April 1, 2014
Highlights for fabricators from the past week’s Web articles— How Fabricating Metal Products fared in March; an interesting animal-related product development; the future of a U.S. manufacturing nemesis; college graduates’ job search; and fabricators selling through Etsy.
Among today’s Fab Top 5 items published on the Web in the previous week are stories about how U.S. manufacturing, including metal fabricating, fared in March; an interesting new product developed by a company that designs and fabricates security systems; how one of the biggest big-box stores is sweating the possible millennial effect on future business; what college graduates are encountering in their job searches; and fabricators who sell their unique versions of a very common item on Etsy.
The latest ISM® Report On Business® was released today. At 53.7 percent, the PMI increased 0.5 percentage point from February, indicating expansion in manufacturing for the 10th consecutive month. Fabricated Metal Products was among the 14 out of 18 industries that reported growth. Three expansion caveats are supplier deliveries, which are slowing; customer inventories that reportedly are too low; and increasing materials prices. March 2014 Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®; www.ism.ws
Boise, Idaho-based Sloan Security Group, which primarily fabricates and installs fencing, gates, and other protective equipment on military bases and government facilities, has combined a “blue collar work ethic” with “high technology” to develop its new product—radar to detect animals on roadways and prevent collisions. Currently in a test phase on U.S. Highway 95 near Bonner’s Ferry in Northern Idaho, the design was partially-funded by a $75,000 grant from the Nature Conservancy. Boise company develops radar to detect animals on roadways; www.ktvb.com
Big-box stores long have been U.S. manufacturing enemy No. 1—or close to it. Many have blamed stores like Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s for excessive importation of cheap, outsourced goods and equally excessive exportation of good American jobs. While these stores may continue to draw customers for years to come, the outlook isn’t quite as certain for the big-box warehouses that may see revenues decline significantly as millennials shun them. This generation typically has no need for buying in bulk, as many live in urban areas; is less likely to ever own a home; and won’t drive to the suburbs, where most of these stores are located, to shop. Also, the Costcos of the world aren’t doing all that much to entice millennials, which is something all who sell to consumers need to do. Will millennials kill Costco? finance.fortune.cnn.com
Among the statistics the government tracks is how many college graduates earn a wage that’s at or below the federal minimum—an outcome that flies in the face of the “get that degree and you’re set” mantra repeated in households across the U.S. for generations. In 2013, 260,000 people with a college or professional degree (a nice round number that we know just has to be exact) made $7.25 an hour or less. Part of the reason is that "The only jobs that we're growing are low-wage jobs, and at the same time, wages across occupations, especially in low-wage jobs, are declining," said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, a staff attorney at the worker advocacy group National Employment Law Project. A result? College graduates working for low wages are beginning to unionize in places like Victoria’s Secret stores. 260,000 graduates in minimum wage jobs; money.cnn.com
Some would argue that with recent natural disasters and colossal weather events, the Apocalypse is near. If there’s anything that might survive the end, Katie and Jason Lister of California-based Apocalypse Fabrication believe it might be the “gorgeous and geeky coasters out of metal and felt” they create and sell on Etsy. The husband and wife team produce coaster sets inspired by “all manner of geeky pursuits, including World of Warcraft, Game of Thrones, The Avengers, Justice League, Star Trek, and even Thundercats. (I’m guessing we all know someone who might like these. If you do, forward the link to this blog post. They'll be glad you did.) Couple creates geek-inspired metal coasters; www.escapistmagazine.com