View From The Road: 2024 ERA Conference

One of my favorite parts about growing a business is traveling around the country and meeting my peers in the industry. I’m going to try to share those experiences on a regular basis, and with that provide some updates on what I’m learning as I go. It’s amazing what’s been happening at EMS companies both large and small that we can apply to our customers at Amtech.

Last week I headed to my first ERA Conference in Austin, TX.  I have to say, it was an eye-opening experience.  They really brought in some great speakers, and had some educational breakout sessions.  Here are a few things I learned that may be helpful for you as well.

  1. What is ERA?  ERA is an annual conference for reps in the electronics industry. It’s not just the networking that makes it essential though – as I mentioned earlier, there was so much to learn from the speakers and the sessions. I would recommend it for anyone in our industry who wants to learn and grow.
  2. Customer Focus – We often get so focused on what’s happening inside our buildings, that we sometimes forget the reason we do what we do. The ERA conference reminded me that we need to be extremely sensitive to the needs of our customers.  By putting them first in every decision we make, we can add value both directly to our customers, but also to the manufacturers you represent.
  3. Communication – EMS is a competitive industry, so we tend to treat our operational secrets like they are nuclear codes. But, by sharing best practices, we can help one another tremendously. On this front I learned a lot about how to better communicate and stay top-of-mind with our customers so we can help prevent or solve issues before they derail an entire job.
  4. Managing Generations – Many EMS companies (Amtech included) are family-owned and operated businesses. That means transition.  At ERA, there was a constant discussion to understand multiple generations, so that we can relate and engage effectively. As the Baby Boomers (like my father) start retiring and Gen Xers and Millennials take their place (both inside and outside our company), understanding how to relate to different generations is critical to grow.
  5. AI – As you might expect, there was a lot of talk on both the benefits and risks of AI. The general consensus is that we need to start leveraging AI, but it’s very much the wild west right now. We took back a few tools to investigate further – from ChatGPT 4.0 to Voxscript to Synthenesia. Try them all and see what works best for you.
  6. Economic Outlook – There was a great keynote on the current economic outlook and how the global and domestic economy looks to be doing well, outside of any X-Factors that we can’t anticipate. This was really positive to hear, and got me enthusiastic about the year to come.
  7. Decision Making – Another keynote at the event focused on how we can help our customers make decisions, especially when there are multiple decision makers. Not making a decision on the customer side often is the main reason why orders don’t come in as expected – if we can help, it will increase our ability to predict orders, plan efficiently and deliver on-time.
  8. Networking – It was a great event to meet people in the industry, I definitely was able to meet with many veterans and learn from them, shaving off years in “real world” learning. I’m a social person, so this was definitely my favorite part of the event.
  9. Passion and Pride – There was definitely a passion and sense of pride amongst all the attendees.  The veterans were humble and always wanted to share their experiences for the next generations. Truly a team-building environment, and it made me want to pay it forward as best I can.
  10. Growth Mindset – Resoundingly we could all hear that this group of people were not there just to leverage their status in the industry, but to learn how to become better and add more value to both customers and the manufacturers they represent.  It is refreshing to be around so many people with this type of growth mindset.

Overall, the event was a 10/10. I’m excited about my involvement with the organization, looking forward to staying in touch with the connection I made, and look forward to attending next year. Hope you make it as well!

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