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Looking back at 2007

January 4, 2008


I just got back from an extended holiday break. My mind is still in holiday mode, and my stomach is in commode modetossing around like it"s being flushed.Being that I"m not altogether here as I start 2008, let"s look back on an exciting 2007. Here are my Top 10 favorite memories from the past... Continue Reading

Imagining the new for 2008

January 3, 2008


Everyone who works at Tampa Sheet Metal Co. has a riverboat to thank. Yes, a riverboat.During the early 1900s, Augusta Jiretz, looking out the window of her room in a waterfront hotel, saw a riverboat that reminded her of home, Hamburg, Germany. That was enough for Augusta and her husband, John, a... Continue Reading

Don't mention the 'r' word

December 20, 2007


I went to see my family"s financial adviser on Monday. My wife has some cash left over from a flexible spending account that was set up to pay for my son"s braces. She wants to roll the cash into a 403(b), sort of a 401(k) for teachers, because she wants something to supplement her pension, which... Continue Reading

A new kind of craftsperson for the job shop

December 18, 2007


Dan Andersen graduated in 1992, trained as a robotics technician, only to find himself a few years later at Louis Industries, which at the time specialized in sheet metal cutting; no robotsjust flat-sheet processing, period.I didn"t grow up running a press brake, running the plasma cutter,... Continue Reading

Airing of the grievances

December 14, 2007


Dec. 23 is fast approaching. That means Festivus is upon us.Of course, this is the unholiday. It is derived from a 1997 Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza"s dad, Frank, introduces the holiday he invented as a sort of protest against the commercialization of Christmas. The symbol of the... Continue Reading

Educators, listen up

December 13, 2007


Much has been said and written about the skilled labor shortage, yet it remains an issue that plagues manufacturers across the U.S. and the rest of the world.Skill comes from training and experience. It begins when an individual is exposed to a craft, develops an interest, and decides to pursue the... Continue Reading

Keep on humming

December 11, 2007


At the recent In-Tech 2007 open house at TRUMPF"s facility in Swabia, Germany, BusinessWeek and the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that "machine manufacturing has recorded its fourth boom year in a row. Companies are operating at full capacity and want to invest ... But a shadow lay over... Continue Reading

Pop culture and fabricating

December 7, 2007


I just got back into town from visiting a metal fabricating shop that will be highlighted in The FABRICATOR in early 2008. It"s the type of company that makes me feel good about manufacturing in the U.S. You wouldn"t mind working for the management team or spending an eight-hour shift in this... Continue Reading

Say it isn't so

December 5, 2007


Confession time. I'm a survey junkie. When I scan news sites, I always check the survey section to see the latest topics. In fact, my very first blog post on, What to do about health care costs, mentioned surveys about dashboard dining and windbreakers imported from... Continue Reading

The dollar"s decline: Good or bad?

December 4, 2007


Jean-Guy April knows the value of a dollar, and in this case more value isn"t always better.April owns April Services Techniques, a metal fabrication consultancy in Montmagny, about 50 miles northeast of Quebec City, and many of his clients are feeling the pain as the dollar falls and the Canadian... Continue Reading

Feeling fuel-ish

November 30, 2007


I won $30 in fuel cards during an all-staff meeting earlier this week. It's an enticement for people to come to the meeting and an overall nice thing to do for the employees—especially those with a long commute. I'm one of those employees. It's a 106-mile round trip for me each day. And the... Continue Reading

After the war

November 28, 2007


As the Iraqi War continues, business is booming for defense contractors. According to Michael Brush"s article on MSN Money, War means a windfall for CEOs, the military buildup has caused defense-contractor revenue to double, triple, and even more during the past five years, and executives at these... Continue Reading

The silent foundation of U.S. manufacturing

November 26, 2007


On Sunday, after the Thanksgiving guests departed, with enough turkey leftovers to last for the next few millennia or so, and with my wife and 9-month-old daughter out at a brunch, I had a quiet moment to sit.Yes, sit. And as any parent knows, sitting is not something somebody with a 9-month-old... Continue Reading

A top 10 list from FABTECH & AWS Show

November 16, 2007


North America"s largest metal fabricating technology show is over, and for those who couldn"t make it to Chicago this week, I"m hoping to help you out. Here"s a list of the top 10 things that caught my attention at the 2007 FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show:Everyone knows that dust... Continue Reading

Notes on FABTECH

November 15, 2007


WARNING: I'm on FABTECH overload. I'm back in my office looking at stacks of press kits about products featured at the 2007 FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show that wrapped up Wednesday. Held in Chicago, this year's show was the largest I've seen in my nine years with the... Continue Reading