Diversity Initiatives in Electrical Engineering and Contracting Sectors

Today we have a guest blog from Carl Babb of Relectric on the important topic of diversity. Electrical engineering is at the core of industrial growth and energy sustainability in the USA. With the innovative products, designs and concepts, electrical engineers and contractors must keep pace with changes in the profession. Diversity in disciplines like engineering is necessary to address the current and future needs of our nation's economy. Engaging people from all segments of our society in the electrical engineering profession is essential to this fast-paced and growing field. Access to opportunities must be enhanced to help meet industry needs and find solutions to society’s energy challenges. While there has been an increase in the involvement of women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in engineering in recent decades, there is still room for improvement. There are several initiatives by engineering schools and universities, engineering groups and societies, and even many large industries, to increase the diversity in electrical engineering. Like most businesses and companies everywhere, organizations associated with electrical engineering are becoming directly involved in actions targeting bias against underrepresented groups. 12860read more >

What’s Holding US Manufacturing Back?

Today we have a post from Andrea Olsen. Andrea started her career in the tech start-up world, and has brought much of that innovative thinking to her work as the CEO of Prag’madik, an operational strategy consultancy, specializing in the industrial and manufacturing markets. What's Holding US Manufacturing Back? There has been an ongoing national conversation about bringing manufacturing back to the United States. The government, states, educators, and organizations have been pushing a resurgence through, addressing many of the roadblocks facing these organizations, including: lack of skilled labor, decreased sales, advancing lean manufacturing, integrating additive manufacturing, robotics, IoT and Big Data. The middle-market manufacturers - primarily in the Midwest, in the range of $50-$500m in revenues, employing 10-800 people - face a unique set of challenges. While the advancement of things like 3D printing and robotics will undoubtedly change the manufacturing landscape, these manufacturers face much more basic challenges to compete - and more accurately - survive the next 3-5 years. This isn't about the "skills gap," or "robots taking jobs," or "offshoring" or even "regulation burdens." Those challenges are further downstream for these manufacturers. Today's issues are much more fundamental. The advancements in digital technologies, communications platforms, and simply the Internet, have dramatically impacted business operations and overall competitiveness. The "blocking-and-tackling" of things like: embracing change, utilizing technology platforms, digitizing information and fostering an innovative culture, are the true essentials for US middle-manufacturing growth. Here's a short list of those essentials: 12788read more >

The Culture Threat

Today we have a post from Andrea Olsen. Andrea started her career in the tech start-up world, and brought much of that innovative thinking to her work as the CEO of Prag’madik, an operational strategy consultancy, specializing in the industrial and manufacturing markets. The Culture Threat Organizational culture is an amorphous thing. It is incredibly hard to define, and virtually impossible to measure. Leaders try to influence and shape organizational culture through a variety of tactics, from incentives and perks, to team building activities. Yet, more often than not, the "culture" seems to remain the same. The most frequently asked questions are "why" and "how do we fix it"? The traditional definition of organizational culture is "a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations". These assumptions, values, and beliefs don't arise simply because they are outlined in a mission statement, or reiterated ad nauseum during company meetings. Culture is shaped by behaviors - particularly of organizational leaders - which don't singularly exist within one's title. Manufacturers have voiced their concerns with organizational culture. Many we have surveyed have complained about lack of employee drive, proactive innovation, problem-solving abilities, and communication. 12785read more >

Apple Throws a Rock in the Pond … Be a Ripple

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, gets it. None of the gadgets his company is built on (and none of the other multi-billion dollar companies that seem built on ideas more than products) can survive without one key element in the economy: Advanced Manufacturing And to show it, he announced the creation of a 1 billion-dollar fund to create or bring back those jobs to the U.S. 12607read more >

Proper care and feeding of your mobile jobber

As part of my (Rachel) own training, I spent the day riding along with a MAC jobber. It was an interesting and eye-opening experience, and I learned more about sales in that one day than ever before. Mobile jobbers are a unique distribution channel that marketers in the B2T space need to better understand. Today we have a guest post from Alan Sipe that provides insight into the world of Mobile Jobbers. Alan is President of Toolbox Sales and Consulting and has more than 40 years of experience including Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for Klein Tools and President of KNIPEX Tools. His insights in selling through various distribution channels and professional contractors are invaluable.  Every Tuesday at about 10 a.m. or Wednesday at 3 p.m. here comes the Cornwell, MAC, Matco, Snap-on or independent mobile jobber representative into your shop. If they are good at their job, with each visit he or she will be demonstrating the latest and greatest tools for you to purchase. They will also be taking care of your broken tools and delivering your previous orders. But, how much do you really know about this visitor? What’s their business story? It sure looks easy, walking around showing a bunch of tool nuts (mechanics) cool tools, doesn’t it? Well, good mobile jobbers make it look easy. But, not surprisingly, there’s more to it than meets the eye. DAILY ROUTINE So, what’s a typical mobile jobber's day like? 12127read more >

Why Have Marketing in Manufacturing?

Today we have a guest post from Andrea Olson. Industrial organizations rely heavily on a direct, distribution or dealer sales force for growth. Many of these companies have built themselves from the ground-up through street smarts, sweat, and hustle. With many sales build upon long-term relationships, why does a manufacturer need marketing? Aside from creating the brochures, maintaining the website and coordinating trade shows, how can marketing help grow the business? It's a frequent misconception that many manufacturing leaders have a hard time getting their minds around. The function of marketing has degraded in recent years, with the advent of "do-it-yourself" tools, allowing the tactical nuts-and-bolts of marketing implementation to be done by more junior staff. In addition, many mid-market manufacturers really never had the need to utilize marketing 50, 60 or 70 years ago - having built the business on a unique invention (at the time), penetrating an under-served market, or establishing a contract with a few large OEMs. The problem today is that things have changed. Most notably: 12088read more >

Distributors Gain from Streamlining

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter For their January/February issue, Industrial Supply Magazine asked Spencer Maheu, Director at Osborn Industries what advice he had for industrial distributors in the New Year. His answer? Streamline your product selection to reward end users, your organization and your bottom line. Here’s the article: Streamlining is the Word of 2017 12012read more >

What Affect Will Donald Trump Have on You and Your Business in 2017?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter Now that the election is over and Donald Trump will become our new leader, I'm curious to see if you're as optimistic as I am on where the country is headed, or could be headed, if the world crosses don't get in the way. Trump's business-friendly attitude and the mantra of "there will be no business as usual" is somewhat refreshing. The rollback of regulations alone should be a game changer for manufacturing. The cutting of corporate taxes wouldn't hurt either. 11802read more >

