Here’s To Us One-Percenters

One of my bosses a few years back said I attended EMO with child-like wonder as I looked at all the technology. Well, I hope that is still true. I think that those of us who stay in the metalworking business enjoy chips in our shoes and cutting oil in the pores. Few start out looking for a career in metalworking manufacturing. Many try and can’t do it. I get jazzed at EMO and other shows because getting to hang with my 1-percent “homies” makes this job a joy.

For me, it’s impossible to come home from a huge show like EMO without being jazzed about our industry. My batteries get recharged attending events like this in part because of the breadth, length and depth of the exposition but also because of the chance to reacquaint with some high-quality people. And these people are from all over the planet—attendees come from more than 80 countries.

Moreover, these are my people. I say that because of opening remarks that Fred Haung made in his address to the international press corps at the show during a press meeting about TIMTOS. Fred is chairman of the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry (TAMI), which is the sponsor of Taiwan’s biennial machine tool show, TIMTOS. I met Fred at his show earlier this year in Taipei.

Fred got up from the dais and began his address asking us to imagine we’re walking down the street in any city in any country. As we pass people on the street we stop individuals and randomly ask them what a turning center is or what a machining center, grinder or a machine tool is.

He continues by asking what percentage of those people could answer our questions. Fred proffered that maybe one out of 100 might have an inkling about metalworking machinery. I wanted to raise my hand and suggest the number is probably less than 1 percent, but Fred was on a roll.

Now, he says, think about the fact that most of our non-working time is spent among the 99 percent of people who have virtually no idea of the economic, scientific and technical role that the machine tool industry plays on the global stage. None of those 99 percent go through their day without encountering numerous objects that have encountered machine tools, yet the 99 percent is oblivious to this fact.

And that’s OK. It’s our little secret. However, when one has the opportunity to visit a show like EMO, IMTS or TIMTOS, Fred continues, the ratio is flipped for us 1-percenters. At these occasions, we metalworking folks are the 99 percent, and in the case of EMO that’s some 166,000 people. Ask anyone at one of these big shows about machine tools, and then just sit back while they expound on the industry from a personal and professional point of view.

You see, the beauty of a conclave like this is we all have metalworking in common, and moreover, we have the opportunity to discuss and share our experiences in the industry with each other—something that is virtually impossible in the “outside” world. My feeling about this is that when we 1-percenters can get together, the passion for what we do, which is bottled up much of the time, has an outlet, and it pours out creating a so-called “show buzz” that’s palpable.

For me, tapping into that buzz is why I go all over the place to meet fellow 1-percenters and see their technologies and new developments. It’s a privilege to be a small part of what I feel is among the most important industries on the planet. Sure, we’re small, but try making any other segment of any other economy function without involvement from us.

One of my bosses a few years back said I attended EMO with child-like wonder as I looked at all the technology. Well, I hope that is still true. I think that those of us who stay in the metalworking business enjoy chips in our shoes and cutting oil in the pores. Few start out looking for a career in metalworking manufacturing. Many try and can’t do it. I get jazzed at EMO and other shows because getting to hang with my 1-percent “homies” makes this job a joy.