Record crowd attends Manufacturing First

Jessica Thiel
Posted by of Insight Publications

A premier keynote speaker, a Foxconn presentation and a chance to win cash and prizes helped propel Wednesday’s Manufacturing First Expo & Conference to record attendance.

Festivities kicked off Tuesday night with the NEW Manufacturing Alliance’s Excellence in Manufacturing/K-12 Partnerships Awards. Nearly 400 people attended the dinner to see manufacturers, schools and educators receive awards and to honor winners of the organization’s 2019 Manufacturing All Star awards. By the end of the evening, NEWMA raised $11,000 for its scholarship funds.

More than 1,300 registered for Manufacturing First, which also brought in nearly 600 students from around Northeast Wisconsin to tour the expo hall floor, meet with manufacturers and hear a special presentation from Oshkosh Corp.

The day kicked off with a presentation from Bob Chapman, chairman and CEO of global manufacturing technology and services company Barry-Wehmiller and co-author of “Everybody Matters:  The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family.”

Chapman is well-known for his book as well as his blog, Truly Human Leadership, and the company’s Barry-Wehmiller University, which offers leadership classes to people both within and outside the company. He shared his message of compassionate leadership with a standing room-only crowd at the KI Convention Center.

Wisconsin is home to three Barry-Wehmiller companies — Green Bay’s Paper Converting Machine Co. and Hudson-Sharp and BW Papersystems of Phillips — and the largest concentration of the St. Louis-based company’s 11,000 employees.

Chapman spoke on the importance of listening to employees and leading people versus managing or “bossing” them. Feeling valued and cared for at work is of paramount importance to people and can lead to more positive relationships at home and in the community, he says.

“Nobody in the world can make the world a better place than you and me,” Chapman told the audience. “We have people’s lives in our hands for 40 hours a week-plus. We have a chance to let them return home each night and be a good parent, a good spouse and a good citizen.”

The day continued with special presentations from Oshkosh Corp. on People First Leadership in the Oshkosh Family and First Business Bank on fast-tracking company growth with customer financing strategies. The morning and afternoon each offered six breakout sessions, and attendees visited the nearly 200 exhibitors on the expo floor.

Alan Yeung, director of U.S. Strategic Initiatives for Foxconn Technology Group, ended the day’s presentations with previews of the technology the company is working to produce and the company’s campus in southeastern Wisconsin and sharing excitement about the company’s presence in Northeast Wisconsin.

“The reason I’m here today is … because Green Bay, Brown County and the New North region really is the epicenter for advanced manufacturing, and Foxconn is pleased to actually add on and contribute here to its success” Yeung said.

The day concluded with the Business After Hours cocktail reception and the first-ever Power Hour, which gave attendees a chance to register to win cash and prizes, including a $500 gift card from First Business Bank. The company also provided three winners an opportunity to grab as much money as they could in 22 seconds in its Cash Cube, which contained $2,500.