Outside-the-Box Solutions for Workforce Development

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter “Train your people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.” -Richard Branson A column I just read brought that quote to mind. Jack Schron, the President of Jergens recently wrote “Grey Matters Matter” for Production Machining magazine. It’s a great piece, and I highly recommend reading the full text. Mr. Schron focuses on the fact that without a skilled workforce, all the advanced machining, Internet of Things (iOT) and new advances in precision machining are worthless. And the best way to achieve that skilled workforce is through good old experiential rather than textbook learning. And with the advances and costs, that type of training can’t be achieved by just manufacturers, or just trade schools, or any one affected segment. It requires all of them, working together to create state of the art Technical Centers. And that additionally, it required companies, vendors and partners willing to think outside the box and re-examine processes. Find out one way Jergens has accomplished this by checking out their Fastforward™ Machining Center.read more >

Avoiding Scams in Distribution

With 28 years of distribution industry experience, Frank Hurttle has seen more than a few fads and trends come and go. As a consultant with River Heights Consulting, he works with various distributor channels with a lot of different needs and challenges. But he’s seen one new threat that’s effecting all types of distributors: online scams. Read the blog he wrote about identifying and avoiding these here. Scammers in DistributorLand Internet scamming has become an industry in itself, with some estimates putting the cost at $12.7 billion in 2014. I have received some pretty bizarre scam messages. Most are pretty easy to spot. 11709read more >

Managing Price Overrides: 4-Step Process

While common, overrides can be dangerous. They train your sales team and customers that price is negotiable and interferes with one of your primary goals: sticking to your pricing strategy. If that doesn’t worry you, consider this: companies that grant high numbers of ad hoc price exceptions are more likely to experience price erosion across all customers.read more >

Contractors are the Most Important Customer in Building Materials

Today we have a guest post from Mark Mitchel of Whizard Strategy. Building materials companies frequently only see the customer who is directly in front of their nose. They are laser focused on selling a builder, an architect, a facilities manager or even a homeowner. In every one of these cases there is someone standing right behind them that you may not see. That person is the contractor. More specifically, it is the installing contractor. Time and time again, I see building materials companies, with a great product, think they have a made a sale to their primary customer, only to lose the sale because of a contractor. It’s easy to assume that contractors are working for your primary customer so they will do what the customer wants. That is frequently not the case. Here’s Why Contractors Resist Change There is a shortage of labor so any good contractor is in demand and may turn work down or charge more, if it involves something new or different. Contractors see new ideas and products as change and change represents risk. It usually does not represent opportunity to them. Contractors can be very stubborn in their resistance to change. They and maybe even their Daddy has always used the same product and installed it the same way for years. Many of them also believe that buildings and homes are not built as well as they were in the past. To them, modern day construction practices and products are not necessarily better. New products mean the contractor will lose money. The contractor looks at a new product as having many places where they are going to lose money, for example: They aren’t sure how to estimate the project so they can underestimate it and lose money or they can over estimate it and…read more >

Call Reports & Sales People…the Reality!

OK, let’s get real about sales people for a minute. Sales people want to make sales calls. They want to make calls on qualified leads and on profitable customers who can generate sales and compensation. They are like gunslingers interested in the “quick kill.” You hire them to sell and that’s where you want them to spend their time.read more >

Stats on U.S. Manufacturing

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect The Fourth of July is more than fireworks, parades, cookouts and a day off. It’s a day that we recognize our country’s independence. All of the red, white and blue that comes out for Independence Day brings the topic of "Made in the USA" to mind. Did you know... Every $1 spent in manufacturing contributes $1.40 to the economy? This is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. The majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S. are small? Only 1.4% of firms in the manufacturing sector have more than 500 employees. Manufacturing supports 18.4 million U.S. jobs? That's about 1 in 6 private-sector jobs. In 2014, the average manufacturing employee made $79,533? That's more than $15,000 above the national average for all industries. Over the past 25 years, U.S.-manufactured goods exports more than quadrupled? Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 9th largest world economy? These stats came from NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers). You can find these and other facts about U.S. manufacturing on their website. If you're also thinking about U.S. Manufacturing today, check out these other posts on the topic: What does “Made in America” mean to you? Made in America: It Still Matters! Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!read more >

Creativity is the Key

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter It took creativity to start your business, and it takes creativity to keep it running every day. So why not apply that same creativity to the greatest challenge facing the manufacturing industry: the lack of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen? The time to act is now. Waiting for someone else to plug the hole simply won’t work. Schools’ budgets are squeezed too tight. Government agencies are interested in quick fixes, not long-term solutions. You need to find the next generation of workers. You have two huge advantages: as a manufacturer you’re used to seeing a problem from all angles and creating a solution. And your jobs are actually cool. They allow people looking for a challenge to use their minds and hands together to build something. So how do you reach future workers? Show off what you do! Take this example from Birmingham Georgia. A normal company would just see this as another contract. Another job. But BL Harbert saw an opportunity. The Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum is one of the most innovative museums in the world. Why not use it as a draw to show how their skills and abilities help make it that way? Partnering with Go Build Alabama, they arranged for 120 students to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of its museum expansion. Now, we can’t all be working on projects at cool museums, but believe me, much of what you do looks really cool to an outsider, especially when placed into the larger context of what it’s helping to create. I wish I could have seen a CNC machine in action when I was 16 or even a welder or PEX pipe. When you see what a little creativity can do to make the world a better place, or just to improve on…read more >

Contractor Email List – Do You Have One?

Let’s face it, we’re all in this for the same reason. To talk with people who share the same interest. We must always be tweaking and improving what we deliver. So in order to get them to give up their email, we better come up with some interesting and helpful stuff that will make them want to read our emails for future gems. It’s not only what you have to say, but how you say it.read more >

How Many Calls Does it Take to Make a Sale?

Why do many businesses have a problem following up with their prospective customers? Mr. Frey explained, “The problem is not that small businesses don’t have the capacity to follow up with prospects, it’s that they don’t have the systems in place to do it well.” In his recent newsletter, “Follow-Up Marketing: How To Win More Sales With Less Effort,” Mr. Frey advised, “A good follow-up marketing system should have three attributes:read more >

Climbing the Steel Ladder: It’s Never Been a Better Time for Women to Enter the Trades

Today we have a guest post from Kathy Jackson on behalf of the Tulsa Welding School. It’s never been a better time to crash that glass ceiling. Increasing numbers of women are climbing the steel ladder to a successful career in the skilled trades. While many of these jobs have traditionally been viewed as mostly male oriented, employers seeking welders, construction workers, and electrical technicians have been reaching out to women. Industry Growth Jobs in many skilled trades will likely be plentiful in the coming years thanks to growth in these industries. For example, jobs for electricians are expected to increase by 14 percent through 2024. The HVAC field is also expected to expand by 14 percent, notes the below data from Tulsa Welding School. Higher Earning Potential Women who wish to switch from female-dominated fields may find their earnings significantly higher: the average annual wage in childcare is $21,710 versus an average of $40,040 for welders. Or administrative assistants average $34,500 versus HVAC technicians, who average $46,880. Faster, Less Expensive Training Women looking to enter these fields won’t need a four-year university degree either. Most jobs only require a high school diploma and training at an accredited trade school, many of which can have graduates up and running in less than a year. Additionally, the savings in tuition will add up. The difference between a trade school and a four-year degree can be as much as $94,000, and university tuition will likely not be getting any more affordable in the near future. Plus, the Department of Labor announced $1.9 million total in grants as a part of the Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations program. If you’re a woman looking to climb that steel ladder even further, you can work towards positions in management and engineering in the HVAC…read more >

