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SME Speaks: SME's Diamond Jubilee Year

I have been reflecting on the 75th anniversary of SME as I step into the office of the SME president. Today, while we have many advantages over those who went before us, we face many challenges that are not unlike those of our predecessors. We have an economy that is much stronger than it was 75 years ago, but which changes rapidly, with globalization as a factor that affects many of us in different ways, some positive, some not so positive. The first president of our great Society was Joseph A. Siegel. As one of the founders of the American Society of Tool Engineers (the forerunner to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers), Mr. Siegel realized that success in besting the challenges of the day depended upon collaboration. By working together to help each other, we could solve more problems faster and make the world a better place.

His words about engaging the manufacturing community published in his column in 1932 are just as important as his comments on standardization and simplification. Today, that sounds like supply chain management and lean principles. We know that in order to grow successfully, we need to collaborate inside our organizations. We must share knowledge to ensure that we are adding value for the end customer, and not repeating wasteful moves. Cross-functional teams are imperative to ensure that silos do not detract from the overall performance of our companies.

The need and ability to collaborate outside our organizations is also important as we work with suppliers and customers along the whole supply chain. One of the values of my company, Columbia Plastics Ltd., is to always look to see if we can add more value at less cost for our customer, and if our suppliers can add more value than we can for a lower cost. This collaboration requires skills that were not taught in the technical education stream of a few years ago, skills that are critically important for our success.

SME has been a source of education for me for the last 25 years. That education has included technical resources, as I went back and studied to become a Certified Manufacturing Engineer. It also included training in people skills as I became a chapter chair and started to understand that if you motivate people, they will do amazing things. The training continued with many other volunteer positions within SME, and a few outside the Society as well. The bedrock principle has always been to work with people or for them—not above them. That type of collaboration has made for many a fun and successful project getting done.

Collaboration takes on new dimensions when we start to work with global suppliers to provide better value for our customers. The cross-cultural challenges make life more interesting and rewarding. The collaboration with former competitors to bring the best each of us has to the table for a critical program seems a strange concept to some, but is the life blood for others.

I would suggest to you that collaboration is what will keep us growing as a Society and as individuals. Some of SME's greatest achievements have been garnered through partnering with other organizations to the mutual benefit of all. I am also sure that each of you has your own examples of great achievements that have been accomplished by collaboration.

I am very proud to have the opportunity to serve as SME's president during its 75th Anniversary activities. I look forward to working with the many people who are implementing SME's Strategic Plan 2010 as we go forward with the same sense of purpose as our founders. In the coming months I will be passing along more details of our activities in supporting our five strategic goals:

    Goal 1: Technology and Information
    Goal 2: Commitment to Education
    Goal 3: Member Engagement
    Goal 4: Loyalty and Visibility
    Goal 5: Lean and Effective

On the occasion of the Society's Diamond Jubilee, I would like to extend the warmest of New Year greetings to members and friends, and to emphasize that SME's door is always open to you. Make this the year you get involved with the Society. It's a rewarding way to make an impact in manufacturing's future—for yourself, for your organization, and for the greater good.

F. Brian Holmes, CMfgE is Vice President Operations, Columbia Plastics Ltd., Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Reach him at                .

The President's Message accompanying this article appeared in the first American Society of Tool Engineers Journal, May 1932. This is the forerunner of the President's Message in today's Manufacturing Engineering magazine.


Celebrating 75 Years of SME

For 75 years, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has been the place "Where Manufacturing Comes Together." Founded in 1932 with 33 members, the organization was originally named the Society of Tool Engineers. A year later, it was renamed the American Society of Tool Engineers, and it finally became the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1969. Originally formed amid the Great Depression by a group of tool engineers and master mechanics, the organization consisted of professionals who sought to collaborate on how to build the product that would give the Motor City its name—the automobile.

Today, SME is the world's leading professional society supporting manufacturing education. SME addresses all manufacturing processes and technologies, for every level of manufacturing practitioner, in all industries. Through its member programs, publications, expositions, and professional development resources, SME promotes an increased awareness of manufacturing engineering, and helps keep manufacturing professionals up to date on leading trends and technologies. Headquartered in Dearborn, MI, SME influences more than half a million manufacturing practitioners and executives annually. The Society has members in more than 70 countries, and is supported by a network of hundreds of technical communities and chapters worldwide. SME's members hail from diverse manufacturing industries, including aerospace and defense, automotive and transportation, medical, and many, many more.

Please join SME's members in celebrating some of the Society's Memories in Manufacturing. If you'd like to share your own manufacturing snapshots and memories, please post a message on our Web site at


This article was first published in the January 2007 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. 

Published Date : 1/1/2007

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