Happy Holidays!

I’ll be taking some time off and will be back after the first of the year. Enjoy the Holidays with your Family.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 Michael O’Donnell, Growth & Innovation Advisor, MAGNET 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…read more >

2013 STAFDA Recap

Just returned from the 2013 STAFDA Show in Las Vegas. According to STAFDA, attendance was up to around 4,900 participants. The show for the most part was upbeat, and the economic forecast for the next few years looks promising for the construction market. read more >

2013 STAFDA Recap

Just returned from the 2013 STAFDA Show in Las Vegas. According to STAFDA, attendance was up to around 4,900 participants. The show for the most part was upbeat, and the economic forecast for the next few years looks promising for the construction market. read more >

Flush With Gratitude!

The can, John, latrine, porcelain throne, commode, potty… No matter what you call it, the toilet is an important part of daily life. Today is World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day was started to bring awareness to the global sanitation challenge. Here are just a few facts about the global sanitation challenge: 2.5 billion people do not have a clean toilet Sanitation is a human right Safe toilet facilities keep girls in school Sanitation is a good economic investment You can read more information about World Toilet Day and the facts above here. We have the pleasure of working with companies serving the tradesmen that keep our toilets in excellent flushing order and help maintain the sanitation systems that we rely on. Their jobs are not considered glamorous, but they are so important. Today, and every day, we are flush with gratitude toward them for everything they do!read more >

From MAGNET: Out of Your Mind and Into Your Hands With Rapid Prototyping

This post originally appeared on MAGNET’s  Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission. Out of Your Mind and in to Your Hands With Rapid Prototyping Rapid prototyping technology machines print physical models from virtual designs. These machines layer materials in to super tiny layers-anywhere from about .0006 – .01 inches thick! The benefit to this type of fabrication is that it’s inexpensive for producing small quantities of a model- typically for testing the fit, form, and function. ”You want to get the idea out of your head and in to your hand as quickly as possible,” says Dave Pierson, Senior Design Engineer for MAGNET. “These rapid prototyping machines make that possible.” Before these high-tech machines, engineers would model these objects on their computer and hope when the parts got made that they worked properly and everything fit together like they envisioned. “I can print something and check and make sure it is perfect before it even gets made at the machine shop,” Pierson says. “I could never go back to design work without these machines.” MAGNET’s Product Design Studio features a rapid prototyping center with both a fused deposition modeling (FDM) station and a 3D Object printer. To learn more about MAGNET’s Rapid Prototyping visit our Product Design & Development website. You can read the original post here.read more >

Tradesmen Take Note: Earnings by College Major Compared to Precision Machining

I've discussed this in previous posts how there are other options besides a 4-year college degree and the debt that comes with it when choosing a career path. Today, discussing salary comparisons, we have a guest post from Miles Free, Director of Technology and Industry Research for PMPA (Precision Machined Products Association).read more >

From MAGNET: New Research Supports toe Positive Effect of Co-locating Production and Innovation

This post originally appeared on MAGNET’s  Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission. New Research Supports the Positive Effect of Co-locating Production and Innovation The preliminary results of a new research report on innovation in manufacturing caught our eye here at MAGNET recently. In 2010, MIT’s President, Susan Hockfield, launched the MIT Production in the Innovation Economy (PiE) research group  to answer the question: “What kinds of production do we need–and where do production facilities need to be located–to sustain an innovative economy?” The PiE group also worked to answer these questions: “How do production capabilities here and abroad contribute to sustaining innovation and realizing its benefits within our own society?” “How did this new global economy of fragmented research, development, production and distribution come into being? And what does this mean for the future of the U.S. economy?” The group analyzed these questions in relationship to large U.S. corporations, start-ups companies that had achieved commercialization, and small- and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers (referred to as “Main Street Manufacturers”). In late February, the group released its thought-provoking preliminary report (the final report will be published in the fall). The report’s conclusion: “What’s held manufacturing in the United States…was the advantage firms gain from proximity to innovation and proximity to users. Even in a world linked by big data and instant messaging, the gains from co-location have not disappeared.” Since the U.S. share of the world market has declined from 34 percent in 1998 to 28 percent in 2010, the PiE group identifies a key danger point to be the declining weight of the U.S. in the global economy, even though the output of U.S. high-tech manufacturing is still the largest in the world. The group also reports it’s fear that “the loss of companies that can make things will end up in the loss…read more >

