How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Attend Lubrication Excellence 2003

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation

Lubrication Excellence 2003 is not just a conference and exhibition - it’s much more. It is an opportunity to participate in the world’s largest and most important lubrication and oil analysis event.

It’s not just a gathering of people who share a common interest, but rather it’s a purposeful and strategic program for knowledge dissemination … from those in the know to those who need to know, some desperately. Yes, there will be lots of opportunity to have fun but frankly, that’s not what the conference organizers had in mind. Lubrication Excellence is all about the serious business of saving money and increasing machinery reliability.

In a nutshell, Lubrication Excellence 2003 is a program of more than 100 training sessions, panel discussions, workshops, receptions, vendor events, certification examinations, plenary sessions and technical programs - all multiplexed into a single four-day frenzy of activity. I’ll pause while you catch your breath. OK, now there are two more offerings that might peak your interest. The first is the chance to say hello to the greatest racecar driver of the 20th century, the legendary Mario Andretti (see my interview with him on page 6). The second is an opportunity to win a brand new 2003 Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle. Not bad, huh?

Now back to business. For many of you, in order to get to this conference you are going to have to convince your boss that you absolutely MUST attend. This may be a difficult, but not an impossible feat. Being a boss myself, I thought I might be able to give you a few pointers. After all, I’ve been on the receiving end of some of Noria’s best and most persuasive pitchmen (our employees) desiring to go here and there or buy this or that. Try the following:

1. Define and Organize Your Purpose for Attending

The more thought and effort you put into your plans, the more serious and necessary they will be perceived. Read the conference brochure carefully (see page 29) and list the subjects and activities that have a direct bearing on your company and job. Become familiar with the products and services offered by the vendors who will be exhibiting at Lubrication Excellence 2003.

2. Write a Statement of Purpose and Objectives

Formality has an impact on decisions like this, so make the effort. Your statement, or requisition, needs to build a strong and compelling business case by stating the specific goals and business objectives that will be met by attending the conference. Consider including the following in the requisition:

  1. List the vendors you’ll talk to at the conference and how their products and services might impact specific and necessary improvements in your lubrication or oil analysis programs. Exhibitors include lubricant suppliers, oil analysis labs, filter suppliers, instrument suppliers (for example, particle counters), lubrication equipment manufacturers and many others.

  2. Go through the speakers’ list in the conference brochure and identify those from your industry who are presenting topics of particular interest to you. Plan to make appointments with several of them during the conference to get their advice on how to bring your program closer to world-class. Include a list of these planned appointments in your requisition.

  3. Identify which workshops you will be attending. Some of these workshops may be ideal onsite plant training programs for your lube techs and craftsmen. Plan to talk to your boss about scheduling them in the months following the conference. These workshops include: Motor Bearing Lubrication, Gear Failure Analysis, How to Write a Lube PM Procedure, Oil Sampling Fundamentals and Bearing Failure Analysis. List the workshops you plan to audit for this purpose.

  4. Include a list of specific savings and cost avoidance opportunities and how you expect your company to realize the benefits from the information and knowledge you will acquire at the conference. Read the abstracts of each of the paper presentations for ideas. Include such things as reduced unnecessary work orders/PMs, fewer emergent repairs, reduced oil consumption, etc. Read the article on the Practicing Oil Analysis Web site titled, “The Hidden Cost of an Untrained Workforce.”

  5. Promise to write a trip report when you return. Include in the report a bulleted list of action items generated from what you learned at the conference.

  6. Attach to your requisition copies of specific case studies that you’ve downloaded from Noria’s Web site. Read through the case studies and highlight value-generating strategies and program ideas that validate the importance of lubrication and oil analysis in your industry.

  7. Reread your company’s mission statement and your own job description. Then, show how attending the conference will make you better equipped/empowered to fulfill your company’s mission and perform your job.

  8. Finally, mention that the conference is focused on the needs of users and practitioners in lubrication and oil analysis. You will probably meet many other delegates who are transforming and improving their programs. Plan to learn from their mistakes and benchmark to their successes.

3. Present Your Proposal in Person

This next point is the most important of all - state your case in the most compelling and passionate way you possibly can. There is a huge difference between “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if we went to Lubrication Excellence 2003?” and “We must attend Lubrication Excellence if we are serious about reducing costs and increasing machine availability.” Wishy-washy doesn’t sell.

4. Now It’s Time for the Closer

All delegates who attend the conference will receive a free $1,000 Noria training voucher. This means you or your co-workers can use the training voucher for any of Noria’s seminars and workshops on machinery lubrication and oil analysis during the following year. This more than doubles the value of the conference. Collectively, it’s a huge amount of value for a modest investment.

I once had an employee come to me with a request to attend a business seminar. He told me that our company would gain many important benefits from what he would learn. He could see that I was skeptical. He then surprised me with the following comeback. He said that if the seminar didn’t return the savings he was asserting, he would take the time spent at the seminar and subtract them from his vacation days. Needless to say he got the authorization to go and after his return, he delivered the goods.

Is this the best approach for you? Perhaps not, but it is an important test of your commitment to continuing education and career development. The only risk is rejection. But then again - nothing ventured, nothing gained. See you in Houston.


Fitch, J. (2002, March - April). The Hidden Cost of an Untrained Workforce. Practicing Oil Analysis.

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About the Author

Jim Fitch, a founder and CEO of Noria Corporation, has a wealth of experience in lubrication, oil analysis, and machinery failure investigations. He has advise...