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Metal fabrication, a people business

March 12, 2013

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In an upcoming print edition of The FABRICATOR, columnist Dick Kallage, principal at KDC & Associates, Barrington, Ill., asks this fundamental question: Why do customers buy from you? As Kallage explains, “the answer often revolves around soft, generalized terms, such as quality, precision,...

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News you can use

March 8, 2013

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Last week more than 100 metal fabricators gathered for The FABRICATOR's Leadership Summit in Palm Harbor, Fla. The conference attendees seemed optimistic as most are in the midst of coping with expanding business opportunities. But with such pressures come concerns. Everyone apparently is looking...

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Not OK to take the metal

March 7, 2013

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I confess. The first thing I read in the free local newspaper that’s tossed in my driveway each Wednesday is the Public Safety section that lists the DUIs, drug arrests, and crime in my community. Fortunately, the latter usually consists of shoplifting and an occasional burglary. Imagine my...

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Fabricators march on despite dysfunction in Washington

March 4, 2013

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What happens when you get more than 150 fabricators from across the country in one room? Ideas start flowing. Unlike three years ago, attendees at The FABRICATOR’s Leadership Summit this year spoke of expansion and capacity challenges. During a roundtable discussion, one operations manager spoke...

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Americans weigh in on job market and economy

February 27, 2013

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How do you feel about the job market and the economy these days? Positive, negative, mixed? According to a Harris Poll conducted in February, Americans have mixed feelings about the job market and economy, and the majority of us are concerned about covering our expenses this year—all...

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The FABRICATOR's 2013 Industry Award: An anti-Oscar ceremony

February 26, 2013

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This afternoon I’ll be boarding a plane to Tampa, Fla., for The FABRICATOR’s Leadership Summit. I’m biased, of course, but the industry conference remains one of my favorites. Talk centers on the many joys and challenges of running a metal fabrication business. Industry leaders discuss...

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Avant-garde retirees

February 20, 2013

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Last month I wrote a blog post about retirement, a term that some believe is becoming an anachronism. As early as 2008, financial consultants were writing about this possibility: “The word ‘retirement’ conjures up visions of leisurely days spent traveling, dining at fine restaurants, golfing,...

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New manganese exposure guidance

February 15, 2013

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Metal fabricating companies that seek to provide the safest work environments for their employees might be interested to know that the job might get a little harder in the welding department. The leading industrial health and safety organization that regularly issues guidance for certain toxic...

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Mr. Bureaucracy, tear down this wall

February 12, 2013

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This morning I talked with Paul Luber, CEO of Milwaukee-based Super Steel, a contract fabricator on a serious rebound. In 2010 the company went into receivership. Now, the fabricator recently has completed a serious growth spurt--it doubled revenue in just 12 months--and is preparing for 15 percent...

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The effect of parental influence

February 8, 2013

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I have a 14-year-old who's a freshman in high school this year. He's already 4 inches taller than I am and possesses more knowledge about Civil War history than I have after 44 years on this earth—with all of my schooling taking place in the South where the Civil War is still recalled almost...

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The scoop on U.S. worker confidence

February 6, 2013

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In the early days of 2013, January 3, to be exact, Randstad released the results of its December U.S. Employee Confidence survey that painted a rosy picture heading into the new year. The Confidence Index was 55.4, one of the highest levels of optimism recorded in 2012. The Index, which...

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Retirement: A quaint idea

January 31, 2013

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Don’t you just love it when you read an article on a major news site that makes you go, “Well, duh!” Such was the case today when I read a feature story on nbcnews.com about how fewer Americans count on retiring by 65 (unfortunately, the link to this article no longer works). As reported by...

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The story behind the story

January 30, 2013

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The latest big-picture economic assessment is out, and the headlines don’t tell a pretty story. As measured by gross domestic output (GDP), the U.S. economy contracted slightly during the final quarter of 2012. A surprise? Yes, even for many economists. A reflection of the national mood at the...

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Taking control of training efforts

January 25, 2013

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A&E Custom Manufacturing, Kansas City, Kan., isn't much different from other metal fabricators today. It is looking for the right skilled employees. "If we could find the people, we would probably add four to five employees," said John Jaixen, A&E's general manager, in December....

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Debt and equity

January 23, 2013

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A couple of weeks ago, my esteemed fellow blogger and close watcher of all things economic, Eric Lundin, wrote a post entitled “We’ve all fallen off the fiscal cliff.” Commenting on the last-minute deal Congress approved to avoid sending the U.S. economy off the fiscal cliff, Lundin said,...

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