7 Key Findings from Plant Engineering’s 2016 Maintenance Study

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter Every year Plant Engineering conducts their Maintenance Study. The objective of this research is to better understand maintenance practices and strategies currently in place in North American manufacturing facilities and the effects of maintenance on productivity and profitability. The 2016 study identified seven important high-level findings impacting the manufacturing industry: Maintenance Strategies – facilities utilize multiple maintenance strategies on the plant floor, with preventive maintenance (76%), “run-to-failure” (61%) and computerized maintenance management system (60%) being the top three Shutdown Schedule – on average, all systems are shutdown three times each year Maintenance Support – 6 in 10 facilities dedicate a significant amount of maintenance support to their rotating equipment Unscheduled Downtime – aging equipment (50%) and operator errors (15%) remain the leading causes Training – more than half of respondents’ maintenance personnel receives training in safety; basic mechanical skills; basic electrical skills; motors, gearboxes, bearings; and lubrication Technologies – 62% of respondents’ facilities use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) Outsourcing – the average facility outsources 22% of their maintenance operations, up from 17% in 2015 Diving deeper into the research findings, I was surprised at some of antiquated and simplistic practices still used for maintenance, especially given this age of technology and the Industrial-Internet-of-Things (IIoT). For example the second highest maintenance strategy was Reactive Maintenance also known as “run-to-failure.” And the leading cause for unscheduled downtime is Aging Equipment at 50%, while Lack of Time to Perform Maintenance or Lack of Maintenance make up 25%. And even though 83% of maintenance personnel receive training in safety, only 3 in 5 respondents indicate that their maintenance teams receive basic mechanical and electrical skills. How can we expect these people to maintain equipment if they are not properly trained? And the ultimate technology dichotomy, “clipboards…read more >

Wanted: A Harvard for Skilled Jobs

Today, we have a guest post from Jeff Selingo, author of "There Is Life After College," which comes out on April 12th. Nearly 40 percent of American workers hold a bachelor’s degree. College graduates are found in virtually every profession. Some 15 percent of mail carriers have a four-year credential, as do one in five clerical and sales workers, as well as, 83,000 bartenders. Getting a bachelor’s degree is what going to college means to most Americans and is so ingrained in our culture that students who don’t march along are often admonished, questioned  and considered failures. The decades-long march to college-for-everyone at 18 has actually closed off rather than opened up options for teenagers and twentysomethings. As recently as the 1970s, a teenager had a number of options after graduating from high school: get a good-paying job right away, enlist in the military, find an apprenticeship in a trade or go to college. A teenager today really has only two of those options still available: the military or college. Less than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military, so most go to college right after high school. In the early 1970s, less than half of high school graduates in the United States went on to college the following fall. Today, nearly 66 percent do. The goal of universal college has actually done more harm than good because it banished anything that smacks of job training to second-class status. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not encouraging 18-year-olds to skip out on further education after high school. But not everyone is ready for a traditional American college experience at 18, nor does it align with the interests, skills, and mindsets of some teenagers. We need more than just one pathway to good jobs in the U.S. What we need is…read more >

How to Help Your Sales Team Quote with Clear Guidelines

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Does this sound familiar? A new customer promised they would place a $30,000 order, but only at an average price per unit of $0.16. The sales rep ran the requested price through their internal process, and because $0.16 was above the required 20 percent margin, the sales rep approved the discount. End of consideration. But here’s where the story gets interesting. After looking at the average price points for the top 20 customers of this product, the pricing manager determined that significantly bigger customers – with purchase volumes in excess of $100,000 – were paying $0.18 to $0.22 per unit on average. In fact, the third largest customer, at $468,000 in volume, was paying a $0.22 average sale price. What was the justification for the lower price for the smaller customer – other than the fact that the customer simply asked for it? For many companies, pricing decisions are largely made in a vacuum, without regard to pricing data, market circumstances, product value or customer differentiation. The situation is usually exacerbated by a compensation structure that rewards revenue and volume over margins and profitability. The solution, therefore, typically requires a completely new mindset for the sales team and organization—one focused on margins over top-line revenue. It All Begins with Pricing Data Visibility The beauty of the role of data in pricing decisions is that it lends an important clarity to difficult choices. A sales rep is naturally inclined to want to make the customer happy. But if you are armed with the right data, you can not only rationalize why a price discount might be a poor decision, you can also provide informed alternatives the sales rep can present to the customer – providing an opportunity for the sales rep to save face, the…read more >

Over 21,000 Industry Recognized Skill Credentials Issued by NIMS in 2015

By Miles Free of PMPA. This post originally appeared on pmpaspeakingofprecision.com and is reposted with permission. 21,420 to be exact. This is a 20% increase in the number of credentials issued in the United States from 2014. It is a great start toward the 100,000 skilled jobs that industry will need to fill over the next decade… PMPA is an original founding partner of NIMS, and continues to support its mission to develop and certify industry recognized credentials for our workforce through consensus skill standards. NIMS has developed skills standards ranging from entry-level to master-level that cover the breadth of metalworking operations and industrial technology maintenance. NIMS certifies individuals’ skills against these national standards via credentials that companies can use to recruit, hire, place, and promote individual workers. Schools and employer training programs incorporate the credentials as performance and completion measures to deliver high quality training to industry standards. NIMS will soon add credentials in Industrial Technology Maintenance and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) to its portfolio of offerings in 2016-2017. NIMS works to ensure all individuals entering the workforce are equipped with the skills needed to be successful on the job from day one. “Executives from PMPA member shops all tell us that they would hire people with skills -even if they did not have an immediate opening,”  says Bernie Nagle, Executive Director of PMPA. “Our support of NIMS, and the RIGHT SKILLS NOW program is one way that PMPA and our members are addressing the issue of lack of skilled workforce. We congratulate NIMS, and their entire team, on the growth in credentials issued in 2015.” PMPA congratulates NIMS, all of its partner and sponsoring organizations, and the professionals doing the work that made 2015 a record year for credentials issued. This record is evidence of both the commitment  and achievement of developing a competitive workforce through…read more >

