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Friday, January 30, 2015

PMA Member Benefit Highlight: Affinity Partner Program

Did you know?  

PMA has partnered with various organizations in order to provide discounts on industry-tailored services available exclusively for PMA members. 

As an exclusive benefit to PMA members, APPI Energy can review electricity and natural gas bills and recommend many reliable suppliers with competitive pricing. 

PMA members can lower costs and increase margins when they ship with YRC Freight, the original LTL (less-than-truckload) experts. PMA has negotiated special rates for members for qualifying LTL shipments. 

PMA has partnered with Grainger to provide members with discounts on MRO products and services. Grainger has more than 450,000 products in stock. This includes more than 130,000 metalworking products. 

Put logistics to work for you with industry-leading shipping solutions from UPS. PMA members can take advantage of special savings on package and freight shipping -- designed to help you work smarter and achieve your goals.

PMA has teamed with Webnettraining to offer general OSHA-compliant safety training to members. Webnettraining's unique web-based safety training offers more than just great OSHA-compliant safety training -- it is an entire system that automatically documents and monitors for compliance. 

For more information on the PMA Affinity Partner Program, visit here or contact Janet Krall at 216-901-8800 x2160 or 

PMA Member Spotlight -- Andrew Bader, OGS Industries

Each month, the PMA Member Spotlight features an outstanding member sharing his/her insights into the latest industry trends and technologies. 

PMA is pleased to introduce third-generation metalformer, Andrew Bader, sales and marketing director for Ohio Gasket and Shim (OGS), Akron, OH.  Andrew’s grandfather started OGS in 1959 as a small shop to service the local industry.  More than 50 years later, the company has expanded in size and capacity to become a national leader in high-precision metal stampings, gaskets, shims, metal fabrication, brackets, and military and export packaging. 

Hear Andrew’s thoughts about the challenges of finding skilled workers, how he incorporates social media into his company’s marketing strategy, what’s on his wish list for his plant in 2015 and much more! 

Andrew Badar, Sales and Marketing Director, OGS Industries

Q:        Which job classifications are the most challenging to find skilled workers?

A:         I think most people in the manufacturing industry and even people outside of our industry are well aware of the so-called skill gap. I believe it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better; however, it’s going to be largely dependent on marketing manufacturing careers to Millennials as a career that can be highly creative and rewarding as to take part in help bringing manufacturing back to America.

While there are trade schools and community colleges that offer a manufacturing curriculum, we need to also look at incorporating the curriculum into the more mainstream education sectors (high school, universities). This is probably going to take some major PR efforts J I feel companies might also be looking to create their own internal training or co-op departments in the future, as I know some companies who have already done so.

But to answer the question...probably some of your more skilled technical workers, such as laser/CNC programmers and operators. Also, Tool & Die Makers, this can be a highly skilled job, and unfortunately young adults these days are more interested in working on computers and not so much with their hands. Again, with today’s technology you can get a great mix of working on computers AND with your hands. If you don’t want a typical 9-5 and sit in a cube all day long, get into manufacturing, you can design and create something on a computer program, but you get the satisfaction of then setting up it in a machine and watch your creation come to life!

From a front office perspective, probably Cost Estimators. This is also a highly skilled job as it can take a creative and engineering mindset to be effective at it.

As of late, we’ve been extremely fortunate to find people I mentioned above for 2014 when we did a round of hiring. Good search talent firms help tremendously with this too.

Q:        What is the biggest technology challenge metalformers face today?

A:        As a whole, I know the manufacturing industry lags behind in the internet marketing realm, whether it’s adopting social media, creating videos, or sometimes as simple as having an effective, modern looking website.

From a production perspective, again CNC Programming, learning CAD, etc. That is all technology that we need young people to learn. Machines are getting more and more sophisticated and some are being operated exclusively from a computer screen, so we need highly competent and technically skilled workers.

Q:       What is the best conference or seminar you or your employees attended in the past year and why?

A:        As I live in the Marketing and Sales world, Content Marketing World in Cleveland was fantastic! They even had a day dedicated to certain industries and there was a Manufacturing one I did attend. Can’t say enough good things about it!

Also, Design2Part in our hometown always produces some great leads, as well as FabTech. We go to Fabtech once a year and do a couple Design2Parts. Some are better than the others, but in general, they do fairly well for us.

Q:        What is on your wish list for your shop, next year (i.e., a new piece of equipment)? 

A:        This is big J Next year we are looking at separating our metal fabrication department from our metal stamping department and relocating it into another building. Operationally speaking, metal stampings and metal fab have their differences in the way they are managed and scheduled. Separating them out with give us much better control over each service and will improve our bottom line. That being said, we are looking to purchase a brand new fiber laser in 2015 and possibly looking into a new press brake as well!

Q:        What are the advantages/disadvantages of being a next-generation metalformer?

A:        I think one of the main advantages of being a next-gen metalformer is opportunity! If you are in your twenties and you want to take the initiative to learn CAD or CNC programming, you got a job, and a good job!

Also, I think this is an exciting time for manufacturing; we’re starting to see some things being re-shored in the states, China’s labor rates are increasing, quality from Mexico isn’t always up to par, the quality in the US has always been second to none and companies are now realizing that. I believe there is a bright future in manufacturing and I’m excited to be a part of it!

