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Irony in Ireland: Global trade and volcanic ash

April 19, 2010

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‭This week has dripped with irony. On Wednesday I traveled to a press event at Combilift,‭ ‬a forklift and material handling equipment manufacturer several hours northwest of Dublin,‭ ‬in the rolling green hills of County Monaghan.‭ ‬The company exports most of its vehicles and keeps...

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For those who weld old steel, we salute you

April 16, 2010

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If a metal fabricator has been around long enough, he probably has come across more than a couple of welding situations that have him lifting off his helmet and scratching his noggin. He likely has done everything correct according to the textbook, but the joint  just does not come together like...

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Loaded with land mines

April 15, 2010

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It’s April 15 — one of the most recognizable, and often dreaded, days in the U.S. Probably as recognizable as July 4, but more akin to December 7  for many. It's the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. According to a recent unscientific poll on thefabricator.com, 47 percent of...

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Fabricating just enough, just in time

April 15, 2010

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Two weeks ago I talked with one fabrication shop owner who has what last year would have been considered an unusual problem. Bankers were lined up, eager to give the small business owner a loan--only he didn’t need one. Work is coming in the door, but it’s mostly small jobs, nothing to warrant...

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Manufacturing needs to ditch the celebrity spokesperson

April 9, 2010

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Bear with me for a minute. I'm about to bring up the name Jesse James, but I'm not about to spend 500 words on this tabloid fodder. (This would be the guy behind West Coast Choppers, not the American outlaw of the 19th century Old West.) Of course, James is also the guy that stepped out on Sandra...

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Welding passion leads to livelihood

April 7, 2010

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Two years ago, I wrote an article for thefabricator.com about Brennan Palmiter, a young race car driver and welder (then 16) who had teamed up with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) Foundation and Practical Welding Today® magazine to introduce young people to manufacturing...

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Lots of lies? No surprise

April 1, 2010

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American Metal Market held its Third Annual Steel Tube & Pipe Conference March 22-23 in Houston, and if you’re a steel tube or pipe producer, you might give some thought to attending its fourth annual conference. It held something for everyone—industry overview, industry forecast, and a...

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Toyota's failure to communicate-a lesson for us all

March 31, 2010

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Cousin Roy called last night. We chatted about family, weather, and work — the usual topics of conversation. Roy's two brothers died last year, a few months apart — very sad news. Roy works for a Toyota dealership in Kentucky. More sad news. Or maybe not. Roy said that he's sold 25 cars this...

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Ford sheds another brand, thank goodness

March 29, 2010

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My 3-year-old daughter has never seen the lights on at a house up the street; the building has been empty and on the market longer than she’s been alive. I don’t know the owners or the situation, but I do know the asking price has steadily fallen. The owners probably just want to get that asset...

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Real-life concerns for metal fabricators

March 26, 2010

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"Worry about those things that you can control," my mom used to tell me. It's a great piece of advice, especially as we struggle to deal with the weak economic rebound and the political ruckus that passes for progress in Washington, D.C. So what's a metal fabricator to worry about? I don't run a...

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The inventor-manufacturer relationship

March 24, 2010

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Inventors and manufacturers are entities that truly go hand-in-hand, meaning you really can’t have one without the other, at least not in any substantive manner. Similar to "Love and Marriage", about which the song (written in 1955) says "you can’t have one without the other." (Not too sure...

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Health care and the angry citizen

March 22, 2010

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Talking with various contract metal fabricators over the past few months, I now realize what health care insurance means to them and other small-business owners across the country. Providing health care is a moral imperative. Sure, providing good benefits makes a shop competitive. But at the end...

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Offshoring not what it once was

March 18, 2010

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We live in extraordinary times. You can tell because people are creating their own words, and society adopts them without questions. It's fantabulous. Metal fabricators should embrace this new word with open arms: Re-shoring. Manufacturing jobs that once went overseas because of low-cost labor are...

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The green fields of America

March 17, 2010

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As I write this, it's March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day - - and as a member of the Irish diaspora, I'm wearing green and playing the CD Murphy's Irish Pub as I work. This is the one day of the year that I immerse myself in my ancestry. I’m an American first and foremost, but who I am as an...

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Do not count on those manufacturing backlogs

March 16, 2010

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Not a day goes by that I don’t remember how lucky I am. OK, I’m lying. Most days I don’t give it a second thought, though I know I should. My parents got a second mortgage so that I could leave college without having to worry about paying back student loans. How could they do this? Well,...

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