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Never give up

January 21, 2008

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The economic news has been pretty grim. Housing"s down; manufacturing production"s down; employment"s down; the stock market"s down. Most everything is pretty much, well, down.My gut says, though, that Parviz Shahriari hasn"t paid it a second thought. The director of engineering at GEMVIS, a...

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The changing world of farm life

January 18, 2008

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Many economists and politicians like to compare the evolution of manufacturing in the U.S. to that of the agricultural industry. At one time agriculture was the dominant industry in the U.S., but as time passed, the numbers employed in agricultural jobs diminished with the rise of...

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Hodgepodge

January 17, 2008

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Today's post is a mishmash of interesting items that have crossed my desk in the last few days.The words hodgepodge and mishmash are alterations of Middle English words, hochepot and misse-masche, respectively. The English language has evolved over the years, and so has the English...

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All aboard the Nano

January 15, 2008

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My brother-in-law, Chris, is spending the year in Mumbai, India, as a part of a fellowship program that helps for-profit humanitarian enterprises find better ways to do business--that is, if he can get to work in one piece. Last week he took a ride on Mumbai"s commuter trains. Call it herding,...

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Looking ahead to 2008

January 11, 2008

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I don't want to offer up any predictions, even though I finished the college bowl season with a 20-12 record against the spread. (That's how my wife's extended family celebrates the holiday season, and as long as I keep up with my debts, I'm happy to play along.) So let's offer up some observations...

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Filling a need

January 9, 2008

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Can you remember a time without wheelchairs? Probably not. According to wheelchairnet.org, the earliest found image of a wheelchair is incised in stone on a 6th century Chinese sarcophagus. In the 16th century, King Philip II of Spain used an elaborate rolling chair with movable arm and leg rests....

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The sweet smell of community

January 8, 2008

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The word global and all its derivations are everywhere. Saying a business is a global company may make a good marketing sound bite, but think about it: If your community is home to a company that calls itself a "global enterprise," would you really care? For instance, I grew up about an...

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Looking back at 2007

January 4, 2008

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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...

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Imagining the new for 2008

January 3, 2008

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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...

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Don't mention the 'r' word

December 20, 2007

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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...

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A new kind of craftsperson for the job shop

December 18, 2007

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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,...

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Airing of the grievances

December 14, 2007

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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...

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Educators, listen up

December 13, 2007

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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...

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Keep on humming

December 11, 2007

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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...

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Pop culture and fabricating

December 7, 2007

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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...

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