Podcast: Why There’s Room for Pro Contractor Rentals

Today we’re talking with Rick Monogue, the publisher of a new magazine scheduled to launch in January of 2014 called Pro Contractor Rentals. We’ll find out why he thinks there’s room in an already crowded market for another print book. I think you’ll find some of his comments interesting. www.procontractorrentals.com read more >

National Manufacturing Day Opens Doors

Today we have a post from Sonnhalter’s PR Engineer, Rachel Kerstetter. I love to celebrate the random, weird holidays. It seems like every day is a celebration of something: National Hug Your Cat Day, International Tree Climbing Day, Corn on the Cob Day, World Toilet Day… and this list goes on. Tomorrow, October 4, is National Manufacturing Day and is much more than just a day on a calendar. National Manufacturing Day is a team effort to change the perception of the industry.read more >

From MAGNET: Where Will You (And the Workforce You Need) Be in Five Years?

the reality is, considering the skills gap apparent today, and the time it takes develop a future pipeline of skilled talent, workforce development needs to be brought to the forefront of growth planning projects.read more >

Talent At the Core

In order to build the best team, take stock of who you have and what their talents are, then give them what they need to succeed. With the right people in place, finding ways to adapt to changing industries is possible.read more >

Relax… It’s Labor Day

As your week winds down, pencil in the time on Monday to relax because it's Labor Day. Have a happy Labor Day! We need to take time to say thanks to all the tradesmen that we come into contact with on a regular basis. What would we do without the electricians, plumbers, HVAC professionals? How would our factories run smoothly without all the MRO professionals out there? Sonnhalter salutes America’s professional tradesmen and laborers on this very special holiday. Our working force built this country. And it’s because of each and every American’s labors that we enjoy the freedoms we have today. At Sonnhalter, we earn our own living by marketing to professional tradesmen in industries like yours…from construction to industrial to MRO. To show our appreciation for such hard-working individuals, we offer a tip of the hardhat and our sincere thanks. However you celebrate your Labor Day, enjoy it. You’ve certainly earned itread more >

National Manufacturing Day – Are You Going to Take Advantage of it?

So October 4th is National Manufacturing Day and I ask the question, what are you going to do about it? The reason I ask is that I have yet to meet a manufacturer over the past several years who has not complained that there aren't enough good people to hire for manufacturing jobs. Why not showcase in a positive light what you do?read more >

Keep Moving Forward

  Today we have a guest blog from Jennifer Murphy, the vice president and COO at NetPlus Alliance. Two years ago at the Industrial Supply Association Product Show and Conference, I was fortunate to attend one of the educational tracks hosted by a former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitans. His presentation related his experiences as a SEAL to the challenges we face in life, both personally and professionally. Greitans served abroad first as a humanitarian, and then on the front lines in Afghanistan post-9/11. His book, The Heart and Fist, has a permanent place on my nightstand and I reread the pages that I’ve dog-eared whenever I need a reminder to keep my head up and continue to move forward. I have many years to go before I am a veteran of this industry. I’ve worked at NetPlus Alliance, a buying group for industrial and contractor supplies distributors, for only seven short years. This pales in comparison to my father, Dan Judge, who’s been around the industry for almost 50. I’ve learned from him, though, about the tough times that our family distribution business, Ward Beals & McCarthy, faced over the years, and how hard it was for him to sell the assets of that business to a bigger company back when I was in college. He kept the corporation intact, and now I am the fifth generation of an industrial business that was started by my great uncles in 1931. During the recession in 2009, we also heard from many of our distributors about the challenges that they faced. Our members that survived fought hard to gain back the ground that was lost, but the road ahead is still uncertain. The challenges many of us face now, although different from what my great uncles faced, are no less frightening than…read more >

