TMA SIG serves well as manufacturers’ Google

The ongoing international COVID crisis revealed a critical component missing that would make large scale reshoring feasible, a recent Industry Week story warns.

“An easy-to-use, effective, efficient, and cyber secure way of identifying manufacturing resources and capabilities – including part designs and features, machine tools and equipment, capabilities, skilled labor and more,” Industry Week says. “In essence, we need a ‘Google for manufacturing.’”

Any current member of the nearly 100-year-old Technology & Manufacturing Association based in Schaumburg, Illinois that wants to be a part of the organization’s CMS-SIG network knows well that such an entity is already in existence.

And TMA has led the way.

Kent Gladish

Any time those that choose to be involved open their e-mail inboxes, they may see a very short note from TMA’s Vice President of Member Development Kent Gladish’s CMS-SIG network.

A 5-second read may look like this: “We are trying to find someone locally that can laser cut (or water jet) a 45 degree bevel along a 10’ length of angle iron .75”

Another might say, “Does anyone know of a local service for industrial steam boilers?”

Still another might say, “MFG Career Seeker (#455) Quality/ Project Manager.”

Only manufacturers are likely to understand the jargon and abbreviations included in a CMS-SIG message, but those that do see the value in the information, and eagerly participate in the online-networking resource.

Why? Because they never know when they might have a question only their colleagues could answer.

And it’s all without Google or a massive central data center.

Think of it more like a Yelp! among manufacturers in the Chicago area. Not only are questions answered, they are answered quickly and by manufacturing colleagues that will recommend names, resources and venues with whom they have experience.

The TMA News Bulletin spoke with Kent Gladish about the unique service CMS-SIG, which stands for Commercial and Marketing Service – Special Interest Group.

“I started the group 17 years ago to help TMA members with marketing their companies,” Kent said. “I didn’t know what I was creating at the time, but I created a monster that’s taken on a form of its own over the years.”

The knowledge, experience and information TMA members share in response to a simple e-mail message can save time, headaches and money for those seeking information, he said.

Kent then shared three examples in the past stressful COVID dominating year of how TMA’s online system worked especially well.

One member said he needed a black oxide supplier for metal parts. Instead of Googling black oxide, the member asked Kent to do a CMS-SIG blast, which, Kent said, is a “mini-survey” as to who on the list might provide the desired service.

“We would typically get 20 people to respond – an efficient way to find a local supplier for something they needed,” he said. Another example of CMS-SIG use is TMA members asking what others are doing in unusual situations.

“Last year those on CMS-SIG asked what others are doing if an employee thinks they may have COVID and others are scared of them. Others asked how the companies are handling mask wearing. Others now want to know how to obtain vaccines for their employees,” he said.

Soon after these questions became more and more urgent during the COVID crisis, TMA President Steve Rauschenberger and Vice President Dennis LaComb began answering crucial questions in a daily, now-weekly email. They were able to gather solid resources to respond quickly and accurately to those questions and share the information network-wide.

“It was really important that TMA members got those answers quickly, and many have told me how much they appreciated TMA stepping up during those early months of the COVID crisis,” Kent said.

And finally, the CMS-SIG has helped connect those looking for manufacturing careers with companies that have vacancies. The number of those candidates Kent has run through the system in the past five years recently reached 455 – hundreds of openings for those that can fill badly-needed positions to keep the Chicago region supply chain active and strong.

All the services Kent’s CMS-SIG email system provides for TMA members is incredibly valuable – and he hopes it will continue for years to come.

“It takes only a few seconds to open and review the CMS-SIG emails because I purposely make the messages short, succinct and easy to read,” he said. “It’s something I hope more members will become active in.”

The Industry Week story says it is crucial that a platform connecting supply chain colleagues has broad support from industry and policy, and is overseen by a trusted, neutral entity that provides a long-term, sustainable perspective.

Sounds exactly like what TMA has been providing its members since 2004: the CMS-SIG network.


Feel free to drop Kent Gladish and email at for more info on the CMS-SIG.

From TMA’s 2021 January/February News Bulletin – by Fran Eaton