Turning Point

In this June issue, which of course marks the halfway point of 2011, here are a few miscellaneous items that have been taking up space on my desk.

A Boffo Show

For precision machined parts technology junkies, PMTS was just the fix we needed. From the view of exhibitors and attendees alike, it was a rousing success. By the numbers, it was the best show ever. For example, 8,664 leads were registered by the 193 exhibitors. That’s a lot of follow up for their respective sales forces, but as we recover from recession, I’m sure it’ll be a labor of joy for them. A quality, unduplicated number of 3,347 is the official attendance for PMTS 2011. This excludes exhibitors, students and staff—only attendees—and is the highest number ever for the show. Throwing in exhibitors, students and staff pushes the body count to 5,000.

We Lose an Icon

In early April, we received news of the passing of long-time editor and publisher, Stan Modic. During his 42-year career in trade journalism, Stan applied a deep concern for the success of manufacturing in this country through his writing. He was co-founder of the magazine “Industry Week” and was publisher/editor of “Tooling and Production” upon his retirement a couple years ago. In his position as editor, he set a high bar for those of us who came in his wake. He never backed down from advocating for manufacturing and used his bully pulpit to tell his readers how to be successful in an increasingly competitive marketplace. A colleague of Stan’s described him as a real-life version of Lou Grant, which I believe fits him well. I made numerous editorial trips with Stan and found him intelligent and generous. Our industry is diminished by his loss.          

I Get a Letter

Occasionally what we do in our jobs has impact beyond our knowing. I recently received a letter to that effect citing a 1999 article I wrote and how it influenced the writer’s business decisions ongoing. It was a surprise and pleasure to receive. You can read it online at short.productionmachining.com/kk1hwjdv.

The Evil 1099 is Repealed

Good news from Washington hit my desk from our friends at PMPA. Ding dong, 1099 legislation is dead! Through lobbying efforts of the PMPA and others, as well as letter writing campaigns from the membership, President Obama signed H.R. 4 into law repealing the healthcare law’s 1099 tax reporting requirement. The provision would have required businesses to file a 1099 form with the IRS for every vendor to whom they paid more than $600 a year—potentially a huge burden for small and medium business.

What’s Up with Materials?

The PM editorial team took the opportunity to interview several executives from materials suppliers to get a take on what’s happening in the metals market. We asked them to explain why there seems to be supply shortages when demand is coming back so briskly. We also asked for their suggestions as to how shops can best cope strategically with these shortages. We put together an article covering the conversations, which starts on page 38.

Business is Good

A report from “USA Today” cites that U.S. manufacturing grew for the 21st month, in April. That’s very good news indicating the manufacturing-led recovery has legs. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, uses an index to chart manufacturing health. Any number higher than 50 indicated growth, and the number remains higher than 60. To put it in perspective, this index hit 33.3 in December 2008.

Chris and the Volcano

A year ago I had a ticket in hand for a visit to P.H. Horn’s facility in Tubingen, Germany, to attend the company’s Technology Days. Well, no one from America was able to go because a volcano in Iceland managed to close all the airports in Germany the day before I was to leave. Undaunted, the folks from Horn are trying again this year. A delegation of 49 from the U.S. descended on this university town in May to try again. I’ll be reporting on the visit in a future issue.