Manufacturing Summit on tap: Q&A with Tim Heaton of Colorado’s Advanced MFG Alliance

By Tim Heaton | Sep 18, 2013

CompanyWeek sat down recently with Tim Heaton, President of the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, to discuss his organization, the industry, and the first-annual Colorado Manufacturing Summit.

Q: CAMA, the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance is relatively new on the economic development scene. What's CAMA's primary objective?

CAMA exists with the sole purpose to advance manufacturing across the state of Colorado. This is the first time in the state’s history that there is a trade organization singularly focused on manufacturing. We are manufacturers representing manufacturing and its best interests. We provide our members with the necessary tools for manufacturing success such as B2B networking opportunities, executive peer-to-peer sharing, driving workforce development and advocating for Colorado manufacturers. Sadly, manufacturing has suffered from the misperception of the four “D”s – dumb, dirty, dangerous and disappearing. To counter this, CAMA is focused on the four “R”s – rebrand the industry; restructure policies and education to meet the needs of the Colorado manufacturers; rebuild the manufacturing ecosystem including workforce, financing, research and more; and revitalize the sector by serving as a platform for idea sharing, professional and business development and industry support.

Q: Assess if you will Colorado's MFG opportunity. Manufacturing News estimates the state is home to 6500 or so manufacturers and over 200,000 related jobs, with more growth forecast. Where does the sector go from here?

Colorado has every reason to be optimistic. Manufacturing output has grown faster than overall output in the state, and overall manufacturers have begun to add workers, at an average annual manufacturing wage that is greater than U.S. average annual manufacturing wages. There truly is a manufacturing renaissance in this country and Colorado will benefit from it if we act wisely. Policy plays an important role in that, but it is more than that. To tap into this renaissance, Colorado manufacturers must be willing to advance. Michael Porter-Harvard Business School, has said, “If a company in your state is doing the same thing that it did 10 years ago—using the same production processes, producing the same products– it’s going to be very hard to succeed.” Focused on the state of Colorado as a whole, CAMA strives to be the central location for information sharing, business tools, professional networking, and legislative stances narrowly focused on manufacturing. As an organization we share a common goal of advancing manufacturing in the state of Colorado and making it better and easier to do business here.

Q: CAMA is hosting the 2013 Manufacturing Summit October 4, in Loveland. What’s the focus of the Summit?

At the end of the day, the best ideas, the greatest inventions, the ultimate gadgets in the world have no value until they have a customer. It starts and ends with the customer. To grow, manufacturing needs customers. That is a serious challenge today, more than ever. Attendees to CAMA’s 2013 Manufacturing Summit have the opportunity to learn from industry experts and gain insights through best practices from industry peers that will provide an edge during this dynamic time. The Summit provides manufacturers in Colorado the chance to collaborate, and improve the performance of their manufacturing operations through the innovative application of technologies, processes, and methods. The event is open to all Colorado Manufacturers and will be held October 4th, 2013 at the Embassy Conference Center, Loveland, Colorado. Visit CAMA’s web site for more information:

Q: The region's MFG sector is extremely diverse. Pick one industry segment that's poised to experience fast growth?

Between 2009 and 2011 the food, plastic, and beverage sectors showed job gains in nondurable manufacturing; while the machinery, primary metals, electrical equipment, and fabricated metals posted gains in durable goods manufacturing. One of Colorado’s advantages is the lower cost of power. Sector’s that consume tremendous amounts of power can use this to their advantage and provide competitive pricing to their customers. The plastics industry is one sector that can benefit from this. Similarly, the beverage sector is growing. Statistically however, only the petroleum sector showed an increase in both jobs and number of establishments over the past several years. Companies serving the energy sector should be able to ride this wave for some time.

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