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The few, the proud, the small-shop employee

February 19, 2014

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Small business employees now make up a smaller piece of the employment pie, and this may say a lot about manufacturing's perennial skilled-labor crisis.

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Not your typical supply chain assistance

February 14, 2014

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David Tilstone, president, National Tooling & Machining Association, is pretty certain precision metalworking shops across the U.S. need help. According to a 2013 NTMA survey of its membership, just over 70 percent have a job opening that they are having difficulty filling. At least a third have...

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St. Valentine’s Day, then and now

February 14, 2014

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February 14 is here again, and although the origin of St. Valentine’s Day is a little weird, it’s hard not to miss the staying power of this celebration. Originally a pagan fertility rite celebrated in ancient Rome, Lupercalia was later co-opted by the church as Christianity took hold, and...

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Aluminum tough as steel? Does it matter?

February 12, 2014

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Scanning news sites this morning looking for something other than coverage of PAX, which I’m experiencing firsthand in the North Atlanta suburbs, I came across an interesting item on cnn.com—“Ford’s aluminum secret weapon.” The automaker is banking on its decision to build its...

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Realistic talk about jobs

February 6, 2014

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During President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in late January, he made a point to focus on the development of more advanced manufacturing institutes, also called “hubs.” The idea is that these hubs would focus on advanced manufacturing technologies and possible commercialization...

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optimism

Chances for economic improvement ‘shaky at best’

February 5, 2014

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The Great Recession officially ended June 2009 in the U.S. Since then, the economic recovery has plodded along slowly. Nearly five years later, the snail’s pace continues, with small business optimism crawling along with it. The National Federation of Independent Business (NIFB) Research...

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What gets you excited about metal fabricating

February 3, 2014

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As I was watching the weather last night, the meteorologist mentioned that Chicagoland had already experienced the third most subzero-degree days in one winter, according to records that go back more than 140 years. That’s pretty depressing, considering that it’s not even February. So as the...

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Earth may not be flat, but the economy is

January 30, 2014

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You no doubt have heard many experts weigh in on the economy, and you may have heard the 2014 State of the Union address, which focused a lot on economic conditions. Yes, we want to know what others think, what the trends are, and where experts think we are headed. But those who weigh in seem to...

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The factory worker stigma

January 29, 2014

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The factory worker—that is, the skilled technician—makes the products others have researched and engineered, and you can’t have a domestic manufacturing industry without them.

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The Obama Effect … and counter effect

January 29, 2014

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On the advent of President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address last night, I was in Manitowoc, Wis., population 33,736, visiting and touring Jagemann Stamping. I’ll forego weighing in on the state of the country’s economy, but I can weigh in on the state of Jagemann Stamping. The...

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In praise of snow plows

January 28, 2014

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As I write this, I’m watching the snow fall outside my office window. If you’re in a part of the world that has seen far too much snow this winter, you’re probably thinking, “Big deal.” Actually, for those of us in parts of the country that seldom see snow, it is a big deal. It’s...

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More than button-pushers wanted

January 24, 2014

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As metal fabricators claim they are unable to find young workers interested in working in metal fabricating for entry-level wages, the machine tool makers have responded by trying to take the “shop knowledge” that is commonly locked in the head of a few experienced shop floor workers and moving...

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Team USA wearing USA-made

January 23, 2014

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Less than two years ago, the 2012 U.S. Olympic athletes’ official uniforms, designed by Ralph Lauren, drew much criticism—not for appearance, but because they were made, head-to-toe, in China. The 2012 fiasco was a subject of a blog post on thefabricator.com entitled, “Will Olympic uniform...

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Millennials, stress, and technology

January 23, 2014

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According to the “State of Workplace Productivity Report” released by Cornerstone OnDemand, a cloud-based talent management software company, the millennial generation, or those born between the years 1980 and 2000, is struggling with technology and information overload. The report, which...

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A nickel for a nickel

January 21, 2014

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Fabricators aren’t alone in looking for ways to cut back on material costs. A friend recently posted a photo of a large jar of coins on his Facebook page—change from a routine purchase. In coming years, that change jar might have a different color, from the inside out. As reported in the...

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