After Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Northeast, forcing thousands from their homes and businesses, I recalled what a fellow business owner and friend endured in Nashville in 2010. A freak weekend storm dumped more than a foot of rain, swelled the Cumberland River to 500-year highs–500 years!–and inflicted paralyzing damage across the city, even flooding the Grand Ole Opry. That storm changed the way this business owner thought about risk forever. Continue reading
It’ll help if you are fluent in German, but below is audio from the recent interview that Marlin Steel President Drew Greenblatt gave to Timo Fuchs, Washington-based correspondent for ARD German Broadcasting with 50 million listeners. Fuchs begins by describing Marlin’s factory in South Baltimore. He goes on to describe how uncertainly resulting from the fiscal cliff standoff has slowed Marlin investments in new robots and halted orders from defense-related customers concerned about “sequestration” cuts. ARD German radio broadcast with Marlin Steel
The chicken plucker won.
An earlier blog post described “Design Day” at the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering early this month. Marlin Steel was proud to be the exclusive corporate sponsor of the event because we have hired several graduates of the school for mechanical engineering jobs and because innovative design has been key to our company’s success in wire baskets and sheet metal fabrication. Continue reading
… Even as lawmakers harp on the importance of small business, those of us in the trenches are scrambling for ways to manage the uncertainty. The scramble is reverberating in ways quite opposite of what policymakers intended. Namely: lower business confidence, which translates into reduced spending and staff reductions. All this “bad karma” is arriving at an especially inopportune time, as many companies assemble their budgets for the coming year based on their best available outlook. Read more …
My office isn’t on the factory floor at Marlin Steel. It wouldn’t seem to be in a high traffic area, but it is. Numerous times a day, engineers and plant workers pass by to visit the salesmen nearby to share ideas on solutions on how to build something better, how to produce it faster. Innovation begets more innovation.Everyone exhibits a shared stake in the products that are going out the door.
An interesting piece in The New York Times this morning, titled “High-Tech Factories Built to Be Engines of Innovation,” described how economists, engineers and business leaders now say the wholesale separation of research and production overseas helped contribute to the stunting of American manufacturing. “In industries that produce complex, high-technology products,” it said, “companies that keep their research and manufacturing employees close together might be more innovative than businesses that develop a schematic and send it overseas for low-wage workers to make.”
“Think about how much better we are to have Andy near Tony near the salesmen,” said Marlin Steel President Drew Greenblatt. “The communication and dialogue engenders innovation, a willingness to try things on the fly and react quickly to set backs or challenges. You want more lines of communication close so ideas cross-pollinate faster.”
As a GE executive said in the article the collaboration involved in manufacturing, designing, prototyping and producing a product, particularly a piece of innovation, isn’t necessarily sequential. It’s often a simultaneous process.
As I type this, engineer Jon just entered salesman Jason’s office to discuss a solution with a client. That simultaneous process is going on right now.
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At a forum in Washington this morning, Ambassador Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, showered a lot of praise on Marlin Steel as an example of the importance of U.S. negotiations on free trade with the Pacific region and beyond.
“We’re proud of Drew. We need companies like this,” said Kirk, referring to Marlin Steel, which he’d visited two years ago, and its president, Drew Greenblatt. “The opportunity to grow our trade is bigger than ever before.” Continue reading