Policy and Legal

NAM to FTC: Withdraw Proposed Merger Rules

The NAM is pushing back on proposed changes by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice that would expand filing requirements drastically for companies considering mergers, harming manufacturers of all sizes.

What’s going on: In June, the FTC—with the agreement of the Antitrust Division of the DOJ—announced an overhaul of the premerger notification rules under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.

  • The HSR Act requires companies to provide notice to the FTC prior to consummating a merger, but the FTC’s proposed changes would lead to as much as a sevenfold increase in the time it takes to file the HSR form, according to the proposal.
  • The proposed amendments would also necessitate complex and lengthy information reporting, as well as significantly enhanced document production—resulting in disclosure overload for companies pursuing mergers or acquisitions.

Why it matters: M&A activity is critical to the manufacturing industry. Larger businesses use M&A for efficiency and expansion, while smaller companies benefit from opportunities for capital formation and growth.

  • The burdensome nature of the FTC’s proposal could disincentivize or delay promising, pro-consumer deals.

Manufacturers speak out: Last week, the NAM urged the FTC to withdraw the proposed changes to “protect businesses’ ability to grow and drive economic expansion in the United States.”

  • The proposal would result in significant costs and delays for manufacturers, “stifl[ing] job-creating growth in the manufacturing industry without any corresponding benefit to the agencies, merging parties or the public,” NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Charles Crain told the FTC.
  • “If adopted, the proposal would dramatically increase the information that merging entities would be required to provide to the agencies before consummating a transaction … postponing the opportunities and job-creating investments that these transactions can create,” he added.
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Press Releases

SCOTUS Affirms Manufacturers’ Call for Skilled Worker Support Program

Washington, D.C. – Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of cert to reconsider the D.C. Circuit’s decision affirming the validity of Optional Practical Training extension for STEM graduates, a program that expands access to hundreds of thousands of skilled workers for manufacturers and other American businesses, National Association of Manufacturers Chief Legal Officer Linda Kelly released the following statement:

“Today’s decision ends a years-long legal battle, and the NAM Legal Center is proud to have fought to preserve the STEM OPT program, which will aid manufacturers in filling critical, skilled positions. Thanks to the NAM Legal Center’s efforts, the STEM OPT program will remain a vital talent pipeline, providing opportunities for those graduates in science, technology, engineering and math to enhance their education through hands-on work.

Background: In 2018, after an anti-immigration activist group brought a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security seeking to invalidate the entire STEM OPT program, the NAM and two other business groups moved to intervene as defendants in the case. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in the NAM’s favor in 2020, holding that DHS acted within its statutory authority and in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act by continuing the STEM OPT program, a decision the D.C. Circuit affirmed in 2022. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court not to hear the case maintains the Circuit Court’s ruling and preserves the STEM OPT program.


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 nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.91 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

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Press Releases

NAM Strengthens Policy Expertise with New Leadership

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers announced the promotion of Charles Crain as its new vice president of domestic policy. Crain previously served as the NAM’s senior director of tax and domestic economic policy, where he led successful policy efforts on a range of tax and corporate governance issues.

In this new role, Crain leads the association’s focus on a range of priorities, including advancing competitive tax and corporate finance policies, pushing back against the regulatory onslaught facing the industry and advocating policies that strengthen manufacturers’ ability to develop lifesaving treatments. He will also bring together the expertise of the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council and Innovation Research Interchange to drive the debate around the role of AI and technology in the future of manufacturing.

In addition to Crain, the lead policy experts for the association include Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris, who leads the energy, sustainability, labor and infrastructure policy portfolio; Vice President of International Policy Ken Monahan; and Chief Economist Chad Moutray. In July, Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram took the helm of the policy division.

“The NAM’s best-in-class policy team is made stronger with the elevation of Charles Crain. Charles has a track record of success that has benefitted manufacturers, and they will benefit even more from his leadership in this new role. As technology continues to play an increasingly critical role in manufacturing, Charles will be a leading voice in ensuring policymakers foster an environment where our industry can stay globally competitive,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Moreover, the integration of policy, government relations, communications, public affairs and brand strategy within the NAM ensures that manufacturers will be a driving force inside and outside the Beltway on every issue important to the industry.”

“Charles’ new role ensures that manufacturers will have an experienced advocate who can move the needle in debates on tax, health care, corporate finance, regulatory reform and technology policy. These critical issues are key to manufacturing competitiveness,” said Netram.


