Written by: Carolyn Sotos
Welcome back to the Plastics Proud Blog where we talk all things Plastic! This month’s blog, I had the pleasure to sit down with Editorial Director of MMT Magazine and Social Media extraordinaire, Christina Fuges. We talk all things Plastics Industry, Social Media, Mold Maintenance, and Amerimold 2020!
1. How did you get your start in the Plastics Industry?
"I have been in trade publishing since 1993, but it was not until 1997 that I was presented with an opportunity in plastics. And it was not just a job opportunity—it was an opportunity to be a silent partner and editorial director for a new start-up publishing company. That is exactly what I thought to myself when I was invited to join the team to launch MoldMaking Technology back in 1997.
Many people in the plastics industry may know Joe Prischak as the chairman of the board for The Plastek Group (Erie, Pennsylvania), which includes Triangle Tool and Penn Erie. What many of you may not know is that he is the founder of MoldMaking Technology (MMT) magazine. Twenty years ago, he and partner Gary Orfe invited me to join their crusade to launch a trade publication dedicated to covering the moldmaking industry.
The late Gary Orfe and I spent the next several days sitting at his kitchen table and brainstorming. I remember at the end of that first day that I had a notebook full of ideas and questions. The next week we drove out to Erie, Pennsylvania to get Moldmaking 101, and from there it was nonstop. Starting the company Communication Technologies, Inc. (CTI) from scratch was exhausting and exciting. CTI ended up moving offices three times as it grew with more properties and people. And as many shops will find relatable, culture changed as the company grew. That small company feel disappeared, but the growth was exciting.
When the sale happened in 2004, it was for the better. For MMT to grow, it needed to be with a company that could take it to the next level, and that was no doubt Gardner Business Media (GBM). GBM had a foothold in manufacturing, and by covering the metalworking side of manufacturing with Modern Machine Shop and the plastics side with Plastics Technology, MMT was a perfect fit.
But really, it is this community and what do for a living that just captivated me. The people in this industry took an aspiring media journalist and turned her into one of them. Welcomed me. Made me part of their community. I think that is why I am so committed to continuing to help build that community.
The people in this industry took an aspiring media journalist and turned her into one of them.
But, the highlight of my job is the people, connecting with them to find out what they need and how best to provide it. I am not a moldmaker, so I have never claimed to have all the answers, but if someone contacts me with a question or a request, I can absolutely find someone who can find the answer! Again, it’s the community."
2. How have you seen marketing change throughout the years in the Plastics Industry?
"MMT launched as a print magazine, but today it is so much more! It is constant content on everything moldmaking. By that I mean we develop and deliver content, community and connection however our audience consumes it. Today that includes print articles (feature articles, case studies, profiles, tips, product releases), digital editions, website, newsletters, videos, webinars, podcasts, social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube), conferences, trade shows, databases, survey data and special projects like our pilot cross-generational mentorship program, our annual Leadtime Leader Awards competition, Top 10 Reasons to be a Moldmaker t-shirts, MoldMaking Matters video and our partnership with iWarriors. We do all of this daily, weekly, monthly and annually (or more on social media) because that is what the industry demands, as shops look to better their businesses and equip their shops.
When it comes to marketing and our audience, well that has changed too. Mold builders have always been known as craftspeople not business people, so not only was marketing not on their radar that didn’t really even want to share.
Today that has completely changed. Since the launch of MMT not only have mold builders opened up to share their stories in MMT, they now open up their shops to fellow mold builders! Check out the AMBA’s plant tours as an example. And they’ve stepped up their marketing efforts too. For example, the biggest growth of Amerimold over the past 10 years (the industry’s annual trade show) has been in mold builders exhibiting over not just attending the event!"
3. MoldMaking Technology has a new campaign called “If A Mold Could Talk….”. Explain how this idea came alive and what you hope comes from it.
"One of the many things the men and women of this industry do well is laugh at themselves. They are the hardest working people I know, but they can always find humor and joy in the daily frustrations of their work.
That is why MMT’s “Top 10 Reasons to Be a Moldmaker” t-shirts are so popular. Well, recently I discovered another way for mold manufacturers to unleash their wit and wisdom: our “Life of a Mold” campaign! This was born out of a conversation during a MoldTrax Mold Maintenance workshop I attended late last year. A bunch of us were standing around a broken down, dirty mold and someone said, “Can you imagine what this mold would say if it could talk?” And a lightbulb went off!
