T he 2021 MFG Excellence Awards was truly a night of celebration and spirit of comraderie and support for the state ’ s largest and most historic industry — manufacturing . This was more than a gathering of colleagues , it was a get-together for friends who likely haven ’ t seen each other since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly two years ago . Having gone to a virtual format in 2020 , the energy and joy that coursed through the people in the room at this sold-out event was palpable . Industry leaders warmly greeted one another and discussed their accomplishments , their challenges and , especially , what the future holds in a truly dynamic and evolving industry .
Valerie Knol , Manager of State and Local Government Relations at Stellantis , summed it up best : “ The 2021 MFG Excellence Awards was a celebration of our accomplishments over the past year and a half . Having that amount of energy and excitement in the room really demonstrates that manufacturing is in our DNA in Michigan .”
That is not to say that the industry isn ’ t facing challenges — it certainly is — but having events like this and absorbing that amount of passion is inspiring and reminds us that Michigan manufacturers are able to overcome and accomplish anything .
Stellantis , represented by Government Affairs Manager Valerie Knol , joined the ranks of centennial MMA members Amerisure Insurance , Clark Hill , Dow Chemical Company , General Motors LLC and Kellogg Company .
“ There really is a strong passion when you hear people talk about manufacturing ,” says Knol . “ The joy they get from seeing something being created and the satisfaction that brings can be overwhelming . It ’ s vitally important to our state and it ’ s vitally important to our country .”
Knol had special reason for celebration that evening as Stellantis was recognized for their 100-year membership with MMA . Stellantis joined MMA in 1920 as the Maxwell Motor Company , and since that time the company ’ s history , from Walter P . Chrysler to FCA and now Stellantis , has been an incredible story to tell .
While competition may remain fierce amongst these colleagues in the daytime , there was a spirit of collegial attitude and support throughout the blacktied and gowned crowd , led by co-hosts MMA President & CEO John J . Walsh and Donna Russell-Kuhr , President of PTM Corporation and the 2019 MFG Woman of the Year .
Margie Simmons , CEO of Landscape Forms , was on hand to help usher in the 2021 award recipients after her company was recognized with the John G . Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award — Large Tier last year .