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 nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.91 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

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Creators Wanted and Union Pacific Dazzle the Twin Cities

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera

Last week, Saint Paul College in St. Paul, Minnesota, which boasts a student body that is 65% people of color, became the 19th stop of 20 for the Creators Wanted Tour, a joint project of the NAM and the Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education affiliate of the NAM.

Over three days, with Union Pacific as the lead sponsor, the stop drew more than 600 visitors, from students to educators. Meanwhile, 42,000 online signups in Minnesota helped the campaign surpass 1.5 million nationwide from students and career mentors interested in modern manufacturing careers.

Twin Cities kickoff: Union Pacific Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales Kenny Rocker gave thea group of people standing on a stage in front of a crowd keynote address at the kickoff event, emphasizing the reward of manufacturing careers. He was joined by MI President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee, Saint Paul College President Dr. Dee Dee Peaslee, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Loon and Trane Technologies Vice President of Product Management Dave Molin.

  • “When I talk about opportunities, I’m talking about really good-paying jobs … At Union Pacific, we’re talking jobs that are … averaging over $100,000 a year, and that’s without benefits, and so you just really have an opportunity to make an impact from that perspective,” said Rocker.
  • “At Trane Technologies, our vision is to boldly challenge what’s possible for a sustainable world,” added Molin. “It is the engine of our company, and we live it every day. And to do that, we need bright minds and the best minds in the world. We need diverse thinkers, we need creators, and our doors are open to everyone.”
  • Notably, leaders from key government business and workforce partner organizations attended the kickoff, including the Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Parent Union and St. Paul Area Chamber, representatives from the offices of U.S. Reps. Brad Finstad (R-MN-1), Angie Craig (D-MN-2), Dean Phillips (D-MN-3), Betty McCollum (D-MN-4) and Michelle Fischbach (R-MN-7), Mayor of South St. Paul Jimmy Francis and State Reps. Jon Koznick (R), Emma Greenman (D) and Samantha Sencer-Mura (D).

Experience and exploration: Students delved deep into immersive activities, from solving manufacturing-related puzzles in the Creators Wanted mobile experience to virtually navigating a locomotive through Union Pacific’s simulators. Equally captivating was the sight of the actual railroad track, which was complemented by insightful career anecdotes from Union Pacific professionals.

  • Eighty-seven percent of students surveyed reported a significantly improved view of modern manufacturing careers after completing the immersive experience.

Live Q&A sessions: The stop also offered structured opportunities for students to learn about manufacturing organizations’ support for the next generation of talent, along with the importance of mentorship and personal development in shaping successful careers.

  • The first session, featuring two Union Pacific senior managers—Amy Bang, Sr. manager of diversity and inclusion, and Ken Kuwamura, Jr., manager of talent acquisition—and Saint Paul College instructors, zeroed in on the crucial roles of mentorship, diversity and passion in career selection.
  • The second session, with Jake Yernberg, automotive instructor, Saint Paul College; Caitlin Bundy, manager of corporate sustainability, Union Pacific; and Preeti Subramanian, senior product manager, Trane Technologies, accentuated the pivotal role of manufacturing in tackling global challenges. Panelists pointed out the advantages of the manufacturing sector, citing competitive pay and the sector’s potential in addressing global issues, such as sustainability and climate change.

Interactive Learning: Everfi®, Ecolab and Schwan’s joined Union Pacific in bringing in representatives to give students career advice—and offer activities to spark their curiosity.

  • Everfi® showcased a new digital education program, “Future Creators,” co-developed with the MI and Union Pacific, to give middle and high school students a peek into STEM careers.
  • Saint Paul College also took students on a tour of its robust Trades and Technical Education program.

Beyond the Tour: The Twin Cities event is a part of Union Pacific’s overarching “Careers on Track” initiative, which aims to inspire more women and youth to pursue modern industrial careers, and the Creators Wanted campaign’s sustained drive to enhance perceptions of manufacturing careers in the United States and empower more people to create the future.

The last word: “I want all of you out here, the students, to have an opportunity to go out there and win and compete and further your careers and do well in life,” said Rocker, echoing a theme the Creators Wanted Tour has promoted since its inception: manufacturers and manufacturing care about students and their future. 

Next up: The pioneering Creators Wanted Tour concludes next month, Oct. 17–21, at the Circleville Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio. 

