Cutting Tool Engineering
June 2011 / Volume 63 / Issue 6

Machining is cool again

By Keith Jennings

The headlines and corresponding stories have been prevalent for several months.

“Manufacturing is back!” (Zack’s Investment Research).

“Manufacturing has been one of the economy’s brightest spots since the recession ended in June 2009” (USA Today).

“Bring manufacturing back, not more banking” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

“US Set To Regain Industrial Crown” (Financial Times).

And my favorite: “The FALL and RISE of the American Manufacturer” (Industrial Distribution).

Wow! Better late than never. And it’s exciting to see the increasing coverage of manufacturing’s contribution to a prosperous economy and the sudden rediscovery of U.S. manufacturing, of which machine shops are at the epicenter.

Understandably, you may be too busy machining parts to be aware of this reawakening, but it’s incredible to see the renewed enthusiasm. When I attend community events and business functions, more people want my thoughts about the state of American manufacturing and its impact on our communities. I tell them what I’ve always told them, “The world still desires North American-made goods, and many of these critical items are coming right out of shops in your community.”

I’ve even noticed how people who have nothing to do with the industry are seeking employment and job stability in manufacturing. Talk about a turn of events! After hearing about the demise of U.S. manufacturing for many years, the industry is not only bouncing back and leading an economic recovery, but its good health is viewed as critical for long-term economic growth.

Is there a way to take advantage of this sudden recognition? Yes. At a minimum, it makes it easier to promote career development for these positions. Most colleges and other schools are now more interested in preparing their students for manufacturing-related careers. And community leaders are listening more closely and recruiting manufacturing-related businesses more aggressively. Often during discussions, you’ll be able to enlighten them to the high-tech nature of today’s machine shop and dispel an outdated image.

I’m happy to clarify this in my sphere, and you’re likely to have greater influence in your community than you might be aware. That being the case, we might as well recruit and make the most of it.

In addition, there could be growth opportunities and incentives for expansion that weren’t previously available. If you’ve been considering expansion or relocation, now is the time to explore it. Even financial institutions are clamoring for manufacturing-related customers. Most shops carry an inventory of equipment and hard assets financial people like, and they’re eager to make a deal.

How about an opportunity to further brand your shop as the cream of the crop? Attend relevant events, such as customer and supplier fund-raisers, trade shows, local job fairs and chamber of commerce events, and promote your company. Embed in participants’ minds that you’re the best choice for any referral or opportunity that arises.

If the world desires your shop’s economic participation, make sure they get it. Domestic machining and fabricating is viable again and others are taking notice. Use it to recruit, establish credibility and take advantage of your position as a domestic producer.

The computer didn’t get rid of paper, the Internet didn’t vanquish brick-and-mortar stores, and China won’t eliminate the need for U.S. job shops. Instead, the world is waking up to our advantages and it’s fun again to be in manufacturing. CTE

Keith Jennings 1.tif About the Author: Keith Jennings is president of Crow Corp., Tomball, Texas, a family-owned company focusing on machining, laser cutting, metal fabrication and metal stamping. He can be e-mailed at

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