Communicating Price Increases to Your Customers Without Losing Business

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Recently, INSIGHT2PROFIT worked with a manufacturer that had not executed a price increase in nearly three years. There had been individual negotiations, but overall, pricing had remained relatively flat. While the company was a market leader, it was ignoring the pricing lever for profitability. Our team worked with theirs to determine a plan for strategic price increases, as well as a process for conditioning customers to expect those increases. Here are the steps we took, which you can utilize to ensure your own success in communicating price increases to your customers without losing business. Step 1: Start Addressing the Issue Informally First You know sales is all about building relationships, so leverage yours. Instead of waiting for a letter to be sent to everybody, which does not make anyone feel like a priority, start reaching out. Whether it is over the phone or over lunch, start the conversation: “I wanted to let you know we are looking at a pricing initiative to better reflect the value our organization is providing.” The more you can do to ensure your customers are not surprised with a price increase, the more successful you will be. Taking that a step further, developing a cadence for price increases can help guarantee pricing excellence: Communicating with your customers to an extent that they expect a price increase every year or six months (or whatever period fits your business model), the conversation shifts from “why are you raising prices?” to “what is the price increase?” Step 2: Create Supporting Documentation Given that it had been several years before the organization’s sales team had gone before a customer and said, "We’re going to raise our prices," INSIGHT2PROFIT helped to build an extensive communication package. It covered a draft of the letter that would…read more >

Seven Things to Do with a Database of U.S. Vocational Education Programs

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter We did the legwork to identify more than 20,000 vocational programs at schools all across the United States, so that you don’t have to. All you have to do is download it. But once you’ve downloaded the Excel spreadsheet, what can you do with it? Here are seven different ways you can use our database: Build your network. Locate the programs in your area, and connect with the folks that run them. You never know when having a connection in those training programs could be beneficial. Become a resource for them. Whether it’s offering to send someone from your organization to speak to a class or volunteering to host a facility tour, the next generation of tradespeople won’t be able to be trained properly without support from the industry. Hire their students. Use the programs in your area as places to recruit skilled employees, co-ops, interns or apprentices. Supply them. If you offer a product or service that’s of use in a training program, supply these programs either through donations of your products or heavily discounted equipment, students will be more likely to use the equipment they're familiar with from school once they get into the workforce. This grassroots strategy has long-term benefits; an ongoing relationship with a vo-ed program will provide exposure for you for each new class. Learn them. Get to know the next generation better. Millennials as a generation seem to frighten marketers and managers, but there’s no reason to be scared. Millennials are bright, technologically inclined and learn quickly; the sooner you engage with this young talent, the better. Get your distributors involved. Your distribution network can amplify your efforts to combat the skills gap. They can reach into areas far from your headquarters and help train the next generation.…read more >

What is the State of the Manufacturing Economy?

By Miles Free of PMPA. This post originally appears on pmpaspeakingofprecision.com and is reposted with permission. Today our growth is limited by our inability to acquire skilled workers. In the last recession, we were held back by lack of demand for our customer’s end products. Today, we cannot find the skilled people that we require to operate new high tech equipment that is needed to make the high precision parts we produce.  Our shops are tackling this issue in a number of ways. Some are setting up internal training programs, some apprenticeships.  Several of our member companies are creating on-site schools to teach skills needed. As an industry we helped to create, and are supporting initiatives like Right Skills Now. Right Skills Now uses National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentials to create the skilled workforce that manufacturers require to remain competitive in today’s global markets. Claim: The President had this to say about employment and manufacturing: “More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ’90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters. We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.” Response: We haven’t won this one yet. “…there has been a gain of 878,000 jobs since February 2010. But Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the number of manufacturing jobs is still 230,000 fewer than…in the depths of the recession — and 1.4 million fewer than when the recession began in December 2007. Indeed, the United States only gained 30,000 manufacturing jobs in…read more >

Managing Pricing Exceptions in Sales: Employing the 80/20 Rule

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com It’s a common knee-jerk reaction for salespeople to focus on increasing volume by offering discounts on every sale – even if it means sacrificing margins. One way to mitigate the risk of excessive discounting is to establish a pricing system that balances volume incentives with well-defined boundaries that sales staff must operate within. Ideally, in an effective pricing system, the framework should provide guidance for as many as 80 percent of sales. This guidance should consider a comprehensive range of factors, including the type and size of the customer, the market and the nature of the opportunity. The direction should be clear and unequivocal, providing sales staff with “guardrails” that establish minimum and maximum prices or margins. Sales staff can bounce between these guardrails as appropriate, but they should not be allowed to go above or below the established boundaries. For the other 20 percent of sales, be prepared to manage the pricing exceptions. For these outliers, the framework allows pricing managers to enter the conversation and work with the sales staff and perhaps even the financial team to develop a strategic price appropriate for a specific situation. By limiting exceptions to no more than 20 percent of the time, you’ll be able to equalize the competing interests of volume versus margin far better than a one-size-fits-all pricing system. Sales staff will still have the flexibility to manage the majority of sales on their own, allowing them to meet the needs of specific customers as well as their own particular quota goals. But the boundaries you set will prevent those individual goals from overriding your company’s high-level goals. Every business is different, so the 80/20 framework that’s right for your organization will depend on the type of selling you do. If your business is list-price driven, your…read more >

4 Ways manufacturers Can Gain Better Pricing Data Visualization

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Pricing data can be dense. If no one is reviewing it, managing it, comparing it or scrutinizing it, it’s likely your organization is missing price leaks you could otherwise put a stop to. From volume discounts to price overrides, profits are lost and margins are cut, but do you know by how much? Can you identify your true pocket price for your top selling products? If not, you may have a data visualization problem. But like any problem, a solution exists, you just have to seek it out. Here are four ways to gain better visualization into your organization’s pricing data. 1. Establish Pricing Ownership: In most manufacturing businesses, pricing is a responsibility divided amongst marketing, sales, finance, product teams and other executives. But whose job is it to see the big picture? If you can’t validate hiring a pricing manager, you can develop a Pricing Ownership Matrix. In a decentralized customer environment where no pricing leader is appointed, you can define pricing area ownership. Consider catalog and list pricing, discounting, key accounts, geography and business divisions. Then ensure these “area owners” meet often to talk about the big picture of pricing. 2. Search Out Discounting Visibility: Do you know how many discounts your sales team is offering? How about your customer service team? From freight and volume discounts to rebates and “long-time customer” pricing, the hits to your margins add up. Obtaining clear visibility to your discounting structure through a Pricing Waterfall is a powerful way to determine pricing leaks and non-value added discounts. Discover how to determine your true pocket price in the this 1-minute video. 3. Determine Product Value: Your organization deserves to be paid for the value it creates. But do you know which products create the most value for your company? Most…read more >

Happy Thanksgiving!