An Interview with Habitat for Humanity ReStore Manager, Frank Drahan

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 Frank Drahan with the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity to find out more about him, Habitat for Humanity and their ReStore. Here’s the conversation: Q. What is your position at Habitat for Humanity? A. I’m the ReStore Manager Q. What is the Habitat for Humanity ReStore? A. The ReStore is about the four Rs: Recycle! Reuse! Reduce! Rebuild! Regarding “recycle,” the ReStore is operated by Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity as one of the largest reuse and recycle centers in Cuyahoga County. For reuse, the ReStore recycles and resells salvaged and reclaimed building materials, fixtures and tools that are in good condition. In order to reduce, the ReStore diverts thousands of tons of usable materials from local landfills. And finally, rebuild: The community can purchase affordable home improvement items at a fraction of retail cost and proceeds from the ReStore support Habitat's mission to eliminate poverty housing through home construction and rehabilitation. Q. How long have you been there? A. 9 years Q. What are your responsibilities at Restore? A. I schedule donations, do customer service, help and work with our great volunteers, coordinate projects around the store and much more that comes with the day-to-day operations at the ReStore. Q. What’s your most memorable moment working for Habitat for Humanity? A. It would have to be opening the new ReStore at the new facility, where it’s currently operating. Q. What do people most commonly donate? A. Kitchen cabinets and appliances Q. What’s the most unusual donation that you’ve seen come in? A. The strangest item that has been donated was an embalming machine…read more >

From MAGNET: Is This Our Sputnik Moment?

This post originally appeared on MAGNET’s  Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission. Is This Our Sputnik Moment? By Fatima Weathers, Executive Vice President, MAGNET At a recent conference I attended in Washington, D.C., panelists from industry, academia and labor gathered to discuss manufacturing’s next step. Several panelists described the current manufacturing environment as being on the edge of a new era that is being driven by widespread and affordable access to 3-D printing and cloud computing. Only mentioned in passing were the usual barriers to growth like unfair trade, taxes, labor costs and access to capital. Indeed, much of the discussion focused on the debate surrounding immigration laws. Many attendees and panelists agreed that access to highly skilled talent is the factor that will tip the scales for gaining the competitive edge in the U.S. One panelist challenged manufacturers by describing the current environment as our “Sputnik Moment”—either grasp this fleeting window of opportunity to lead through innovation and talent or forever miss the moment to be the global leader in manufacturing. What do you think? Is this our “Sputnik Moment?” What do you think is the most important factor manufacturers face right now? Respond below, or email me atfatima.weathers@magnetwork.org. We look forward to hearing from you! You can read the original post here.read more >

From MAGNET: Market Diversification

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. Market Diversification: What Value Do You Bring? Part 1 By Ken Walker, Senior Business Consultant, MAGNET You’ve made “The Decision.” No, I’m not talking about LeBron leaving Cleveland—I’m talking about the decision to move your company’s products and services into a new market. Maybe it’s an allied market that uses the same type of products you produce.  Or maybe you’re selling the exact same product but to a different kind of customer, for example consumer instead of industrial. You’ve decided that, for the strategic growth of your company, you are willing to make the investment necessary. You’ve researched this new market’s key customers and key competitors.  Your organization is primed, ready and willing to conquer this new territory. However, before you go charging off, make sure the “new land” is receptive to your invading horde. In other words, in this new market, is anyone willing to buy what you are selling? Consider: Why Might Customers Choose to Change? When you decide to enter a new market, unless its an emerging technology market, it is very unlikely that you are the only supplier to the market. In most instances, existing suppliers will have been established for years. Even in markets where the barriers of entry are relatively low, it’s not easy to get customers to change without a compelling reason. Here are some important reasons why a customer might be willing to change or add to their supplier base:…read more >

What does “Made in America” mean to you?

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. Products that are made in the USA are making a comeback, and consumers respond. Time published this article back in April about the resurgence of Made-in-the-USA manufacturing. The article painted a picture of present-day American manufacturing plants: Today’s U.S. factories aren’t the noisy places where your grandfather knocked in four bolts a minute for eight hours a day. Dungarees and lunch pails are out; computer skills and specialized training are in, since the new made-in-America economics is centered largely on cutting-edge technologies. The trick for U.S. companies is to develop new manufacturing techniques ahead of global competitors and then use them to produce goods more efficiently on superautomated factory floors. I’ve had the opportunity to tell the stories of many U.S. manufacturers and the one topic that comes up the most is the need for skilled workers in the industry. The increase in products made in the U.S. is closely related to the increase in skilled manufacturing employees. The bottom line is that manufacturing products in the U.S. and buying U.S.-made products helps. For every $1 spent on U.S. manufacturing, $1.48 goes back into our economy. What does “Made in America” mean to you? Related Post: Made in America: It Still Matters!read more >

