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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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Taking stock of employee ownership

May 25, 2010

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Butch Munson has worked at the same metal fabrication company for 43 years, and in a few years he plans to retire. He’s had a good career at LeFiell Mfg. Co., a tube and specialty fabricator in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Sure, the shop has had its ups and downs, but generally the company has always...

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Just happy to have a job?

May 19, 2010

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In the last few years, as more and more jobs have disappeared, those who have remained employed have considered themselves very lucky. No matter how much they've been pushed to do more with less, or how many benefits they've lost, many of these workers have adopted the mantra: "Just happy to have a...

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The laser is 50, and still beaming

May 17, 2010

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On May 16, 1960, Theodore Maiman of Hughes Labs became the first person on the planet to build light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation—or laser. (Thank goodness the acronym stuck.) On Sunday, the laser turned 50. I’m willing to bet that on that day in 1960, Ignacio “Nacho”...

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Fabricators on recovery and job creation

May 12, 2010

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If you didn’t receive this week’s "Fabricating Update," you missed some promising numbers about the economic recovery and manufacturing jobs. Have no fear; I'm repeating them here, because they are worth repeating: The U.S. added 290,000 jobs in April, the largest monthly total since March...

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Is manufacturing cool again?

May 10, 2010

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Did you here? The folks who make things for a living are now … cool. Many business gurus out there, including Warren Buffett, say manufacturers are leading the economic recovery. The Institute for Supply Management reported the fifth month of growth in manufacturing employment. ISM’s employment...

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Fabricating to the rescue yet again

May 5, 2010

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By now everyone has heard about the massive oil spill taking place in the Gulf of Mexico, a result of an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig April 20. If you haven't, you'll also be shocked to know that bell bottoms have come and gone out of style again and that Abe Vigoda is still alive ....

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Playing field could become even more precarious

May 5, 2010

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For the nearly eight years I’ve been asking fabricators about the state of metal manufacturing, many have expressed the opinion that a primary contributor to the decline in U.S. manufacturing is an unlevel playing field with China. In stating their opinions, these fabricators typically mention...

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