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Welding triumphs and woes in Wisconsin

March 1, 2011

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There's good news coming out of Wisconsin's network of technical colleges. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported that enrollment at the state's 16 technical colleges is up 40 percent over the last decade, which aligns well with the state's prediction that middle-level jobs will grow at a...

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State of the unions

February 25, 2011

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Who would have thought that the No. 1 news story in Wisconsin so far wouldn't be the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl victory?  So continues the drama surrounding Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's effort to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees. The Republican-dominated Assembly...

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Are small businesses optimistic enough to hire?

February 23, 2011

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Do you own or work for a small business? How's your business faring these days? Are you hiring?  February 16, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing titled "Putting Americans Back to Work: the State of the Small Business Economy." Speaking before the meeting, Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez...

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You can’t manufacture human rights

February 22, 2011

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The news from North Africa and the Middle East has been truly amazing lately. It’s a little scary for business owners and everyone else who depends on oil (in other words, nearly everybody).  Recent unrest in oil-rich Libya has sent oil prices skyward. But over the long term, expensive oil may...

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Pareto and the job shop

February 15, 2011

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After 10 years and two recessions, Vilfredo Pareto’s principle has had a rocky history with the job shop. The Italian economist discovered that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. In business, this has come to mean that 20 percent of customers provide companies...

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Electric motorcycles? Yes please!

February 14, 2011

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In my previous blog entry, I made some comparisons between several gasoline-powered and alternative-fuel vehicles: Two passenger cars (a Toyota Prius® and a Toyota Camry®), two exotic sports cars (a Tesla Roadster Sport and a Lotus Evora), and two motorcycles (a model S from Zero Motorcycles and...

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Sustainability could improve national security

February 14, 2011

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If you don't receive the Business Intelligence Brief from Chris Kuehl, the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association's economist, you should sign up. You can do that here. The Feb. 14 edition included a written piece by Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby from the U.S. Marine Corps. His opinions are...

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Battle on the retail front

February 11, 2011

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I was looking at the January 2011 issue of Metal Center News recently and noticed a story, "Distributors Dabble in Retail." It discussed five steel service centers that had opened up retail fronts to move metal. The motivations for opening retail locations, either at the actual warehouse sites, or...

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Kyle and the welding instructor

February 9, 2011

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Note from Vicki Bell: This post, written by welding instructor Marty Rice, honors his students, particularly those who have served in the Armed Forces, and illustrates the special bond between teacher and student. One of the worst things a teacher can hear is the death of a student. I've lost them...

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Fabricators doing what matters

February 8, 2011

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I smile when I read articles like this. Kapco Inc., a Wisconsin metal fabricator and stamper, didn’t get noticed nationally because it expanded its metal fabrication capability during the past decade; because it continued to grow throughout the worst of the recession; or because the firm...

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Value in metal fabricating

February 4, 2011

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As sluggish as this economic recovery has been, it would be even worse if the manufacturing sector wasn't humming along. The Institute for Supply Management reported this week that its manufacturing index hit 60.8, well above what industry pundits expected. It's also the highest reading for the...

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Credit, cash, and the manufacturing recovery

February 3, 2011

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I still remember his tropical-print shirt, which stood out among thousands of people walking the FABTECH® show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center. He worked at a major wind tower production facility in California, which perhaps could explain the tropical print he was wearing. But it didn’t...

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U.S. No. 1, but for how long?

February 2, 2011

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Yesterday I was happy to read an article that said the U.S. is No. 1 in manufacturing, out-producing China — No. 2 — by more than 40 percent. It's an interesting article that chronicles what's happening in manufacturing: U.S. factories are closing; American manufacturing jobs are reappearing...

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Stamping biz news is good news

February 1, 2011

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For a while, the saying “No news is good news” resounded even more loudly in the stamping industry than others. For years, every bit of news about the industry, it seemed, was of yet another shop closing and selling its equipment to the highest bidder. When is the last time someone asked those...

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Electric motorcycles? No thanks.

January 31, 2011

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Everyone knows that liquids, mainly gasoline and diesel, have been the main fuels for vehicles for decades. Although steam and electricity competed with gasoline at the turn of the last century, gasoline won that battle and ruled the automotive industry ever since. However, the oil shocks of the...

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