2020 Spring General Session Speakers

2020 Public Policy Analysis

By late March, we will be immersed in campaign season, and Ray Starling will join us to help us make sense of the candidates and the issues most relevant to small manufacturers and the shortline industry.

In 2017, Starling joined the White House staff as special assistant to the president for agricultural policy. In 2018, he became chief of staff for USDA’s Sonny Perdue.  He returned to his home state of North Carolina in 2019 to serve as general counsel to the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. In spite of his remarkable career, Starling said the experience in his life that has most shaped him is growing up on a family farm.

Starling will offer analysis of how national and state election may influence the economy, the regulatory environment, trade, and taxes. 

Operational Excellence

This year we kick off a new service for members: a five-part instructional series on continuous improvement intended to offer a deep dive into the work. Steve Wilson will make the first of three convention appearances. In between conventions, he will host two webinars that tie together the content.

His first session will focus on readiness—achieving it and sustaining it in your pursuit of excellence.

Wilson is a consultant, coach, and trainer who has worked with hundreds of companies, including Deere, Union Pacific, and Heinz.  He’s also worked as an operations manager with Federal Express, a service manager in the automotive and IT industries, and a quality improvement manager for a healthcare provider.

Learning from Legacies

The Association will bring back a series it introduced in 2018 in which members learn from other members who have had extraordinary staying power in the industry. This year, we will hear from executives at Sukup Manufacturing and Osmundson Manufacturing, who will share their insights to the challenges and rewards of running a family business with a focus on transitioning from one generation to the next.

Representing Sukup will be President and CEO Steve Sukup and daughter Emily Schmitt, who is the company’s general counsel. 

Also on stage will be Heather Bruce, who assumed ownership of Osmundson last year and represents the fifth generation of company leadership.