As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, we’d like to say thanks to the many friends and clients we’ve had the good fortune to come in contact with over the years. We’re all running in several different directions all the time, and this time of year we need to slow down a bit to appreciate the things around us. So this weekend, don’t take your briefcase home, and your emails will still be there Monday morning when you get back in the office. Recharge your batteries this weekend. Play with your kids or grandkids, visit an old friend or watch some football. We take a lot of things for granted sometimes – our Families and Friends. Enjoy the weekend. We can get back to the rat race next week.read more >

3 Pricing Adjustments Manufacturers & Distributors Should Make Now

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Years ago, an Ohio-based specialty metal business made the decision not to charge for freight costs, even though their products were extremely heavy. The rationale? None of their competitors were charging, so they couldn’t either. In reality, this company was  No. 1 in the industry, so all those competitors were actually just following their lead. When the company realized what was going on, it had the opportunity to change the policy for its entire industry. And so it did—collecting more than $1 million in additional revenues. Smart companies know pricing strategy isn’t just about the price on the invoice. To have an immediate impact on your bottom line without formally raising prices, here are three areas to tackle first. 1. Freight Costs If you’ve been operating for decades, your freight policies have probably been in place just as long. Maybe you don’t charge for freight at all, or fees are the same across all territories—or you charge the same as you did 50 years ago even though shipping rates have risen dramatically. To start, ask yourself: When was the last time our freight terms were updated? What is our justification for our freight policy? What are our competitors doing in this space? This line of questioning can help internal stakeholders determine if there’s opportunity for improvement without much effort, as the aforementioned specialty metal business discovered. 2. Rush Orders When you place an order on Amazon.com and you want 2-day shipping, you understand you’ll have to pay premium pricing—in this case, $99 for a year of Amazon Prime. Your customers realize this, too. Yet many manufacturers and distributors don’t charge extra for rush orders. If your lead time is two weeks, but your buyer needs his order in three days, are you charging extra? In order to get that order…read more >

Eliminate the Silo and Become a Change Agent

Today we have a guest blog post from Jeff Naymik, Marketing Director at Nook Industries. This post originally appeared on Nook's blog Making Motion Work and is reposted with permission. Read the original blog here. We live in a world of instant communication and yet, we are sometimes not good communicators. Poor communication is usually the root problem for creating silos in many technology-driven companies. Development secrets are usually held tightly and limited to only those in the organization who “need to know.” When you start limiting the flow of information in your organization, divides begin among associates, departments and divisions. Many mature brands struggle with the problem of departmental silos, while some start-ups introduce products at lightning speed. How can this happen? The reason is communication is their lifeline to survival and success. Look around your organization for signs of silos. You’ll find: Special projects in every department no one has heard of. Too few meetings to inform senior staff of progress. Poor communication from the top illustrating how your efforts fit into the big plan. Many companies recognize this problem but most don’t know how to address it. The senior staff needs to appoint a cross-functional team of people committed to change, “Change Agents” if you will. With the backing of the senior staff, this team has the authority to break down barriers of communication throughout the organization. A process needs to be put in place and everyone needs to take ownership. Change will come through the commitment of proven leaders in the organization as they drive the change process.read more >

Reaching Professional Tradesman: Why Content Marketing Works When Advertising Might Not

Contractors and professional tradesman often don't have time to read the latest trade publication or look at the magazines' website on a regular basis and might miss your message. Chances are, unless you only make one product, their interest at any given time may be on another product.read more >

Here are Some Blogs Professional Tradesmen Read

There are over 152 million blogs – how do you identify and communicate with the right ones to get in front of the professional tradesman? The first question to answer is are your products or services applicable to your end users using social media? If the answer is “yes,” then your goal should be to identify the right communities, monitor them and jump in and get involved!read more >

5 Reasons to Consider a Trade

This guest blog from Julian Groneberg of AEG Power Tools will be discussing some of the top benefits of entering the trade business. Working as a tradesman has more than its fair share of perks. From being your own boss, to having valued skill sets that will always be in demand, there are many reasons why people turn towards the blue collar trades for a rewarding career.read more >

4 Trades That Are Crucial to the Construction Industry

Whether you live in a small town or a large city, you rely on the construction industry to provide infrastructure. From large corporations to modest family households, the construction industry is responsible for creating buildings that shelter you. But while we may depend on this industry for many things, the industry itself relies on several specialized trades. Here are four of the trades that are vital to the field of construction.read more >

Stop and Smell the Roses

Last week I was reminded of how fragile life really is.I lost a friend who was only 57 and appeared to be in great health and they found him at work in his car. One really doesn't know when your time is up.read more >

Are Field Salesmen Dead?

I recently read an article in industrial Distribution Magazine by Justin Roff-Marsh that basically said that the industrial distributor field salesman, as we know it, is DOA. I don't know what planet he was born on, but it wasn't this one! read more >

From MAGNET: Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent

Each month we be feature a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent By Judith Crocker, Director of Workforce & Talent Development, MAGNET Recent surveys of manufacturers consistently identify one of their top three priorities as workforce issues. Companies— regardless of size— recognize that a highly skilled, qualified workforce is critical to their success. Whether manufacturers are seeking to develop new products, enter new markets, or improve overall productivity, their workforce will be key to their ability to remain competitive and achieve their goals. Companies that are successful in attracting and retaining talented people  realize they must be pro-active and become part of their workforce  solution. Fewer young people are choosing manufacturing careers. They don’t know  the opportunities or the educational requirements.  Coupling that fact with  smaller numbers of students in high school means a smaller pool of qualified candidates for employment. To overcome that obstacle, smart manufacturers are actively engaging with educational institutions in their communities, informing students, teachers, guidance counselors and parents about the many stable and well-paying jobs they have available. Starting with middle school age students, these manufacturers are sending young scientists, engineers, technicians and machine operators to visit local classrooms and talk with students about their work. Students, teachers and parents are also invited to open houses to see the inside of plants and facilities they likely drive by on a daily basis, but have no idea of what is actually taking place inside. They tour the facility, are introduced to the young professionals in the company and see for themselves what takes place…read more >

We All Have Something To Be Thankful For

As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, I'd like to say thanks to the many friends and clients we've had the good fortune to come in contact with over the years. We're all running in several different directions all the time, and this time of year we need to slow down a bit to appreciate the things around us.read more >

From MAGNET: Sauder Woodworking and MAGNET Find A Way To Innovation

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. Sauder Woodworking and MAGNET Find A Way To Innovation When Sauder Woodworking began seeing less growth and profits, the company couldn’t afford to invest in innovation, yet truly needed to explore new markets. By reaching out to MAGNET, the Sauder Company received structured guidance towards innovating a new kind of product and ensuring its financial success. In this video, you’ll learn how MAGNET helped lead the Sauder Woodworking Company to create the innovative and commercially successful WoodTrac Ceiling System. Click here to read the original post.read more >

