Co-Owner of ARC EDM, Inc.
Ashley Miller knows the equipment, but more importantly, she handles the financial transactions and understands how she needs to connect with exhibitors at IMTS.
The Unintended Manufacturer
The best day I've had is the day we bought our business, says Ashley Miller, co-owner of Muncie, Ind., shop ARC EDM, Inc. alongside her husband Daniel.
It was the best feeling you could ever have to walk through the door as an owner. We had worked so hard for it. There were a lot of things we had to give up, but it was worth the wait.
While Ashley values the journey, she never intended to be a shop owner.
I wanted to be a nurse since high school and practiced pediatric nursing full-time up until we bought the shop when I was in my early 30s, Ashley says.
I never thought I'd have anything to do with the machining industry. It was a big learning curve. But if we were going to be owners, I needed an idea of how to run the machine.
While Daniel still handles setup, programming, and the shop side of the business, Ashley understands the technology. She has learned to communicate with customers and vendors in their language and understand their needs to better facilitate her role running ARC EDM's business side. That role, too, involved a learning curve to understand accounting programs, accounts payables and receivables, and human resource needs.
I'm responsible for buying a $300,000 piece of equipment, so I need to make sound decisions, Ashley says.
I tend to be more on the cautious side, but we balance each other out. You have to take risks, and that comes with growing and having confidence.
Ashley attended IMTS in 2014 and 2016 prior to purchasing ARC EDM and attended again as a business co-owner in 2018.
Networking is a big thing at IMTS,” Ashley says. “Just meeting people, getting your name out there is huge. It's different when you go as an owner. It's important to get one-on-one time and engage in personable interactions with exhibitors.”
She notes that there is a lot of thought that goes into purchasing a machine, but she first has to overcome the hurdle of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. That starts when she and Daniel walk into a booth and the exhibitors tend to gravitate toward Daniel. However, it doesn’t take long before exhibitors realize both husband and wife make the decisions.
When they find out that I handle the financials, they turn their heads pretty quickly, Ashley says.
I need to feel comfortable talking with the salesmen and application engineers, and I appreciate their respect when it comes to talking about machinery and financing. If I do not feel comfortable, I'm not going to feel comfortable investing a lot of money. I need to make sure that I'm getting the most for our money. If we aren't making a profit, we can't be here to help service the industry.
With three IMTS shows under her belt, Ashley's advice to women attending the show for the first time is to make sure that they're straightforward with exhibitors and coworkers.
Make sure that your voice is heard, she says.
Let exhibitors know you make the purchasing decisions or are involved in the decision making.