Greetings to you from Mike Reader and Precision Plus,
I hope all of you are enjoying the return of warmer weather with all the goodness and emerging greenery it brings. This was originally intended to be a monthly newsletter, but I must admit, it has been a challenge to meet that goal this year with all that has been and is still going on. As I look back to the last newsletter, I see it was sent on March 6th, which was well over two months ago. Time flies when you are having fun, and that is the case, on most days.
This weekend our country honors it’s military heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our country, and many others. Memorial Day is not a celebration, but a somber time to pay tribute to our men and women of the military, for without them this would be a very different world we live in. Let us not forget about the true meaning of this holiday while enjoying our backyard barbecues. Although I’ve never worn the uniform myself, I often wonder if some form of compulsory service for all citizens would help us better understand the sacrifices the members of our military continue to make on our behalf. I have tremendous respect and admiration for those who have chosen to serve, and I am eternally grateful to each and every one. This past weekend my nephew graduated from St. Louis University and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. I’d like to give a big shout out to Andrew Wartman who was also recognized as having scored in the top 1% of all candidates in the entire country. We all are very proud of you and wish you our very best as you enter the next chapter in your career.
The last couple of months have been a very busy time, and for this we are grateful. There are many wonderful things to report on.
Very soon, we will be wrapping up our Spring Youth Apprenticeship (YA) program. Precision Plus hosted eight young adults this past school year, allowing them to explore career opportunities in manufacturing. I am grateful to have had them with us, and I am confident we are in good hands with this next generation. The team is now preparing to welcome approximately ten summer interns.
Planning is well under way for the International Machine Technology Show (IMTS), which will be held this coming September 10th to 15th. Precision Plus will again charter several coach buses down to Chicago, filled with students, educators, and mentors. This biennial event really is something to experience, featuring more than 2,400 exhibitors and attracting buyers and sellers from 117 countries.
I’m happy to report that our year to date sales are up 20%, and our customers do not see this slowing down any time soon. However, material costs and availability are concerns, especially with the rhetoric of the potential section 232 tariffs on aluminum and steel. Please educate yourselves on this topic if you have not, and help us advocate for common sense solutions.
On another note, our partners at HollenWolff have completed their website overhaul. This is important for Precision Plus, as we are the manufacturer behind the scenes, responsible for everything from the machining of the components, PVD coatings, assembly, final packaging and shipment directly to the end customer. While not for everyone, these heirloom pieces are truly unique and offer a wonderful opportunity to celebrate special moments and people. To learn more, visit https://hollenwolff.com/.
I am pleased to announce that we are working with Excel Engineering to design our building expansion which will help us support our valued customers and their growth opportunities. We hope to have the design completed and permits approved in time for a late fall ground-breaking, but this will likely occur next spring. Stay tuned and I will share renderings as soon as they are available.
Director of Education and Training Mark Beilman toured one of our customer’s high-tech manufacturing facilities in Costa Rica where they are doing amazing things to develop a world-class operation and technical workforce. He and his family will actually be moving to Costa Rica later this summer. Mark and his contributions will be sorely missed, and we wish him and his family the very best as they explore all that the Costa Rican community has to offer. We are actively seeking Mark’s replacement as the leader of our youth workforce development efforts.
Recently, we welcomed Patti Christensen as VP of Human Resources and the newest addition to our management team. Also, our headcount of manufacturing professionals has surpassed 80 team members. We continue to search for and help develop talented and skilled workers for our company, as well as our industry’s growing skills gap. This leads me to my recent education of our legal immigration process, which is a complete disaster. Depending upon what country an applicant is from, it can take 8 to 12 years to obtain just a green card. We are not even talking about becoming a naturalized citizen but just getting the intermediate green card. And this was for a degreed mechanical engineer with great technical abilities. Why is it that we cannot work across party lines to reform our immigration policy to welcome the right people and skills to our country? Wisconsin just announced that the state unemployment rate hit a new record low of 2.8%, yet we continue to prevent qualified people with valuable skills from joining our workforce and fueling our economic expansion.
Going forward, let’s hope that common sense and kindness prevail around the world. Wasting our time and energy on negative activities and trying to destroy one another helps no one. Speaking of destroying things, a few Chicago Federal Reserve economists are trying to bail the state of Illinois out of the pension crisis on the backs of property owners. If this does not scare, you I do not know what will. You can read more about this at http://www.chicagobusiness.com/realestate/20180514/CRED0701/180519952/jack-up-property-taxes-for-pensions-say-three-chicago-fed-economists.
Lastly, the H Foundation will host their 18th Annual Goombay Bash, a cancer research benefit disguised as “a casual Caribbean-style party,” on Saturday, July 28th on Chicago’s lakefront at Navy Pier. This is truly a great cause and a fantastic group doing amazing work. Purchase tickets and learn more about the group and event at https://www.goombaybash.com/.
After Mother Nature played games with us in April, giving us record-setting snow storms, it certainly is nice to finally welcome spring. Take time to get out and enjoy the warmer temperatures this weekend. Make sure to also appreciate the freedom we all enjoy you in our great country and be grateful to those that made the greatest sacrifice for each and every one of us.
Mike Reader, President