The Wiring Harness Manufacturer’s Association (WHMA) was established in September 1993 with nine (9) Board Members. The organization was founded by Fred Knaack of Abel Cable and Mike Williams, Unlimited Services. The consensus was that a trade association was one of the missing elements in our industry. The thought was to develop an organization that could serve many of the common needs of individual harness companies and act as a clearing house for new ideas, networking, obsolete inventory, and best practices.
This group shared a general feeling that suppliers to the industry generally “looked over” the harness manufacturers and directed most of their policies and selling efforts to the OEM customers we were serving. WHMA felt that to be better suppliers to our customers, they needed to develop an enhanced level of respect among the suppliers.
WHMA’s Inaugural Conference was held in April of 1994 in conjunction with Contract Manufacturers Expo (CME) in Novi, MI. A general assembly meeting took place as well as technical and educational sessions. The conference had over 200 attendees visiting tabletop displays presented by suppliers to the industry.
WHMA decided to hire a Chicago-based management association to manage the WHMA organization and entitled them to the position of Executive Director. This organization worked with the WHMA association for over ten (10) years managing WHMA, and during this period, WHMA’s membership grew from 90 to 180 manufacturer/supplier total members.
Also, in 1994 the “Wiring Harness News” (WHN) of Richmond, IL, launched as the only leading wire harness/cable assembly industry journal. WHN partnered with WHMA to give WHMA members a free subscription to this very informative industry print magazine.
“We have always enjoyed a special relationship with WHMA since both entities started around the same time. In fact, I remember about 15 years ago when WHMA declared Wiring Harness News (WHN) as the “official” publication of the association. We’ve been honored to share association news and have promoted WHMA any way we could. We watched it grow from a fledgling handful of manufacturers and suppliers to the resource for the global harness community it is today. It has been particularly satisfying to cover the creation of the IPC/WHMA A-620 specification way back from the formation of the original committee. It was great to report how IPC brought focus to the project, and the many subsequent revisions we have seen since,” states Marilyn Magowan, Wiring Harness News.
In the fall of 1998, WHMA signed a MOU agreement with IPC of Northbrook, IL, in developing a set of the industry wire harness/cable assembly standards & workmanships called the IPC/WHMA-A-620 Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness and Assemblies. These guidelines have been a very valuable asset to the WHMA members and other industry companies, especially in today’s world of standards, as this document has evolved from an “A” to a “E” level of revisions for certifications & training.
In the early 2000’s, WHMA also became a very important exhibitor/sponsor with the “Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo” (EWPTE) held in Milwaukee each year in May, and this event has grown to be a very successful annual industry show. This show is now produced by WHMA/IPC as of May 2022.
In 2002, WHMA signed an agreement with ASI (Association Solutions, Inc) of Minnesota as the Executive Director to manage the WHMA organization, and in early 2019 retired the agreement after 16 years of a very successful relationship of membership growth.
In January 2019, WHMA signed an Affiliation Agreement with IPC as the Executive Director to manage the WHMA organization and continue with the successful growth along with creating more value of opportunities for the current/new membership in the very near future. There are now approximately 440 WHMA Manufacturer/Supplier/OEM total members, and 9 Board of Directors along with several Board Advisors.
Over the past 30 years, the WHMA Annual Wire Harness Conference has become one of few investments that give an opportunity to learn, grow, share, and discover new approaches to many aspects of the wire harness industry. The conference features a number of timely presentations on topics important to wire harness manufacturers, OEMs and suppliers. It also includes peer-to-peer networking, best-practices roundtables, a technical education workshop and an Exhibit Hall with industry leading suppliers.
“In recent years our annual meeting has grown from being a regional networking event to a full-scale leadership conference, bringing together some of the brightest minds in our industry for networking opportunities. This allows for front line discussions surrounding current issues such as labor availability, material constraints, best practices, and a host of other issues aimed at the success, preservation, and growth of our industry.” Joe DeMan, WHMA chairman.
The 30th Annual Conference is being held on February 14-16, 2023, in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Sandia Resort & Casino. To learn more and register, go to https://annualconference.whma.org/.