Conventional wisdom

Manufacturing First Expo & Conference coming to Green Bay Oct. 30

Posted on Sep 27, 2019 :: Don't Miss
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Though manufacturing covers a diverse and wide range of applications, many of the same sets of issues touch all players in the industry. From talent to technology to security, the 2019 Manufacturing First Expo & Conference covers them all.

Two keynote speakers are headlining this year’s conference. David Kohler, president and CEO of Kohler Co., will present on “145 Years of Manufacturing Innovation.” The company may be best known for manufacturing bath, kitchen and power products, but its business ventures include golf courses, luxury resorts and hotels, and Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates. In 2020, Kohler’s Whistling Straits will host the Ryder Cup, an event that’s expected to deliver a regional economic impact of $135 million.

The company also has established itself as an innovation and sustainability leader. Its Kohler Konnect smart products offer state-of-art solutions, and the company is working toward achieving a net zero environmental impact by 2035. Its WasteLAB incubator, for example, identifies new uses for manufacturing waste.

Mike Staver, an internationally recognized speaker and coach, will present “Leadership Isn’t for Cowards.” He’ll base his talk on his book of the same name. Cultivating effective leadership is vital for so many reasons, not the least of which are attracting and retaining talent, he says.

For companies to successfully compete for talent, they need to be able to tell a compelling story. It’s important for leaders to convey to prospects that the company will value their opinions and make them feel a part of the team, he says.

“People aren’t going to move for benefits and money. Most people are going to move into an industry because somehow it means something to them; somehow it attracts them; somehow, it’s a meaningful story,” Staver says.

The title for Staver’s book and talk comes from his assertion that successful leaders operate from a place of courage. Leaders who struggle operate from a place of fear, he says, and leaders who thrive feel the fear and discomfort but still go after the objective.

Following the keynote presentations, the exhibit hall opens at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 3:30 p.m. It features more than 200 exhibitors as well as four XCELLD booths. The special booth spaces, which will be hosted by Doig Corp., Kohler Co., Oshkosh Corp. and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., offer in-depth experiences and opportunities to learn skills and interact with other manufacturers.

Each year, more than 550 area high school students attend the event as well. They’ll hear a special presentation from David Kohler and tour the exhibit floor to learn more about manufacturers and available job, internship, apprenticeship and co-op opportunities.

This year’s event features three special presentations. At 9:45 a.m., Sara Ackermann, an attorney with Ruder Ware, will share her talk “Employment Law is Not for Cowards.” It will include a top 10 list of what not to do in the workplace and will cover minimizing the risk of employee litigation, increasing employee retention and employment law compliance.

Also at 9:45, Bill Elliott, president of First Business Growth Funding for First Business Bank, will present “How & Why Alternative Financing Works for Manufacturers.” Recent surveys indicate many manufacturers are taking steps to protect themselves against an economic downturn. Elliott’s talk will discuss the advantages that alternative financing can offer.

At 3:15 p.m., Bryan Brandt, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Oshkosh Corp., will share how his company developed a new corporate brand aimed at better showing its identity, value and strength. He’ll discuss how a strong brand and company culture come together to support business goals.

The day’s breakout sessions run from 11 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 2 p.m., with six sessions running during each time frame. They cover topics ranging from search engine optimization to cybersecurity and talent retention to safety.

Industry 4.0 is a major theme as well, with sessions devoted to the topic at both 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. This is key, as the NEW Manufacturing Alliance’s recently released Industry 4.0 survey indicates many companies don’t know where to begin when it comes to emerging technologies.

The day concludes with the Business After Hours Cocktail Reception and Power Hour, which offers an opportunity to win prizes.


If you go

Manufacturing First Expo & Conference

When: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: KI Convention Center, Green Bay

Cost: $149 in advance and $179 at the door

To register or for more information: