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Nero fiddled, Congress quibbles

September 30, 2013


On a July evening in 64 A.D., a fire erupted in Rome and is said to have burned for days, eventually destroying three districts and severely damaging seven more (out of a total of 14 districts). Legend has it that the reigning emperor, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, played the fiddle... Continue Reading

Continuous improvement is forever

September 26, 2013


When it comes to a lot of things about the economy, I’m a glass half-empty kind of guy. Will the government shut down soon because of the mess inside the beltway? Yeah, probably. The jobless rates are down this week! Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts. Five years after the financial crisis and... Continue Reading

Leading the way to a prosperous future?

September 20, 2013


My son’s high school had its annual Parent Night on Wednesday. Parents actually get to experience the student’s schedule, albeit in a much abbreviated time frame. (Classes lasted only eight minutes.) It’s a great way to meet the teachers and get the real scoop on what may be happening in the... Continue Reading

Statistically insignificant?

September 19, 2013


Earlier this week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced its income, poverty, and health insurance coverage statistics for 2012. According to the numbers, the median household income in the U.S. last year was $51,017, not statistically different in real terms from the 2011 median of $51,100. This... Continue Reading

Five Septembers ago: Metal fabrication and the financial crisis

September 17, 2013


In hindsight, it’s ironic. It was early September 2008, and FABTECH was set to open in Las Vegas in a few weeks. Up until that point a hot bed of growth, especially in real estate. But then Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. Still, even a few weeks into the crisis, the metal fabrication... Continue Reading

Reflections on 9-11

September 11, 2013


As I sat down to write today’s post, I thought about all the topics I could cover—jobs, the economy, manufacturing, world events, Miley Cyrus’s record-breaking video (apparently that’s big news today)—the list is endless. However, none of these outweighs the events that transpired on this... Continue Reading

Good news in sticker shock

September 10, 2013


If you spend a lot of time looking at economic data, you’re already aware that 2013 hasn’t provided much to get excited about. It has provided glimmers of hope, but nothing to set the world on fire. The unemployment rate has been moving downward, but slowly. Since January it slid from 7.9... Continue Reading

How a worldwide shipper acts like a job shop

September 9, 2013


How is Maersk’s new Triple E class containerships—nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall—like a job shop? Forget the fact that, as reported by BusinessWeek, the behemoth is designed to go only 16 knots to save fuel. Sure, heat-capture devices use heat from the massive ship... Continue Reading

Your greatest asset

September 6, 2013


If someone asked you to name your greatest asset, what you would say? Your home? Maybe once upon a time, but probably not anymore, thanks to the recession. Your 401(k) or stock portfolio? See previous statement. As stated in the article “Lessons from the Recession” in the September AARP... Continue Reading

Don't forget the maintenance

September 5, 2013


An author recently posed this question to me: “Do you think this submission is too negative?” His article was focusing on what metal fabricators do to destroy their machine tools—and he couldn’t have been more correct with his approach. At least, that’s what servicepeople tell me. They... Continue Reading

Working to attain the dream

August 30, 2013


Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. People might debate whether King’s “dream” has materialized truly in today’s society, but at the very least, a majority of Americans have more freedoms today than they or their ancestors... Continue Reading

Impressed in Seattle

August 29, 2013


“Go to Seattle,” they said. “You’ll love it,” they said. They were right. Last week I spent a couple of days in the Seattle, Wash., area visiting OMAX, a provider of waterjet cutting systems. The company was celebrating its 20th anniversary and had invited the press. While many... Continue Reading

Could this be it? Part 2

August 22, 2013


If you try to keep up with all of the experts, seers, and mad scribblers who try to predict which way the economy is heading at any particular time, you’re well aware that consensus in this field is about as rare as dinosaur eggs. The reasons are many, but to simplify: some... Continue Reading

Could this be it?

August 16, 2013


Welcome to the wonderful world of stability. At least that’s how many metal fabricators see their business. In the inaugural Forming & Fabricating Job Shop Consumption Report from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, 43 percent of fab shops surveyed indicated that the business... Continue Reading

Who’s behind the steering wheel?

August 13, 2013


The prime minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, made headlines this week with a bold campaign strategy: he took a shift as a taxi driver. No, not a gun-toting, bent-on-vengeance sort of Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s role as the vigilante cabbie in Taxi Driver, but a mild-mannered taxi driver... Continue Reading