The Value in NFFS Meetings
by Bryan Beck, Beck Aluminum
NFFS President 2011-2013
I attended my first Non-Ferrous Founders’ Society Annual Meeting in 1993 – as a guest of the incoming President of the Society, Ed Wyrwas. I was a guest since at the time my company did not actually qualify to be a NFFS member. I had a very positive experience which led me to return to the annual meeting again the next year. I have attended all but one NFFS annual meeting since my introduction to the organization 18 years ago.
Before I started coming to the NFFS meetings I had heard that the meetings weren’t beneficial and I actually had several people ask me why I wanted to waste my time and money. They viewed attending the association’s meeting as an excuse to take a vacation at the company’s expense or commented that the meeting agenda was too social and lacked meaningful content. “Social Interaction” and “Networking” were just an excuse for “Hanging out at the Bar.” They were wrong then, and they’re still wrong now.
Beck Aluminum formally joined the Society in 1997. Since then, we’ve paid $21,400 in dues to the Society and more than $22,000 in meeting registration fees – not including travel and hotel costs. Has it been worth it? Without a doubt. The return on this investment has been phenomenal. Let me explain.
It was during a break between programs at a NFFS annual meeting, that I heard mention of a clause in the tax code that applies to companies who export their product. Upon returning from the annual meeting I checked with our tax consultant to see if it applied to us. His initial reaction was that the “Extraterritorial Income Exclusion” did not apply to us. I called the gentlemen that I had met at the NFFS to follow up. He provided me with more information that I in turn passed along to our tax specialist. As it turns out, there was part of this tax code that was in fact applicable and beneficial. As a result, in 2005 and 2006, hearing about this part of the tax code saved my company more than $263,000. That translates into a 505% return on our investment in NFFS membership and meetings. Again, this came from a discussion with a fellow attendee during the “social” part of the annual meeting agenda. Based on this financial benefit alone I can justify coming for many more years to come. The allowance was eliminated by the IRS shortly thereafter. But, we benefitted from attending the NFFS annual meeting then and continue to benefit now.
In 2008, my company was contemplating an acquisition. This was in early to mid 2008, prior to the economic recession. As the transaction drug on we were losing confidence and questioning the idea of an expansion in the late summer and early fall. At that year’s NFFS meeting which was held in October, I heard an economist named Alan Beaulieu from the Institute for Trend Research talk about the collapse that had just occurred and what it would mean going forward. Alan has proven to be very knowledgeable. His presentation gave me some valuable data, “comfort” with the decision we were facing and the intestinal fortitude to move forward with our plans. Alan has been on the NFFS program every year since 2008 and his economic forecasts have been remarkably accurate. The plant we acquired was producing about 3 million pounds per month in 2008. It currently produces nearly double this volume. Was the decision based solely on what I heard from a speaker at a NFFS Annual meeting? Of course not. But it was certainly influential and helpful. I look forward to this part of the program agenda each year.
Just last year, NFFS had another speaker talk about improving the relationship between the Credit and Sales departments in your company. After returning from the meeting we implemented some of his recommendations. Our Credit and Sales teams started to interact more frequently and productively. As a result, we were able to increase credit limits on some of our customers and the amount of our Past Due receivables has dropped significantly. Another direct payback from attending a NFFS annual meeting. Simply, all three of the examples above have helped us be more profitable.
On August 11, 2010, another NFFS member sent the Society a letter describing how the contacts he had made at NFFS meetings saved him after his company suffered a lightning strike that caused an electrical failure with their automated molding line. All of his supplier’s technicians were on call and would not able to service the problem for more than 2 weeks. After 3 days of total frustration, he called some of his fellow foundry friends for help. Even though they were competitors, they responded. One not only offered to send a technician to help, but also produced 1,500 castings for their foundry off their tooling while the molding machine was were down. Another furnished them with a part that was on backorder from Japan. When asked what they wanted for the part, the response was to just send a replacement when the part came in. A third foundry provided technical help - along with a supplier that rebuilt a much needed part over night. All three were companies he had met and become friendly with at NFFS meetings over the years.
The Society has just concluded its 2011 Annual Meeting program at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort near Jacksonville, Florida. It may be a bit too soon for me to be able to tell you exactly how much value my company will gain from my participation this year, but I do know that I learned several things that can have a direct benefit to our bottom line. In fact, I do every year. And you can, too.
The 2012 NFFS Annual Meeting will be held at the Green Valley Ranch Resort & Casino in Henderson, Nevada. I will be there. I would be even if I had not just been elected President of the Society. Please consider making the investment to join the NFFS or at least attend the 2012 annual meeting. There are discount programs for new members to the organization and first time attendees to the meeting. The organization works hard for our industry. The larger the membership, the better the attendance - the bigger the benefit to everyone. You won’t be disappointed.
Mr. Bryan Beck
Beck Aluminum Corporation