As the end of the year holidays and time off arrive, it is time to reflect on just what it is that gives us satisfaction of a job well done.
It is the end of a very trying year.
Emotionally it was a roller coaster as we saw a strong year ahead of us in our sales and performance numbers in the first three quarters, followed by a dive to the dumps in the final quarter driven by outside forces: Eurozone economic meltdown, U.S. Presidential Election, Fiscal Cliff, Huricane Sandy. Unemployment is still high, and 54% of recent college grads are under-employed or unemployed according to a number of reports- yet we are looking for skilled craftsmen in our shops.
Our industry has seen its shipments on a slow decline since May.
Manufacturing had been leading the recovery, but today I saw a report that perhaps manufacturing in North America is already in a recession.
Rather than mope and whine about the bad things, I thought that perhaps I could lead us into a reflection of what it is that our small precision machining businesses do that makes a difference.
For our customers, employees, and our communities.
For our customers
- We provide products. On time. On spec. Zero defects. From the material as ordered. That’s pretty much the standard here in North America. There are many places in the world where that is not the case.
- We provide expertise. Our customers are experts about their business and their customers. We provide to our customers our expertise about design for manufacturability and material optimization as the yapply to their products.We add more value than just making the dog-gone parts.
- We provide service. When they call, our people answer. We have a commitment to get to yes. We exist because our customers have a need.
Demand is the most important determinant of our economic success. We learned this at the end of 2008 and 2009. We manufacture precision machined products to serve that demand.
For our employees
- We provide an opportunity to put their talents to highest and best use.
- We appreciate their expertise, their performance, and even their unique personalities.
- We spend a lot of time with our fellow employees on the job every day. I for one, am glad that the folks I work with bring different strengths, weaknesses, talents, and points of view to the job. And I’m glad they tolerate mine.
- We provide an opportunity to grow and advance.
The gains in productivity in manufacturing have everyone in the media bemoaning the fact that this has been a jobless recovery. They miss that the forces of demographics as the baby boomers age, and the increase in the level of deployed technologies in our shops have made our skilled and talented craftspeople even more essential than ever. A young person starting out in precision machining today is catching the perfect wave of employment and career growth. The majority of our shops are still looking for talent, too.
For our communities
- Our small businesses contribute the time and talent of our managers and professional staff to various organizations.
- We serve on boards.
- We serve on committees.
- We help to grow the tax base.
- We provide opportunities for employment.
- We purchase local goods and services.
- Our products make a difference in our neighbor’s lives.
If you have any modern conveniences at all, chances are that you have a precision machined component as a key part of that technology. Automobiles, Trucks, Airplanes, Appliances, Medical Devices, Tools- our industry- our craftspeople- our companies- we made the parts that make them go.
2012 was a year of painful headlines. Of promise lost. Of pessimism aplenty.
But when I reflect on who we are and what we do as an industry, I couldn’t be prouder. We’re the people that make things. Important things. Things that improve the quality and standard of life. Across the globe-as well as here at home.
These are my thoughts on what we do. It continues to be a good time to work in advanced manufacturing and precision machining here in North America.
As the legendary uber-craftsman, S.Claus (a precision craftsman himself and fan of our precision machining technology) once said