visibility is key,” she stresses. Companies should research what’s going on at the retail level and use business intelligence tools, such as AI that tracks keywords on social media. And don’t forget to track the analytics on your own website—“that can actually predict a lot,” says Kain.
  • Be smart about contracts. “If you have a critical supplier, try to ensure you’ll be first in line if there’s a restriction.”
  • Be good to your suppliers. “Don’t tell them things like ‘we’ll now pay you every 120 days instead of every 60.’ And pay people early if you can.”

The last word: “I saw myself pulling back from strategic work and going into crisis management,” Kain says. Only now is she beginning to get back to her usual routine.

At the end of this interview, Kain mentioned she was off for a restorative weekend in Yosemite. We think you’ll agree she deserved it.

Press Releases

Timmons Congratulates AISI’s Dempsey on Interim CEO Announcement

Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released this statement after the American Iron and Steel Institute, a member of the NAM’s Council of Manufacturing Associations, named Kevin Dempsey as interim CEO. This follows the planned retirement of CEO Thomas Gibson, announced in March.

“Kevin Dempsey’s expertise, experience and stellar reputation demonstrate that AISI will be in good hands as he builds on Tom Gibson’s legacy. He’s a proven, trusted and respected leader who will ensure a seamless transition for America’s steelmakers. I look forward to working with Kevin through the NAM’s Council of Manufacturing Associations as the entire manufacturing industry navigates the historic challenges of COVID-19 and helps lead our economic recovery and American renewal. More than ever, the nation is counting on the united efforts of manufacturers—and the entire business community—to move our nation forward.

“Throughout his 12 years at AISI, Tom has been a forceful advocate for America’s manufacturing workers and the steel industry in North America. It has been my privilege to call him a friend, a colleague and a chair of the CMA. I congratulate Tom on an impressive career and wish both Tom and Sheila well as he embarks on a happy and active retirement.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Press Releases

NAM Launches ‘Wear a Face Covering’ Ad Campaign

Let’s Get America Back to Work and Our Economy Roaring Again

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Association of Manufacturers launched “Wear a Face Covering,” an ad campaign designed to keep our economy growing and protect American families. It illustrates that face coverings are essential to safeguarding jobs and reopening businesses. The campaign will run in key manufacturing states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and others. Upon release of the ad, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons made this statement:

“There is no way to sugarcoat this—we need to get America back to work now and get our economy roaring again. The virus is spreading in a significant way, and if it continues, that will lead to economic devastation the likes of which we have never seen before. If everyone wears a mask outside the home, maintains social distancing with anyone other than the family unit and practices appropriate hygiene procedures, we will get the tens of millions of unemployed Americans back to work. If large groups of people refuse to wear masks, they are condemning their fellow citizens to long-term unemployment and our economy to disaster.

“There are no excuses left. While we have learned more and more about this deadly virus, the guidance from our nation’s health care experts has evolved. Today, we know that the best and most certain way to stop the spread is for everyone to wear a facial covering. It isn’t fun. It isn’t pleasant. But through shared responsibility, we can get this pandemic under control and save small businesses and jobs. That’s why the NAM is taking this message across the country. Our economy depends on it, jobs depend on it and—most importantly—lives depend on it.

“The Golden Rule tells us that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Covering our faces in public is a simple but powerful expression of the Golden Rule, and so much more than a mere gesture.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Business Operations

How Manufacturers Can Donate Effectively

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During a disaster, up to 60% of product donations are thrown away because they’re the wrong products at the wrong time.

That’s according to philanthropic organization Good360, which solves the problem by soliciting specific products and matching them with its network of 90,000 nonprofits. Now, it’s helping manufacturers provide much-needed supplies to the COVID-19 relief effort and prepare for a hurricane season during a public health crisis.

How it works: As a partner to the NAM, Good360 makes it as easy as possible for manufacturers to donate products.

  • Once a manufacturer makes contact, Good360 will find out what and how much it wishes to donate and where the supplies are located.
  • Then Good360 finds the right nonprofit to receive the donation—and picks it up and moves it where it needs to go.

How long it takes: Pickups happen within the week, with timelines typically closer to 48 hours.

What they need: Good360 is looking for everything from PPE for frontline workers to essential consumer products for families to toys and games for kids stuck at home. Critical needs include the following:

  • N95 masks
  • Face shields
  • Tyvek coveralls/shoe covers
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Thermometers
  • Soap
  • Diapers
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Baby formula
  • Personal hygiene products (dental, cosmetics, soap/conditioner, lotions)
  • Home cleaning supplies
  • Paper products (plates, paper towels, toilet tissue)
  • Boredom breakers (board games, cards, coloring books)
  • Education materials
  • Laptops and computers

Beyond COVID: As the U.S. enters hurricane season, Good360 is also preparing to respond to additional needs for products like shingles, building supplies and other vital materials.

How to help: Manufacturers that have products or financial support to donate should visit Good360’s online portal.

