Welcome to the newest monthly newsletter offering from MetalForming magazine and PMA. We hope you find it useful and interesting; please feel free to share your thoughts with us.
This new monthly feature from MetalForming magazine provides an inside look at the management philosophies of metal forming and fabricating company executives. We’ll share some of their management philosophies, their daily challenges and how they face them, and offer additional insights. We hope you find these interviews useful and can take away some ideas to use at your own company.
Want to be interviewed for this column? E-mail editorial director Brad Kuvin.
Manufacturing, tucked away in the cozy New England town of Cheshire,
CT, celebrates its 75th year in 2021. And after speaking with owner and
president Doug Johnson, I can assure you that 2020, and the first part
of 2021, is like no other time in its history.
“Everything we knew about managing a small business has been thrown out the window and we have needed to reset every aspect of our business,” Johnson told me, reacting to the pandemic, “from the minute we enter the building to what our shifts look like, who’s working with who, how we break down each shift and department, spacing our production, and people working from home.”
Johnson also comments on another trend at the company: a youth movement. “Over the last several years we have become a very youthful company, top to bottom,” Johnson shares, “including our group of four mid-level managers who now play a large role in managing the bulk of our operations. Key to this youth movement has been providing them with the education and training needed to succeed.”
Here’s the rest of our insightful Q&A session with Doug Johnson,
including his honest appraisal of not just what he believes his company
is doing well, but where it could do better, and a key management
decision he made to address a pandemic-related challenge.
at metal forming companies must regularly assess their businesses with a
keen eye trained on opportunities and challenges. At the same time, it
is critically important that they identify their strengths and
weaknesses. Yet, as noted in this article from MetalFormingBusiness Edge columnist Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of Harbour Results, Inc., “unfortunately, all too often we see companies ignoring what the data are telling them, or even worse, not using the data at all.
In Harbour’s latest Love Letters to Manufacturers article, titled “It’s Time to Take Off the Benchmarking Blindfold,” Harbour explains strategies for getting the most out of your data. She outlines several key metrics to benchmark, including those related to financial structure and performance, sales practices and performance, human resources, workplace safety performance, and wage rates and costs of benefits. And, she provides a link to an important industry survey focused on studying the correlation between financial performance and investment.
Next month’s Love Letters to Manufacturers topic: Trouble With Sales? It Might Be You!
In this 8-min. video
from the Society of Automotive Analysists, analyst Steve Wybo, of
Conway MacKenzie, addresses the state of the automotive supply base. He
shares his long-term outlook, offers some supplier strategy and
describes the state of the capital markets around automotive.
“The banks have been very generous with the auto-supply base and, frankly, most of their borrowers,” Wybo says. “The banks went into COVID-19 well capitalized, in a very good position…they have the ability to be patient. Most of the commercial lenders have been very friendly to the automotive supply base, which has allowed the supply base to weather the storm... and have the requisite working capital to relaunch as the industry came back.”
Now more than ever (thanks, COVID-19!), managing customer relationships plays an absolutely critical role in building trust and loyalty among customers, and retaining them through these turbulent times. Here’s an article targeted toward small-business owners and managers who appreciate the value of strong customer relations and seek advice on how to improve, in areas beyond only the customer-service department. “Customer relations includes the company's sales and marketing departments, as they interact with customers in numerous ways,” the article stresses.
Customer relations consists of two functions:
Reactive functions: Addressing customers' reported issues (replying to complaints, working with customer support).
Proactive functions: Building long-term relationships and establishing loyalty.
In mid-January, the IRS released Notice 2021-11,
addressing how employers that elected to defer certain employees' taxes
now can withhold and pay the deferred taxes throughout all of 2021,
instead of just through the first four months of the year. The taxes,
called Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, are calculated at
6.2 percent of employees' wages and applies to employees earning less
than $4000 every two weeks.
This new Manufacturing Innovation Blog from NIST puts a fresh spin on the growing use of robotics by small to midsized manufacturers (SMMs). That is, “The growth path for SMMs with robotics is, therefore, increasingly focused on applications and added capabilities,” says author Andrew Peterson, a general engineer NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s Extension Services Division, “not just efficiency and continuous improvement. The key to increasing adoption of robotics in SMMs is making the robots easier to use and re-use.”
With all of that in focus, Peterson elaborates on project work at NIST to advance grasping, manipulation and safety performance. “(While) assembly makes up only 2 percent of robotic usage,” says Peterson, “NIST researchers and industry experts believe that it holds much promise for widespread adoption among SMMs as manipulation technology improves.”
When purchasing new equipment for your manufacturing company, be sure to account for the total cost of ownership across the full life cycle of an investment. That’s the subject of this post by Dan Janka, president and CEO of Mazak Corporation. “Purchase price is only the beginning,” says Janka. “For a more effective approach, calculate total lifecycle cost of a machine as the purchase price plus all other costs associated with running and maintaining that machine, minus the machine’s resale value. Resale value is one of the only ways to reduce the lifecycle costs of a given purchase after installation, and in the world of manufacturing, it can make a significant difference in TCO.”
MetalForming magazine is the official publication of Precision Metalforming Association.
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