From the CEO: A fresh new year and honoring AME founder Nick Edwards

AME | January 5, 2024

2023 was an action-packed and wonderful year for AME. Through all the challenges, successes and celebrations, I am humbled you have graced me with the honor to continue to lead this forward-thinking, innovative organization and work with such outstanding members, volunteers and boards, as well as a fantastic home team. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity to get to know each of you on a personal and professional level.

As we shared before the holiday, the AME home team took last week off to spend time with family and friends. I spent part of my holiday reenergizing in one of my favorite getaways: the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is my place to unwind, decompress and just be. With toes in the sand, even in non-beach weather, life is good. I took this time to reflect on all we accomplished in 2023. Members rallied like never before – you put together an amazing conference and held incredible learning experiences all year. You all connected in such collaborative ways. The energy around membership, enthusiasm and shared ideas continue to encourage and inspire me. It was simply a momentous year.

Now, what do we do going forward? We will replicate what was great in 2023 and build on it. I am optimistic and excited about 2024. This year feels fresh and full of promises, and isn’t every new year an opportunity to build on the prior year? You can help by letting us know what you want to see from AME this year. What can we do to support you and your organization? How can we help you on your continuous improvement journey? And if you are not yet actively involved in AME, contact me to learn how to become engaged. The best way to learn is through networking opportunities with each other.

James Nicholas (Nick) Edwards posing with the original Railroad Supply Corporation CP-173 at Nick’s Wimberley Blanco & Southern RR | May 2016

I want to share that James Nicholas (Nick) Edwards, one of the founders of AME, passed away on December 9th. He is survived by his wife, five children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I have heard wonderful stories about Nick, his lifetime passion for model railroading, and great tales of his BBQs for the AME Champions Club and Conference Committees at his ranch. AME volunteer Tony Laraia, 2008 AME Mac McCulloch Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and 2005-2006 AME chair, shared that Nick’s passion for AME and life was immeasurable. He laughed as he said everyone remembers Nick’s plaque in his office, “You are never too old to have a wonderful childhood.”

Nick Edwards with Tony Laraia

Nick, along with a group of other passionate people, including Lee Sage, Donald J. Geis, John Kinsey, Jim Schwai, Dave Riggs, Robert W. (Doc) Hall, Larry Higgason, James Mann, Rolland (Mac) McCulloch, Whizzer Wheeler, and Kenneth J. Stork, formed the Association for Manufacturing Excellence as the primary source of knowledge and leadership initially focused on “JIT.” Did you know the AME bylaws were drafted and signed forty years ago, in October 1984? AME has evolved; however, even back then, the founders acknowledged the necessity of keeping the AME mission and direction up to date and adapting to the times.

We thank Nick for his vision decades ago and will continue to honor his and all the founders’ legacy. We are thankful for all the trailblazers over the past four decades who have kept AME the go-to source for continuous improvement. Thank you for making AME the organization that enables us to share, learn and grow in our quest for excellence.

I wish you all the happiest New Year.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.