Paul Akers

FastCap president to keynote Innovation Conference at WTS 2020

Dec. 16, 2019

Paul Akers, founder and president of FastCap, will deliver a keynote address at the 2020 Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference, a full day of training about how technology, best practices and lean thinking can power business success.

Held in conjunction with The Work Truck Show 2020, this conference teaches commercial truck manufacturers, upfitters, distributors and body builders of all sizes how to improve manufacturing efficiency and business results using the latest techniques and technology.

The Work Truck Show 2020 runs March 3-6 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis IN. Educational sessions, Green Truck Summit, and Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference begin March 3. The exhibit hall opens March 4 and runs through noon March 6.

“Akers has real-world, practical experience using lean manufacturing principles to transform a company he started in his garage into a global operation,” said Doyle Sumrall, NTEA managing director. “He will share how the power of lean thinking can be successfully applied to various aspects of life and business to achieve continuous improvement and innovation.”

Akers is founder and president of FastCap, a product development firm specializing in woodworking tools and hardware for the professional builder. In 2000, he began using lean manufacturing principles to take his small start-up company into one that now has distribution in more than 40 countries. FastCap launches 20 to 30 products per year.

In 2013, Akers was invited to do a TEDx talk on innovation, and in 2017 was selected as No 3 Individual Thought Leaders & Influencers in The Global State of Operational Excellence, Critical Challenges & Future Trends. He hosts a weekly podcast, The American Innovator, where he teaches about the power of innovation and lean thinking, and wrote three books: 2 Second Lean, Lean Health and Lean Travel.

Following Akers’ keynote address, conference attendees can participate in a variety of general sessions. Each will include time for questions and group discussion.

During Selecting an ERP System to Add Value to Your Work Truck Operation, representatives from NTEA member companies will share their experiences choosing and using an ERP system, including identifying needs and adding value to their organizations. Software industry experts also will discuss selection strategies. Presenters include Dave Colton, senior customer service representative, Spokane Computer; Calvin Geddings, general manager, Lee Transport Equipment; Jeff Messer, president/owner, Messer Truck Equipment; and Kenny Nau, director of sales, Pluss Corporation.

Attendees at Building and Validating Work-Ready Welders for Your Shop will learn about a new welder development and certification program specifically designed for the work truck industry. Presenters David Ehrlich, director of education, NTEA; Rob Myers, plant manager, Switch-N-Go; and Dr Jason Scales, business manager, education, Lincoln Electric, will discuss the tools needed to train and qualify a work-ready welder.

Presenters Paul Kokalis, president, Fontaine Modification; Travis Eby, president, MH EBY; and Ben Winter, director of business development, Transfer Flow, will share real-world examples and best practices to effectively communicate and implement organizational change during the session Managing Organizational Change. Topics include developing a new state-of-the-art facility, relocating operations while considering staff, managing through a community disaster, transitioning business leadership, recruiting and building an effective management development program.

The separation between good and great companies in the work truck industry often involves how well a business executes its specific approach to market. During the session Standing Out in a Competitive Commercial Vehicle Market, NTEA members will share how they define and leverage their unique value for customers and industry partners. Adam Keane, executive vice president, Allied Body Works; Kyle Stipe, engineering supervisor, Auto Truck Group; and Dave Zelis, head of sales and marketing, Buyers Products will lead the discussion.

For a full schedule of Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference general sessions, visit For more information or to register, visit