Last week's post, Metal stampers' take on unions: Part I, revealed findings from a "Stamping News Brief" (SNB) survey about unions. It also featured comments from survey respondents—both those who believe unions are still necessary and those who don’t. Those who believe unions are to blame for lost jobs in the U.S., and those who think they are not—that corporate greediness and the government are the true culprits. As promised, here are some more comments from SNB readers about unions. (more...)
Archive for the ‘Manager’s Desk’ Category
By: Vicki Bell
Labor unions continue to make news. Today, sfgate.com published the article Twinkie-Maker Hostess Files for Bankruptcy Citing Pensions, which said that the baker's latest bankruptcy filing is being blamed on the weak economy and costs tied to pension- and medical-benefit obligations resulting from union agreements.
Also in the news, Oklahoma union workers are testifying against Indiana's "right to work" initiative.
Labor unions have been cited by some as major contributors toward U.S. automakers' woes and the outsourcing of jobs. Perhaps no industrial sector has suffered more from the automakers' travails than U.S. metal stampers. Last month, "Stamping News Brief" asked its subscribers—stamping industry professionals—to take a survey about unions. Some of the results may surprise you. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
I once knew a gentleman in the metal fabricating business who said his favorite leisure-time activity was reading "business books." Wow. Nothing says "party" like a weekend with Blue Ocean Strategy or The Wisdom of Crowds.
Pardon me if I'm skeptical of such literary efforts. But I've met a bunch of people running metal fabricating businesses was don't have fancy degrees or the latest self-help book on their nightstands, and they do just fine. They know how to bend, cut, form, and join metal, and they run their businesses with an integrity that is often lost in the pursuit of "big hairy audacious goals" and "win-win strategies."
This comes to mind only after reading an excerpt of the latest book, Great By Choice, from management guru Jim Collins and his writing partner, Morten T. Hansen. You can read the excerpt here. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
I've been in metal fabricating shops where company managers are open with information and make it a point to communicate regularly with their employees. Boy, does that make a difference.
Even in the most trying of times—the first half of 2009, for example—this type of commitment kept everyone on the same page. As incoming revenues shrunk, the team knew that everyone, including those who sat in the front office, was going to share in the sacrifice. That meant a reduction in work hours for some and temporary furloughs for others. Those companies that did what they could to soften the blow for their workforces bounced back stronger in 2010 than their competitors, who were scrambling to replace laid-off employees that decided to search for greener pastures.
By: Eric Lundin
I saw a bold headline a few days ago: “Why McDonald’s wins in any economy.” As far as I am concerned, this is more of an advertisement for an article than a headline, and I am wary of flashy advertising, but it lured me in anyway. I figured a small investment, a few minutes of my time, might pay off in providing some perspective for you and your business. Fabricating metal has little to do with selling burgers and fries, but I thought the article might have a few strategic nuggets that apply to any business. (more...)
By: Tim Heston
I really like my job--but not in a corny sense. I don’t wake up and immediately whistle away in gleeful anticipation of the workday. Some days I feel I can’t write another word, while other days I type several pages before I realize that what I just wrote is either unintelligible or just plain awful.
What keeps me typing away is a sense of ownership. It’s my job to call contacts, develop story ideas, research technical information, interview experts, and write the story. I don’t work alone, of course. Throughout the process I work with editors, copy editors, and graphic artists--and one thing we share is a sense of ownership. The FABRICATOR and its sister publications represent our brand, our identity.
It’s not practical for all of us to shepherd products from beginning to end, of course. We would be at a loss trying to run a printing press, for instance. But we do monitor product quality through multiple stages of production, and it’s that sense of ownership that makes me happy about going to work.
Last week I got my first taste of a new kind of manufacturing cell, and immediately I saw how ownership played a role. Milwaukee-based Phoenix Products makes lighting fixtures for a variety of commercial customers. It’s a high-mix, low-volume environment. SKUs number in the thousands.
By: Vicki Bell
Several readers e-mailed their thoughts to me regarding the lead item in yesterday's "Fabricating Update" that featured another reader's comments about businesses being in business to make a profit. And then there was the anonymous caller who wanted to call attention to a mistake in the item.
Here’s the story … (more...)
By: Vicki Bell
If there's one topic that weaves its way into more articles and blog posts on thefabricator.com than almost any other, it's the dearth of skilled labor. Despite high unemployment, many manufacturers continue to struggle to find workers with the right skills.
In his article "Fabricator finds path to skilled labor," my colleague, Senior Editor Tim Heston, described how Crow Corp., a metal fabrication company located in the Houston area, outsourced its hiring process and found that the benefits far outweigh the costs.
By: Vicki Bell
Among the most popular articles on thefabricator.com is a series about Job Satisfaction that was written early in 2003. In December 2002, we surveyed “Fabricating Update” readers about how satisfied they were with their jobs.
We asked them to rate their job satisfaction for the year on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied). By all accounts, 2002 was a most difficult year. The job market was tight in many areas as companies scaled back to weather the 2001 economic downturn. Employers enacted wage freezes and, in some cases, wage cuts. Bonuses, employee development, and other perks were reduced or eliminated. As many workers suddenly found themselves without jobs, many others found themselves working harder and longer for less compensation and potentially less job satisfaction. (Sound familiar?) (more...)
By: Vicki Bell
The July "Fabricating Update" e-newsletter featured reader comments about wages and whether employers are suppressing them to boost profits. These comments were inspired by a quote in the June issue from a reader reflecting on a potential manufacturing renaissance: "It is great that the companies are making increased profits, but with the trade agreements, are they doing it by suppressing wages? We have companies here in Michigan that use the threat of moving work to Mexico to gain wage concessions!"
The possibility exists that some companies are doing just that. At least it would appear so from some of the comments we received. (more...)