Note: Mark O'Malley is a long-time member of NOMMA's Membership Committee and has won several awards for his work in membership development and education.
In the past I have been on committees that had the task of calling NOMMA members that had let their membership lapse and sometimes a response was it was not a good fit or I did not get out of it what I thought. I wish that I would have had better responses for these people . In my recent drive home from the Metal fab Convention I started thinking of certain bullet points that may help current members to put a value on their NOMMA Membership and to help promote the value of membership to new potential members
1) you can view membership as a $400.00+- magazine subscription and all you will get out of it is what you elect to read in the magazine This is your choice , however I choose to get involved and seek out more value
2) by being active in list serve I can ask specific questions , whether business or technical and get a variety of answers
My non member competition may drive by my shop and see 5-6 cars parked in the lot and think of a small staff . what he does not see is that I have a "consulting Staff" of about 500 of my NOMMA brothers and sisters that will help me get out of a jamb either by personal phone call or list serve access . the cost of this is the time it takes to ask the question
3) by attending Metal fab I have met , face to face with the national representatives of many suppliers . I cannot think of a time where I did not leave that meeting with out a business card with direct lines / email addresses etc., when I need help I can contact them direct.
if my non member competition either places an order online or thru the order desk and is told a part is out of stock he is stuck . How many times has Cathy from King , or Steve from Wagner or Gina Pietrocola , or Jay Shah or many others done some research and responded to list serve that have found parts that were thought to be out of stock. or has a fellow fabricator had the components needed and helped out
4) My NOMMA membership has helped me balance the fact that I am a metal fabricator doing business and that I am a business man doing metal fabrication , there is a difference and I did not know that. I can be the finest craftsman , building the ultimate stairs , rails etc. and that is great , however if I can not do that for a profit I will not be around long . Same thing I may be a great bean counter , pencil pusher ,but if I cant learn or surround myself with the proper tools and techniques and people to produce a product I wont be around either
Since joining NOMMA I have learned immensely from the finest metal working craftsmen and artists around to further my craft however I have learned as much from someone who has never lit a torch or struck an arc how to make a profit . I just spent three days in a class learning to make my business appealing and fun for my employees , if I can pull that off , I would not be able to mathematically put a value on it.
5) in attending my first Metal fab I was introduced to people and products that I never knew existed. I bought Dave Filippi's Fab cad software before I owned a computer because by seeing it work live I knew that is one thing I need to get ahead . he worked with me and coached me to making it a valuable tool at my disposal. I remember sitting in on education sessions and being blown away by the knowledge in attendance and how much was shared . I saw a demo by Jerry Grice , and coming from strictly a fabricating back ground , that was the first taste of Black smithing that I saw. Again , Priceless
6) I have met some of my best friends thru NOMMA . Lisa & I met Carl & Marti Grainger at the convention in Covington Kentucky , I think in 2003 . as it turns out we were about the same age , like minded and striving for the same goals , going across the same obstacles . we talk as often as needed some times weekly , sometimes not for 3-4 months at a time , but the calls usually are to pick the brain of someone you trust and has been thru what you are going thru. The Grainger's are from South Carolina , and we are from Illinois , I cannot stress how much easier it is to bounce an idea off someone that is 1000 miles away as it would be to ask that same question to a shop down the street . We have more recently befriended the Kinnikin's and the Oleseng's which is great to see the next generation with the same goals and aspirations as I had years ago and still do today. There are so many others , that I cannot begin to name that I proudly call friends , and or family that I would not have met if not for getting involved with NOMMA
Again the contacts that I have met by getting involved and attending Metal fab are priceless , whether I contact them personally or by listserve
7) As I became a board member I found myself in a room with about 10-12 smart people and me , the topics that they were talking about , and the solutions to the problems were over my head , but by becoming involved and getting on the board I learned more about business than I ever would have. again priceless
8) getting involved in the chapter has brought me more in contact with my regional members , the networking , and education opportunities again , priceless getting help from and / or providing help for a near by member is like adding to your staff / product line
9) I have attended 15+ Metal fab conventions and have taken home from the convention FAR more than the cost of attending every year. I do not consider the week or so away from the shop , the cost of travel , lodging and registration as an expense , more as an investment , because if I attend , and get INVOLVED , my ROI will be immediate and substantial. The initial cost of attending is figured into my operating budget , not an after thought where it may seem that the timing is never quite right , make it right , a priority, and you will not be disappointed . A chance encounter in a hallway or a bar may be as helpful as sitting in a class , but it takes your involvement of these classes , or meetings to make it work
10) the access to code and technical questions and answered is awesome . I have been involved with building inspectors that I have countered some of there decisions , proved I was right and saved myself potentially thousands in rework . I have gained respect from these inspectors and they now refer customers to me because they know the job will be done right. NOMMA gave me credibility with the inspectors.
There are probably hundreds of more points , and I would love to hear them to help remind me of more value
The value of a NOMMA membership is there , how much value is up to you, get involved , ask & answer questions , attend chapter meetings , use listserve attend Metal fab and I will promise you that you will not be disappointed
O'Malley Welding & Fabricating Service Inc.