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The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) Comes To Chicago

Michael Reader

From September 10 through the 15th, over 80,000 industrial decision-makers will be attending the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) at McCormick Place in Chicago.  There, ideas will spark and answers will be found, ranging from technology challenges to innovative ways to succeed in a globally-competitive market.

More than 15,000 new machine tools, controls, computers, software, components, systems and processes that can improve efficiency will be showcased by over 1,800 exhibitors representing the finest manufacturers in the world.

The show will feature distinct pavilions catering to specific applications or processes, including metal cutting, tooling and workholding systems, metal forming and fabricating/laser processes, abrasive machining, controls and CAD-CAM,  EDM, and environmental /quality assurance among others.

There will also be conferences throughout the duration of the show.  According the organizers, “Sessions will explore innovative as well as revered technologies, business development and optimization, plus workforce efficiency and productivity.  Special emphasis will be placed on maintaining focus on short- and long-term goals during a tough economic environment.”  The show will also focus on the subject of “Reshoring” or bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.

The Upper Midwest, which includes Chicago, has had a long history in the manufacturing industry,  with factories and shops  beginning to appear shortly after the expansion of the railroads in the mid-1800s, and quickly developing into a highly influential area for our country.  It seems only appropriate that one of the most important manufacturing shows in the world take place in the Midwest.  Attended by thousands of interested people from around the world, IMTS is truly a spectacle not to be missed.

The Plus – A Note from Mike

Michael Reader

My wife Pat and I took a U-Haul truck of “stuff” to our daughter Tina’s place in NYC earlier in the month.  Not exactly the way I prefer to see America, but it needed to be done.  After hauling all her stuff up two flights of narrow stairs in the heat, we were all in need of some good food.

We went for lunch at Joseph Leonard, a cozy seven-table bistro and bar, located
at the heart of West Village, and I must tell you it was great.  The atmosphere was relaxed, the food was excellent, and the service was beyond par.  It is what we, at Precision Plus, call
THE PLU
S.

The brainchild behind Joseph Leonard is Gabriel Stulman, a fellow
UW – Madison grad, who runs a hell of a restaurant.   There were plenty of Wisconsin themes in the restaurant and all the staff clearly understood customer service:  Michael and Logan, and Grand Rapids’ “Big Guy” in the kitchen, made it a memorable experience.

Gabriel Stulman, who named the restaurant after both his grandfathers, got his inspiration from Madison’s Café Montmartre, a bistro where he tended bar while in school.  “Here I am,” he said, “a guy from Wisconsin who wanted to work with a bunch of his friends from Wisconsin.”  He’s kept his promise, as most of his staff comes from the Upper Midwest.

I drew some parallels between what they are doing and what we are doing here at Precision Plus  We also strive to always deliver THE PLUS to our customers:  Quality products at a reasonable price, experienced design engineers and caring customer service reps.  I strongly believe THE PLUS is what keeps satisfied customers coming back.  And as we continue to expand by adding space and equipment, we know that THE PLUS we deliver must remain intact.

In the two or so years since Gabriel Stulman first opened Joseph Leonard,  he has opened three more restaurants in West Village under the “Little Wisco” umbrella:  Jeffrey’s Grocery, Fedora (a former speakeasy), and Perla.  These are all unpretentious neighborhood joints that, according to some, “exude Wisconsin friendliness” and consistently deliver THE PLUS.

By the way, a Bloody with the beer chaser had me hooked from the beginning.  We’ll be back for more.

The Edge Factor Show and Champion Now Join Forces To Inspire New Generations of Manufacturers

Michael Reader

Across North America, manufacturers’ voices lament the shrinking of their workforce while working at all levels to reverse the trend.

Initiatives to inspire young people to enter the manufacturing field are sprouting everywhere, with coalitions being made between schools, local governments and manufacturers to create educational programs that will make a difference.

One project in particular, the Edge Factor Show, led by producer Jeremy Bout, stands out from the rest. Jeremy is an accomplished tool and design engineer…and movie producer.  He understands the journey between concept to production and, through his films, presents it in a way that is also understood by the new generations. The Edge Factor Show tells the stories of the people behind successes in manufacturing.

The third in a series of manufacturing films is entitled “Metal and Flesh.”  The teaser above shows how manufacturing makes a difference in a war-casualty amputee’s life. It’s both exhilarating and inspiring. According to Jeremy Bout, “Edge Factor is taking a stand for manufacturing.  This film is a critical component in our initiative to inspire the next generation of skilled manufacturers.”