4 Benefits of Being Partners with Your Agency

Scott Bessell, Idea Builder at Sonnhalter Over the years, I’ve watched the relationship trend between clients and agencies shift from a partnership level to a vendor level. I’ve seen it from both the client side and the agency side. Many times budgets force the terms of these relationships to change, but when you’re looking for an agency (or at your current one) the primary question regarding your relationship is: “Do I need a partner or a vendor?”                Understandably, agencies prefer to be partners. Partnership, like a good marriage, and integration into and with your marketing team and plans make it easier for us to do what you need and make us invested in your work, and in your success. A few of the benefits of making your agency your partner, rather than your vendor, are: You know that you can call your agency and automatically be on the same page and your agency will regularly provide updates. Trust is something that is earned, which takes time and is natural in a long-term partnership. It cannot be developed as an “on-call” vendor. You know, and can depend on, your agency to produce what you need, when you need it. You know your agency’s abilities and processes and your agency knows your message, your brand and your goals–in other words, you’re always on the same page. Partnerships lead to a more secure, efficient and comfortable relationship. And if the word “partnership” makes you uncomfortable, might I suggest “going steady?” It’s certainly better than a one-nighter.read more >

From MAGNET: Manufacturing – It’s for Women Too!

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. Manufacturing - It's for Women Too! As the economy in Northeast Ohio continues to rebound, the demand for skilled, educated workers in manufacturing is increasing. Employers are seeking future workers from all sources and there is growing recognition of the role that women can play in these 21st Century careers. Welding is one of those careers that offers great opportunities for women.  A recent CNBC.com article illustrates the demand and potential for women in today’s modern manufacturing workplace. See the CNBC article here. Click here to read the original post.read more >

What Buying a New Car Taught Me About Customer Service

In my list of top things I hate doing is getting a new car. It ranks right up there with going to the dentist to get a root canal. My lease was coming due and I looked on the internet at options and customer satisfaction results and had narrowed it down to two models. I filled out the forms on the site, picked a dealer and waited for a response.read more >

Education, recruiting and the trades – a small step can make a big difference

Today we have a guest post from Candace Roulo, senior editor at Contractor magazine.   Since I have been writing for CONTRACTOR magazine, I just had my six-year anniversary in September, education and recruiting in the trades are two issues that continue to be prevalent. No matter what trade show or convention I attend, education and training are key topics that are discussed. Since education and recruiting are of utmost importance to the key associations and industry-specific manufacturers, it only makes sense that industry professionals are starting to rally behind the issues surrounding these topics. You may have already heard this news… With so many people planning to retire soon from the plumbing, hydronic and HVAC industries, there are not enough people in the trade pipeline to fill all of the future available positions. During the next 10 years, the country will experience a projected 11% growth in jobs across the board, and the HVACR and plumbing industries are expected to grow by 21%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the HVACR industry is expected to need an additional 55,900 trained technicians; the plumbing industry, an additional 82,300. You just have to wonder how we will find all these industry professionals, especially since the trades are still looked down upon by so many people. To me, this is the crux of the problem, so the industry needs to change the stereotype. Of course, I understand that a tradesman/tradeswoman can have a lucrative career and have the opportunity to run his/her own business if he/she chooses to. He or she can also decide after years of hands-on work to go into a corporate environment – many of the people I meet that represent manufacturers are just that – a plumber or HVAC technician that decided to change up…read more >

From MAGNET: MAGNET Helps SIFCO Streamline And Stay “SMART”

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. MAGNET Helps SIFCO Streamline And Stay “SMART” SIFCO Forge Group found themselves with longer-than-desired turnaround and delivery times and needed a lean program to help them reduce these times and their costs. In partnering with MAGNET, SIFCO went far beyond a typical lean program and redefined their company culture with the SIFCO SMART program. In this video, you’ll learn more about MAGNET and SIFCO’s development of SMART and how it positively impacted not just SIFCO’s bottom line but every single member of its workforce. Click here to read the original post.read more >

Is Brand Advocacy Part of Your Marketing Strategy to Reach Tradesmen?

Let's face it, in an ideal world we'd all want our customers to love us! We all know that's not going to happen, but I'll bet you might have more advocates for your brand than you think. Why are brand advocates important? Studies show that people rely on peer recommendations and reviews before purchasing goods. Contractors are no different especially if you're introducing a new product or application they haven't used or seen before. They certainly don't want to be the first to try something. read more >

The 3 Most Important Things I Learned as an Intern at Sonnhalter

Emily Bessell just wrapped up a summer internship here at Sonnhalter and before she left, she shared some of the things she learned during her time on our team. Here's what she had to say... With summer winding down and my senior year at Denison University just around the corner, I’m beginning to reflect on my internship experience here at Sonnhalter. The first thing that came to mind was, “Where did the time go? It seems like I just started yesterday!” But I will save the familiar ‘time is fleeting’ conversation for another day. The second and third things that popped into my head were more closely related to what I aim to communicate in this post. That is, the three most important things I learned as an intern. 1. Research skills are important. One of my predominant projects this summer involved heavy research so effective skills were essential. However, I learned that research skills are important for other things too, like preparing for meetings with clients. During my time as an intern, I was included in client meetings and conference calls. While observing these meetings, I wanted to be well informed and if needed, participate in the conversation with confidence. To do this, I engaged in thorough research about the client and company prior to the meeting. With this kind of preparation, I was well informed and ready to learn new things. 2. Always carry a pen and paper. This might sound obvious, but I learned never to leave my office without my black Sakura Gelly Roll pen and Moleskine notepad (equipment is important too!). These tools came in handy, as I am quite the note taker. Each day is full of new information and writing it down helped me commit it to memory. It is also important to…read more >

An Interview with Habitat for Humanity Executive Director, John Habat

Right now we’re in the middle of our annual Tool Drive supporting the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. Since our efforts started in 2010, we’ve found amazing support from our clients, partners, friends and community members. We talked with John Habat, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity to find out more about him, Habitat for Humanity and their efforts. Here’s the conversation: Q. What is your position at Habitat for Humanity? A. I'm the executive director. Q. How long have you been there? A. 3 years Q. What are your responsibilities at Habitat for Humanity? A. Everything imaginable and some things I never imagined! Q. What’s your most memorable moment working for Habitat for Humanity? A. There are many. But I think if you consider the dedications of our finished houses – these are really special. Happy kids running through their new home, selecting bedrooms, etc. Also, it’s the energy in the air – such a spirit of gratitude permeates and there are tears of joys amongst the family, the volunteers and staff. These are truly special moments. Q. What does Habitat for Humanity need most from the community and businesses that wish to help? A. Volunteers make Habitat happen, and money helps too. We always need volunteers, particularly in the ReStore.   Q. Tell us something that people might not know about Habitat for Humanity. A. It is the fastest growing volunteer movement ever! In under 40 years, 100 million people across the planet have come together to make affordable housing a reality for more than 3 million families. Q. How do tool drives like the Sonnhalter 5th Annual Tool Drive benefit Habitat for Humanity?  A. Our ReStore is a go-to used and new retail store for construction items, and tools top the list of desired products.…read more >

