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Personifying Toyota

February 9, 2010

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This morning’s announcement of Toyota’s recall of 437,000 hybrid vehicles seems to have brought the automaker’s woes to a whole new level. Judging by the media coverage, these events are epic. Want to understand the media circus around the Toyota recall? Here’s a little something John...

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My mom, the informant

February 5, 2010

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My mother is a retired elementary school teacher, and I'm married to a high school math teacher. Inevitably if the two are together for any length of time, the discussion turns to public education. The opinions are impassioned and obviously biased, but the input is valuable in understanding how a...

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'150 jobs for $1.3 million would be a steal'

February 3, 2010

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Among the items in last month’s “Tube Talk” e-newsletter was one about Leonard Maniscalco, who owns Sackett Systems Inc., Bensenville, Ill. This small-business owner wants the government to give him a $1.3 million grant. In return, he’ll create 150 new jobs. According to Chicago Tribune...

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The dangers of hiring on the cheap

February 2, 2010

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Despite the drama at Toyota (talk about the risk of standardized parts) and the political sideshows in Washington, on the main stage of American life, something’s happening. Business is decidedly better. As Chris Kuehl, economist for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, put it in a...

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The future of training

January 28, 2010

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Whether or not you follow all the latest trends in digital technology, you’ve probably seen fancy devices such as the Smartphone from BlackBerry® or the iPhone from Apple. They allow you to do all sorts of things—play music, send and receive text messages, take photos, record and edit video,...

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I’ll know the recession has ended when...

January 27, 2010

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Tonight, President Barack Obama will take the podium to deliver his State of the Union address. In his preview of the speech, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that Obama hopes to use his message to “outline a hopeful track for our future.” He also said, “The president is going...

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From software developer to plumber

January 20, 2010

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Yesterday was one of those days. Late in the afternoon, the first of three guys who came to replace our burst hot water heater showed up. Brian introduced himself, and I directed him to the failed heater that had caused some damage (soggy, stinky carpet) and left us hot-waterless for almost a day....

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GI Bill for the shop floor

January 18, 2010

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This recession has got me thinking about careers. As you know, unemployment still is uncomfortably high. Businesses may be recovering, but they aren’t hiring in a substantial way just yet. The talking heads on TV are pointing fingers, saying the government stimulus hasn’t led to any significant...

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Is your company prepared for the worst?

January 15, 2010

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I'm reading about the tragedy in Haiti this morning and thinking about the sheer amount of work that'll be required to get this nation back on its feet. That may be one heck of a goal considering many feel this nation really wasn't on stable footing to begin with—extreme poverty, history of...

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How one woman benefited from Chrysler's problems

January 14, 2010

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You don't have to be a former autoworker to have been affected by the automotive industry's problems. All U.S. taxpayers have been affected, as have many community and state economies. I personally was affected — in a relatively minor way — when Chrysler sent letters of termination to 789...

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The need to adapt, no matter what happens

January 12, 2010

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When I saw the words manufacturing and boom in one headline, I had to do a double take. An AllianceBernstein economist was especially optimistic, predicting that manufacturing may be gearing up for the biggest turnaround seen in 25 years. "The evidence points to a 20 percent jump in output in the...

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Manufacturing in the movies

January 8, 2010

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I spent the first part of my holiday break unwinding by watching movies. I intended to go out skating, visit downtown Chicago, and generally get out of the house during the second part of the break, but the temperature dropped down to single digits; I ended up watching more movies.One of the more...

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Temps dropping, prices rising

January 6, 2010

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If you're like me, you don't get too excited about day-to-day changes in atmospheric conditions, also known as the weather. Most of us have daily activities-going to work, attending classes, and so on-that are indoors anyway, so the weather usually doesn't have much effect on many people. Usually...

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Clueless in Washington

January 6, 2010

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In December, "Fabricating Update" readers responded to the annual survey about business concerns. A recap of the survey findings will be published on thefabricator.com next week. In summary, the majority who responded said that business is picking up or they expect improvements soon. Fifteen...

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A welcome farewell to the aughts

January 4, 2010

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A year ago Troy Berg wasn't in a good place."I knew in January that 2009 was gone. Never in the history of my business have I had to kiss off a year in January & Now that we're through 2009, the hard cuts have been made, we've made a little bit of money, and those of us who are still...

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