However, this project will only come to complete fruition with the support of manufacturers.  To help make this happen, Terry Iverson, a business owner serving the manufacturing community, has founded Champion Now, which, in Terry’s words,  “exists to change the image of manufacturing…to one that is filled with extreme technology, advanced innovations and exhilarating and good paying careers for the next generation.”  Terry’s mission is to create a circle of manufacturing Champions that will support the Edge Factor’s film productions and other educational initiatives to change the perception of manufacturing.

The Edge Factor Show has produced two episodes in their manufacturing series:  Chilean Mine Rescue,  a story about the challenges and innovations that delivered a successful outcome, and Gnarly Metal, a story about a slopestyle rider competition inspired by “the insatiable need to go faster, further, harder and higher.”

Precision Plus supports educational initiatives such as the ones led by the Edge Factor and Champion Now.

 

HollenWolff’s Bearing-Lock Cuff Links, Made in Wisconsin

Michael Reader

From an article by Mary Louise Schumacher of The Journal Sentinel about HollenWolff’s bearing-lock cuff links

“Dressed to the nines for a big fundraiser, two friends chatted about the cuff links clasped at one man’s wrist. They talked about their grandfathers and the bygone elegance of certain masculine accoutrements.

One of the two owned a ball-bearing manufacturing company. The other was a clothing stylist.”

In a precise moment, a new idea was born and a new direction was forged.  HollenWolff has designed a new kind of bearing-lock cuff link that is unlike anything ever made. International patents are pending.

Precision Plus is honored to be a part of the project.

The H Foundation and the Goombay Bash – Committed to a Cure for Cancer

Michael Reader

On Saturday, August 11th, around 1,200 people dressed to the nines–Caribbean style—and ready to party will come together at Navy Pier in Chicago not only to have a great time, but also to make a difference.

The Goombay Bash, as this function is called, is a fundraising event of The H Foundation.  The foundation was started in 2001 by a few friends with entrepreneurial spirit who decided that, with some ingenuity, they could make a difference in the fight against cancer.  They chose the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University in Chicago (Cancer Center) to be the engine of their catalyst mission.

According to the H Foundation, “In just eleven years we have raised over $4 Million, donating nearly every dollar raised to the Cancer Center.  These funds are used as “seed money” for basic science cancer research projects which then compete for additional government or private funding. As a result, our donation has literally turned into nearly $30 Million of research dollars towards finding a cure.” In 2011 alone, the H Foundation raised over $575,000, a figure that is hoped to be surpassed in 2012.

A testament of how this “seed money” leads to additional millions of research dollars from government or private funding, is the case of the Cancer Center’s research in the emerging area of Oncofertility. In the fall of 2011, the Feinberg School was awarded a $21 million grant from the National Institute of Health to help women preserve their fertility while treated for cancer.  A basic science research project started with “seed money” turned into a fruitful project with potentially amazing results.

Precision Plus is proud to support fundraising efforts that make a difference, such as those which benefit Northwest Memorial Hospital in Chicago and University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Click here to make a difference.  It’s time to find a cure…

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AFTER THE GOOMBAY BASH – A FOLLOW UP

The H Foundation event on Saturday, August 11th at Navy Pier raised close to $500,000. Thank you to the 850 attendees that dug deep to make this happen, all to benefit basic research at The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Precision Manufacturers Address Shortage of Skilled Personnel on Many Levels

Michael Reader

Shortage of skilled precision manufacturing craftsmen is rapidly approaching the danger zone.   As Baby Boomers retire from their positions at a rate of 10,000 per day, we are confronted with vacancies which are unable to be filled due to the lack of availability of qualified and trained men and women.

As manufacturers, Precision Plus and many others are undertaking a targeted  bulls-eye campaign, to address this issue from all possible points:

  • BY WORKING WITH OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
    In March of 2012, a group representing PMPA (Precision Machined Products Association ) flew into Washington, DC to engage in conversation with government officials regarding this impending issue. The Franklin Partnership arranged 75 congressional visits for members of PMPA , while Second Vice President Darlene Miller of Permac Industries, arranged meetings and a tour with White House Officials.  Many important issues relevant to preserving manufacturing in the U.S. were discussed, with an emphasis in tax reform and job training. A second Fly-In is scheduled for early October.  By then, according to PMPA, “Attendees will have a chance to tell their elected officials directly about the importance of manufacturing as they campaign. It will also better position PMPA as we head into the lame duck session having recently briefed members of Congress about our priorities on tax reform and other issues.”
  • BY WORKING WITH OUR LOCAL STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
    Precision manufacturers have vowed to bring awareness to local elected officials by inviting them to tour our facilities and sitting down for frank discussions on how to improve the future of manufacturing.
  • BY ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING AND SUPPORTING TRADE ORGANIZATIONS, SUCH AS PMPA
    We are many, but collectively, we are a force and we have one voice.  Nothing comes without acute dedication to our beliefs, in that our country deserves to once again soar in the manufacturing world.
  • BY CONTINUING TO OFFER EDUCATION AND ADVANCEMENT OPPORTUNITIES TO OUR CURRENT EMPLOYEES
    Precision manufacturers understand that time does not stand still and that in every person exists  the goal is to better themselves.We promote and provide further education to solidify their skills and knowledge.  By being involved in formulating high-caliber continuing technical education curricula, such as that provided during the PMPA’s Annual Technical Conference, we ensure that our employees are at the forefront of industry and technology know-how.
  • BY WORKING WITH LOCAL TECHNICAL SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES TO DEVELOP COURSES AND TRAINING TO PROMOTE THE RESURGENCE OF MANUFACTURING IN THE U.S.
    Precision manufacturers are actively working with local colleges and technical institutes to establish courses and training that will result in the opportunity to provide high-school graduates with a valuable option of going into a trade.   Specialized technical curricula will ensure graduates comprehend and can fulfill the responsibilities of a craftsman-type job.
  • BY WORKING WITH ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROMOTE TECHNICAL KNOW-HOW TO HIGH-SCHOOL STUDENTS
    We are committed to bringing technical studies back to the high-school level.  As such, we will support organizations who are actively engaged in the promotion and advancement of technology training at the high-school level.

The precision manufacturing community commits to pursue a targeted bulls-eye campaign to address the deficit in skilled manufacturing labor force that exists in the United States today.


Pier 290: Good Food for Good People in Williams Bay, Wisconsin

Michael Reader

Wisconsin craftsmanship takes on a new challenge!

The Gage family has been serving the Lake Geneva boating community for three generations and now embark on another venture, Pier 290.  With excursion boats based at the Riviera Docks in downtown Lake Geneva, boat service/sales in Williams Bay and Hwy. 50, and pier service around the lake, Bill and Rachel Gage set their sights on further complementing the boater experience.
Their vision was to remake the Williams Bay operations into more than just boating and fuel, but expanding into dining, refreshments and a comfortable place to unwind.

The vision must have been long in the making as the trove of memorabilia and repurposed pieces is impressive to the visitor.  One foot through the door and your eyes are overwhelmed with the woodwork and creative use of old propellers and other pieces.  Bill had salvaged many of these over the years, including classic woodwork from several of the old Lake Geneva mansions as the wrecking ball threatened to turn them into splinters.

Also salvaged before being torn down was butternut paneling from the “Reader House” at Lake Lawn Lodge in Delavan, and hand-hewn beams from one of the lodges.  The master wood craftsmen with Gage Marine’s wood boat restoration team were challenged to bring all these old pieces of hardwood back to life, doing a fantastic job.
Another opportunity presented itself last year when a storm knocked down several old Black Walnut trees in the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy in Williams Bay.  Always an opportunistic looking to turn lemons into lemonade, Bill saw this as flooring materials for the new restaurant.  Here again, the Gage woodworking team set about transforming logs into flooring planks.  Not the typical work for the skilled team of classic mahogany boat refinishers, but very successful nonetheless.

So check out Pier 290 and all the other great things Gage Marine has going on in Williams Bay and watch this great video by Bill Gage where he talks about his vision.

 

A Note From Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus

Michael Reader

As we enter the second half of the year I am happy to report we have many good things happening here at Precision Plus  All and all, it was a successful first half with sales surpassing those of last year, and the addition of our 4th Miyano ABX lathe.  Our customers remain optimistic and continue to ask us to take on more work from them.  It is a testament to the hard work of all our staff when I hear a long-standing customer ask me “we need to resource a package of parts, how much more can you take on?”.  Especially with existing customers, we have developed a trust that ensures them that we know what we are doing and that we will produce what they ask for.  As the degree of difficulty in developing and manufacturing new components continues to increase, we understand that the complexity of the part will make a difference in our customers’ profitability and efficiency.

We are continually improving “embedding” ourselves with our customers’ product engineering teams, so as to add more value and be in the best position to transition from prototype to production.  Our customers love this because they can understand cost and manufacturing challenges early on in a design project.  We love this because we want to make the entire process seamless. Bill Wells, our Sales and Engineering Manager, devotes much of his time working with these engineers.  It’s a time-consuming proposition, but an investment in both our futures.

Since the beginning of the year, we have taken on over 100 new jobs, not only from new customer-partners, but from our existing customer-partners from a variety of industries, including pneumatic and hydraulic, aerospace, industrial, automotive, medical and dental and movie and still motion product manufacturers.

This organic growth, coupled with new opportunities developed through our website and media efforts have us plenty busy.  As I mentioned earlier, we continue to reinvest in capital equipment and technology to support our customer’s needs, and remain committed to ongoing improvements.

