Special thanks to Vessel for allowing our Executive Director, Sheri Johnson, to share tips on how to engage with the industry!
Are you an Idaho-based product company/manufacturer that is poised for growth, but hampered by an equipment problem, supply chain issue, or labor shortages? There aren’t always easy answers to these challenges, but getting in step with the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance (IMA) — and Idaho’s greater manufacturing community — is a great place to start.
Recently, we had a conversation with Sheri Johnson, Executive Director of the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance, who shared with us the many ways the organization is holding up its three tenets: to connect, support, and promote manufacturing in Idaho.
We also asked for Johnson’s recommendations on how Idaho product companies/manufacturers can leverage the knowledge and many resources offered by the IMA. Continue reading for her suggestions.
What tips you would give to Idaho manufacturers looking to grow, get involved, and find connections in the industry?
SJ: Build relationships. Take the time to get out of your business and meet others in the industry, whether that’s through attending an IMA event, getting directly connected to others in your role, or intentionally seeking to meet the other manufacturers in your neighborhood or city, etc. These connections and conversations will be incredibly valuable!
Once connected, use your peers. Learn from their mistakes and benefit from their wins. Ask questions. Be interested in other people’s stories and journeys. Find ways you can help each other.
Be willing to consider all available resources. During my years of running a manufacturing business, I was unaware of the valuable services and programs certain organizations, groups, and government agencies offered — many of which are free or have incentives to offset costs. We live in a great state that is considered very business-friendly. There are a lot of programs that small, medium, and large manufacturers could be taking advantage of — whether it’s workforce training reimbursements, trade assistance, small business consulting, import/export support, and more. Our Labor, Commerce, and Workforce Development groups are all committed to helping Idaho businesses grow and thrive.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use the community! Odds are, someone else has had the same problem and can help you navigate to a solution. IMA has a sourcing needs/member requests section in our monthly newsletter that handles a lot of this. Equipment needed, equipment for sale, business systems user group needs, hiring, suppliers or parts needed, etc.
Spread the word. Manufacturing is a GREAT industry! Share with people in your circles all the cool things made in their backyards. If you need help learning about who some of those companies are, let us know!
What are some services the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance offers that would be helpful for product companies/manufacturers in this state?
SJ: Our 401k Association Retirement Plan, TalentSorter hiring platform, Nice Healthcare program, and some on-demand safety training offerings (coming soon) are something all manufacturers should be looking at. These programs all help in hiring, employee attraction/retention and offer great savings for members. We have curated these benefits after years of talking with manufacturers and what their needs were.
We currently offer both an HR and IT Cohort call each month. Those have been very valuable for manufacturing members to help problem solve in a safe, small-group environment. We hope to begin offering a C-Suite cohort soon.
As product companies/manufacturers work to find answers to new business and economic challenges, the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance continues to offer resources, connections, and support. “No one has all the answers,” says Johnson. Her advice? “Leverage the knowledge that members of the manufacturing community can offer. Your business — and life — will be richer for it!”
The Idaho Manufacturing Alliance (IMA) is a membership organization focused on knowledge sharing, collaboration, and advocacy to cultivate an environment that creates benefits for the manufacturing industry and community as a whole. With passion for the manufacturing world in Idaho, IMA supports and connects manufacturers by building awareness and sharing knowledge throughout their camaraderie of members. They help to provide tangible and economic resources and are dedicated to authenticity, integrity, and service.