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Former AMT Chairman Pioneered Global Exports for U.S. Manufacturing

Former AMT Chairman Jim Gleason passed away on June 17, 2022, but his impact on the manufacturing industry lives on.
Jul 05, 2022

Jim Gleason passed away on June 17 at the age of 88, but his impact on the manufacturing industry lives on. During his time as chairman and CEO of Gleason Corp., Jim’s forward vision recognized the importance of the global markets, and the company began exporting to countries in Asia and Europe long before other manufacturers. He applied that approach at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology and pioneered an initiative to drive more U.S. manufacturing technology exports around the world.

“As a strategist who understood the manufacturing marketplace and its technology, Jim was a true icon of the industry,” said Doug Woods, president of AMT. “He was actively involved in many of the things that we do at AMT for the betterment of the overall industry.”

Gleason served on AMT’s board of directors from 1990 to 1993 and 1995 to 1998, ascending to the role of chairman in 1997. His commitment to strengthening manufacturing continued after leaving the board, when he joined AMT’s government relations efforts to educate and elect pro-manufacturing candidates to Congress. In 2015, Gleason was awarded the prestigious AMT Albert W. Moore Leadership Award for his exceptional dedication, innovative ideas, and outstanding guidance of AMT members. The award honors those who exemplified commitment to professional development, unwavering support of AMT’s mission, and a drive to advance the entire manufacturing technology industry. 

Gleason was steadfast in his belief that American manufacturers would benefit from thinking globally. He was instrumental in the development of AMT‘s Global Tech Centers in China, India, Brazil, and Mexico. His work on these projects contributed to a better understanding of global markets and provided the opportunity for American manufacturers to do business around the world.

“Jim’s philosophy was that the world was becoming smaller, and it was important to work with those from different cultures and respect the differences,” said AMT Chief Knowledge Officer Pat McGibbon. “He was a special person who strove to make the people he worked with feel special. This point, I think, was well-illustrated while representing AMT on a trip to CIMT in 1995.”

Xingbin Li, AMT’s international director – Asia/Pacific, told the story in his words:

“Jim was to give a welcome speech on behalf of AMT at the American Night Reception at the SAS Hotel Beijing during CIMT 1995. I told Jim that I drafted a speech in English for him, and I would be his translator. Before the reception, he came to me and asked, ‘Li, could I speak Chinese, and you speak English?’ I was shocked. I didn’t know he could speak Chinese, even though I had known him at that time for nine years. Don’t forget, it was 1995, and very few foreigners spoke Chinese. Of course, I told him that it would be great if he could deliver his remarks in Chinese to our Chinese guests. That night, when he came to the podium, Jim started greeting our Chinese friends in Chinese. People thought that the greeting was the extent of his Chinese. Much to the audience’s surprise and delight, he made his entire welcome speech in Chinese, lasting almost 10 minutes. Right after his speech, there was a storm of applause from our Chinese guests that lasted almost as long as the speech.”

Even as CEO, Gleason never forgot his roots and continued to have regular contact with customers. It was common for him to work in his company’s trade show booths. “Whether it was in Japan, Brazil, China, or Germany, if I visited the Gleason booth, Jim would be there,” Woods added.

Today, one of AMT’s key goals is facilitating a global marketplace for increased business opportunity and growth in U.S. manufacturing technology. Jim Gleason was our inspiration.

“At AMT, we’re grateful to Jim for giving us his time and energy on the board of directors and elsewhere at AMT,” Woods said. “Throughout his career, he was instrumental in a lot of the success of U.S. manufacturing technology over the years.”

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Kathy Keyes Webster
Managing Editor – Content
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