However, while we can put all the new equipment we want on the floor, it is the difficulty in finding/developing skilled machinists that will constrain our growth moving forward.  This is a real problem for us, our industry and our country that requires a true Manufacturing Training Plan.  We are addressing this issue on many levels.  Locally, we are participating in trade school and college programs designed to instruct young and/or unemployed individuals in the crucial trade of manufacturing.  On a national level, with the PMPA, we are talking to Congress and Senate leaders in order to create a mind shift with respect to training younger people in the trades, so they can fill in the open spots that retiring Baby Boomers are leaving at a rapid pace.  The goal is to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.

Reach out to me with any questions, suggestions or comments you may have!  My door is always open.

Mike Reader
President

 

Walworth County, WI and Gateway Technical College: Light Years Ahead in Addressing Impending U.S. Manufacturing Needs

Michael Reader

Recently, we received this invitation from Debbie Davidson, Vice President, Workforce & Economic Development Division at Gateway College:

“Dear Walworth County Manufacturer,

Due to the increased need for skilled manufacturing employees, Gateway Technical College, Walworth County Job Center and the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA), invite you to attend a planning meeting on July 26th at Gateway’s Elkhorn Campus (400 County Road H, Elkhorn, WI, South Building, Room 112) from 7:30am to 9:00am.

At this meeting we will discuss a variety of options to provide you with skilled technicians including:

  • Developing curriculum to meet your needs;
  • Offering  training at the Elkhorn Campus and/or at your facility;
  • Modifying and/or developing   boot camps in manufacturing-related skills;
  • Implementing an “Earn-and-Learn” model which would allow students to work for you while attending classes providing an opportunity for on-the-job  skill application;
  • Scheduling classes such as, Applied Math, Blueprint Reading, Safety, Gauging and Inspection, Measurement, Communication, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt and more;
  • Identifying funding models to support new and unique training models.

Please join us and be part of the conversation. The meeting is free. However, we ask that you make a reservation for our planning purposes. Please contact Debbie Davidson at 262-564-3422 or email davidsond@gtc.edu no later than July 20, 2012 to reserve your spot. We look forward to working with you to meet your hiring needs.  If you are unable to attend, please consider sending a designee from your company. Feel free to share this invite with others throughout Walworth County.

Debbie Davidson
Vice President, Workforce & Economic Development Division

Gateway Technical College

3520-30th Avenue
Kenosha, WI  53144
Office: 262-564-3422
Cell: 262-914-0154
Email: davidsond@gtc.edu

We’re planning to be there.  Are you?

The Blue Oval is Back

Michael Reader

On May 22, 2012,  Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Ford’s credit rating to investment status.  This milestone is to be congratulated because of the time, effort and commitment it took to regain this rating.  According to Bill Ford, great grandson of Henry Ford, “At great emotional cost, the company used its Blue Oval logo as part of the collateral for a $23.5 billion loan it obtained in 2006.”  The loan enabled Ford to do a major restructuring allowing the automotive manufacturer to avoid the crisis that led GM and Chevrolet to obtain a Federal bailout.  Part of the loan requirements was the regaining of the investment status by two of the credit rating agencies.  Fitch Ratings upgraded Ford’s credit rating last month.

In looking over the recovery that has occurred within the Ford Motor Company, several steps have been noted:

  • In 2006 the company raised $23.5 billion in liquid assets through the combination of secured and unsecured loans.  The Blue Oval logo along with a substantial part of it domestic assets secured the loan.
  • In 2007 Ford negotiated a labor agreement with the UAW that allowed for a lower wage structure for new employees as well as a new set of flexible work rules.
  • In March 2009 it reached another major agreement with the UAW that brought in the ability for the company to reach equality with transplant automakers.  This resulted in annual savings and efficiencies on an incremental basis.
  • In October 2009 Ford reported its first quarterly pre-tax operating profit since the first quarter of 2008.
  • At end-of-year 2009 Ford achieved its first full-year of operating profit.  It also had a net income of $2.7 billion, which was an improvement of $17.5 billion over its losses in 2008.
  • At  end-of-year 2011 Ford reported the third year in a row of improved annual operating profits.  It also reduced its debt by more than $20 billion compared with year-end 2009.
  • In September of 2011 Ford was able to completely pay back its loan.
  • In March of 2012 Ford was able to make its first dividend payment.

The day after Moody’s Investors Service announced its decision, Ford’s accomplishment was being touted in the National News Services.  Michael Reader, President of Precision Plus Inc., added , “My personal congratulations to the Ford Team, this is an impressive accomplishment as the only domestic auto group to do it on their own.”

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