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Chinese current events and U.S. manufacturing

June 25, 2010

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My co-worker Tim Heston stole a little of my thunder for this week's blog post with his coverage of China's decision to adopt a more flexible approach to how it values its currency. U.S. manufacturers have been clamoring for years for some shift away from China's currency manipulation, but to no...

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What's old is valuable

June 22, 2010

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On the road again, goin' places that I've already been. Seeing things (and people) that I hope to see again. I'm just glad to be on this road again. This week I'm in Rockford, Ill., home of my employer, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl.®, the organization behind The...

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Chinese currency and U.S. manufacturing

June 21, 2010

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An international economic chess game just got more interesting, and metal fabricators may one day see the benefits. Today the Chinese currency rose against the dollar 0.42 percent in Asia—not much, but that’s the biggest one-day gain in five years. This came after Chinese officials announced...

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Understanding the cost of ownership

June 17, 2010

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There is a reason that I work for someone else: I don't have that desire to strike out on my own to build a business. The entrepreneurial gene can't be found in my DNA. So when I'm chatting with business owners, I'm doing so with a lot of respect for their accomplishments. If the shoe were on my...

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What do fabricators think of Obama's factory visits?

June 16, 2010

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Much of the media, including The Fabricator Blog and "Stamping News Brief," have covered President Obama's visits to factories in recent months. The June issue of "Stamping News Brief" asked subscribers whether they think the visits are strictly PR, fact-finding missions, or both. Here's what some...

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Knowing the grammar of metal fabrication

June 15, 2010

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John McPhee is a hero of mine. As one of the best nonfiction writers out there, the Princeton professor and contributor to The New Yorker magazine can turn any subject into a pleasurable read. He’s written about geology, the merchant marines, physics—heck, even an entire book on oranges....

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So the government shows up and says, 'I'm here to help'

June 11, 2010

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Ask any metal fabricating business owner or manager what the government can do to help them out, and the response is pretty typical: "Stop trying to help." The last attempt that comes to mind is President Barack Obama's offer of a tax incentive to hire people. Business owners found it laughable....

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Cleaning up (slowly) in the gulf

June 10, 2010

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It’s no secret that the Transocean oil spill is among the largest man-made environmental disasters of all time. Given the impact, the word spill itself is a huge understatement. Gusher or torrent or catastrophe would be more accurate. An early estimate of 5,000 barrels leaking per day appears to...

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Signs point to more jobs

June 9, 2010

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Among the leading news items yesterday was an Associated Press story about job openings rising in April to the highest level in 16 months, a statistic that offers hope of increased hiring in the coming months.  The latest U.S. Department of Labor's Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey (JOLTS)...

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President Obama and the Stamping Press

June 8, 2010

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Business owners in the metal fabrication industry are getting to be old hands at hosting top dogs from Washington on both sides of the political aisle. Several years ago President Bush visited Fox Valley Metal-Tech in Green Bay, Wis., and gave a speech. Last year Vice President Joe Biden visited...

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Speak up but don't hold your peace

June 4, 2010

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The continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is silently eating away at my insides. My grandmother purchased a camp in Clermont Harbor, Miss., back in 1969 after Hurricane Camille dramatically rearranged the Gulf Coast. Growing up I spent most of my summers down on the white beaches of the...

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Crisis management and small business

June 3, 2010

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Google "crisis management" (with the quote marks) and you'll retrieve a list of almost 3 million results, many with links to articles about how companies can manage crises that threaten their existence.   Google "BP crisis management" (also with quote marks) and you’ll get more than 6,000...

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Making It in America

May 28, 2010

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I'll have the American flag flying outside my house this holiday weekend. It's not a statement of my patriotism so much as a view of summer as a time when all of those fun, all-American activities take place: baseball, competitive hot dog eating, and parades. It's the perfect time to let Old Glory...

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We don't need no education?

May 27, 2010

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Not to disrespect your song, Pink Floyd, but we really do need an education. Nothing brought that point home to me more clearly than a cell phone conversation I overheard Wednesday at O'Hare airport. A young, Caucasian male, sat down across from me to wait for a plane to Atlanta. He scattered his...

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What I did on my vacation to Detroit

May 26, 2010

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I took a day trip to Detroit last week, and I have no joke about it. I actually enjoyed my time in the Motor City. Whereas others like to use Detroit as the poster child for what's wrong with big-city politics, the U.S. automotive industry, and public education, I see the city as one that may be...

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