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Rick Kline Sr. Receives AMT Albert W. Moore Leadership Award Recognized for “Lifetime of Keeping Pace with the New Order”

By connecting with and telling the stories of every iconic figure of manufacturing over the last 60 years, Rick Kline Sr. has become an icon himself.
May 22, 2023

AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology honored Rick Kline Sr., chairman and CEO of Gardner Business Media, with its Albert W. Moore AMT Leadership Award on April 28 at the 2023 MFG Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Once you meet Rick Kline, you’ve got a friend for life. He is the most incredible person when it comes to knowing everybody in the industry,” said Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT, during the award ceremony.

Kline started as a young advertising rep for Modern Machine Shop in the 1960s. He has been at the helm of Garner Business Media for more than 40 years, growing the company into a preeminent provider of manufacturing technology magazines and digital content leader.

“The culture and bonding that he’s built at Gardner is amazing, and his work growing the awareness of our industry is almost incalculable,” Woods added.

Over the course of his 60-plus-year career — “I started when I was 10,” joked Kline — he has connected with literally every iconic manufacturing leader, include Al Moore himself, whom he knew for more than 40 years.

“I know or have known all the winners of the Al Moore Award, and I’m so grateful to join that company of leaders who I consider far greater than me,”Kline said. “They’ve been a remarkable influence on me and helped guide me in my life's journey. They’ve made me a better businessman and person.”

He specifically cites an AMT meeting and a talk by Bob Agan, then president of Hardinge. Agan spoke about servant leadership and how important it is for leaders to remember that they serve their customers, employees, suppliers, and in Gardner’s case, its audience.

“As part of this role [as publisher], I have learned that I shined the brightest when it is the reflected light of those who I work with. Many of you are members of AMT. You are always in our minds as an important part of our audience. You are at the heart of American manufacturing and are critical for our country’s future. We hope we are helping you be more competitive, more sustainable, and more profitable.”

As for his personal life, Kline thanked his late wife Marty for teaching him so much about kindness and caring about others.

“Many of the cards I received after her death mentioned that even though she met them only once, they felt like she acted like they were the most important person in the world to her, and they were.”

Kline said that Gardner’s success comes from trying to do good, telling stories about companies doing good things and overcoming problems.

“I’ve learned you have to listen,” he said. “Sometimes it is the introverts or quiet people who have the best ideas. Sometimes it is someone who just joined your company, and yes, today even Gen Z.”

Kline commented that the best leaders are fearless and willing to take calculated risks. “Fear of failure can result in inaction, which has killed many companies. Good leaders embrace the challenge of change.”

For Gardner, the challenge came with the digital age and new competitors like Google and Facebook. Gardner responded by diversifying the company’s digital products for marketers, with Gardner Intelligence reports and in-person industry events, such as those for additive manufacturing and benchmarking of best business practices.

“What Covid did was exacerbate the need for us to act more quickly to create new digital products for our audience and customers for the third time,” said Kline, who then concluded with words of inspiration from company founder Don Gardner. “Time passes, conditions change, the world progresses, and those who are found keeping pace for the new order of things are those who are young enough in mind and spirit to recognize the value of the new and to make themselves part of it.” And we believe that is true today as it was in June of 1928 with the first issue of Modern Machine Shop.

View Rick Kline’s full award acceptance speech.

Bonnie Gurney
Vice President, Strategic Partnerships
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