From MAGNET: Determined Innovators Face Risk to Reap Rewards

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. Determined Innovators Face Risk to Reap Rewards Everyone wants an advantage. Relative to their competitors, all businesses want to be seen by customers as the go-to provider. My favorite race car driver, and boyhood hero, the late Mark Donohue was labeled as always having an “Unfair Advantage” by his competitors. However, if you read Donohue’s autobiography, it becomes clear that he was a member of a very innovative Penske team. They were always conceiving ways to go faster, testing them on the track and at times stretching the boundaries of the rule book. But there was also an underlying theme of hard work. They outworked most everyone else. Sweat equity, some might call it. In industry, success through innovation is the same. Coming up with innovative ideas is hard work, getting them successfully to market is difficult and always risky. The more innovative the product, the larger the uncertainty of success—but usually the higher the payoff. Managing this risk while fostering an atmosphere of innovation is a tricky balance to achieve. Many companies have a formal process to achieve this balance. But sometimes these processes end up creating barriers that squelch innovation by requiring too much to be known at the early stages of development. Really innovative ideas are almost always those that we know the least about at the beginning. Innovation Tip: Consider adapting a tried and true principle introduced by W. Edwards Deming to help overcome…read more >

Perspective on Training

Having a trained workforce is a major challenge in several of the industries that we work with. I wanted to share some highlights from a blog post by the NAED president (National Association of Electrical Distributors) answering the question: Why is training important?read more >

How Manufacturers are Managing Content Marketing: 7 B2B Insights

Today we have a guest blog post from Lisa Murton Beets director of CMI Books, from the Content Marketing Institute. The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs recently published research on B2B and B2C Content Marketing in our 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reports. While the findings give us insight into how B2B and B2C marketers are managing content marketing, we were still curious about the state of content marketing in specific key industries, and how content efforts in vertical markets were differing from those of their peers in other industries. We decided to first look at marketers who work for B2B manufacturing organizations in North America. This group has adopted content marketing at a slightly higher rate (94 percent) than their North American B2B peers across all industries (91 percent). Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences: Manufacturing marketers have similar goals for content marketing Marketers in the manufacturing industry have the same top three objectives for content marketing as their peers across all B2B industries: brand awareness, lead generation, and customer acquisition. However, manufacturing marketers place less emphasis on thought leadership (47 percent versus 64 percent) and website traffic (47 percent versus 60 percent) as organizational goals, which indicates a disconnect, as they also cite website traffic as the primary way they measure content effectiveness. This fundamental disconnect between goals and measurement was present with B2B manufacturers when CMI surveyed them two years ago, but it has shown some improvement. Manufacturing marketers use video and print magazines more often Manufacturing marketers cite video as their top content marketing tactic (it was ranked seventh by this group two years ago). Their overall use of tactics is fairly similar to that of the overall population of marketers; however, they place far less emphasis on blogs (54 percent…read more >

From MAGNET: Addressing the Skills Gap and Improving the Bottom Line

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. Addressing the Skills Gap and Improving the Bottom Line The skills gap in the manufacturing workforce continues to be a challenge. Employers constantly bemoan their inability to get qualified workers, educators convene employers to better understand what they are looking for and develop new programs, and job seekers experience frustration when they are not selected due to lack of skills. It is time to start looking more closely at potential solutions, the role that employers can play, and the value to employers. Recently reports of successful strategies are starting to emerge. The lessons learned from these successes should be explored for replication and duplication. How do you define and measure success in a way that resonates with all the stakeholders?  Typically, successful placement in vacant positions is one clear measure. Another is assessing the Economic Impact of the placement on the company and measures that affect its bottom line. One example of a project that did both, is a training program managed by MAGNET in 2011.  The project was designed to determine if the attainment of skill certifications matched to employer requirements would result in a pool of candidates to fill current or projected vacancies in entry-level positions. Four Ohio sites were selected. The local team was headed by an educational provider and partnered with the local One-Stop that assisted with recruitment of participants.  Selected employers were involved from the beginning. They committed to providing input in the content and…read more >

From A Manufacturing Perspective: What’s Your Year Looking Like?

I can't believe that 2013 is almost half way done. There's some mixed messages out there on how things are going this year. I'd like to talk the pulse of the industry to see how you're doing. Can you take a quick poll? read more >