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Policy and Legal

NAM to Congress: Advance R&D Tax Fix Now

a group of people sitting at a table

To restore a U.S. tax landscape that promotes manufacturing competitiveness, Congress should act quickly in advancing bicameral, bipartisan legislation that would ensure the tax code once again supports innovation.

That was the message from the NAM and several manufacturers to lawmakers last week.

What’s going on: The NAM and company leadership from manufacturers Westminster Tool and Brewer Science visited Capitol Hill last week to brief legislators on a harmful change to the tax treatment of research and development.

  • The briefing was held by the NAM-led R&D Coalition in cooperation with the offices of Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Ron Estes (R-KS) and Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN).
  • Larson and Estes introduced the American Innovation and R&D Competitiveness Act in the House, while Sens. Hassan and Young introduced the American Innovation and Jobs Act in the Senate. These are the measures manufacturers are urging legislators to pass.

Why it matters: “We paid $26,679 per full-time employee in additional federal tax this past year” because of the change, Westminster Tool Chief Financial Officer Colby Coombs told lawmakers at the briefing.

  • “This increased federal tax on R&D forced us to cancel a major aviation contract that would have added … new jobs in our community and forgo a significant capital investment. Without fixing this issue, in 2023, we expect an additional tax bill of almost $18,000 per employee,” he continued.
  • Added Brewer Science Government Programs Director Doyle Edwards: “We have lost IP to China in the past, and fight[ing] that in the courts is a no-win situation. So the only way to win is to out-invent them. And that’s what we invest our money to do. However, with [the tax change] … we’re allowing China to actually catch up.”

The background: For nearly seven decades, manufacturers could deduct their R&D expenses fully in the year in which the costs were incurred. However, since the change last year, businesses must instead deduct these expenses over a period of years, making R&D more costly. 

Legislative fix: To protect manufacturers’ R&D, jobs and competitiveness, Congress should move immediately on bipartisan legislation to restore R&D expensing.

  • “R&D is the lifeblood of advanced technology development for our company, for our industry, but really for the nation,” Edwards continued. “And so our message is, we need your help. We need your leadership to resolve this policy issue.”

Take action: Learn more about what the NAM is doing to advocate for sound tax policy at our R&D action center.

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Policy and Legal

NAM Leads Inaugural North American Manufacturing Conference

a man standing in front of a group of people posing for a photo

On Sept. 19–20, the NAM convened the inaugural North American Manufacturing Conference in Washington, D.C., along with its counterpart associations from Mexico and Canada, the Confederation of Industrial Chambers of Mexico and Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

What’s going on: The conference provided an opportunity for North American manufacturing executives and government representatives to share perspectives on the opportunities and challenges facing the sector across the region. At the conference, industry leaders discussed the need to:

Deepening ties: On Wednesday, the NAM, CONCAMIN and CME signed a memorandum of understanding that will serve as a roadmap for future cooperation between the three organizations and support close economic ties between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

  • The memorandum calls for the organizations to share information about each one’s services and activities, and to work together to shape the continent’s future manufacturing agenda.
  • In addition to leaders from the NAM, CONCAMIN and CME, speakers at the event included U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, ExxonMobil Senior Vice President Neil Chapman, Toyota Motor North America Executive Vice President – Product Support and Chief Quality Officer Chris Nielsen, Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), Bombardier Head of U.S. Strategy Tonya Sudduth, Energy Transfer Co-CEO Tom Long and Caterpillar Inc. Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Integrated Components and Solutions Division Karl Weiss.

Common principles: “Shared values, shared prosperity” was a central theme of the conference, echoing President Biden’s remarks at the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week.

  • “As president of the United States, I understand the duty my country has to lead in this critical moment; to work with countries in every region linking them in common cause; to join together with partners who share a common vision of the future of the world,” President Biden said in New York on Wednesday.
  • “There’s never been a greater need for us to stand together,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said. “The world is caught between different political and economic systems. Our system here in North America enriches lives and lifts people up into freedom and prosperity, while other systems oppress their people and rob them of their liberty,” he continued, adding that the USMCA, of which the NAM is a longtime advocate, serves as a reminder “of what we can achieve when we work together.”

Strengthening the region: Throughout the conference, discussions focused on three components of a successful North American economy—growth, resilience and competitiveness—and the critical role manufacturers play in that system.

