Precision Metalforming Association guides manufacturers through pandemic and beyond
The COVID-19 pandemic upended the way U.S. manufacturers conduct daily business operations. Deemed essential across the country, most manufacturers stayed open even as much of the country closed down. Throughout, manufacturers worked to keep their employees and communities safe while continuing to make the parts and products needed by Americans and people all over the world.
The global pandemic provided some unique challenges, but manufacturers were up for the task because the sector has a long history of collaboration. For nearly 80 years, the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) has been bringing together thousands of professionals who specialize in metal stamping, fabricating, spinning, and forming. PMA’s programming is dedicated to improving professional development, productivity, and profitability.
It’s no surprise that, as many associations and membership organizations are struggling to retain members, PMA continues to grow. PMA has more than 850 member companies who regularly turn to the association and to each other for networking, research, and advocacy.
PMA’s One Voice advocacy team in Washington, D.C., is recognized as a major voice for small and medium-sized manufacturers across the country. One Voice is the combined advocacy effort of PMA and the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA). PMA’s team ensures that members’ voices are always heard on the association’s top priorities – taxes, regulations, trade, workforce, and other issues. When COVID-19 restrictions kept visitors from the U.S. Capitol, PMA’s team was not deterred, shifting to organizing dozens of virtual meetings, offering an opportunity for hundreds of members to share their concerns with their legislators from the safety and comfort of their homes and offices.
COVID-19: PMA Takes Action
When the pandemic started in the U.S., PMA, working with its One Voice advocacy team, immediately took action to help members meet the challenges they were experiencing. PMA created a dedicated webpage to provide up-to-date information on COVID-19 government actions and guidance, while the advocacy team hosted more than 40 webinars to share the latest information related to essential business operations, COVID-relief efforts and more.
“PMA members showed their resiliency during the pandemic, and PMA was proud to support them by providing up-to-date information and real-time advocacy action,” President David Klotz said.
Raw Material Supply Issues
“Metalforming companies are struggling to meet demand and stay competitive due to supply shortages, long lead times and skyrocketing prices for their raw materials,” Klotz said. “Members are reporting lead times extending into 2022 for steel, with similar challenges for aluminum, copper, brass, and other metals.”
The Section 232 “National Security” tariffs imposed by the U.S. on all steel and aluminum imports in 2018 are contributing to manufacturers’ supply problems by artificially raising prices compared to the rest of the world. Because the tariff only applies to raw steel and aluminum, PMA members risk losing business to overseas competitors who can pay global (meaning lower) prices for steel and aluminum and exporting the finished part to the U.S. tariff free.
Through its One Voice advocacy team in Washington, D.C., PMA is leading efforts to engage with trade policymakers and Members of Congress to find ways to increase supply. Additionally, as a founding member of the Coalition for American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU), PMA is actively lobbying to end the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs that have been in place since 2018.
Challenges Finding Workers
Another major concern facing the metalforming industry is a shortage of workers — both entry-level and high-skill. PMA and its educational foundation work to help the industry recruit workers by promoting awareness, and to help companies train their new and incumbent employees with the skills needed to excel.
In 2018, PMA introduced METALFORM EDU, an innovative online training platform designed specifically for workers in the metalforming industry. The platform includes 37 PMA-exclusive courses and more than 650 courses in precision measurement, blueprint reading, SPC, CNC, Six Sigma, lean manufacturing, safety, and more. PMA continues to expand its METALFORM EDU library, adding 26 introductory courses in May 2021 centered around four competency categories: project management, metalworking processes, machining, and metal-cutting. Courses in die protection and safety, additive manufacturing, and Industry 4.0, will be released later this year.
In Washington, D.C., PMA’s advocacy team helped secure more than $1 billion for job training and technical education, lobbied Congress for new language in COVID-relief legislation that expanded training funds in the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act for e-Learning and lobbied for the creation of Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs.
Taxes and Regulations
While a major focus of PMA’s One Voice advocacy work in 2020-21 was on ensuring that COVID-19 relief measures and guidance supported the industry, the association’s team in Washington continued to promote other important policy issues, including advocating for tax reform while reducing ineffective regulations.
PMA’s partnership with ITR Economics provides members with quarterly economic reports to help them best utilize their resources and effectively deploy capital. These reports offer a comprehensive overview of the economy as well as an in-depth look at the metalforming and forging, automotive, and heavy truck sectors.
Metalforming Insights: Industry Surveys and Reports
PMA also collaborated with Harbour Results, Inc. and Plante Moran to enhance PMA’s industry surveys and reports. Metalforming Insights reports allow members that participate in PMA surveys to benchmark their companies against others in the industry. The quarterly reports cover financials; operations, human resources, and safety; sales and marketing and forecasting; and wages and benefits, including executive compensation.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with ITR Economics, Harbour Results, and Plante Moran to offer these new reports, allowing members access to critical information to help them make informed business decisions now and in the years ahead,” Klotz said.
Employee Benefits Programs
PMA and Oswald Companies launched a PMA Health Insurance for Members program in 2018, allowing PMA member companies to access a team of health insurance experts to create customized programs that offer first-class employee benefits, while reducing insurance costs.
Later this year, PMA is planning to introduce a 401(k) program and other new benefits to continue to bring value to the membership.
More information about PMA and membership opportunities is available at www.pma.org. Follow PMA on Twitter at @PMATalk.