Happy Plumber’s Day

April 25th is set aside each year to honor plumbers. At Sonnhalter, we have a great appreciation for plumbers and the work that they do. Today, Sonnhalter's PR Engineer Rachel Kerstetter will be sharing with you about plumbing. Often plumbers don’t receive the credit and fame that they deserve unless they’re Mario and Luigi and trying to save a princess. The Super Mario Brothers are the most famous plumbers, and they live in a Nintendo game. The reality is that without plumbers, our world would be far from sanitary or pleasant. As part of our team's commitment to getting our hands dirty in our clients' work, we've had the opportunity to see plumbers at work, we’ve used their tools and we’ve heard their stories; we know that they deserve to be honored today. Plumbers do much more than unclog drains and fix leaky faucets -  it’s plumbers who install the miles of piping that make hot, cold and process water and gas utilities possible. Using a little research combined with our knowledge of the profession, we've put together a list of things you may not know about plumbing: The word "plumber" goes back to the Roman Empire and the Latin word "plumbum" for lead. It's because of a plumber that the Chicago River is dyed green every St. Patrick's Day. The river was first turned green in 1962 using plumbing dye for detecting leaks. (more of that story here) The ancient Egyptians had plumbing systems. Archeologists have found lavatories inside tombs as well. (more on that here) Since 1963, more than 28 billion feet, or about 5.3 million miles, of copper tubing has been installed in U.S. buildings. In 2004, there were more than 91,000 miles of water distribution piping in the U.S. 78% of that pipe is made of…read more >

From MAGNET: Fail Fast, Fail Cheap

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. Fail Fast, Fail Cheap By Robert Schmidt, Growth & Innovation Advisor, MAGNET We need to be innovative—you know, try new things! Building on those that seem to work and quickly eliminating those that don’t work out as we had envisioned. The proven method I use in this case would be the “Fail Fast, Fail Cheap” (FFFC) method. How do we go about this? Simply stop spending time and money on developing new processes, products, or  marketing messages without trying it out. You want to find out if your concept is a good one? Find out in a fast, easy, and inexpensive way. Bottom line is: The key to fail fast fail cheap is to spend minimum resources to get the concept off the paper (or your mind) and into the application so you can tell if it needs to be changed, destroyed, or finalized. FFFC follows Demings “Plan, Do, Study, Act” model. In a rapid succession of learning cycles you try out your idea, learn from that experience, modify and try again- all on a shoestring budget.  Fast trumps elegant early on. An example would be to develop a look-alike or “Frankenstein” prototype made from on-hand or commercially available materials. The Frankenstein prototype gathers critical feedback from potential customers/users. Their reactions (likes, dislikes, concerns) help you determine if investing further resources makes sense and guides your step of development. Its much like taking on an entrepreneur mindset, forcing creativity and short…read more >

Webinar: Social Media in Manufacturing – Why it Should Matter to You

If you're a manufacturer that either doesn't use or think social media should be a part of your overall marketing plan this webinar is for you.We will discuss why social media is not only relevant but crucial to your overall marketing initiatives.We will show you real examples of what manufacturers are doing right and give you tips on how you can too.read more >

Why Email Marketing is So Important in Lead Nurturing to Professional Tradesmen

We generate leads from more sources today than ever before. So is that the good news or the bad news? The key isn't necessarily in the number of leads but the quality. So how do you determine and define them? At the end of the day all anyone cares about is the sale, right?read more >

Insider’s Guide to Dallas for the AHR Expo

For those of you who plan on attending the AHR Expo later this month in Dallas, we've created a guide to get you around the town during your free time and to entertain those important customers. read more >

Happy Holidays!

I'll be taking some time off and will be back after the 1st of the year. Enjoy the Holidays with your Family read more >

Relax…It’s Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! We need to take time to say thanks to all the tradesmen that we come into contact with on a regular basis. What would we do without the electricians, plumbers, HVAC professionals? How would our factories run smoothly without all the MRO professionals out there? Sonnhalter salutes America’s professional tradesmen and laborers on this very special holiday. Our working force built this country. And it’s because of each and every American’s labors that we enjoy the freedoms we have today. At Sonnhalter, we earn our own living by marketing to professional tradesmen in industries like yours…from construction to industrial to MRO. To show our appreciation for such hard-working individuals, we offer a tip of the hardhat and our sincere thanks. However you celebrate your Labor Day, enjoy it. You’ve certainly earned it.read more >

Want a Construction Job? Get these Skills

In the construction industry, jobs are hard to come by. But a June report released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) indicates that--at least in some states--it’s getting easier. In the report, the AGC finds that 20 states added new construction jobs. read more >

Construction and Manufacturing Jobs Are in Top 6 Sectors of Where Future Jobs Will Be

In one of Kiplingers recent newsletters he was talking about job creation and where the big need will be moving forward as the economy starts to pick up.According to Kiplinger 85% of future job will come from six sectors,Health care,Hospitality,Construction,Manufacturing,business services and retail. read more >

Buying Groups: What Is Their Role Moving Forward?