  • “Today, we live in a new reality,” CONCAMIN President José Antonio Abugaber Andonie said. “The commercial competition with China, the pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine … [all] place us before a second great industrial transformation in North America. … Some call it nearshoring, friend-shoring, ally-shoring or reshoring. No matter the name, the truth is that this phenomenon is modifying the structure of international industrial organization. North America is the epicenter of this transformation.”
  • Added CME President and CEO Dennis A. Darby: “Manufacturers are an important driver of economic development and prosperity. We are key players in the changes and challenges of the 21st century.”
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Business Operations

A Footwear Company Strives for Circularity

a group of people standing in front of a crowd

Within the footwear business, Okabashi is unique. The company, based in Buford, Georgia, is not only a family-owned company focused on sustainability, but also, according to the company’s leadership, producing part of the 1% of footwear still made in the United States.

For third-generation shoemaker Sara Irvani, this choice to build a sustainable and successful business in the U.S. was made possible only thanks to constant research and development.

The backstory: Irvani’s family started the company 40 years ago, and it always tried to reduce waste, both for the positive environmental impact as well as to improve its bottom line.

  • “By developing closed-loop manufacturing processes, we were able to reuse some of the materials that otherwise might have gone to waste,” said Irvani. “That helped us stay more competitive—and from there we’ve developed innovations in processes and systems and materials that build on that foundation.”

The process: Okabashi’s sustainable processes extend throughout the product lifecycle—from incorporating recycled or biological elements (like soy) that ensure products last longer to preventing disposable waste to recycling post-consumer shoes into new ones.

  • “When we look at sustainability of a product, we do it holistically—we look at what it’s made of, where it’s made, how it’s made, the lifecycle, the quality—and we’ve been able to innovate and develop so that our manufacturing process doesn’t create waste,” said Irvani.
  • “Without R&D, we would not only be creating the additional cost basis of throwing away all those scraps, but we would also not be able to eliminate waste that is by default landfill or ocean bound.”

The circular economy: In the traditional, linear economic model, inputs go into production, a product reaches a consumer, the consumer uses the product and eventually throws it away. In contrast, Okabashi is working to perfect a circular economic model for its products, said Irvani.

  • “If you are designing for circularity, you might use renewable and recycled resources, develop them into that same product with a level of quality that lasts longer, and when the customer is ready to move on, it can be remade into something else,” said Irvani. “That’s how the loop continues. When we talk about circularity, we’re creating that virtuous cycle.”

The homegrown production: Okabashi’s R&D efforts both help it stay in the United States by keeping costs down and require domestic production to work.

  • “To remake and recycle a product into something new, you need to have local production,” said Irvani. “You can’t be sending things halfway across the world to be unmade and remade and sent back. That’s why R&D locally and domestically is so important, to help produce circular systems.”

The local benefit: Irvani is quick to point out that money spent on R&D creates significant financial benefits for local communities.

  • “There’s a multiplier effect for commercially oriented R&D in terms of the jobs it can create and the impact on the local economy,” said Irvani. “You get a very strong return on investment for both the company and for the community.”

The global perspective: R&D is essential for U.S. companies competing with manufacturers abroad, Irvani added.

  • “For U.S. manufacturing broadly, R&D is critical to stay at the forefront of the innovation curve,” said Irvani. “Unless we’re proactively investing and developing new and better ways of doing things, we won’t be globally competitive.”

The last word: “It is imperative industry and retail move toward a circular-based economy,” said Irvani. “That’s not something that just happens or falls from the sky. Consumers are demanding it, and R&D is our pathway to that future.”

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Press Releases

North American Manufacturing Associations Reaffirm Manufacturing Agenda of the Future

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Confederation of Industrial Chambers of Mexico and the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters hosted the inaugural North American Manufacturing Conference at NAM headquarters where they formalized manufacturers’ commitment to supporting close economic ties between the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, CONCAMIN President José Antonio Abugaber Andonie and CME President and CEO Dennis A. Darby signed a memorandum of understanding, which will serve as a roadmap to the cooperation between the three organizations and outlines the key goals and objectives for the partnership.

“There’s never been a greater need for us to stand together. The world is caught between different political and economic systems. One system, our system here in North America, enriches lives and lifts people up into freedom and prosperity, while other systems oppress their people and rob them of their liberty,” said Timmons. “Together, we are an indomitable force for prosperity. The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement is a powerful force multiplier for the already unmatched productive power of our industries. And this agreement reminds us of what we can achieve when we work together.”