Consider the life of a mold and everything it goes through from design to first shot to maintenance and repair. Then consider what a mold would say as it passes through quoting, designing, machining, inspection, molding, polishing, assembly, cleaning, welding, etc. It’s basically MMT’s version of a meme!
Last month through print and social media, we asked industry to head to moldmakingtechnology.com/zones/amerimold to help us name this new character. We got a tremendous response! The name selected is Phil (as in “fill”) And next month we are presenting industry with specific scenarios a mold goes through to comment on, so we can bring this story to life. We’ll continue this campaign up through Amerimold across all of our social media channels and present the results of each scenario in the next issue of MoldMaking Technology.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter at @MMTMag to stay up to date with our new friend’s adventures, and to play along with us as we learn what our little friend’s voice sounds like. If you want to tweet your idea, make sure to use the hashtag #IfAMoldCouldTalk so we can all follow along.
And we will be doing something fun with Phil at Amerimold June 10-11 in Novi, Michigan that you will want to be a part of."
4. Given all your experience with Mold Maintenance, have you seen any new trends in this area?
"The most important trend is mold maintenance no longer being viewed as an afterthought. Many shops today employ maintenance proactively and are reducing mold downtime. I am seeing growth in true preventive maintenance, which today encompasses accurately monitoring issues and corrective actions over time with data,discipline and employee accountability. It’s exciting to see companies get behind this concept and strategy. I’ve been onsite at some shops that have transformed their toolrooms into well-organized maintenance areas.
With that being said firefighting cultures still persist in many toolrooms today despite available maintenance systems and processes. The big challenge is selling to top management on the value of spending time and money on training toolrooms on true preventive maintenance strategies. Another issue is getting processing people, designers and mold builders on the same page when it comes to preventative maintenance. On the technology and process side, there is a still a lot of talk about solutions for cleaning conformal cooling channels."
5. Amerimold 2020 is coming up in Novi, MI! What are you most excited for pertaining to the show?
"Amerimold has become where the mold manufacturing community connects, and we have built the event around that theme. This year we have brought back the Sourcing Fair, which is a show floor event that connects OEMs, mold builders and molders with new business opportunities via prearranged and impromptu meetings. It’s an opportunity for leading manufacturers to make deeper business connections with the strong roster of North American molders and mold builders that Amerimold attracts. If you are looking for new or more tooling vendors or molders, sign up for our Sourcing Fair.
We are continuing our showfloor Tech Talk Program with topics such as:
· Mold-Purchase Management: Know the Timeline, Risks, Critical Steps & Right Way to Buy a Mold
· Time to Rethink the Supply Chain
· Moldmaking 4.0: Let’s Get Real about all this Data—From Design to First Shot to Maintenance
· Essential Principles for Design for Additive Manufacturing
· Sharing the Journey of Participants in a Cross-Generational Informal Pilot Mentorship Program
· The Impact of USMCA
· 30-In-30: Leading Mold Manufacturers Share 30 Best Practices in 30 Minutes on Ways to Improve Efficiencies
We have increased our amount of in-booth demonstrations, which will feature:
· Mold sensor technology/data
· Control technology and five-axis machining
· Mold maintenance with an actual mold breakdown
· Mold monitoring
· Polymer 3D printing
· CNC monitoring with ERP
· Metal 3D printing
· New lifter technology
New this year, we are hosting an Apprentice Day to connect the next generation with technology innovation and career possibilities via guided tours of the exhibits and roundtable discussions.
And we are launching a registration-required Cross-Generational Speed Mentoring event on day two that will give each participant 6 potential mentee/mentor interactions in 30-minutes. This is not a recruiting fair. It is a personal development opportunity for both generations. It is for people looking for an experience and who are interested in taking advantage of an opportunity to further their personal development through industry connections that fit their specific needs.
During registration you will be asked to indicate the areas of personal development that are of interest to you (operations, career development, general industry knowledge or technology); and whether you are looking to connect with an experienced industry professional from whom you can learn or are you looking to connect with a next-generation industry professional with whom you can share your experience. This event will kick off with a welcome, and an explanation of the purpose and process.
And of course, we will have our 2020 Leadtime Leader Awards Ceremony, 2020 Top 10 Reasons to Be a Moldmaker t-shirts and our Networking Party! I’m really looking forward to the show! I hope to CONNECT with everyone there!"