Several years ago you couldn't go to a manufacturing/distributor function where Buying Groups weren't a big topic of discussion. Today it seems they are not brought up very much. Do you think it's because everyone who wanted to has joined one? Or have they run their course?read more >

An Employer’s Back to School List

Miles Free, Technical Director of the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA), has been a contributor before to this audience and he and I share the same enthusiasm about giving young people other options than a 4 -year college degree. Miles sheds some current insights into the issue.read more >

Why Mobile Marketing is Important for Professional Tradesmen

I was recently a co-presenter for a B2B Mobile Marketing webinar sponsored by CFE Media. During the course of my research and prep for this webinar, I was overwhelmed by some of the mobile stats I came across…here are just a few:read more >

Insights on How Manufacturing Can Have a Competitive Edge

Author Bio: Eric works as a distribution manager at EJOT UK providing high tension custom fasteners to the aerospace and defense market. EJOT's global distribution network makes it one of the largest fastener suppliers based in Europe. How to Stay Ahead of the Game in the Fastener World The volatile and unpredictable economy we live in today has wreaked havoc not only for consumers but also for businesses and offices in all markets and industries. The global recession has brought about certain impacts and effects that have rattled businesses to their knees and has made business stability seem like an utter dream. In the fastener manufacturing market, the level of competition is high and continues to escalate in rampant proportions. It looks as if new manufacturers and suppliers of fasteners are established every day. Unfortunately, the rates of consumers and prospective buyers looking for these materials and supplies have not significantly increased throughout the course of time. This has made the level of competition fiercer than ever. So what do you do? In the mind of a true businessman, staying ahead of competitors are of paramount concern, one that should be above all else in your list of priorities as a business executive or owner. Staying ahead of the game in the world of fastener manufacturing and distribution is something one cannot simply plan overnight even for the versed and experienced owner or director. To stay ahead and ensure that traffic flows come your way, meticulously planning and perfectly executing the plan is of key essence, and can make or break your business. For people who know little or have no familiarity or knowledge at all regarding the market or industry of manufacturing fasteners, you won't likely think of the difficulty owners face when competing with each other. Making sure your business is always competitively operating in multinational markets is also very difficult with lots of variables outside of your control. With the ubiquity of outsourcing and the access of global resources in today's modern day and age, the manufacturing world is actually in a consistent struggle with rivals. Here are tips and guidelines on how you can add a competitive edge on your game in the vast and "dog-eat-dog" world of manufacturing, in this case manufacturing of fasteners. First, lower the expenses of your business. In a simpler and more comprehensible context, if you can make the fasteners while consuming fewer funds for the same quality and quantity as compared with rivals, you'll be able to provide more savings and discounts to your consumers and tilt the game to your advantage. Several of the most effective means of lowering expenditures involve tactics like outsourced manufacturing of the product, correctly forecasting to allow demand-based manufacturing, eliminating all delays in prefabricated parts and creating shared utilities. When provided with respective applicability to your facility, these techniques may yield a substantial benefit over competitors who opt not to play strategically. Secondly understand the standards and demands of your clients. Avoid leaving any worries or doubts in your customer's mind when they opt to work with you in the future. Meet your client's needs and demands by rendering them with the fastener supplies they need quicker and cheaper as compared with rivals. Thirdly, find or create a unique selling point. These could be large brand awareness campaigns through supplying high profile events such as F1 cars, Prototype Aeroplanes or Extreme engineering designs. Brand awareness in a saturated market can be the difference between stagnated growth and true development of a business. read more >

Here’s the Data: Why Manufacturing is the Right Career Choice

I've always beed a big supporter of promoting manufacturing and tradesmen jobs.I recently came across a post from a client of ours PMPA( Precision Machined Products Association). Miles Free their Director of Industry Research and Technology write their blog Speaking of Precision and I wanted to share his postread more >

Why Aren’t Young People Considering Blue Collar Jobs?

It's ironic that every manufacturer or contractor that I talk to have plenty of work to do but a limited number of qualified people to do it. Mike Rowe recently pointed out that young folks can make up to 100K a year working in a factory according to a recent article on CNN Money.com. The same holds true for other tradesmen like plumbers, electricians and HVAC contractors. Theses folks can make 60-80K a year and they can't ship those jobs across the pond.read more >

Educating Tradesmen: What Are You Doing to Play it Forward?

