In Detroit, they don’t ask you what you’ve done in the past. They ask what you can do in the future. The city’s business and manufacturing companies are always looking ahead. Driven by the auto industry, manufacturers are continuously seeking better methods and more efficient processes.

That’s why Detroit is a good location for the next Executive Briefing Conference, sponsored by Stiles Machinery Inc. 



The three-day event April 23-25 will feature speakers that will focus on current issues, plant tours of innovative local manufacturers, and plenty of time for networking with other forward-looking wood products executives.

The EBC is an educational experience providing company leaders with the knowledge, strategies and forward-thinking attitude necessary for succeeding in today's manufacturing world.

The event begins Sunday April 23 with a welcome reception at the Ford River Rouge Plant. The next day will feature presentations and briefings, and tours of JB Cutting and robotic manufacturer Fanuc. The final day, Tuesday, April 25, will also offer presentations and briefings.

Reinvention and disruption

The Executive Briefing Conference features best-selling authors and keynote speakers including Josh Linkner, best-selling author speaking on inspiring and disruptive innovation. He has been the founder and CEO of four tech companies, which sold for a combined value of more than $200 million.

Linkner is the author of two New York Times bestsellers: Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, and The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation. He is also the founding partner of Detroit Venture Partners, investing in and mentoring more than 100 startups.

He has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a President Barack Obama Champion of Change award recipient. He is a regular columnist for Forbes, Detroit Free Press, and Inc. Magazine. His work on innovation has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, CNN, and The New York Times.

Closing the skills gap

Jennifer McNelly serves as the executive director of The Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers and will also speak at the event. As executive director of the institute, McNelly is driving an agenda to close the manufacturing skills gap and make manufacturers in America globally competitive.

The institute strives to change the perception of careers in manufacturing to reflect its true status as the most advanced, high-tech industry in the country and re-establish the U.S. as the global leader of manufacturing education. Through initiatives targeted at youth, early-career employees, women and veterans, the institute aims to help manufacturers promote manufacturing career pathways and close the skills gap.

McNelly has extensive experience in workforce development, employer engagement, and business. Prior to joining the Institute, she was a member of the Senior Executive Service for the U.S. Department of Labor. Her strong private-sector experience includes serving as the Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, LLC. In 2012, she was named one of the inaugural 100 Women Leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Favorite economist

Who is your favorite economist? Many in the woodworking industry would reply that it would be Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics. Beaulieu will speak on the current state of the economy and strategies for business at the Executive Briefing Conference.

As president of ITR Economics, Beaulieu is one of the country’s most informed economists. He will use his expert knowledge of leading indicators, combined with his skilled observations of today’s global economy, to present a big picture approach managing economic cycles.

Since 1990, he has been consulting with companies throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia on how to forecast, plan, and increase their profits based on business cycle trend analysis. Beaulieu is also the Senior Economic Advisor to NAW and contributing editor for Industry Week. He is co-author, along with Brian Beaulieu, of books Make Your Move, Prosperity in the Age of Decline, and But I Want It. He has also penned numerous articles on economic analysis.

Ford River Rouge operation

During the EBC’s opening reception, attendees will have the opportunity to tour one of America's most historic manufacturing facilities. The River Rouge complex, current home of assembly of the Ford F-150 pick-up truck, is one of the most well-known manufacturing facilities in the world. Its rich history in innovation and progress is highlighted in this tour, with a focus on how Ford has been a leader in rethinking manufacturing. 

JB Cutting component leader

JB Cutting has experienced significant growth since transitioning from a small cabinet shop in the early 1970s.  In the last five years JB Cutting has doubled in size and is seen as a national leader in thermofoil door and component manufacturing.  Markets include the closets, healthcare and store fixture industries. Over the years they’ve invested in their facility, equipment and staff.  Their approach to success is to work hard, service customers and empower employees to make a difference. Attendees will see the manufacturing process from order entry to shipping and meet the people that make a difference.  

Fanuc America

The Fanuc operation consists of 375,000 square feet and is set on 56 acres along the Clinton River. Manufacturing, application labs and training make up 150,000 square feet of the facility here. Fanuc Robotics America headquarters provides local product and development as well as customer support services.

Additional briefing sessions will include Material Innovations for Maximizing Yields, with Mario Bobsin, Overseas Sales Director of Fritz Egger GmbH & Co.; Protecting your Production Flow, with Dick Diller, president of StediWatt, and The New Language of Tooling, with Leitz Tooling.

Other sessions will be on Capitalizing on your Digital Potential, with Aaron Miller of Herman Miller, Denise Bahs of Self Contractor, and Nick Schifferand of N S Builders

Also planned: Wood from the Hood, with Rick Siewert, president, Siewert Cabinet & Fixture Mfg. Inc.; Synchronizing System Communications, with Siemens and Chadwick White; The Big D: Are you Using it Right, with Jonathan Adams; and Taking the Next Step, with Gary Wernlund, Stiles Machinery.

Register now to attend. Go to to sign up and receive more information. This is the 13th year the Executive Briefing Conference has been bringing company leaders together for intentional inspiration to succeed in today’s manufacturing landscape.

Josh Linkner

Jennifer McNelly

Alan Beaulieu

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