From MAGNET: Innovate or Die

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. Innovate or Die: How Thermotion Moved Forward Thermotion, LLC found themselves at a stalled point of growth and needed some major innovation for the development of their Thermo-Magnetic Actuators. In order to improve their product and reach newer and larger marketplaces, Thermotion and MAGNET worked very closely together and combined their respective expertise to create a more efficient and better performing actuator. This video will show you how Thermotion and MAGNET improved this business-critical product to reach new clients and to better help current clients such as the U.S. military. Click here to read the original post.read more >

Updated Electrical Market Overview

Sonnhalter is deeply involved with the professional tradesmen. We recently completed an updated overview of the Electrical market. The purpose of the document is to give the reader a quick snapshot of the industry, its players and trends for 2014. Highlights include  association and buying group contacts, trade shows/meetings, training industry information and media publications. A free copy for download is available. Click here to sign up.read more >

Stats on U.S. Manufacturing

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer The Fourth of July is more than fireworks, parades, cookouts and a day off. It’s a day that we recognize our country’s independence. All of the red, white and blue the comes out leading up to Independence Day brings the topic of "Made in the USA" to mind. Did you know... Every $1 spent in manufacturing contributes $1.32 to the economy? [Tweet This] Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs? That's 1 in 6 private-sector jobs. [Tweet This] In 2012, the average manufacturing employee made $77,505? That's more than $15,000 above the national average for all industries. [Tweet This] Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 8th largest world economy? [Tweet This] These stats came from NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers), you can find these and other facts about U.S. manufacturing on their website. If you're also thinking about U.S. Manufacturing today, check out these other posts on the topic: What does “Made in America” mean to you? Made in America: It Still Matters! Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!read more >

Webinars are an Option for Continued Learning

If you’re interested in learning about a particular topic related to your profession, many publications, groups and associations offer webinars, or webcasts, for free or for a minimal charge, or they are included in association membership fees. Some may also be eligible for CEU credits.read more >

From MAGNET: Manufacturing and Engineering Jobs Are In Demand

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. Manufacturing and Engineering Jobs Are In Demand [...] the demand for jobs in manufacturing and engineering is as strong as ever. The types of opportunities in these fields are varied and now is the perfect time to consider a career that is both rewarding and exciting. This brief video provides a glimpse into the world of manufacturing and engineering and the wonderful future that goes with it. Click here to read the original post.read more >

National Safety Month is Upon Us

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer National Safety Month kicks off next week with the start of June. The National Safety Council identifies topics for each week of National Safety Month, giving companies like yours a framework for refocusing on safety practices and helping equip employees for safe behavior both on and off of the job. Here are the weekly safety topics for June: Week 1: Prevent prescription drug abuse Week 2: Stop slips, trips and falls Week 3: Be aware of your surroundings Week 4: Put an end to distracted driving Bonus Week 5: Summer safety Safety is a top priority for everyone serving the construction, industrial and MRO industries, whether you’re a manufacturer, contractor, distributor or marketing communications agency. You’re probably already aware that safety is important and should be practiced all year long, but take June to refocus and improve your safety initiatives. To follow or join the conversation on social media, use the hashtag #NSM14. Check out nsc.org to learn more or request materials. Have a safe June (and beyond)!read more >

What are you doing to create demand for your content?

We all are working hard to create content in various forms but what can we do to create the demand for it? If we build it it will come philosophy won't work. In the b to b space where selling cycles can be long with numerous folks involved you need to address several different issues along the way down the sales funnel but do you know what they are? read more >

From MAGNET: How NASA Can Help Your Manufacturing Company

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. How NASA Can Help Your Manufacturing Company Imagine developing a product and receiving in-depth advice from a NASA expert on how to make it better! This exact opportunity is made possible through MAGNET and NASA’s Manufacturing Innovation Project, in which local NASA Glenn Research Center subject matter experts are available to consult with local manufacturers. In this video, you’ll see how this partnership has helped various manufacturers improve their products, as well as how MAGNET and the city of Cleveland have made a positive economic impact for these manufacturers. Click here to read the original post.read more >

Working With An Agency: Scheduling and Deadlines

By Robin Heike, Production Foreman, Sonnhalter No two projects that we work on at Sonnhalter are the same. Scheduling multiple projects for one client can be a juggling act. Scheduling multiple projects for all of our clients can be a whole circus! Clients and agencies work together as one team and have the same goals in mind. Here are some points to keep in mind when it comes to project schedules and deadlines when you’re working with an agency or any external resource: Preplanning on both sides when possible makes things run more smoothly. There will always be last-minute, rush projects that can’t be planned out in advance, but advanced planning not only makes projects run more smoothly, it makes it easier to handle the rush ones as well. Understand the main components of each project: client info, agency copywriting and agency art creation. These may sound pretty simple, but they require everyone following the schedule to complete. Interruptions to project schedules will happen and schedules will change hourly, daily, weekly, etc. Being able to adjust to the changes is imperative.  read more >

From MAGNET: Find New Talent

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. Employers: Find New Talent with MAGNET’s Summer Work-Based Learning Experiences Program Now is the time for Northeast Ohio manufacturers to step up and become part of the skills-gap solution by taking part in a unique summer work-force development program coordinated by MAGNET. MAGNET’s 2013 Work-Based Learning Experiences program (WBLE) offers work-based learning experiences to high-school students who will enter their senior year next fall.  Students from Mahoning County Career Technical Center, Polaris Career Center and Lorain County Joint Vocational School are participating in this “earn and learn” program. This program allows Northeast Ohio manufacturers to be part of the solution and help attract and engage young people in engineering and manufacturing careers. Manufacturers can contact me, Judith Crocker, by phone (216.432.5386) or email to participate. Prep: One- and Two-Day Shadowing Events In addition, in preparation for the summer WBLE program, MAGNET is currently seeking companies that will welcome a student to shadow an employee for  just one or two days, to learn about the company’s products or services. This will give them the opportunity to see for themselves how what they are studying in school relates to the “real world” experience of a manufacturer. It is our hope that employers who participate in the “shadowing” program will see the student’s potential and go on to offer that student a chance to participate in the summer WBLE program. About MAGNET’s WBLE Program Participating employers provide up to 150 hours of work and learning experiences related to the students’ programs of study. These include: Electronics & Alternative Energy Welding…read more >

