Presented by Minnesota Manufacturing Executives (MME)

Gears & Gadgets

 What is Gears & Gadgets?

Founded in 2012, Gears & Gadgets is an exclusive quarterly event hosted by Minnesota Manufacturing Executives (MME) where members discuss manufacturing business trends and develop synergistic connections. A typical event showcases a manufacturing industry speaker followed by a networking Happy Hour with a cash bar and appetizers. Our generous Platinum Sponsors contribute to the success of Gears & Gadgets.

Why attend Gears & Gadgets?

  • Stay current on manufacturing industry changes that affect your business
  • Peer-to-peer interaction builds your network and a strong Minnesota manufacturing community
  • Maximize business development and supplier synergies for your company

Who is eligible to attend Gears & Gadgets?

  • Manufacturing business owners
  • Manufacturing executives and senior leaders currently employed in a manufacturing company

How do I receive an invitation to Gears & Gadgets?

Gears & Gadgets is “by invitation only” for eligible members of MME.

Please contact the group founder,
Marni Hockenberg at [email protected];

Marni Hockenberg is the Principal of Hockenberg Search, a firm specializing in Executive Outplacement for the manufacturing industry.
Your network is your net worth — see you at Gears & Gadgets!

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Upcoming Event

October 19th, 2020 – Last Chance to ‘Grind Gears’ for a  Whopping 2021 Resurgence 

Minneapolis Marriott Northwest
7025 Northland Drive N.
Brooklyn Park, MN 55428

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm: Registration/Networking
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Program, Audience Q & A
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm: Networking Reception

Hot appetizers and cash bar

The National Association of Manufacturers has released its third-quarter Manufacturer’s Outlook Survey. Manufacturing optimism has also rebounded to 66% since the second quarter of 2020, where it hit the worst reading since the Great Depression. The manufacturing economy has rebounded since the second quarter of 2020. In the latest quarterly Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, conducted Aug. 14–28, 66.0% of respondents reported a positive outlook for their company in the third quarter up from 33.9% in the second quarter. As such, positive sentiment in the manufacturing sector has nearly doubled since May, rebounding from the worst reading since the Great Recession, even as challenges persist and the outlook remains below the historical average of 74.4%.

How have Minnesota manufacturing business owners and leaders been handling this and how are they preparing for a resurgence in 2021? Join us on October 19th as Gears & Gadgets hosts a panel of manufacturing executives who will provide us with insights and advice that can make a substantial positive impact in YOUR manufacturing company. We have hand-selected experts in critical functional areas such as supply chain, sales, marketing, and operations. Find out what your peers are doing to prepare for the upswing and how your company can use this important time as we close out the year.

Heather Stewart ; Vice President of Operations; The Village Company 
Sue W. Thomas ; C.E.O Nystrom
Jonathan Kingsbury; VP of Sales & Marketing; Hydra-Flex 
Nick Stoner; Integrator; SOS Manufacturing 

Panel Moderator
Peter Beaumont; Business Advisor; The Resultants

Two more panelists will be announced next week.

This program will be held in a large ballroom which will accommodate social distancing guidelines. Registration will open next week with limited seating.

Recap of May Gears & Gadgets Event

The world has changed significantly for most manufacturing companies as a result of the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Few business leaders imagined where we would be at today. At times like this, fearless crisis leadership is required to provide good decision making, strategy and actionable plans. The ‘new normal’ can be viewed through the lens of pessimism or optimism. Fearless leaders are viewing this as an opportunity rich environment rather than a doomsday scenario.

Gears & Gadgets is dedicated to the growth and success of our local manufacturing companies by being flexible and responsive to ever changing business environments. We normally host a meeting at a local hotel followed by a casual and fun reception, but due to the COVID situation we changed our format to a virtual Zoom program for our May program. We engaged a panel of manufacturing leaders to discuss the topic of ‘Fearless Crisis Leadership in Manufacturing’.

The response to our new format was fantastic with over 100 Gears & Gadgets members who registered and participated. Our panelists provided real life examples of how they fearlessly led their companies through this crisis with time for participant Q & A.

You are invited to view the program and share it with others in your network:


  1. Phil Mattison; President; Core Products International
  2. Amber Fennell; Director of Sales & Marketing; PGC (Precision Gasket Company)
  3. Shane Steffensen, COO and GM, Lube Tech, Inc
  4. Cathy Cruz Gooch, President at Catallia Mexican Foods

Panel Moderator:

Gary Braun, Partner; Pivotal Advisors


Discussion topics:

  1. How has the pandemic affected you and your company?
  2. What key decisions or adjustments have you had to make as a result?
  3. What are you doing that is working best for you during this time?
  4. How has this impacted your longer-term strategies for growth?