“Today we live in a new reality. The commercial competition with China, the pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, among others, place us before a second great industrial transformation in North America, the first one being propelled by NAFTA 30 years ago. Some call it nearshoring, friend-shoring, ally-shoring or reshoring. No matter the name, the truth is that this phenomenon is modifying the structure of international industrial organization. North America is the epicenter of this transformation,” said Abugaber Andonie.

“Manufacturers are an important driver of economic development and prosperity. We are key players in the changes and challenges of the 21st century,” said Darby. “This agreement between representatives of Canada, the United States and Mexico reinforces the strong ties between our three economies and manufacturing industries and serves as a reminder that we can achieve so much more when we work together. We would like to thank our colleagues from the NAM and CONCAMIN for this agreement, and we look forward to future cooperation.”

The MOU calls for the organizations to share information on each organization’s services and activities and to jointly develop the North American manufacturing agenda of the future. The associations will share best practices and policy recommendations to assist manufacturers in addressing future commercial challenges in North America, including, but not limited to, global competitiveness. They will work collaboratively to understand the challenges facing manufacturers in North America and commit to host the North American Manufacturing Conference on an annual basis in Mexico, Canada or the United States, on a rotating basis.

Click here to view the full text of the MOU.

About Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and compete around the world. Our focus is to ensure manufacturers are recognized as engines for growth in the economy, with Canada acknowledged as both a global leader and innovator in advanced manufacturing and a global leader in exporting. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies that account for an estimated 82% of manufacturing output and 90% of Canada’s exports.


The Confederation of Industrial Chambers of the United Mexican States, CONCAMIN, established in 1918, is the main organization representing the different industrial sectors and activities of high importance for the economic development of Mexico.

It is an effective business representation organization, recognized by its leadership and full capacity to develop projects and initiatives through its work commissions, that contribute to achieve sustained development for the Mexican industry.

  • We are an Organization committed to the economic growth of the country.
  • Obligatory organ of consultation of the three orders of government in all those topics related to the industry in Mexico, according to the Law of Business Chambers and their Confederations.
  • Annually, about 30% of the Gross Domestic Product that is generated in the country comes from those affiliated with the Confederation of Industrial Chambers of the United Mexican States.

In accordance with the provisions of the Law of Business Chambers and their Confederations, we are an organization of consultation and collaboration of the State; Therefore, we maintain a close, harmonious and purposeful relationship with the three levels of government and the powers of the nation.


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 nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.91 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 55% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

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Business Operations

Manufacturers Step into the Industrial Metaverse

What exactly is the industrial metaverse? While the term sounds like something straight out of a science fiction movie, it’s already being used by manufacturers in the here and now. Put simply, the industrial metaverse is a collection of technologies that can create an immersive virtual or virtual/physical industrial environment.

The metaverse will contain virtual replicas of everything from complete factories down to individual components and parts, powered by evolving digital technologies like AI and cloud computing. As the metaverse develops, users will be able to access it from any internet-connected device, such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet, or using virtual reality headsets.

According to a new report released by the Manufacturing Leadership Council, the NAM’s digital transformation division, and Deloitte, 92% of manufacturing executives say they are experimenting with or implementing at least one metaverse-related use case. On average, the surveyed executives say they are running more than six.

How is it used? Manufacturers are using industrial metaverse technologies in four common areas: production, supply chain oversight, customer service and talent management.

  • Production: Manufacturers are simulating key processes in order to evaluate them, creating virtual prototypes of processes or systems and creating simulated factories to optimize factory layout and setup.
  • Supply chain: Other manufacturers are using the metaverse to track products and raw materials and to collaborate with suppliers.
  • Customer service: Companies are also creating virtual showrooms and product demonstrations, which attendees can visit without leaving their own homes or offices.
  • Talent management: Lastly, other companies are experiment with using the metaverse for immersive training, virtual plant tours and virtual recruiting and onboarding.

What are the benefits? Executives report that each of these use cases comes with significant benefits, including cost reductions. Respondents also said metaverse applications have improved employee attraction and retention.

  • Immersive customer experiences and virtual aftermarket services, such as equipment service and maintenance, have also led to increased revenue, according to the survey.

The challenges: While the industrial metaverse offers many promising benefits, manufacturers are still finding some challenges, including:

  • The high cost of metaverse technology and the cybersecurity protections it requires;
  • A lack of employees with the right skills, along with the steep learning curve for those who must be trained; and,
  • Insufficient digital infrastructure and other resources.

The solution: The report suggests that manufacturers can find success in the metaverse by building a culture of innovation, establishing leadership support and starting small by investing in a digital technology foundation. 

