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Up with people

September 25, 2009

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I visited with a friend from college several weeks ago. He works in operations in the software services division for a major publicly owned corporation and was in Chicago for a tradeshow. It's a good gig for a good guy who can handle personal relationships like a three-card monte dealer can...

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Making the most of metals

September 24, 2009

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Editors know that fab shop owners wear many (many, many) hats, and depending on the size of the shop, have to be equal parts accountant, purchasing agent, sales manager, marketing guru, safety officer, shop supervisor, process troubleshooter, training manager, human resources department, and maybe...

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All about welding ... mostly

September 23, 2009

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Last week, I attended the Schweissen & Schneiden International Trade Fair Joining Cutting Surfacing, commonly known as the Essen Welding Show, in Essen, Germany. The show comes around every four years and attracts thousands of attendees, primarily from Europe and Asia. This was my first time...

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From the frying pan to the fire?

September 22, 2009

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Alternative power trains, advanced propulsion technologies, and automotive battery power are all the buzz. At the NanoBusiness Alliance conference I attended in September in Chicago, a great deal of discussion centered around announcements of the $2 billion U.S. federal grants awarded from the...

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Proximity makes a difference

September 21, 2009

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On a flight to a manufacturing event last week, I read an article in BusinessWeek that got me pretty down. The headline on the magazine cover screamed, "America's Manufacturing Crisis." The topic: Why stuff's invented stateside and sent abroad for manufacturing. "While the...

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Wind power keeps going

September 18, 2009

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The push to develop wind power sources has slowed a bit in 2009, but it's starting to gain momentum again, as attendees at the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association's Wind Energy Conference found out Sept. 15 in Elgin, Ill., at Mazak Optonics Corp. Last year more than 8,400 megawatts...

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Combining hydrogen, oxygen, and inspiration

September 17, 2009

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I was browsing the news recently when an article about Dean Kamen jumped out at me. You might know him as the founder of FIRST, president of DEKA Research & Development, inventor of the Segway® PT , holder of numerous patents, or one of the keynote speakers at the 2008 FABTECH® Intl. & AWS...

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No guarantees...except death and the business cycle

September 14, 2009

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The cover of Newsweek could be journalism school fodder for ways to stand out on the newsstand: "The Case for Killing Granny." That headline tugs at the soul, drilling down to the heart of the health care debate. The lion's share of health care costs in this country occurs during the final...

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Is an expansion on the horizon?

September 10, 2009

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"Lay 100 economists end-to-end and you won't be able to reach a conclusion." Like all good quips, this one is both clever and true. Some economists are optimists and some are pessimists; economic indicators often point in different directions; and most business data—whether it deals with...

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Success stories

September 10, 2009

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My fellow editors and I often invite those who read our columns to share their success stories so that we may pass them on and inspire others. Traditional success stories about businesses thriving are hard to come by these days. The last time I personally received e-mails from readers who said...

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Money and your life

September 9, 2009

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The financial wizards are at it again, and this time they're not betting whether you'll default on your mortgage. They're betting on your life. The financial folks on Wall Street, as always, are looking for certainty and to curtail risk. At one point, mortgages seemed to be a sure...

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A love, or at least a respect, of labor

September 4, 2009

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I'm fascinated by this story unfolding in Fond du Lac, Wis. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1947 voted to reject a new Mercury Marine contract on Aug. 23. The marine equipment manufacturer said thanks for the memories and announced a move of its...

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A gust of good news

August 31, 2009

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If you're connected to the wind energy business or are looking to get your foot in the door, you're probably thinking about two things: 1. You're tired of cheesy puns in article headlines (like the one above). 2. You are hoping investors start embracing the business again....

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The many faces of fabricating

August 28, 2009

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When you are laid off from two separate companies in a six-month time span, you have to sit back and think long and hard about your career path. That's where a 25-year-old welder found himself earlier this year. He found a scholarship opportunity at Missouri State University that allows the...

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A good week for tube

August 27, 2009

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It was a good week for tube, at least as far as I am concerned. I am always on the lookout for any chance to get out of the office and see tube or pipe applications, and I had two such opportunities this week. First off, the local elementary school needed a new play area. The old one was...

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