Check Your Company's Attitude

If you are in manufacturing, no one has to tell you how tough the last few years have been. But you are still here, aren’t you? Just the fact that you are reading this magazine proves that you are still engaged. You are still looking for new tools, methods and ideas that will help you and your company win.

 

District Sales, PAWS Workholding
My music teacher in high school drummed into his students that music was 99 percent attitude. He was correct, but over the years it has become clear to me that 99 percent of almost everything is attitude! A good attitude is essential to a good marriage, cooking a good meal or playing a good game of golf. Almost any endeavor in life requires first and foremost a proper mind-set or attitude to have the best chance for success.

If you are in manufacturing, no one has to tell you how tough the last few years have been. But you are still here, aren’t you? Just the fact that you are reading this magazine proves that you are still engaged. You are still looking for new tools, methods and ideas that will help you and your company win.

If you attended IMTS 2002 in Chicago, you saw some fine products and technological advances on display. But as a people watcher, I also observed the reactions and attitudes of those in attendance. On the one hand, there was a great deal of talk about the threats to the manufacturing industry from cheap overseas labor and subsidized steel. On the other hand, there was concern expressed about rising health care costs and rising wages here at home. But there were also those brave souls in attendance who were trying to find some ideas to help them turn things around. Yes, they were determined to survive the current downturn, but they wanted more than survival. They wanted and expected success.

Sadly, many in our business have begun operating out of a fear of losing what they have rather than going for the win. I enjoy watching football. I enjoy almost everything about the game. But there is one thing that really bugs me. It’s called the “prevent defense” (an attempt by the team that’s ahead to keep the other team from winning by denying it the big play). This is one of the most frustrating things to watch. The defense will drop back and allow the team that is losing to make small gains, but not big ones. Sometimes the strategy works, but often the team that is losing will succeed in putting a lot of little plays and gains together very quickly and before you know it, will be in a position to score. Basically, the team that is ahead stops playing to win and starts playing to not lose. Even if the prevent defense works, it is very unsatisfying to watch. But there is a big difference between football and business. For us, the clock will not run out and save us. We have to win and keep on winning—and we can!

One of the outstanding ideas at IMTS was presented by a small company from Clio, Michigan. The PAWS workholding system  has been developed by Montague Tool, Inc. It is a hydraulically actuated multi-part holding system for use on CNC vertical milling machines. It can hold up to 80 parts at a time. Montague developed this system for use in its own job shop because it needed to increase productivity and quality. The company was convinced that it had to maximize the potential of its equipment as well as its people if it was going to be able to play to win. It’s the old story of necessity being the mother of invention. PAWS has enabled Montague to bring two jobs back from the foreign competition! When was the last time you heard of that happening?

If we allow negative and defeatist thinking to settle in at our companies, after a while we won’t recognize a good idea or opportunity if it lands right on our desks. We may spend a lot of time and effort in our businesses getting the right equipment, employees, consultants, accountants and tax attorneys. As we fine-tune our flow charts, personnel policies and production schedules, we also need to spend some time developing and maintaining a good attitude—one that will help us win!

We do live and work in a competitive world. But it has always been so. Remember, our forebears had competition and adversity too. Ever hear of the Great Depression and World War II? Don’t believe the lie that things have never been worse. They have been worse, and yet our ancestors found a way to win. We can too.