One of the biggest issues all of us have is finding good people. People who know what they are doing and can help contribute to the bottom line. In my travels talking with both manufacturers and contractors, top on their list is finding good help. One contractor told me recently finding work isn't the problem, finding people to do it is! read more >

Insider’s Guide to Chicago for AHR Expo

For those of you that are planning to attend the AHR Show later this month, we've enclosed a link to an Insider's Guide to restaurants, bars and nightlife in the Windy City. We've asked some locals to give us some "GEMS" that might not be on the concierge's list. read more >

Highlights of 2011 STAFDA Show

Distributors, reps and manufacturers discuss their outlooks for 2011 at the 34th Annual Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association (STAFDA) convention and tradeshow. read more >

“Right Skills Now” Provides Fast-Track Training for Tradesmen

The biggest issue I hear from both contractors and manufacturers is lack of work isn't the issue, but lack of qualified people to do it is. Right Skills Now may not be the end all but it's a model that can work for both on a regional basis. I know one of Mike Rowe's passion is training the professional tradesman and this is a step in the right direction.read more >

Are You Minding Your Manners on Twitter?

Yes, there are rules (even though some should be self-evident) on the do's and don'ts on Twitter. Heidi Cohen in a recent post gives you 24 guidelines. 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 >

Trends in Distribution and What it Means to the Distributor/Supplier Relationship

I recently caught up with Lindsay Konzak, editor of Modern Distribution Management (MDM) newsletter. We talked about how things are changing, especially since the downturn in the economy.She shared with us “Four Trends in Distribution” from the MDM’s 2011 Distributor Landscape Report and what it has meant for the supplier-distributor relationship. read more >

Breakthrough in Inventory and Supply Chain Planning and Execution

Howard Coleman from MCA Associates, an expert in inventory and management, sheds light on the new “pull” inventory management system.read more >

Manufacturers and Distributors: A Breakthrough in Inventory and Supply Chain Planning and Execution

For the first time in years, inventory and supply chain planning for the wholesale-distributor and their suppliers is undergoing a most fundamental change! A major development is finally moving from “talk” to practice. If you have any involvement in supply chain management, and with your Enterprise ERP system, you would be wise to catch up with this. Yes, there is something in it for manufacturers/suppliers too! read more >

Relax…It’s Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! We need to take time to say thanks to all the tradesmen that we come into contact with on a regular basis. What would we do without the electricians, plumbers, HVAC professionals? How would our factories run smoothly without all the MRO professionals out there?read more >

Habitat for Humanity Tool Drive

Habitat for Humanity does much for local communities to create hope by building homes and strengthening neighborhoods. They count on people like us to help whenever possible. Sonnhalter is hosting its second annual Tool Drive to help them get the necessary tools for volunteers to use when doing projects and we need your help. read more >

How Will Professional Tradesmen Jobs of the Future Be Filled?

There's a lot of talk about manufacturing jobs continuing to go away in this country. But when I talk to manufacturers, one of the biggest issues they talk about domestically is finding qualified help. Apprentice programs for tool and die makers are shrinking due to lack of interest. Even factory production jobs aren't menial labor jobs anymore. It takes skill and training to run CNC or other sophisticated machines. The same is true with professional tradesman in the contracting field. Talk to a plumbing or electrical contractor and they same the same thing. There aren't enough young folks getting into those trades as well.read more >

The SmartVan’s ‘Cool Tool’ Contest – Enter to Win an iPad 2

Got a cool tool in your van that you find either absolutely essential or, frankly, just cool? A highly specialized, expensive piece of equipment that’s essential to your job? Or maybe a roll of duct tape in the back of your van? Now there’s an easy way to show off your coolest tool and win the world’s coolest gadget in the process! read more >

ISA Convention Chicago

For those of you going to Chicago May 14-17th for the ISA Show,we put together an Insiders Guideread more >

Busy Executives Prefer Videos on Web

A recent survey of business people by Forbes in October of 2010 cited that a majority (60%) would watch a video before reading text on the same web page. 75% of executives said they watched work-related videos on business sites at least once a week with more than half doing the same on YouTube. read more >

What’s Your New Role as a B-to-B Marketer?