Q:       How does social media work within your company’s marketing strategy?

A:       Social Media is always an interesting topic. A lot of people feel like they need and should have it, yet don’t really know why. As a contract manufacturing working in B2B, we use it more for creating top of mind awareness. B2C generally uses SM as a great way to engage and interact with their customers by creating another level of customer service that is easy and very accessible. In the B2B world, you have to be a little more strategic and tactful; learning to sell, without selling yourself. Providing the right kind of content that buyers, purchasing agents, and engineers want to consume and learning where to place that content is crucial. For now at OGS, Social Media has been a great way to get ourselves out in front and ahead of our competition. For 2015, we are launching a new content marketing strategy that will allow us to use social media more effectively and use it as a tool to deliver the right kind of content to the right people.

Q:        What are the top three songs on your play list right now?

A:        One of my favorite bands, Red Wanting Blue, is from Columbus, Ohio and started in the late 90’s at my alma mater, Ohio University. They are a band that is constantly on my top playlists J Also love my hometown rockers, The Black Keys! I’ve recently dived head first into country music after years of avoiding it and I’m actually really enjoying it!

Thank you for your participation, Andrew! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PMA's January Business Conditions Report

CLEVELAND, OH—January 21, 2015—According to the January 2015 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, metalforming companies are optimistic about business conditions during the next three months.  Prepared monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 133 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

The January report shows that 45% of participants predict that economic activity will improve during the next three months (up sharply from 29% in December), 49% expect that activity will remain unchanged (compared to 58% last month) and only 6% believe that economic activity will decline (down from 13% in December).

Metalforming companies also anticipate a spike in incoming orders during the next three months, with 50% predicting an increase in orders (up from 37% in December), 42% anticipating no change (compared to 51% in December) and 8% expecting a decrease in orders (down from 12% in December).

Current average daily shipping levels improved slightly in January. Twenty-five percent of participants report that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago (compared to 29% in December), 54% report that levels are the same as three months ago (compared to 38% last month) and only 21% report a decrease in shipping levels (compared to 33% in December).

The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff dropped to 9% in January, down from 12% in December. The January 2015 figure marks an increase from this time last year, when only 6% of companies reported workers on short time or layoff.

“PMA member companies reported a positive outlook for Q-1 2015, in terms of their general economic outlook and compared to their Q-4 shipments, which softened somewhat during the last few months of 2014,” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. “Fully 50 percent of survey participants reported that current shipment levels are higher than in January 2014. Expectations for new orders are at the highest levels reported since January 2014, with only 8 percent forecasting a decline in orders in Q-1. Hopefully, this portends continued growth in shipments for the metalforming industry in the same 5 to 6 percent range as experienced during 2013 and 2014.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tonight's SOTU and Mentions of Manufacturing

The Guardian ran an interesting piece today in the lead-up to tonight's sixth State of the Union speech by President Obama.

"If it's possible to gauge administration interest in an issue by the number of mentions it gets," the paper posits, "then a survey of State of the Union speeches since 1981 reveals that emphasis on a relatively recent phenomenon."

The article notes that Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton made virtually no mention of manufacturing in the addresses during their tenures.

And then, writer Benjamin Preston notes, President George W. Bush offered only one comment on manufacturing, a passing mention that came in a list of other items during his 2004 address.

Preston contrasts those years with the tenure of President Obama who, he says, has offered substantive remarks on manufacturing in his annual addresses in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The article tells readers to again expect the president to focus a significant section of his speech tonight on the manufacturing sector.

We'll be listening.

Don't forget to check back here for our reaction to the speech.

Monday, January 19, 2015

PMA Member Quoted on Currency Issues

A new Associated Press article reports on the impact of the high dollar on American companies who operate internationally.

The piece, written by Paul Wiseman and Stan Choe describes how this "symbol of American economic might" can actually harm U.S. companies when they export products overseas.

PMA member Ralph Hardt is quoted in the piece.

"It's started to bite," the article quotes Hardt as saying.  

Hardt, who is president of the Jagemann Stamping Co. in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, notes that exports account for about one-fifth of his company's revenue.

He says in the article, "You risk having a (foreign) competitor getting between you and your customer."

Read the full piece here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Washington Post Reports 1 Million Jobs Added by Small Businesses

A new story in the Washington Post reports that U.S. small businesses added 106,000 workers in the month of December.

Writer J.D. Harrison reported that, in the year 2014, small businesses added more than 1 million employees.

This is an increase of about 10,000 jobs per month over 2013 numbers.

Read the full story for more on how these numbers may be another good sign of recovery for Main Street.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

President Obama Heralds Manufacturing Job Growth During Trip to Detroit

President Obama made a stop at a Ford assembly plant about 20 miles west of Detroit this week.  During his speech there he said, “Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan and every other advanced economy combined. Let me tell you what is leading the way: American manufacturing."

He also said, “After a decade of decline, American manufacturing is in its best stretch of job growth since the 1990s."

Read more about the speech and the latest in the manufacturing sector in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story.

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