Business Operations

SCOTUS Protects LGBT Workers’ Rights

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The United States Supreme Court Building at sunset in Washington DC, USA.

The Supreme Court ruled today that civil rights law protects employees from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, reports the Wall Street Journal (subscription).

The ruling: “The high court, in a 6-3 decision, said the broad language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, should be read to cover sexual orientation as well.”

  • “Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts in addition to the four more liberal members of the court.”

Here’s the legal reasoning behind it:

  • “[The] case was simple, Justice Gorsuch found. He focused on the text of the statute Congress passed in 1964, forbidding workplace discrimination against an individual ‘because of…sex.’”
  • “There was no getting around it, he said: ‘An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it wouldn’t have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.’”

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons welcomed the news and said in a statement:

  • “This ruling, one of the most consequential since Obergefell, not only sends a powerful message of inclusion and equality to millions of Americans but also affirms that LGBT Americans cannot be fired just for being their authentic selves as work.
  • “Too many LGBT Americans go to work every day hiding who they are or whom they love because they believe that simply living authentically would mean losing their jobs and livelihoods. The Supreme Court has begun to lift that heavy emotional burden and made history by affirming that LGBT workers are entitled to federal protections too.
  • “For our part, manufacturers are committed to building diverse and inclusive workplaces, a mission that has taken on renewed importance in recent weeks. We will continue to be advocates for equal opportunity and champions for justice—because ultimately we know that diversity and inclusion makes our workplaces stronger, just as it makes our country stronger.”
Press Releases

NAM Executive Committee Passes Resolution to Support All People Who Face Injustice

Manufacturing Leaders Take Action to Advance Justice, Equality and Opportunity for Underrepresented Communities and Across Sector

Washington, D.C. – In the wake of the May 25 murder of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis, the National Association of Manufacturers’ Executive Committee unanimously voted to pass the Pledge for Action, an 11-point commitment plan for manufacturers to advance justice, equality and opportunity for black people and all people of color.

“My heart is heavy with recent events,” said Michael W. Lamach, chairman and CEO of Trane Technologies and chair of the NAM Board of Directors. “While the killing of George Floyd sparked this outcry, this is a crisis that has gone unaddressed for far too long. We introduced this Pledge for Action to demonstrate our companies’, our association’s and our industry’s commitment to being part of the solution and to stand against injustice and create a better future for the black community and all communities of color.”

Around the country and throughout the world, George Floyd’s death has spurred protest and action, highlighting the inescapable inequities that are too often downplayed and brushed aside by those with the power to make a difference.

Merck Chairman and CEO Ken Frazier addressed the June 11 Executive Committee meeting. He noted that, “Opportunity and equality have the power to change the course of not only an individual’s life, but of history. Through education, I was given the chance to overcome the opportunity gap that exists in this country, and I believe that this pledge, if taken to heart by the NAM members, can do the same for thousands of Americans and in particular African Americans.”

The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the NAM, will continue to support manufacturers’ efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace and to deliver on these new commitments. The MI, via its Diversity and Inclusion Pillar, will be deploying tools, resources and knowledge to help manufacturers put actions to their words and build more inclusive workplaces.

“This is a difficult time for our country, and manufacturers all have a role to be part of the solution—in our homes, in our companies and in our local communities,” said Chuck Wetherington, BTE Technologies president, NAM Executive Committee member and Small and Medium Manufacturers Group chair. “Our businesses are the hearts and souls of the communities where we live, and we have a responsibility to act. With this pledge, we are making a commitment to do what is right and urgently needed.”

As leaders who represent manufacturers in the United States, the NAM recognizes the integral role our industry has historically played in lifting up people and communities, and the opportunity and obligation we have now to stand with and support all people who face injustice.

“Manufacturers will do our part. All of us must recognize the systemic inequality and racism that black people in America face—and the role we must play in ending it. This industry is committed to delivering the change our nation needs,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

Highlights from the Pledge for Action include the following:

  • We will strengthen our workplaces as spaces where black people and all people of color will be heard, respected and celebrated.
  • We will work to improve and increase representation of black people and all people of color at all levels of our companies and organizations—entry level, midlevel and senior level.
  • We will expand education, training and scholarship opportunities in the manufacturing industry for black people and all people of color.
  • We will remove barriers and open doors to modern manufacturing careers for those inside prisons and for those reentering society.
  • We will encourage increased minority participation in democracy through voting, advocacy and other opportunities for influence.
  • We will diversify the supply chain by providing equal opportunity for black-owned and minority-owned enterprises to do business with us.

To read the full Pledge for Action, visit nam.org/pledgeforaction.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Business Operations

Watch: The Economic Impacts of COVID-19 and Getting Back to Work

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In a recent NAM webinar, three experts broke down the economic effects of COVID-19 and how companies can respond. Here’s a selection:

You can sign up to watch the full webinar here.

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