By William S. Sandler, CAE
President, Valve Manufacturers
Valves and actuators keep
industries working. As a spigot for the economy, valve
manufacturers are an important part of the nations
economic engine, and the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA)
is their partner in sustaining and encouraging their growth.
VMA started 75 years ago in response to the booming industrial
era, in which companies required both increased standardization
and specialization. Over the years, the industry has evolved
and includes US and Canadian firms known for outstanding
engineering. And VMA has become a seal of approval
for those looking to do business with our members since members
must be approved based on a number of criteria.
Today, the $4.3 billion valve and actuator business greatly
contributes to the success of other key industries that rely on
its products to keep their products working, including hydrocarbon processing. As such, it also
serves as a bellwether for how manufacturing is faring
The good news is that the US and Canadian industrial valve
market has been on an upward trend since 2010, again reaching
the high levels seen in 2008. We have also seen growth both
domestically as well as internationally as our members adapt to
and benefit from globalization. In fact, shipments are expected
to grow by 3% this year alone.
In looking ahead, the challenges the industry faces are bigger
as we serve a global customer base and employ a global
workforce. Like other engineering and manufacturing industries,
the valve industry supports high quality jobs, employing more
than 20,000 people directly and thousands more indirectly.
Unfortunately, the industry is on the verge of losing many
experienced workers, while the younger technical talent pool is
not keeping pace with industry growth. Also, we need a
workforce that can operate in a global communitywith
language and cultural capabilities.
To adapt, we must overcome workforce issues that threaten the
industrys competitiveness, including investing in better
scientific, technical, engineering and manufacturing (STEM)
instruction. Thats why VMA has placed more emphasis
on valve literacy through training and education to help our
industry meet the needs of our customers.
For instance, VMA
developed a Valves and Actuators 101 program that
has now been taught to nearly 1,000 individuals from all facets
of the industry. And soon well be adding a valve basics
online program to provide even more training to industry
newcomers. We know this only a start, and we must find new ways
to interest youth in entering STEM fields and promote the
high-quality jobs we offer.
As we mark our 75th anniversary, VMA continues to steer and
position this flagship industry as it faces the challenges of a
changing landscapeglobally and locally. By helping our
members evolve, they can continue to offer outstanding products
that meet the ever-changing needs of our consumers. In the
process, the industry will continue to be an important cog in
bolstering the economy.
William S. Sandler, CAE, is president of the Valve
Manufacturers Association of America, which represents the
interests of US and Canadian valve, actuator and control
manufacturers. For more details, visit www.VMA.org.
Photo 1: The valve industry supports more than
20,000 jobs in the US and Canada.
Photo 2: William Sandler,
President, Valve Manufacturers Association