Capstone Event for GMA Attracted Industry Professionals from Across the Southeast to the Georgia Manufacturing Summit

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Over 600 industry professionals gathered at the Cobb Galleria Centre on October 25th for the 3rd annual Georgia Manufacturing Summit. Jason Moss, The CEO of the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance, kicked off the event by sharing the “Significance of One” and how one connection, one idea, or one opportunity can change how you do business and sometimes can change history.

He illustrated the “Significance of One” by telling the history behind the modern assembly line. Its little-known origins are based upon the visit of a Ford employee who witnessed a so-called “disassembly line” at the Swift and Company’s slaughter house in Chicago where carcasses moved along a conveyor to be butchered. This employee saw a butcher standing in place, removing the same piece efficiently over and over again. He relayed this idea to the head of Ford’s production department, and that is how the assembly line, made famous by Henry Ford, was developed.

“We will host over 50 plant tours this year, including nationally known brands and small mom & pop manufacturers so our members can see first-hand different operations that may improve their facilities and businesses,” stated Moss. “We strive to provide a platform for manufacturing professionals to form strategic alliances and learn best business practices.”

The Georgia Manufacturing Summit is the capstone event produced by GMA which hosts over 100 annual events, including plant tours, educational workshops, and networking sessions across Georgia. Their member base has doubled year over year as they add new events and resources that will help manufacturers stay connected and educated about the latest trends.

Two keynote speakers from renowned Georgia companies Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A also shared their insights into the ever-evolving food & beverage industry and how it affects the entire manufacturing process. From the wheel that is bolted onto the tractor that plants the feed that the chickens eat, to the furniture in a restaurant, to the Chick-fil-A sandwich and a Coke, the food and beverage industry touches every facet of the supply chain.

Breakfast keynote, Debra Shankle, Vice President, Supply Chain, for Coca-Cola, North America, shared best people practices from her supply chain function, which procures items from 300 suppliers and ships for over 2,000 destinations. She also spoke about new Coke initiatives that offer employees opportunities for completing surveys, participating in town hall meetings and round tables, and attending team and community events. Shankle shared an insight into a new performance appraisal system that emphasizes mobilizing employees around work that matters most to execute their business strategy. As a current Coca-Cola print ad proclaims, said Shankle, “Our secret ingredient is our people.”

Lunch Keynote Speaker, Rob Dugas, V.P. & Chief Procurement Officer for Chick-fil-A, Inc. focused on the topic of navigating trends in the supply chain. He shared the secret of founder, Truett Cathy’s, success was in staying ahead of the curve in the marketplace: anticipating customer needs, where to locate stores; as well as, how to create a unique company culture. Cathy’s values, principles, and working relationships with vendors and customers continue today.

“We believe we can have results and relationships,” stated Dugas. “If it comes down to the handshake or the contract, there is no question, that the character of the handshake is always going to supersede the fine print in the footnotes of the contract.”

To continue to outsell the fast food industry on a per store basis by two to three times, the $9 billion Chick-fil-A supply chain works with 140 suppliers to keep their 2,000+ stores running smoothly. Dugas continued that the challenge is to move from a producer logic to a consumer logic mindset. Since 65% of the company’s business is drive-through, Chick-fil-A has developed a smart phone app for on-line ordering. Eventually, home delivery may even be in the cards.

Educational Breakout Sessions

Over 30 industry leaders shared their insights during the 6 Educational Sessions that were offered at the Summit. These sessions included:

  •     Manufacturing a Better Bottom Line

  •     Trends to Track in Supply Chain

  •     International Manufacturing

  •     7 Secrets to Successful Selling

  •     Technology Advances for Today

  •     Developing a Winning Workforce

For the first time in the three-year history of the Georgia Manufacturing Summit, an International Manufacturing breakout session -- “Building Domestic Growth and a Competitive Edge Through Exports”-- and a session on “Developing a Winning Workforce” was included among the six educational panel discussions on the agenda.

Moderator of the International Panel, Joanne Sanders, President of EWISE Communications, stated that output for exports has doubled over the past 30 years making the time ripe for international commerce. Having the world’s busiest airport and the fourth largest port in the country also enhance export opportunities for Georgia manufacturers.

According to panelist Mary Waters, State Deputy Commissioner of International Trade, Georgia companies export products to 214 countries; however, small businesses in the state account for only 31% of the sales volume, implying good opportunities for growth. She noted other local resources for small companies wishing to expand international business include 68 consulates and trade offices, 200 international organizations, and 81,000 jobs provided by foreign countries located throughout Georgia.

Jamey Jackson, President of JC Malone and Associates, moderated the Workforce Development Panel and which also included panelists Kathy Carlisle, CEO of THINC Academy; Shannon Garner, HR Director at KIA Motors; and Jason Ransbottom Sr. Mgr. of HR of Hyundai PowerTech.

“As I travel the state meeting with manufacturing leaders, workforce development is a topic that comes up in almost every conversation,” said Jamey Jackson. “My father, Randy Jackson, who was the Chief Administrative Officer at KIA Motors Manufacturing Georgia, saw the partnership of THINC, West Georgia Technical College, and the community as the pathway to not only close the workforce development gap for local employers, but more importantly to offer hope to young people who knew that traditional school may not be for them.”

“The Summit far exceeded our expectations, and we are already planning next year’s event on October 10, 2018 at the Cobb Galleria Centre,” stated Moss. “Our mission is to support the manufacturers in our state and to provide the connections and resources they need to help their business succeed.”