Facilitating communication among the state’s automobile manufacturers and suppliers has been a hallmark service of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association since it was founded in 2001. Now its website is being revamped to provide even better communication options—from social opportunities to workforce training.
“The website we are designing will be the heart and soul of the organization in terms of communication, ” says Lewis Drummond, executive director of the AAMA and director of the West Alabama Workforce Development Center located at Shelton State Community College.
“We hope to be able to allow members to use the website to gain valuable information from the association that can help them in their businesses and help them connect with their peers in the business, ” Drummond says. “Almost all of the automobile manufacturers have a supply chain, and just about everybody in Alabama is part of someone else’s supply chain. We felt that it would be good if people could be able to identify those people and be able to communicate with them.”
The current website has a membership database, but the information is rather bare bones compared to the richness that Drummond envisions for the future. “For example, suppose someone is here from Korea, Germany or Japan, ” Drummond says. “We would like to know about their operations in their parent company overseas, as well as here in Alabama.”
Just as important, the new website will have more opportunities for social connections, which can broaden the all-important networking within the industry. Drummond envisions the website ultimately combining the best parts of LinkedIn, Facebook and Meetup.com, becoming not only full of information but dynamic and interactive.
“There are a lot of potential connections out there for families, ” Drummond says. “For example, there are social opportunities where people from the same country or from different countries can get together and have social, cultural or educational events. Here at Shelton State, we have one heck of a performing theater group that puts on some terrific productions through Theater Tuscaloosa. Say there is an interest group called Plays and Concerts. Whenever someone knows about a production coming up—in Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, Huntsville, wherever—they post that out there, find others that share the interest and put together an outing.
“We’d also like to do things like recognize and thank members who have volunteered and served on committees or the board of directors, and to use it to make sure that we don’t overuse a member’s generosity who has served over and over, ” Drummond adds. “The website will become an active membership management application—more than just keeping a list of who is a member.”
The AAMA website recently has been upgraded to include the Alabama Workforce Training System’s “Three Click” feature that makes it easy to find workforce training information. From the AAMA website home page, click on the AWTS logo and you enter the Three Click system. After you answer a yes-or-no question concerning your business, you are prompted to type in a keyword about the training you are looking for, “welding, ” for example. Another click takes you to a map of Alabama where you click on the county where your business is located to see a list of sources for local training, along with contact information.
AAMA expects this feature to get increasing traffic as the automotive sector ramps up production.
“Most of the people that are involved in the automotive industry are really ramping up and running wide open now, trying to regain momentum that we lost back in 2007–2009, ” Drummond says. “This year, Mercedes had its largest January sales ever. Hyundai is beginning to experience the same thing and so are the others.
“In such a fast-paced business, getting the training they know they need is sometimes put off simply because it’s not easy to find out who does the training in a particular area, ” Drummond says. “We’ve fixed that problem.”
- In 2011, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama announced a $173 million expansion that would increase the existing engine facility by 16, 400 square feet and boost capacity to 300, 000 units per year, beginning in March 2012. Once complete, the plant will produce 1.8-liter Nu engines, as well as increase the capacity for Theta engines.
- In March 2011, Honda announced plans to invest $94 million in the Lincoln plant. Most of the investment is in equipment upgrades, which are slated to be complete by mid-2012.
- In May 2011, Honda announced plans to shift production of the Acura MDX SUV to the Lincoln facility by 2013.
- In July 2011, Mercedes-Benz officials announced a $2 billion investment in the Vance plant, doubling the amount the OEM has invested in the state since 1994.
- As of mid-2011, Mercedes-Benz employed 2, 800 workers at its Vance plant.
- In mid-2011, Toyota announced it would add four-cylinder engines to its plant in Huntsville, a $147 million investment. After the addition of the four-cylinder engine, the plant is expected to produce 500, 000 engines a year.
- With the addition of the four-cylinder engine to Toyota’s production line in Huntsville, the Huntsville plant is now equipped to supply engines to every Toyota vehicle assembly plant in North America except one. Its four-cylinder, V-6 and V-8 engines will be used in eight of the 12 models produced in North America.
- In October 2011, Mercedes announced an additional $350 million expansion at the Vance facility to accommodate a fifth vehicle to the production line.
Click here to download the 2012 AAMA Membership Directory.
By William H. Stevenson III