Suiting up for Manufacturing First

Posted on Sep 15, 2016 :: Editors Note
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

When you see me at Manufacturing First Next month, your first thought might be that I am a little under-dressed.

Normally, I would agree the attire you might see me wearing is not your normal business event clothing. But Manufacturing First is anything but a routine event for us at Insight, and this one will be a little extra-special for me.

You see, there are very few brands that have earned my loyalty over the years, and perhaps I expect too much. Adidas is one of those few, however, and there were few souls in all of Northeast Wisconsin as excited as I was when it was announced Mark King, the president of Adidas North America, would be the keynote speaker.

Outside of work, I live in Adidas. One of the great passions in my life — aside from writing and editing for Insight — is soccer. I’ve been involved with the game more than 40 years now as a player, coach and referee. One constant on that journey has been Adidas. I’ve certainly used the clothes, shoes and equipment of other brands, but I always come back to Adidas. (I’d love to talk with King about the few exceptions.)

At last count, I think I have more than 50 items of Adidas gear, from shirts to training pants to hats and stadium jackets. Of course, I’ve always been aggravated that I see some styles in Europe first and have to wait for them to get to the U.S. But no more.

As Publisher Margaret LeBrun notes in her interview with King this month (see page 20) Adidas is going to be moving manufacturing resources to the U.S. in 2017. My preferences aside, I would expect that move to be part of King’s discussion about the Evolution of Leadership, which kicks off Day 2 of the Manufacturing First at 8 a.m., Oct. 20.

If you still haven’t planned out your visit to Manufacturing First this year, be sure to check the special event preview content included in this month’s issue of IOM. Beginning on page 23, the preview provides details on all of the happenings at this year’s two-day event at Green Bay’s KI Center.

Much as we enjoy it, Manufacturing First is but one of several exciting developments going on in Northeast Wisconsin. As I set out to report and write the story about the Internet of Things (See page 10), I was amazed at how advanced many of our manufacturers are and the level of involvement of our region’s technology companies.

We are, as a region, well on our way with the deployment of this technology and the benefits it can deliver for our manufacturers and their customers.

Speaking of technology, and our need to instill STEM skills in the workforce of the future, the work that is taking place involving adult mentors and students in competitive robotics (see page 16) may have you wondering “Where was this cool stuff when I was in school?” The technical skills these students are learning are impressive, from design to coding to building and troubleshooting.

What’s even more impressive, though, is how they learn to work together to build consensus and arrive at solutions to the challenges presented. The future of our workforce is indeed in very capable hands.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at Manufacturing First. I’ll be the crazy fan dressed in Adidas.