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 aftermath of exuberant times

February 12, 2010 | By Dan Davis

Remember former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's comments about the U.S. economy being swept up in "irrational exuberance"? He used the phrase in 1996 to describe the stock market boom that might have been overvalued. To be frank, I thought he had coined the phrase in the 2000s to...

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Stop the bloodletting

February 10, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

Last month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that December mass layoffs and initial unemployment claims were at the lowest levels since July 2008. Even if they are happening at a slower pace, layoffs continue and are having a devastating effect on workers, the economy, and companies'...

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Personifying Toyota

February 9, 2010 | By Tim Heston

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 | By Dan Davis

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 | By Vicki Bell

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 | By Tim Heston

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 | By Eric Lundin

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 | By Vicki Bell

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 | By Vicki Bell

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 | By Tim Heston

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 | By Dan Davis

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 | By Vicki Bell

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 | By Tim Heston

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 | By Dan Davis

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 | By Eric Lundin

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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