Blog Posts

thefabricator.com has a team of bloggers that cover the challenges and rewards associated with a life in metal fabricating. Topics typically addressed by contributing authors include political and demographic trends affecting the fabricating industry, the business side of running a job shop, the culture of the welding community, and detailed looks at what happens on the shop floor.

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The jungle of tax reform

April 11, 2011 | By Tim Heston

On Friday night I was like a kid half-heartedly doing his homework while watching the weather and awaiting the snowstorm. I kept thinking the storm would close school (government shutdown), and I could stop this blasted homework (my income taxes). Then at the 11th hour (literally: it was a little...

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'Jobs are back, just not for everybody'

April 6, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a septuagenarian who is currently enrolled in an MBA program. This former president and CEO of a textile manufacturing company is making straight As. He also is actively looking for a job, having separated from his former company six years ago. ...

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Manufacturing rockets: Metal fabricating what’s next

April 5, 2011 | By Tim Heston

This week I recalled one of my favorite television moments. During an early West Wing episode, one of the president’s advisers, Sam Seaborn, argues for the extension of NASA funding. After several minutes of heated banter, his counterpart asks why space travel is so important when we have so much...

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Educating the workforce instead of training

April 1, 2011 | By Dan Davis

"You train a dog. You educate a person." That's the note an industrial technology educator sent to us after reading a recent "Fabricating Update" e-newsletter that contained comments lamenting the lack of skilled workers in the U.S. We received 10 or so responses, but that one sentence really has...

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The housing market hasn’t hit bottom yet

March 31, 2011 | By Eric Lundin

A headline at CNN’s money page caught my eye recently: “Why house prices will keep falling.” The article cited the Case-Shiller U.S. House Price Index, which showed a 3.1 percent decline from January 2010 to January 2011. The gist of the index, developed by Karl Case and Robert Shiller, is...

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Stressed at work? Let the foolery begin

March 30, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

April 1 is celebrated in the Western world as April Fools' Day, a day in which practical jokes and foolishness are generally tolerated — albeit more so by some than others — and most of us tend to view whatever we are told on this day with more than a modicum of skepticism, particularly that...

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Manufacturing productivity: Work less, accomplish more

March 29, 2011 | By Tim Heston

A review copy of Jim Womack’s Gemba Walks, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute, came in the mail today, and I’m beginning to make my way through it. When I saw the title, I immediately thought of a scene in The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt’s business novel on the theory of constraints. In it...

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Will metal fabricating activity continue to grow?

March 25, 2011 | By Dan Davis

Financial writers are funny people. They make people laugh even when they aren't telling a joke. For instance, read John Carney's CNBC story "Have Consumers Gone on Strike?" In the story he makes the point: "What seems to be happening is that businesses have been ramping up their production and...

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Unions-the good, the bad, the ludicrous

March 23, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

Although events from Japan, Libya, and Jerusalem, along with the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, dominate the headlines on this day, unions continue to make the news, including a blog post written by my colleague Dan Davis last month. I just googled news for labor unions and retrieved more than 400...

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Earthquakes, job shops, and the global supply chain

March 21, 2011 | By Tim Heston

With Japan in crisis, so are global supply chains. With the world’s third-largest economy basically in standby mode, manufacturers stateside--and around the world--are scrambling to adapt. Most metal fabricators aren’t assemblers sitting at the end of a long global supply chain, but many of...

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Gauging metal manufacturing's health

March 18, 2011 | By Dan Davis

The reader's e-mail request led off with a commonly seen note that his company was reworking its Web site, but it ended with a not-so-common question: What is the best barometer to indicate that the recession has ended in metal manufacturing? The e-mail writer wanted to link to some of these...

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GE CEO cites need for manufacturing, innovation, exporting

March 17, 2011 | By Kate Bachman

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, the newly appointed chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, outlined his vision for making the U.S. more competitive in the global marketplace in a March 8 speech to The Executive Club of Chicago, contributing writer John Kerastas reported. It...

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Not just Japan's problem

March 16, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

I remember the first nuclear power plant I ever saw—the Byron Nuclear Generating Station located in Ogle County, Ill., two miles east of the Rock River. Construction began in 1975, and Units 1 and 2 became operational in 1985 and 1987 respectively. The project was rife with controversy. The...

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Critical laser cutting, welding tested in Japanese crisis

March 15, 2011 | By Tim Heston

When news broke of the earthquake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan, my mind turned to Jim Bleigh at Performance Contracting Inc., a Lenexa, Kan., company The FABRICATOR covered earlier this year. His group of talented welders, laser cutting machine operators, and assemblers fabricated strainers...

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Getting the good ones to stay

March 11, 2011 | By Dan Davis

At The FABRICATOR's Leadership Summit/6th annual Metal Matters, which just wrapped up late last week, I sat in on a discussion about ways to find good employees. The consensus among the 10 or so fabricators in this breakout session was that they are more than willing to train the right person for a...

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