Commonalities: Grady Cope, NTMA, and Tom Friedman’s “Still Digging”

On the same day that I read Tom Friedman’s “Still Digging” column in the New York Times, I hosted Grady and Ann Cope at Horst Engineering. Grady is the President and CEO of reata Engineering & Machine Works in Englewood, Colorado. He is also the chairman of the National Tooling & Machining Association. NTMA is a venerable industrial/manufacturing organization that we are active members of. We mostly participate through our own chapter, the Connecticut Tooling & Machining Association, but Grady and I lead companies that have looked way beyond the boundaries of our home states.

During a tour of our two East Hartford plants, Grady and I spoke about the need for a manufacturing renewal in the United States. Years of outsourcing, offshoring, and giving away our intellectual property has left the US manufacturing base weaker. Our manufacturing workforce is aging and that poses additional risk. Upstart rivals have taken our work and our jobs. Even Horst Engineering de Mexico, an operation launched to capitalize on the growth south of the border, faces challenges from abroad. Friedman’s column once again calls on our policy makers to quit the nonsense and support initiatives that build more capabilities in America. He also challenges our country to come up with a plan. The stimulus wasn’t a plan. It was a response to a crisis. We have yet to see a long-term plan that will introduce a new growth strategy.

Grady Cope’s plan for the NTMA in 2011 is to ask his fellow manufacturers to be more positive and to convince them to portray manufacturing as a great place to be. It is high-tech and it pays well from bottom to top, especially in the skilled sub-sectors. It also creates a network of economic activity that other sectors don’t. Few people know someone in manufacturing. Maybe they have an uncle or a cousin who works in a factory. 25 or 50 years ago, the connections were a lot closer and everyone knew someone in manufacturing. It was likely that their parents worked in factories. Nowadays, it seems like everyone knows a barista or a clerk or a contractor. I’m sorry, but more retailers, distributors, banks, and developers will not create the value that this country needs. That is wasteful consumption. We need production. We need to make stuff of real value.

Which brings me back to the plan. Friedman called for it and I’m right behind him. The problem is that those of us with solutions are tied up trying to keep our businesses running. Our society loses because too many small business leaders avoid politics and we end up with “career politicians”  in elected office. Politics shouldn’t be a job. Grady’s chairman role at NTMA isn’t a job. He has a small business, so I don’t think he needs another job. It is community/public service. He is leading our industry organization because he loves manufacturing and he loves what he does.

1 Response to “Commonalities: Grady Cope, NTMA, and Tom Friedman’s “Still Digging””

  1. 1 Lee este método Trackback on 28 November 2013 at 4:35 am

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