Communication Vehicles: Then and Now

By Scott Bessell, Idea Builder, Sonnhalter One of my more astute colleagues here at the agency suggested that I might share with you my thoughts on new communiqués of today versus yesterday. She, being a millennial, didn’t consider that I was chosen moreover because I, given my age, probably also created those “old” ads. Apologies accepted. Driving into the creative cave today I was behind a Cadillac CTS 4. Jet black, LED lights, looking…bad (as in good, you know). Anyway, I was thinking about my former favorite caddy, from those bygone days; The 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. I would look ridiculous in either. Dissecting them both is how I offer up my opinion on today’s ads versus yesterday’s—to groans within (another Scott metaphor), here goes. The cars. Both, the new one and my ‘59, appear to us purely as style statements. Underneath, they both have a drivetrain, steering mechanism, wheels. Internally, both have seats, a steering wheel, pedals to make it stop and go and if we’re lucky, a subwoofer! So, they both did/do their jobs. In its day, the ‘59 was kick-ass no doubt. Radical and (insert 50’s adjectives here). Today the CTS is held in high esteem also. Both are powerful and comfortable modes of transportation for their times. Ads. Stripping away the “art” and “design” of most of today’s communication vehicles, yes, even those obnoxious banner ads, like the cars mentioned previously, “underneath” they too must have something in common, and usually always do—the message. What do you want to say to me? What would you like me to do or know? Whether it was an old ad or a new one, at their core is the message. They might date themselves by the language they use—dated colloquialisms and such. And like that last sentence, how…read more >

Noise – I’m Sick of It!

I recently returned from a trade show in Vegas. From the time I got off the plane until I got back on, I was inundated with noise. From the one-arm bandits in the terminals to the larger than life videos in baggage claim, I started to get a headache.read more >

Digital Options for the Mobile Tradesman

By Sandy Bucher, Media Engineer, Sonnhalter The World Wide Web turned 25 years old on March 12. Do you remember life before that, when you wanted to get the latest news and information, magazines and newspapers were only available in a print version? How times have changed, and the options to get information are numerous now. These days, if you have time to read the latest issue of your favorite trade magazine, but don’t have the printed version readily accessible, you can read the digital version on your smartphone, tablet or computer. When you subscribe to your favorite trade magazine, most of them offer a digital edition, so if you prefer to get your news and information digitally, you can. And in some instances, trade publications also offer an app that feeds information from those publication’s issues and websites for your reading pleasure. Click here for a link from Trade Press publications that allows you to download an app for either their Building Operating Management or Facility Maintenance Decisions publications. If you’re in the facility maintenance field, check it out. And keep your eyes open for other trade publications that offer an app as well.read more >

From MAGNET: MAGNET Workforce & Talent Development Team Helps Returning Veterans Find Manufacturing Jobs

Each month we'll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET's mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. This post originally appeared on MAGNET's  Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission. MAGNET Workforce & Talent Development Team Helps Returning Veterans Find Manufacturing Jobs MAGNET is proud to continue working with regional manufacturing companies in connecting our military veterans to excellent career opportunities. This is accomplished through MAGNET’s Career Assistance for Returning Veterans program. In this video, you’ll see how our close relationship with prominent Northeast Ohio-based manufacturers can help you towards utilizing your skills as part of a solid workforce and in an industry that needs dedicated people. Click here to read the original post.read more >

Making Manufacturing Jump Off the Screen with Professional Photos

Today we have a guest post from Hal Stata of Stata Productions sharing how to make your manufacturing operations jump off of the screen by using professional photography. There has been a recent trend of Ohio's manufacturing companies jumping on the website bandwagon. In the last few years, I've seen quite a few local companies investing time and money into having an online presence. Their need to reach out and show and tell fellow businesses and the general public about what they do, what they produce and who they are has been a growing desire. My job as a professional photographer is to show these products, people and applications in the best light. Showcasing these images to grab the attention of potential buyers is a process of troubleshooting and experience.  Don't make the mistake of trying this on your own with an iPhone. Making manufacturing locations jump off the screen takes wide angles, and lighting. Keeping assembly lines running, people working and still getting great shots is the mark of a professional. Typically a walk through a week in advance will make everything flow smoother the day of the photo shoot. I've been asked to recommend how much clutter needs to be removed to should we repaint markings and rails. The more pre-work a company wants to do the better; but if that is not possible I'll work with the creative director to find an angle or a crop that eliminates less than desirable areas. I typically like to work with scheduled start times and work around break times, moving equipment to the next location during these breaks. You would be surprised how many images we can produce in one day of shooting. Sometimes we have to wait for the perfect day for exteriors. These shots are based on building direction and weather. All…read more >

From MAGNET: The Future of Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio

Each month we'll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET's mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. This post originally appeared on MAGNET's  Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission. The Future of Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio   In today’s market, several of the country’s most valuable manufacturers are finding a strong and beneficial base in Northeast Ohio. Producers of globally distributed products have found that Northeast Ohio provides a great deal of resources to make their efforts a reality. This video, produced by the Greater Cleveland Partnership for MAGNET’s Partnership for Regional Innovation Services to Manufacturers (PRISM) program, explains why so many manufacturing companies have found tremendous success by calling northeast Ohio their home. Click here to read the original post.read more >

From MAGNET: How to Sustain Lean Results

This post originally appeared on MAGNET’s Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission. How To Sustain Lean Results Sustaining “Lean” results is a critical challenge for many organizations. Although Lean knowledge and tools are important to implementation and results, they are not sufficient to ensure sustainability. Many organizations, hungry for quick fixes, focus heavily on tools and achieve short-term results, but no long-term impact. Tools and Methods do not sustain results. “The attraction of tools is that they can be employed at many points within an organization, often by staff improvement teams … it’s understandable that lean tools came to the foreground – 5S, setup reduction, the five whys … value-stream maps, kanban and kaizen … But just as a carpenter needs a vision of what to build in order to get the full benefit of a hammer, we need a clear vision of our organizational objectives and better management methods before we pick up our lean tools.” —Jim Womack, “The Challenge of Lean Transformation,” BPTrends, January 2007 Lean is a way of thinking. It is about each person in the organization developing a group of thinking patterns to strive to make scientific working a daily habit. It is about every person using the scientific method in their daily work to develop solutions to improve their process, from the shop floor worker to the top managers. Lean thinking focused on the process of how solutions are developed which results in sustainability. Remember the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?" Traditional Thinking:Focus on Solutions Lean Thinking:Focus on how solutions are developed Establish targets Establish targets Identify solutions, assign   actions Develop capacity in people to develop solutions Establish incentives Coach and…read more >

Happy Thanksgiving!

As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, I’d like to say thanks to the many friends and clients we’ve had the good fortune to come in contact with over the years. We’re all running in several different directions all the time, and this time of year we need to slow down a bit to appreciate the things around us. So this weekend, don’t take your briefcase home, and your emails will still be there Monday morning when you get back in the office. Recharge your batteries this weekend. Play with your kids or grandkids, visit an old friend or watch some football. We take a lot of things for granted sometimes – our Families and Friends. And no matter how screwed up our country is in Washington, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Enjoy the weekend. We can get back to the rat race next week.read more >