Louisville First’s 20 People to Know manufacturing/logistics: Lee LingoKAM
Lee Lingo, Executive Director, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers
Years in current job: One
Years in manufacturing/logistics: Two
Why did you choose your line of work?
I enjoy finding solutions to problems, helping others achieve their goals and finding common ground. I also really enjoy the challenge of building organizations and businesses.
What is the most engaging aspect of working in manufacturing/logistics? The most daunting?
In both manufacturing and in association management, I love addressing the consistent myriad of challenges of our members and finding solutions. I also really enjoy meeting manufacturers and learning what they do and how they do it. The most daunting aspect of leading an organization that represents the largest economic driver in our state’s economy is trying to stay on pace or out in front of issues that affect manufacturers today.
How can America better compete with cheaper manufacturing operations abroad?
As world labor rates rise, manufacturers have been utilizing lean principals and continuous improvement to look for ways to optimize processes, minimize effort and reduce costs. This has driven the growth of automation, which can often assist or replace no-skill and low-skill jobs. As more manufacturers move to automated processes, the importance of labor costs will likely be supplanted by proximity of higher-skilled talent, materials and supply chains, an area where America is very competitive.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to build a career similar to yours?
Surround yourself with people smarter, more experienced and better in your field than you are. Learn how they do what they do, and find ways to improve where you can. Listen to, learn from and focus on your customer.
Help your customer in every way you can and find others who can as well. The more you help others meet their goals, the more you will learn how to help you meet your own.
What role do unions serve in your industry today?
As an association representing manufacturers and suppliers across the state, we see the impact unions have from a wide variety of viewpoints and angles. Unions played a crucial role in influencing, shaping growing manufacturing worldwide through advocacy for fair wages and benefits, defined training programs and safe working conditions. Through their efforts, there are now many agencies and organizations ensuring that stability and safety. Their success is also their greatest challenge. Unions, as member-based organizations, such as trade associations, must constantly be reassessing their landscape and looking for new ways to serve their membership.
How has technology affected your operations?
As Kentucky’s manufacturing association, we are continually evaluating ways to utilize technology to better serve our members and the manufacturers of the commonwealth. People consume data, interact and learn in significantly different ways than they did even 10 years ago. The iPhone is only 11 years old now. Think about how much we depend on mobile data access now. KAM is leveraging existing and new technology to reach our members where they are in a timely, informative and beneficial way.
What do you wish more people understood about the manufacturing/logistics industry? Manufacturing and logistics are first choice jobs now, not because you can’t find something better. They are fields you should look to find a career that is rewarding, challenging and offers great opportunity for continuous learning and career growth. Wages and benefits rank among the highest across all industries. Our manufacturers also have careers for accountants, attorneys, medical professionals, sales people and writers as well as creators, laborers and mechanics. Virtually every degree you can earn can be put to good use in our industry. Manufacturers create the amazing things we use and the delicious food we eat every day. Manufacturing and logistics are first choice jobs.