Our Big Sister Turns 90

Our company flagship publication, Modern Machine Shop, is 90 years old. 


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My metalworking career began in the late 1970s when I went to work for Cincinnati Milacron. Back then, Milacron was quite the force in machine tools, but I really didn’t have a clue what that meant. I was at a point of asking pretty basic questions such as what a machine tool is.   

Green as I was, I was hired into the times and methods department in the company’s captive foundry. It was a big foundry, specializing in gray and ductile iron castings used to make the range of machine tools that carried the Cincinnati Milacron logo.  

After a couple of years in the foundry, getting an amazing shopfloor education, which I still appreciate and draw upon, I was transferred to the product promotion department. We were the outside face of the company supporting the sales force with product catalogs, advertising, public relations, direct mail and trade shows.

Because of my youth and inexperience, my new boss put me into a crash training program. This involved a stint in the in-house training lab, learning to run a mill and a lathe, along with manual programming, which quickly became obsolete as CAM advanced to the point of automating programming. To give an idea where we were technologically, machines at this time were run by punched tapes.

My training also included two weeks as an observer at Gardner Publications (now Gardner Business Media Inc.). The time was 1980, and those two weeks ended up having long-term implications for my career. This was my first real contact with Modern Machine Shop magazine, Gardner’s flagship publication.

Twelve years passed, and in that time I eventually worked my way up as advertising and public relations manager for Milacron’s machine tool group. Along the way, I had dealings with all of the trade press, which was a significantly larger group than today.

The 1980s were a time of tremendous change in metalworking manufacturing, especially in the U.S. Competition that many had dismissed became a serious threat, as much of our traditional domestic manufacturing base seemed to contract. Many classic brands were diminished or replaced by new players.

Those of us involved in the industry followed these developments in our trade press journals. MMS was one of those magazines. Its mission then, as it is now, was to try to elevate manufacturing by presenting current technical articles that could promote this effort through stories about implementation of new ways of successful manufacturing. The focus was on processes.

This month marks the 90th anniversary of the first issue of MMS. For all that time it has served as a companion and chronicler of our industry. When I decided to change careers in 1992, Gardner was my go-to. I was hired on MMS as an associate editor. It was a good decision.

Making the move to MMS exposed me to a world of manufacturing better than I could have imagined. Milacron was for sure a full line machine tool builder, but they didn’t build everything. MMS’s horizontal industry coverage took in a significantly larger slice of the metalworking pie.

One of my “beats” when I started with MMS was the screw machine industry. It was a perfect example of a world that I knew virtually nothing about. We would publish an annual emphasis topic that gave a nod to screw machining, and I was charged with a feature article about it.
That led me on the path that eventually resulted in the magazine you are reading now, Production Machining. In my education and travels covering the screw machine industry, I was able to experience its transition from cam-actuated machine tools to CNC servo-driven machine tools.

In 2001, we decided to focus on this transition and its industry with the launch of a magazine targeted to it. While MMS covered this segment once a year, PM would cover it every issue.
The magazine is now only one arrow in the quiver of a media company. Digital manufacturing is spreading over our industry, and it has also redefined the role of a publishing company.

“Time passes, conditions change, the world progresses—and those who are found keeping pace with the new order of things are those young enough in mind and spirit to recognize the value of the new and make themselves part of it.” Don Gardner, the founder of MMS in its premier issue, June 1928.

Happy anniversary to our big sister!