The last word: All in all, manufacturing executives are confident that the industrial metaverse will transform their operations. Learning to understand and use the metaverse will soon be essential for companies seeking a competitive future.

Download the full report, “Exploring the Industrial Metaverse,” to learn more. 

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Husco Cracks the Employee-Retention Code

For Husco—a family-owned manufacturer of hydraulic and electro-mechanical control systems—building a strong, cohesive culture is the key to retaining talent.

The Waukesha, Wisconsin, company is among the many manufacturers that find retention to be a top business challenge, as the NAM’s quarterly Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey shows. So how do they create this cohesion?

It all starts at the top: Angela Stemo, vice president of global human capital at Husco, says the company has always prioritized trust and communication between employees and their managers.

  • “Our retention has grown and strengthened because of the emphasis we place on our leaders having strong relationships with their employees—get to know who they are, find out what their interests are,” said Stemo.
  • The company also lays the groundwork for strong bonds between coworkers, which often flourish outside of work as well. “Once they feel connected to people within the organization, they’re going to want to stay,” explained Stemo. “They’ve built friendships, they’ve built connections, and they feel really tied to the organizational culture.”

How they do it: Husco conducts employee engagement surveys once a year and holds occasional in-person focus group discussions to get feedback from employees.

  • “As our organization becomes more diverse, we are offering surveys in more languages,” said Stemo. “We have a large Afghan population on our shop floor as well as many Burmese workers, so we’ve had our surveys translated into various languages for all employees to participate.”
  • “For us, we really try to listen to what people say and what their suggestions are,” said Stemo. “If it’s something feasible and we can implement it, we try to figure out how to do so.”

Career development and advancement: Stemo noted that workers have consistently mentioned career development and advancement in the focus groups and surveys. The company has responded by expanding its offerings:

  • Husco offers its workers 100% tuition reimbursement—whether for an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree—and fully funded internal and external training.
  • The company also offers a “scholars program” that helps recent high school graduates complete a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering while working at Husco. Scholars receive full-time pay and benefits along with 100% tuition support.
  • “Husco emphasizes and truly supports lifelong, continuous learning,” said Stemo.

Internal programs: Within the company, Husco offers career development programs that feature rotations through different departments, such as quality, manufacturing and design. These rotations prepare workers for leadership positions, usually in engineering or manufacturing, said Stemo.

  • Husco provides the opportunity for employees to pursue external certifications in Six Sigma (green, yellow or black) and project management, as well as attend classes in negotiation, presentation and communication through a third party or university/college. If an employee has the desire and completes the appropriate request forms, the company approves it, said Stemo.

Patent awards: Husco also provides a monetary reward for ideas that contribute to new products, processes or anything else that might be patented.

  • “There is a staff engineer within each division who partners with various legal teams to apply for a patent award,” explained Stemo. “We recognize the award with a plaque and a patent award bonus.”

Other perks and support: Husco offers employees the flexibility of working one day a week from home and provides free health risk assessments, flu shots and on-site medical consulting. Through a corporate membership, the company also provides employees with day passes to visit the local zoo or museum for free.

Philanthropy: Philanthropy is central to Husco’s culture, and the company encourages its employees to get involved and help their communities. Husco supports employees’ philanthropic efforts through local outreach programs and volunteer opportunities.

  • Husco donates 10% of its profits to charitable organizations, putting a special emphasis on those that support K-12 education. The company also donates to colleges and universities, while providing scholarships for exceptional local students and the children of Husco employees.
  • “We match dollar to dollar employee donations to hundreds of different organizations,” noted Stemo. “Our philanthropic efforts are a big part of our culture and what makes employees ‘sticky.’”

The last word: Stemo shared some advice for companies struggling with workforce retention: there’s no substitute for good leaders.

  • “People leave bosses,” she said. “It may not be the final reason why someone leaves a company, but a lot of times, that’s the beginning of why someone starts looking for a job elsewhere or takes that recruiter call.”

Go deeper: The Manufacturing Institute—the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate—has many resources to help employers retain and develop their teams.

  • Start with this study on boosting retention and employee engagement, and register for an upcoming webinar on company culture.
  • Interested in labor data and key workforce insights? Sign up for the MI’s new monthly publication, Workforce in Focus.
  • For more on the latest trends and best practices in workforce development, sign up for the MI’s Workforce Summit on Oct. 16–18 in Atlanta. Click here for more information and to register.
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