Troy Berg, president of Dane Manufacturing, a contract fabricator in rural Dane, Wis., attends equipment auctions not just to find a deal on equipment, but to learn. With success comes confidence and determination; with failure comes soul-searching, self-scrutiny and, quite often, unfiltered truth.
Berg has gotten quite a bit of truth. This morning, he told me of an auction visit in 2007 to a large fabricator on the West Coast. It was an unusual opportunity, because only half the shop was shuttered. He and other fabricators were in an idle portion of the shop full of lightly used, high-quality laser cutting machines, press brakes, and high-end material handling. The other half of the floor was still humming. Punch presses, lasers, and the buzz of welding arcs permeated the place.
Berg didn’t buy anything, but he did see a man in a blue maintenance shirt, and he walked over and introduced himself. They started chatting. Then Berg, like a true investigative reporter, dove in and asked the question: “So what the heck happened here?”