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Money in green

June 23, 2008

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Last week media reported long gas station lines, with motorists grumbling over record prices. That sounded like 1970s oil-crisis America, but that"s not what reporters were writing about on Friday.They were reporting from Beijing.There, The Times of London gave reports of long lines outside petrol...

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Educating tomorrow's welders

June 20, 2008

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I think the program I have struggled to keep alive was valuable and rewarding to a certain population. Was it enough to rationalize the expense? I don"t know, but to me and my students, it was valuable and rewarding.That"s the message Lebanon (N.Y.) High School welding teacher Tom Callison shared...

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You cannot be serious

June 18, 2008

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Although I'm an avid tennis fan, this post is not paying homage to John McEnroe, who often uttered the words "you cannot be serious" and sundry words I can't repeat to umpires and line judges in matches. Rather, the statement was the first thought that crossed my mind when I read about a...

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Nerdy no longer

June 16, 2008

I fess up. Yes, I"m an overgrown band geek. I played trombone during high school, on through college, and I continue to do so (very badly, actually) in a local community band. Every Thursday, driving into the rehearsal hall parking lot, I see yet another blast from the past, that preferred...

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Fire up the grill

June 13, 2008

I can talk sports all day. If I have a beer while I do that, it"s a great day. If I"m cooking some meat over an open flame, it"s a great day.It"s amazing how little time I set aside to just sit outside with a buddy, grilling up some chicken and ribs, enjoying a tasty microbrew, and listening to the...

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Do your job, DOL

June 11, 2008

The May employment numbers were in the news last week. Among the releases on PR Newswire that dealt with the most recentstatistics—49,000 jobs were lost and the unemployment rate jumped from 5.0 percent to 5.5 percent, the largest one-month jump in 22 years—were two spins on the numbers...

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Knowledge worth passing on

June 10, 2008

George Hildebrand isn"t retiring. He"s just testing the waters.And why not? As project manager at George Third & Son Ltd., a structural fabricator near Vancouver, British Columbia, he"s been with the company for only 44 years. During that time he"s managed a host of projects, building everything...

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Opportunities in the wind

June 6, 2008

The announcement this week that GM was closing several truck-making facilities around the U.S. and Mexico came not as a surprise, but as a disappointment. These high-paying manufacturing jobs are instrumental in keeping these communities alive: Workers invest in their homes, keeping property values...

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Saving the environment—One push at a time

June 4, 2008

The weather's warm, and my dormant Bermuda grass that appeared brown and dead all winter now is green and growing. Here in the Southeast, we've been mowing for weeks. We have a John Deere riding mower (for which we paid way too much) that requires annual service (which is also costly) and...

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What construction slowdown?

June 3, 2008

Manufacturing continues to plug along, not expanding, but not exactly in a slump either. The Institute for Supply Management"s index, the PMI, released this week, grew slightly, from 48.6 in April to 49.6 in Maystill not in growth mode, but it"s more than most had predicted. The view from the...

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Manufacturing to the rescue

May 30, 2008

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Today I spoke with Steve Smith, president, It Straps On Inc., a Covington, La.-based manufacturer of stainless steel banding, buckles, and brackets. We were chatting about his company"s E award, an honor the federal government bestows on companies that are aggressive in promoting U.S. exports.He...

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Silver lining in energy costs?

May 28, 2008

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These days, wherever I go & whomever I talk to & the conversation usually turns to high gas prices. When I shake my head at the ever-increasing cost of produce at the market, my first thought after "Should I buy these blueberries at this price?" is It"s those high fuel costs!It's not just...

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The state of steel: Going up

May 22, 2008

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I"m not sure how fabricators are coping with rising steel prices. I guess it"s like rising gas prices: You deal with it because it"s a fact of life.Unfortunately, there"s little relief in sight. John Surma, U.S. Steel"s chairman and CEO, told financial analysts in April that flat-rolled steel...

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Still made in the U.S.A.

May 21, 2008

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Quick—off the top of your head—what metal product introduced in the U.S. in 1945 is made from 98 feet of wire, is advertised with one of the most memorable jingles of all times, sells for less than $5.00, has sales totaling more than 300 million, and still is being made in the U.S.?...

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Traci"s story: A good reason to get lean

May 20, 2008

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By 1994, Traci Tapani knew things had to change. As co-president of a Stacy, Minn.-based job shop, she just had a baby and was about to go on maternity leavethat is until a certain customer, who provided more than half of the company"s revenue, found out. They had a fit, she said. They...

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