Metal Storm

Today, Methods Machine Tools Inc. held their Metal Storm open house at their Sudbury, Massachusetts headquarters. Methods is one of Horst Engineering’s longtime suppliers of machine tools. I was particularly excited to visit their showroom and see some of the latest in precision machining (turning and milling) technology. Methods invited many of their partners and some best in class software, tooling, and accessories suppliers to pitch in. The manufacturing sector has been a bright spot for the global economy, particularly here in New England. My hope is that the metal cutters in our “neighborhood” regain some of the respect that has been lost while service industries have grown.

Now that the service sector is shrinking, we are seeing that manufacturing has a more positive effect on the jobs picture. Manufacturers make stuff, and that has a compound effect on industry, which means good things for the economy. It has always been that way, but somewhere along the way, the policy makers, manufacturing leaders, and educators lost their way. That is an oversimplification of what led to manufacturing’s decline in the United States, but you can’t argue that it isn’t what it used to be.

With factories in East Hartford, Connecticut, and Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico; our businesses, Horst Engineering and Thread Rolling Inc., are a good examples of how many North American manufacturers have migrated towards high precision, high mix, low volume products. For our companies, it has been a 30 year journey. The 36+ years before that laid the groundwork for our shift towards a high technology customer base like we have in the aerospace and medical industries.

These two industries and the power generation industry are seeing a lot of activity. The popularity of the Metal Storm show is further indication that 2012 is already a big improvement over 2011 and certainly 2010. We all want it to continue, so we are investing wisely while remaining focused on our company cultures and productivity. A glimpse of new technology always gets the blood flowing in the veins.

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