Questions from Elinor Slomba, Red Rock Branding

Q: On a recent episode of the Meet the Manufacturer podcast, your predecessor Jill Mayer stated, “Everybody knows when you share your thoughts and opinions in an organization, you get pulled into committee work and then end up President.” Has that been your trajectory? 

A: I suppose you could say so, yes! Although, I do like to think of listening more as my forte. First, Bauer was a manufacturing member. We got great benefits from that, so I stepped onto the Board. Then for a couple years I was the Membership Chair, and now just recently with the organization’s support became President. I appreciate Jamie’s leadership as Executive Director and the way he facilitates a team orientation to visualize and then realize successful outcomes. In some ways, I think of this leadership role as simply an extension of my role at Bauer [as Chief Operating Officer]. Because it’s natural to care about the state of the industry and how others in my field are doing. 

Q: You’ve stated your high level goal to continue to earn top billing for ManufactureCT as Connecticut’s go-to manufacturing association  – and the only one covering the whole state. What do you think that’s going to take, given manufacturers’ current pain points and pressures? 

A: Well, I live and breathe manufacturing [at Bauer], so I do understand what companies are going through with workforce and supply chain issues and all the rest. Still, there’s no better opportunity than ManufactureCT for networking and building relationships. Whether it’s plant tours, hearing from the young manufacturing professionals and the executive peer group, virtual educational programs, or just a good time at a brewery or at our Annual Golf Outing, you find people you can really connect with and ways to help each other. On an individual level that’s true, then on the group level, you can see how much socializing and learning together builds trust, and that’s great for the state of innovation. To know that other professionals have your back allows for greater comfort with visibility and risk taking. That’s a plus overall, and I’m humbled that our members don’t take it for granted. 

Q: What are you most excited about in looking ahead to the future of manufacturing in CT? 

A: I love seeing the growth and development that occurs when manufacturing professionals come to better understand the lay of the land and where they fit in. And, I mean, we have so many kinds! From small machine shops, to breweries, to large multinational corporations covering virtually every industry: aerospace, consumer goods, bio-tech and chemicals. The skills and the craftsmanship and knowhow they represent is truly outstanding and makes me so proud. And it would be remiss of me not to mention our supporting members, such as financial services, law firms and construction to name a few – they play a vital role, too, bringing their expertise to the organization. We’re going to keep growing the association and inviting new folks in to be part of the conversation and contribute valuable perspectives. It’s a story that just keeps getting more interesting! 

Q: What do you see in your crystal ball, if you had to make any predictions? 

A: You know, I think people are going to be more interested than ever in keeping things local. Connecticut has an awful lot of various groups who share common goals around helping the manufacturing sector. But there’s room to do a better job at effectively communicating and collaborating. Pretty soon, we’re going to get awesome at it! We have to…It’s time.

Q: Can you say a little more about keeping things local? 

A: What I mean by that is, we can learn to think first in any challenging business situation: “Who or what already exists in my own backyard to help me solve current problems?” Sharing best practices is great, but we have an additional opportunity – and in my opinion a responsibility – to get very practical buying and selling to each other on a regular basis. Local should be the default setting for who we seek out and choose to do business with. 

Q: And how does this tie in with ManufactureCT’s mission?

A: Well, transportation adds greater cost and risk to any project, so reducing those shipping miles is a real benefit to manufacturers. Not to mention the fact that we can create very customized business solutions by talking to each other about what exactly we need, going a mile up the road to have a chat instead of zooming off to another state or even another country. This helps very concretely to further our common goal of helping manufacturers in Connecticut. Becoming not only each other’s supporters but also each other’s customers, this is how we Make the Future. 

Becoming not only each other’s supporters but each other’s customers, this is how we Make the Future.

– Mark Auletta, President, ManufactureCT

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