A Toast to the New Year
As the dust settles on 2007 and we open the door to 2008, it’s worthwhile to reflect on last year’s successes and failures, good fortunes and bad, sound choices and mistakes. I’m convinced that, while laying out a business plan and then carefully following that plan seems like a logical success strategy, real success comes from craftily adjusting the plan mid-stream. This means that while your feet dangle in the air as you jump toward that next goal, you must be capable of making adjustments mid-air without losing sight of the goal.
For many metalformers, making mid-air adjustments and fine-tuning strategies developed to meet new goals have become commonplace. Often these new goals have metalformers winding along new paths in order to forge new relationships with new customers in new market areas. Along the way, many have completely changed the way they do business, in order to expand into new markets while continuing to serve old customers. For example, the shop that once only stamped small thin parts on 100-ton presses now also operates 400- and 600-ton presses, maybe larger, loaded with huge multi-station dies. Hand-fed single-hit operations either stand next to or have completely given way to automated coil-fed lines.
And, for many metalforming companies, forming sheetmetal is just a small part of what they do. It’s what happens to the stamped parts after they leave the press —value-added tasks such as welding and assembly, painting and finishing, inspection and packaging—that make or break today’s metalforming shops.
Growing into these other areas requires fearless leadership, and also presents great dangers. The margin for error is minimal; customers’ willingness to forgive can be scarce. Metalformers are expected to climb steep learning curves, balancing precariously on those curves. You must look ahead at new opportunities, and yet still stay centered on the core competencies of metalforming.
For our part, MetalForming has presented over the last several years numerous success stories of metalformers proudly navigating those steep learning curves when a new customer comes calling or a new process lands on the shop floor. We know those curves are not always smooth, their climb not always fast and steady. But climb you do, and any bobbles—and there are bobbles—are quickly overcome. This comes from perseverance and hard work, and from an ability to quickly learn from mistakes and to decisively take corrective actions.
The year ahead promises to be tumultuous, challenging and, at times, frustrating. Yet I know that for most of you it also will bring many rewards. All of us here at MetalForming and at PMA look forward to sharing it with you.
So here’s to 2008. In the words of Albert Einstein:
“I feel that you are justified in looking into the future with true assurance, because you have a mode of living in which we find the joy of life and the joy of work harmoniously combined. Added to this is the spirit of ambition which pervades your being, and seems to make the day’s work like a happy child at play.”
Or, maybe you prefer this New Year’s quote from Oprah:
“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”
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