Cutting Tool Engineering
October 2011 / Volume 63 / Issue 10

An inspiring tale

By Alan Rooks, Editorial Director

What inspires people to do their best? Once inspired, what tools do they need to succeed? Those were among the questions being asked at imX (interactive manufacturing experience), held in Las Vegas Sept. 12 to 14. It was a billed as an industry summit, with attendees invited by companies exhibiting at the show, and there were well-attended educational sessions on new manufacturing tools and methods held right on the show floor. (Having on-floor seminars was a good idea, but I can’t resist pointing out that CTE and our sister magazine, MICROmanufacturing, had the same idea at IMTS 2010, organizing a series of technical presentations at our booth.)

One of the imX keynote speakers, author Peter Schutz, who operates Harris & Schutz Inc., addressed the management side of the education/inspiration equation. His “solution” to getting ordinary people to produce extraordinary results requires managers to do just two things: make good plans and implement them. Schutz explained how his plan for Porsche AG developed in part from a simple idea: not entering any more road races without the intent to win. Schutz was CEO of Porsche from 1980 to 1988, and helped restore the company to profitability and growth.

By the time Schutz arrived, Porsche had fallen from road racing leadership and was satisfied with just being a participant. Schutz saw this as unacceptable. Shortly after taking over as CEO, he told a group of Porsche employees: “We will never again enter a race without the intention of winning.” That declaration electrified the company’s employees, many of whom went on to suggest and implement major changes in the company’s racecars and to personally re-recruit star drivers who had fallen away from the Porsche team. Porsche began winning road races again, helping to reestablish the Porsche brand and ignite sales growth throughout the world.

Who are the right people to bring into the organization? “You have to put together a team that has diversity,” Schutz said. “I’m not talking necessarily about racial, ethnic or gender diversity. Rather, you need some who live in the past, some in the present and some in the future. You need some people who think about money and others about customers and still others about science. You need a diversity of attitude. Let them fight it out, hear it all, and nourish that process.”

That’s good advice. Companies need people with diverse talents who are excited and passionate about their work. And new workers must have the sense that the industry they’re entering is exciting and cutting edge. Carlos Cardoso, CEO of Kennametal Inc., Latrobe, Pa., shared that idea in a video interview I conducted at the company’s imX booth. (That interview and other imX coverage can be viewed at www.ctemag.com). Toward the end of the interview, Cardoso discussed Kennametal’s “Young Engineers Program,” in which 15 Latrobe high school juniors and seniors participate in a 15-week program at Kennametal’s technology center. The program includes classroom discussion, hands-on projects and mentoring.

Cardoso is clearly enthusiastic about the program, and he said efforts like it are essential to recruiting new workers to the metalworking industry. Once they see that manufacturing is much more exciting than it has been portrayed, that job becomes easier.

The final lesson I took from imX about skills development came from Paul Heanue of High Tech Turning Co., a Swiss machine shop in Watertown, Mass. I had the pleasure of talking with him at breakfast and learned he was at the imX event as a speaker. As we talked about the business, he explained how his shop makes continually smaller parts as customer demands change. “We’ll bid on jobs that are different or more challenging than other parts we have made, and figure out how to make them,” he said. “If they’ve been made somewhere else, we know we can do it too.”

That’s a great attitude. It shows, at the shop level, how continuous learning helps the metalworking industry remain a creative, vibrant force in the U.S. economy. CTE

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