April 25 2024


The Benefits of Industry Associations

An Interview with David Klotz, President of Precision Metalforming Association 

Are you a part of an industry or trade association?  

Most industries and trades have associations tied to them, offering their members a like-minded network and event opportunities for networking, education, and training. This only scratches the surface of what these organizations offer. Members paying into them not only gain from these offerings but are funding the advocacy and advancement of their very industry.   

To go deeper into industry associations and their benefits, we spoke with David Klotz, President of Precision Metalforming Association (PMA). He illustrates how involvement in an industry association like PMA is an opportunity for your business, its employees, and the industry you serve overall. His tips apply to most industry associations and will help you maximize the value you receive. 

Meet David Klotz 

Klotz has an impressive tenure in manufacturing and started early. His family owned a metal stamping company in Indiana, and once older worked with his father there. He went to college to earn an accounting degree like his father and then went to work at their division in Michigan. His parents were members of PMA, which dates back to 1942. While aware of the association, he did not attend a meeting until his move to Michigan in 1995. He left that first meeting as assistant treasurer for the region.   

Since then, he’s worked in various aspects of the industry including operations, finance, sales, technology, and more. Over this time, he has watched the industry evolve and things like technology and automation advance. His leadership within PMA got some attention, and in 2019, he was asked to take over as president of the organization.   

He treated this new position as he had with his business leadership positions—he evaluated and built a team and created priorities. He saw the members of PMA as his customers, and these priorities looked to serve those members.   

“The association exists for the members, and some people think it’s the other way around. These members are the association’s customers, and we have got to provide the best customer service to them.”  

At the time, membership was down, and he looked to raise the number while upgrading the organization’s technology. This decision came just in time as COVID-19 was about to change the world, making their traditional interactions unavailable. PMA worked to provide guidance for businesses at a time when there was no roadmap or past instance to draw from.

Klotz and his team worked hard to provide weekly webinars to communicate government guidance, share ideas on keeping operations going, and relay the trends that emerged from the post-pandemic world. These webinars brought in 500 to 600 members, and PMA grew when other organizations lost members. Not only did membership improve by 200 companies, but the member retention rate also rose and is at 95% today—something Klotz is immensely proud of. 

About PMA 

PMA is about North American manufacturing, creating safe environments for a diverse workforce. It is one of the largest metalworking trade associations in the United States and is committed to recruiting, training, and retaining those in manufacturing careers to propel the industry. Klotz and his team visit members across the country to find out their challenges, and the organization conducts monthly, quarterly, and annual surveys to discover industry challenges and trends. These reports are then accessible to members.   

Hearing about the skill labor shortage and the challenges to the workforce has inspired PMA to evolve into a one-stop shop for training. Improving the workforce is a huge focus for future initiatives, as the association looks to continue boosting training and education opportunities, including programs that support the HR community within the industry affected by this shortage.   

PMA talks to members of the government and works with other associations to create a voice for all industry members, garnering support, and keeping up lobby efforts that benefit the industry. His team travels the country for speaking opportunities and other opportunities to make an impact. Many organizations within an industry will team up for common goals. PMA partners with FMA and other associations for not only the FABTECH tradeshow but also as part of a skills coalition. 

To create those skilled workers needed PMA offers METALFORM EDU and technical training that offers online tools with audio and visual elements on an interactive platform. Evolving from classroom environments or low-tech offerings, PMA continues to update and streamline these educational offerings to make them easier for businesses and employees to use. After three years, these programs brought in 40 new member companies and have had 100 unique companies benefit from the program. Klotz is also driving second chances, and vet programs like Skills USA tap into a wealth of resources many overlook.   

The Benefits of Joining an Industry Association 

PMA’s mission is to “shape the environment of the metal forming industry, leading innovative member companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability.” They help member businesses and the overall sector by advocating metal forming in Washington D.C. and local governments.   

The cost of joining an organization like PMA pays for:   

  • The events that help members network, train, and become leaders.   
  • Programs that increase the industry knowledge base and create better-qualified workers.  
  • Trends and news through various survey efforts and reports, giving members a voice and providing consolidated information to grow their business.   
  • Giving a voice to trades and industries through advocacy with governments and the public (voters).   

In return, members receive many benefits, including free or discounted events and training, survey data and reports, and opportunities not just to network and find buyers. Additionally, members see added resources, best practice information, and can tour other member facilities to learn new techniques, technology, and processes.   

“We have a very strong community, and I have never seen an association have members want to help each other out even if they are competitors. You can branch out, compare, see what others are doing, and bring back ideas for your business.”  

Klotz recommends that you get the most out of your membership by taking advantage of as many of the opportunities available as you can, especially in the 17 local chapters that offer over 60 events yearly, including supplier nights. Having an industry membership and displaying the logo on your website also provides credibility to your business, showcasing your extended resources and commitment to the industry and its advancement.   

FABTECH and Other Events 

The association collaborates with other organizations on FABTECH, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing event yearly. They also hold association meetings annually and various leadership conferences. FABTECH is popular, providing a venue for hundreds of world-class suppliers and a chance to see innovative solutions and industry trends in action.  

“What’s great about FABTECH is you can see the leaders in the industry, both locally and nationally, and see the latest trends and products out there.” 

Tradeshows are a big marketing opportunity for the manufacturing industry, and Klotz shared advice for businesses attending these events—bring equipment! This is based on the surveys from attendees, and while this can be tricky logistically, it’s what people are looking for. What isn’t feasible can be displayed with videos or other tactics to show your capabilities visually.   

More importantly, PMA promotes the event heavily but from an overall standpoint, it’s up to the individual businesses attending to promote themselves to fully utilize the opportunity and make the most of the budget spent there. Klotz agrees that ensuring your tradeshow messaging aligns with your digital marketing efforts for a full funnel effect is critical to standing out.  

Overall, these associations, whether PMA or another organization, are advocating for your business. With that in mind, take advantage of the events, training, networking, and other offerings these associations offer to take your business further. 

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