June 15, 2012
The median age of the Vita Needle emloyee is 73. The company practices what one anthropologist calls eldersourcing. Considering the knowledge they've gained over the years, the elderly may become one of metal fabrication's greatest assets.
June 13, 2012
Minnesota fabricator rebrands itself, standardizes operations, and remains nimble, even after years of aggressive growth. Managers expect the firm to grow another 18 percent this year. That’s not small potatoes for one of the country’s largest contract metal fabricators.
June 12, 2012
Natural disasters turn people’s thoughts toward risk. Last year, between floods and tornados and other Weather Channel fodder, I visited several fabricators told me about their customers’ concerns about mitigating supply chain risk. For years, large OEMs have pruned their supply chains to the...
June 7, 2012
For years he spent time on the floor working the fabrication equipment of the day, punching sheet metal using a traditional duplicator stylus. He climbed the ladder to night shift supervisor, and then moved on to other manufacturers, working in sales and shop management; some jobs were great,...
May 31, 2012
At this Minneapolis metal fabricator and stamper, safety isn't a race or competition. It just is, sewn into the fabric of the workday. Safety trumps all because family trumps all. But it wasn't always that way, as E.J. Ajax company President Erick Ajax explains. Read more about this company.
May 29, 2012
Many are rethinking the American Dream these days, especially over Memorial Day. The dream, however idealistic, is worth fighting for. But what is that dream, exactly? National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro put it this way: “Though the phrase has different meanings to different people, it suggests...
May 15, 2012
Steve Wiseman is honest. “We’ve forecast about a 15 percent growth this year, but mind you that 2011 was terrible for us.” The vice president of operations at Nu-Way Industries--part of our Fab 40 list of top U.S. fabricators, to be featured next month--knew that when the AT&T and...
May 8, 2012
Earlier this week I spoke with Frederick Hartman at Needham, Mass.-based Vita Needle, a company unique in several respects. The metal fabricator allowed Caitrin Lynch, associate professor of anthropology at the Olin College of Engineering, also in Needham, to spend five years at the stainless steel...
May 3, 2012
Customer relationship management, or CRM, software has a bad reputation. Many consider CRM to be simply a burden on salespeople. Nex Solutions’ CRM doesn’t fit the software implementation stereotype. The platform isn’t all-encompassing; for example, it doesn’t link sales reports to quoting systems, accounting, scheduling, or other modules that might go into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or manufacturing execution system (MES). Instead, it simply helps salespeople be more responsive and build relationships with existing and potential customers.
May 1, 2012
The Roberts Co., a major industrial fabricator in the Southeast and one of this year's FAB 40 companies (to be published in our June issue), probably wouldn't be the company it is today without Private Equity. Since Main Street Resources purchased the company in 2008, just months before the...
May 1, 2012
Minnesota-based E.J. Ajax has been recognized as one of the safest metal stamping plants in North America. It has received this recognition in part by developing good safety practices, requiring PPE, and installing machine safeguards. But most important, both managers and employees have fostered a sustainable safety culture.
May 1, 2012
No one would argue that at least some elements of lean manufacturing apply to most operations, but Horton Emergency Vehicles is a made-to-order vehicle manufacturer. Certainly, Horton’s highly custom approach didn’t fit a assembly-line model--right? As it turned out, the people at Horton didn't follow the conventional wisdom--and that decision paid off.