Association’s goals include bringing companies together, over pitting them against each other

At my first meeting as executive director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM), I was needled by President Brooke Dunn after presenting an updated logo for the organization. “Why is it that every marketing guy wants to change the logo?” he asked. “That’s just the beginning,” I replied.

The idea is not to update the logo just to go through a creative exercise or to put a personal stamp on the organization, but instead because every trade group, from time to time, needs a fresh look to go along with a fresh, new outlook. And so that is what is happening at AGEM, starting with the executive director position and hopefully filtering down throughout the entire organization and the member companies.

I left Bally Technologies last December after an enjoyable nine-year stretch leading the marketing department. I joined AGEM following Jack Bulavsky’s successful run as the organization’s executive director.

Getting to work

Radical changes are not coming to AGEM, but it’s no secret that I strongly believe the organization can be so much more than it is today. I was Bally’s representative on the AGEM Board of Directors since 2000, so I’m extremely familiar with where the organization has been and the areas that need to be addressed before you could say that AGEM has truly arrived. Let’s start with simple name recognition. I suspect that only about four or five out of 10 people involved in the gaming industry can give a basic description of the group when they hear “AGEM.” Our goal is to have nine out of 10 industry types be able to say that AGEM is a trade organization comprised of the world’s leading gaming suppliers, led by the major slot machine companies.

To get you started, take a look at the sidebar for a quick reminder of the impressive list of companies that makes up our membership roster. Whether it’s slots, systems, VLTs, table games, Class II machines, printers, shufflers, LCDs, bill validators, chairs, chips or more, AGEM members supply the goods that makes the global industry go.

The next step in our short-term grand plan for AGEM would be to have the majority of those in a relatively small industry be able to accurately answer the question: What does AGEM do? Well, let me help you get started with that one.

In general, AGEM is positioned to tackle just about any issue that is important or could become important to global gaming suppliers. More specifically, AGEM addresses legislative and regulatory issues that impact suppliers, promotes responsible gaming initiatives, creates educational partnerships benefitting both students and member companies and helps drive the direction of trade show events and conferences. Oftentimes, AGEM works to benefit the industry without seeking publicity; at other times, we probably deserve more kudos than we get, and hopefully, my background in marketing and PR will help raise the volume on our horn-tooting.

Unity, better presence

One example of AGEM making a difference may seem like a minor issue on the surface, but digging deeper reveals a bigger impact. Set aside for a moment the important discussion about whether there are way too many trade shows and conferences around the world that drain our member companies of hard dollars and lost opportunities, and let’s hone in on the history of one-upmanship that has prevailed among the competing parties and social events at these trade shows.

 In an attempt to save our member companies money while, most importantly, providing a better overall experience for our customers, AGEM has locked in plans to consolidate social events at NIGA Indian Gaming ’08, the Canadian Gaming Summit, the Southern Gaming Summit and the industry monster Global Gaming Expo (G2E). While throwing parties is not what we want AGEM to ultimately be known for, don’t minimize the importance of the big six slot companies: Aristocrat; Atronic; Bally; IGT; Konami; and WMS, which work together rather than beating the living bejesus out of each other in one of the most intense and competitive landscapes in global business. That kind of cooperation portends good things to come.

And, hopefully, there are a lot of good things to come at AGEM and for the gaming industry as a whole. Our plan, as an organization, is to cover the basics in the short term while keeping a keen eye out for opportunities where AGEM can make a meaningful difference. It seems that almost on a daily basis there are issues that arise where AGEM should be involved. Keep an eye out for AGEM to be in the middle of issues related to gaming expansion, regulatory relief, technology initiatives, problem gaming discussions and operator-supplier relations. AGEM is clearly in the mix today, but over time, with the strength of our membership leading the way, AGEM will be a true force in the gaming industry.

Member companies

-AC Coin & Slot

-Aristocrat Technologies

-Atronic

-Bally Technologies

-Cadillac Jack

-Cyberview Technology

-Elite Casino Products

-Elixir Gaming Technologies

-FutureLogic

-GameTech International

-Gaming Partners International

-Gary Platt Manufacturing

-GTECH, IDX

-International Game Technology (IGT)

-IPS

-James Industries

-JCM American

-Konami Gaming

-KSK

-Las Vegas Gaming Inc. (LVGI)

-Mikohn Signs and Graphics

-MEI

-Multimedia Games

-Progressive Gaming International

-Rocket Gaming Systems

-Shuffle Master

-3M Touch Systems

-TransAct Technologies

-Wells-Gardner Electronics

-WMS Gaming