ZEELAND, MI – August 16, 2016 – Organizers of the Advanced Manufacturing Expo (AME), the largest public technology show in Michigan, said they intend to expand the event into metro Detroit next year, based on the record attendance of visitors and participants last week at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids.
“Manufacturers all across Michigan are excited to see the latest technology solutions and meet new talent, so we intend to hold an AME in metro Detroit as well,” said Mark Ermatinger, show organizer and Vice President of Industrial Control in Zeeland. “It’s a great way for companies on both the east and west sides of the state to network personally and learn what new technologies can do to improve their bottom lines.”
West Michigan has a remarkable number of machine builders and manufacturers that are on the cutting edge of applying the latest technologies, and Southeast Michigan is an undisputed manufacturing powerhouse, Ermatinger said.
He said the AME is the largest event of its type that brings together manufacturers, vendors and educational institutions on technology, free and entirely open to the public. Other expos of about the same size held in Michigan address only a particular industry segment or are sponsored by large vendors for their customers.
The sneak preview Wednesday evening and day-long event held Thursday attracted more than 950 visitors and exhibitors at 112 booths, more than double the attendance in both categories compared with the first AME held in 2015 at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville. In conjunction with the show, West Michigan Works! sponsoreda job fair in the DeltaPlex that drew 56 companies from a 7-county region that were in search of skilled tradespersons, engineers and other local talent.
The exhibition and job fair last week took a total of 43,000 square feet of space at the DeltaPlex, about four times the 11,000 square feet rented for the first AME that featured additive manufacturing, machine vision, automation, quality control gaging and other technologies.
Keynote speaker State Sen. Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) told the audience Thursday morning that manufacturing “put Michigan on the map” of the U.S. and continues to play a critical role in a healthy Michigan by providing 600,000 jobs. Manufacturing continues to be the largest economic sector for Grand Rapids serving industries such as automotive and office furniture, as well as fast growing industries such as brewing and data storage facilities. MacGregor said he was a proud sponsor of Senate Bills 616 and 617 that were key to encouraging Switch, based near Las Vegas,, to build the largest data center east of the Mississippi at the former Steelcase pyramid building in Grand Rapids.
Mike Jandernoa, who served as CEO of Perrigo Co. for 14 years and founded Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring in Grand Rapids as a way to assist executives in growing their businesses, gave valuable advice on the fundamentals of empowering employees to achieve superior results. Using examples from the spectacular growth of Perrigo from a $30 million private company into the $6 billion public corporation, Jandernoa encouraged executives and employees to focus strongly on “active listening” and be willing to “fail fast.”
“Active listening is a very important skill that some of us in management -- some of us who wear the ties -- forget about sometimes,” Jandernoa told the audience. “And we (Perrigo) decided that if we were going to have the best workforce in the country -- in the world -- we had to make sure we had the best educated workforce in our (industry) segment.”
In his presentation on the value of manufacturing, Mike Johnston, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturers Association in Lansing, said Michigan led the nation in manufacturing job growth since 2010 with about 149,000 new jobs and manufacturing represents about 21 percent of the Michigan’s gross state product. To continue this trend, the legislative , executive and judiciary branches of state government need to be kept informed on what impact their actions may have on manufacturing, he said. The Michigan Manufacturing Association serves as the statewide advocate for manufacturers on issues as varied as energy, insurance, taxes and employment opportunities, he said.
Leigha Schatzman, executive director of the Association for High Technology Distribution in Waukesha, Wis., helped to kick off the event by introducing MacGregor and explaining to the audience the importance advanced manufacturing. Ermatinger said a golf outing sponsored by the AME helped to promote study of advanced manufacturing by raising about $1,000 for the local FIRST Robotics program.
Galaxy LLC in Rockford and its president Johnnie Jones received the 2016 AME Innovate Award for its Electron Exciter that employs an electric arc that can ignite the nitrogen, oxygen, and other gases in the air with the result being a bright white light.