Life as a marketing person isn't as simple as it once was. With the arrival of social media, new expectations from your boss and new buying processes, where do you turn? Marketo recently released their new e-book, The Marketing Manifesto, which outlines ways you can get quality leads and keep your ears on your entire market. read more >

5 Ways to Improve Construction Productivity

One of the major setbacks for any construction project is a loss of productivity that results in delays and loss of funds. And yet, this type of occurrence is largely considered par for the course on most build sites. While many would be quick to attribute holdups to lazy workers or inadequate supervision, it is far more common for bad planning or outright ignorance to muck up the worksread more >

Tips on How to Get the Most out of Social Media Marketing

This is a guest post form Marc Levine Social media director for RiaEnjolie a website developer for small business owners. Marc shares some best practices he uses to get the most out of social media. read more >

Happy Holidays!

I'll be taking a break over the holiday and will return after the first of the year. I'd like to wish everyone a great holiday season and a happy New Year. Hopefully 2011 will will bring us all some cheer!read more >

Top 10 Posts of 2010

As the year comes to a close, I thought I'd share the Top 10 Posts from the Tradesman Insights blog for 2010. read more >

B-to-B Marketers: Tap Social to Increase Search

According to the data from B2B magazine and Business.com, marketer's No. 2 goal for social media after brand building was increasing traffic to websites. If you generate more traffic, a logical conclusion is that you'll generate more leads.read more >

Social Media: Don’t Forget the Human Side

Social media is about engaging with other people. In order for it to be successful, we need to move that engagement beyond the posts of Facebook or your blog. Yes, it's understood that there are people behind the words, but unless you just want to be pen pals, you need to nurture them. read more >

How Manufacturers Can Help Distributors Ramp Up Their Cash Flow

A friend of mine Abe WalkingBear, developer of a copyrighted profit system that focuses on improving cash flow, has agreed to share some of his insights (some are truly unique) on how manufacturers can help ditributors. He's written books, is an international speaker and co-authored STAFDA's Foundations of Business 2007. Old military funny money finds new life in business. During this time of slow sales and extended delays in business credit customers' payments, an old idea is reborn. read more >

What CEOs Should Know About One Of, If Not Their Biggest, Asset

Abe WalkingBear Sanchez, leading speaker, trainer, contributing editor and author to manufacturers and distributors, discusses why the credit department should report to sales and how old ways of credit checking limits sales efforts. read more >

Enhanced Profitability and Competitive Advantage Through New Efficiencies

A friend of mine, Abe WalkingBear, developer of a copyrighted profit system that focuses on improving cash flow, has agreed to share some of his insights (some are truly unique) on how manufacturers can help ditributors. He's written books, is an international speaker and co-authored STAFDA's Foundations of Business 2007. Today, WalkingBear will talk about how effeciencies affects both profitabilty as well as competitive advantages.read more >

Thanks To All That Supported the Habitat Tool Drive

Sonnhalter recently completed a local tool drive for Habitat for Humanity for the Cleveland area. Thanks to everyone's generous support, we received more than $16,000 in tools and building supplies. read more >

Webinar: Increase Sales with Effective Lead Management

For those of you who constantly are trying to measure ROI on your Advertising/Marketing budgets, things fall short when you can't say for sure what happened to all those leads you turned over to the sales force. We're having a free webinar on September 14th at 2 PM EST and you can sign up here.read more >

Generate Qualified Leads Using LinkedIn Answers

I recently read a post by Jason Falls, How to Make LinkedIn Answers part of your Routine, that showed me yet another way to generate both thought leadership and leads. Under the "More" button at the top of your home page is where you'll find the Answers tab. There are several industry categories you can choose to follow. Since I use Google Reader, I subscribed to the appropriate categories and had them sent to my reader via an RSS feed. I also created a folder called LinkedIn Answers.read more >

National Tradesmen Day

Where would we be without them? The unsung heroes of American Industry. At Sonnhalter, we know tradesmen well. They are the customers of the clients we serve. They're construction workers and maintenance professionals. Electricians and plumbers.read more >

How Can We Promote Blue Collar Careers?

My target audience is manufacturers who want to sell stuff to contractors and professional tradesmen. Any of us who have been around this industry (no matter what field) know that the biggest challenge facing contractors is lack of qualified people. So long term if the professional tradesman goes away or certainly doesn't keep up the current need, who are we going to sell our stuff to?read more >

Use Social Media To Generate Professional Tradesmen Leads

There are many traditional ways of generating leads, i.e. pay for click, list rentals, etc. But social lets you go beyond some of these typical methods and lets people find you. In my mind, one of the biggest benefits to social media is the ability to identify and start conversations in a low-key manner with potential contractors.read more >