It’s hard to believe that we have already celebrated Independence Day this summer, and the first half of the year is behind us. For those of us in the Midwest, constant rainfall and cooler than normal temperatures left many a farmer scrambling to get crops in the field. I cannot recall such a rotten spring for planting, and I suspect the farmers are thinking the same. I am certain this will have an impact on grain prices come the fall harvest.
In our ongoing mission to support our valued customers and build our team for long-term success, we have been relentless in the pursuit of correcting outdated stereotypes of manufacturing careers. To do this, we continue to promote careers with our trade association-developed video https://changeyourgame.careers/ and ongoing engagement with area schools. From the middle schools and high schools, to the technical college and four-year engineering programs, our team is actively engaged in promoting STEM curriculum in hopes of showing the students a pathway to a rewarding career. I cannot say enough about our education partners at the Elkhorn Area School District, Gateway Technical College (GTC), and the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Each of these organizations have visionary leaders, supported by their staff and boards. Kudos to all involved for respecting the beauty of creating things with your hands, encouraging our youth to investigate the opportunities right in front of them in a manufacturing career and recognizing the skills required to make it all happen.
Speaking of business and education partnerships, Precision Plus, along with the Elkhorn Area School District (EASD), was the lead sponsor again for this year’s Elkhorn Mini Maker Faire hosted by Elkhorn High School in March. Only the second year for the event, it was an amazing celebration of those who make “stuff” for all ages to enjoy. Final numbers show 131 makers, 99 volunteers, 8 sponsors and 1,256 engaged community members attending to learn more. I encourage you to mark your calendar for next year’s event on February 15th and 16th and consider participating in a manner that suits you best.
Precision Plus was also pleased to support EAHS SkillsUSA team members who participated at the SkillsUSA National competition in Louisville, KY, in June. Under the direction of EAHS teacher Mr. Fred Ganter, Carly Cooper received 6th place in the nation with her Job Skills Demonstration, and David Broga earned 4th place nationally in the Related Technical Math competition. Congratulations to both Carly and David for their great success! We wish both an amazing senior year starting this fall and are excited to see what their futures bring.
Precision Plus continues to provide young adults with career exploration opportunities through Youth Apprenticeship (YA) programs during the school year and summer internships between school years. This year, we hosted six students from four different schools for the YA program, and we welcomed another seven interns into the program this summer. Each of these young adults is of exceptional character and aptitude – exactly what we need to build the world-class workforce necessary for our customers and our continued success. I was honored to attend the local YA completion ceremony held at GTC’s Elkhorn campus this spring. EAHS was by far the “Rock Star” of the area high schools, with 27 students recognized. The next closest school had maybe five students recognized. Congratulations to the Elkhorn Area High School staff for their outstanding leadership and the difference they are making in the lives of these future leaders.
We continue to support our education partner, MSOE, with two scholarships totaling $15,000 per year. I am proud to announce that Lexi Edinger and Hazel Ringpis were our scholarship recipients this year. MSOE is doing great things and making major investments in the future with the new Diercks Computational Science Hall, and hopefully, they will be announcing a new residence hall to enhance the on-campus life. Read more about the exciting news at https://www.msoe.edu/diercks-hall/
On another note, I am pleased to announce the partnership with GTC, LG Evans, and Precision Plus that will soon deliver a state-of-the-art CNC Turret lathe, the Miyano BNX-51MSY, to the Elkhorn campus of Gateway. This would not have been possible without the financial support of our machine tool dealer, LG Evans owner Jeff Zeman. Together, we will introduce the community to the capability of this game-changing technology, further reinforcing our commitment to business and education partnerships. Should you want to learn more about LG Evans or the awesome Miyano BNX-51MSY machine, please visit:
Our community is fortunate to have local engaged business leaders willing to step forward to make life better. One that stands out is Jeff Peterson of Geneva Supply located in nearby Delavan, and I am grateful for his leadership and vision. Geneva Supply is much more than a fulfillment center for Amazon, but they are also an inspiration to young adults in the community. Learn more about their organization at https://genevasupply.com/. You’ll see that not only do they run an amazing business, they sponsor a youth program called BizTank (https://gsbiztank.org/) that is a model for all of us to learn from. And if the Geneva Supply team did not have enough to do already, they also hosted the 2nd annual BizThreeSixty development conference last May at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan. This local event is designed to expand the thinking of the area business community through presentations from inspirational leaders from around the country. This year’s participants had the exciting opportunity to hear from former football star Joe Theismann and Jesse Cole of Fans First Entertainment. Learn more about the program at https://bizthreesixty.com/
Since we understand the importance of leveraging the power of our industry both domestically and internationally, our partnerships extend well beyond education and our local community. Here in the United States, we have the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA), with approximately 430 members across the country and into Canada. Together we are trying to make a difference, raising awareness of manufacturing careers through youth apprenticeships, internships, job shadowing, and education partnerships. We also work closely with our European counterparts in Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, France, and Switzerland. Recently, a small group of us from Precision Plus had the opportunity to visit state-of-the-art machining facilities in Switzerland and Germany. I look forward to sharing with you the many highlights and photos of our trip in an upcoming article.
