The most recent jobs report was just the latest sign that the economy continues to plod ahead in fits and starts–but hasn’t been able to achieve “escape velocity.” So what to do about it? Here are 20 ideas that would help create manufacturing jobs, both short term and in the long run.
Why manufacturing? With a multiplier effect of $1.48 added to the economy for every $1 spent, the highest multiplier of any sector, manufacturing needs the attention of lawmakers and policymakers now. Continue reading →
Two recent articles surveyed the business innovation bubbling at Marlin Steel.
A compelling piece by Will Swaim in the magazine Global Trade, headlined “Man of Steel,” described Marlin Steel’s transformation from making plain vanilla wire baskets for bagels to designing vastly more precise steel wire and sheet metal containers for more sensitive technology-related products such as automobile components and military equipment. As Marlin Steel President Drew Greenblatt was quoted in the article, “You won’t find Marlin manufacturing ‘baskets for socks in Vietnam.”
Favorite passage in the piece:
This revolution unfolded slowly, over the course of several years. In that time, Marlin has invested in robots, managers, and engineers as varied as bagels—“process engineers, mechanical engineers, industrial engineers.” … And Drew Greenblatt has become something of American industry’s Man of Steel. Continue reading →
As the “Reinvesting” group states, “For decades, manufacturers have been growing their capital investments outside the U.S.. Now, a confluence of macro factors is causing many firms to invest in the U.S. once again. Rising labor costs in Asia, threats to the security of intellectual property, abundant U.S. shale oil and gas, and optimistic forecasts for U.S. GDP growth are compelling manufacturers all over the world to rebalance their production portfolios and increase capital investment in North America.”
1. What is one commonly held misperception about manufacturing in the U.S.?
Two major ones come to mind. The first misperception is that the U.S. was formerly a manufacturing powerhouse. The United States still produces the most goods and services as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), far ahead of second-place China. In fact, the U.S. will produce about one-fifth of the world’s manufactured products this year, just as it has for the past 40 years, as technology has propelled enormous efficiencies on the assembly line. It’s been hard to celebrate massive gains in productivity because of the turbulence for communities that relied on large factories, but no one should conclude that we have lost our skill as a manufacturer for the world.
The second misperception is that manufacturing is dirty, dangerous, bleak work. In fact, factories are cleaner, greener and safer workplaces than ever. They are also hubs for great technological innovation, generating two-thirds of the private-sector R&D in the country. The average manufacturing employee makes $77,000 a year — 28 percent higher than the pay for the average worker in all industries. Also, about 95 percent of manufacturers offer health insurance to their employees. Continue reading →
Drew Greenblatt’s latest column in Inc. magazine about a friend and mentor, author Eli Goldratt, who died at the too-young age of 64 two years ago today:
Eli Goldratt and Drew Greenblatt, April 2011
“I ran into a business consultant at a conference — we were the only two folks from Maryland and we started chatting. I asked him about any useful books he’d recommend and he mentioned Eli Goldratt’s. I listened.
Goldratt was a physicist and management theorist whose iconic management book, “The Goal,” had already sold 3 million copies by then. His fictionalized account about how a beleaguered plant manager succeeds by discovering “lean manufacturing” is required reading not just on factory floors but in hospitals, schools, halls of government and corporate board rooms. That book — and Goldratt himself — were transformative for my company.” … Read more
“Our industry is at an inflection point: manufacturing talent is so thin and the blend of skills required for managing this rapidly evolving environment is so great that the challenge is outpacing the industry’s abilities to attract, enhance and retain the next generation of manufacturing workers. Although rigorous talent models have been defined at the corporate level for supply chain and back-office roles, defining the skill sets for the factory workforce has been reactionary, at best. It’s not just operator and craft skills that are in play. A leadership void must be filled too. The issue is not solely confined to Western mature markets, either. Developing markets bring similar manufacturing talent challenges, and retention is even harder because of the high demand for skilled labor.”
From Drew Greenblatt’s latest column in Inc. magazine about why businesses must define and focus on what they do better than anyone else:
… When McDonald’s popularized the term “special sauce” for its Big Mac some 40 years ago, the hamburger chain didn’t reveal what was in the sauce. No matter. That bit of lore–it wasn’t ketchup and mustard, like everyone else–helped differentiate their offer.
Similarly, the companies that regularly top the “most admired” lists often aren’t inventors of a business category. Instead, they invented a better way of doing their category: Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, FedEx, Whole Foods, Caterpillar, Toyota, the list goes on. For Steve Jobs and Apple, the design ethic became that differentiation; the products were more intuitive and better designed.
Many companies simply try to be the lowest priced. But I contend that that’s not enough–that companies still need a “special sauce.” What are they going to offer their client that blows away everyone else? They should put all their energy into improving what that something is. Read more about what is Quality Engineered Quick …