We have many important equipment updates to report on at Precision Plus. Late last year, we brought in a Brother R650X1 Speedio mill with a palley indexer and a 4th axis table. https://www.brother-usa.com/machinetool/default.aspx?src=r650x1_overview. We also brought in a Hardinge Quest GT-27 Super Precision lathe extreme tolerances https://www.hardinge.com/product/turning/quest-series/.
This past month, we added to our CNC Swiss platform with two new Star SW-12RII CNC Swiss lathes, outfitted with 2,000 PSI high pressure pumps and LNS Triton bar-feeders https://www.star-m.jp/eng/%3Fpage_id%3D3502. We look forward to next month when we will receive four new Star SR-10J CNC Swiss lathes, also outfitted with 2,000 PSI high pressure pumps and LNS Triton bar-feeders https://www.star-m.jp/eng/products/lathe/la22.html.
I would also like to announce that this past May, Matt Dowell became a full time member of our Engineering team. Matt had spent the last five summers with us as an intern, between his studies at UW-Platteville, where he earned his Mechanical Engineering degree. We are super excited about Matt joining our team, and we look forward to many good years to come. While we continually strive to update our world-class equipment lineup, the real challenge is how do we attract, develop, and retain industry leading talent. With the unemployment rate well under 3% here in Southeast Wisconsin, it is a very difficult labor market, forcing those in our industry to compete for a limited pool of qualified candidates. For this reason, we are investing heavily in the next generation of our community’s best and brightest. However, if you are looking for a change of scenery or know someone that is, please reach out to me directly for a conversation.
Summer is speeding by, and before we know it, it will be fall. Consider this your first “save the date” for our 2019 Manufacturing Day event on Saturday, October 5th. Like past events, this is an opportunity to invite our community members into our facility to witness the amazing things our team members do every day. All our welcome, as we celebrate the beauty of manufacturing and the gifted people that make it all happen.
I apologize for the lengthy article, but this is what a happens when I get behind and miss several months of writing. As you can tell, we have had plenty of things going on, which is wonderful. Unfortunately, with only so many hours in the day, the writing comes last. Preparing this letter, I could not help but reflect on how grateful I am for what our entire organization does every day to make a difference for our customers, fellow team members, our families, and the community. Without them, none of this is possible, and I cannot emphasize enough my gratitude for all that they do. Striving to be our very best is not always easy, and challenging our team to be even better can, at times, create stress. Nevertheless, continuing to grow and deliver the very best for our customers requires that we are never satisfied with the status quo. Experiencing world-class operations in Switzerland and Germany confirms for me that better is always possible, but it starts with commitment from the top, supporting those who make it happen.
The first half of 2019 has been good for us at Precision Plus, and I look forward to what the rest of the year has in store for us. Stay tuned for more exciting news announcements from your first choice in precision machined components in the months to come.
Michael Reader, President