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This regular column from MetalForming magazine provides an inside look at the management philosophies of metal forming and fabricating company executives. We’ll share some of their management philosophies, their daily challenges and how they face them, and offer additional insights. We hope that you find these interviews useful and can take away some ideas to use at your own company.
Want to be interviewed for this column? E-mail editorial director Brad Kuvin.
As Chicago, IL-based metal former Laystrom Manufacturing embarks on its 70th year in business in 2021, company president Colin Cosgrove is laser-focused on managing the significant amount of growth the company has experienced in the last three years. Here he shares some overriding philosophies on how best to manage growth, including following the wisdom in the book, “Beyond Leadership 2.0.”
“It is inspirational and pragmatic at the same time,” Cosgrove says about the book, “filled with solid fundamental truths, such as: ‘If you have more than three priorities, it’s an admission that you don’t have any priorities.’”
In fact, he likes the book so much that he gave it to his management team as Christmas presents.
Cosgrove also discusses his hiring strategy, another area from which he took advice from the book.
“Some of the most important decisions I’ve made have been not hiring the wrong person,” he offers. “And, in ‘Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0,’ the authors warn against hiring only structured people that fit certain roles. They say, ‘Fight the tendency to hire too many stability conscious people as you grow by always hiring a few wild ducks.’”
Another book Cosgrove cites: “Dichotomy of Leadership,” which he references when describing his thoughts on delegating responsibilities.
“I often find myself torn between optimistic aggression and risk aversion,” he shares.
Laurie Harbour’s latest blog post tackles the issues so many metal formers face today, being squeezed between erratic, spiking demand and constrained supply; daily phone calls with customers offering explanations; calling material suppliers for hour-by-hour updates; and operations frantically working to make something to put on the customers’ trucks arriving at your dock today.
Her best advice: “Keeping the schedule stable for a reasonable period, such as several days or a week or weeks, should be a priority for the organization. That means planning a schedule around the labor and materials you have on hand. And it means not letting your customers interfere in your schedule during that reasonable period.”
Next month, Laurie presents results from her survey of metal formers to look at the industry’s financial performance and shed light on issues that could impact the future of manufacturing. The results will provide a timely review of the key trends impacting metal forming businesses, including productivity, throughput, profitability and CapEx investment.
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“It’s been estimated that frontline leaders typically comprise 50 to 60 percent of an organization’s management division, and directly supervise as much as 80 percent of the workforce. They’re the boots on the ground translating the organization’s strategy to the rank and file, and motivating individuals to make sure it gets implemented correctly.”
So goes a recent post from Sean Hart, CEO and managing partner at The
Powers Co., emphasizing the important roles that frontline managers play
and the need for easy, open communication from the top down. “A company’s frontline employees know the business best,” Hart adds. “They intimately know what customers say and want, and in turn inform frontline management of those needs as well as their own.”
Read more to get Hart’s take on “intrapreneurship”—bringing entrepreneurial thinking and skills to your company.
The bi-monthly SteelBenchmarker
Report from World Steel Dynamics, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, issued on
February 24, reveals that the average price per net ton of hot roll band
(HRB) climbed by $76 compared to two weeks prior. The increase keeps a
streak going, as it represents the 13th consecutive increase measured by
the report. The HRB price in China ticked up $30 during the same
period, and climbed by $26 in Western Europe.
The report also provides price increases (on a percentage basis) for cold-rolled coil, rebar, plate and scrap.
devising a balanced scorecard to help track metrics and measure
success, many focus on four key areas: financial, customer
relationships, internal business processes and growth. But what to
measure? Do you look at leading indicators, or lagging?
In this blog post, management consultant Jeff Meade explains how leading indicators will provide business leaders with ideas of what can be adjusted for positive change in the future. One tip from Meade: Shift from a monthly to a weekly mindset, to better spot patterns and problems early and proactively push the needle on your goals. “Go weekly and the months will take care of themselves,” he says.
2020 represented the highest monthly share for new registrations of
electric vehicles (EVs), according to analysts at IHS Markit,
representing 2.5 percent of all vehicle registrations.
“In fact, from a retail perspective, EVs accounted for 2.8 percent of new vehicle registrations in December,” notes a press release, “more than tripling the EV retail share from three years ago. This rising EV acceptance coincides with recent OEM announcements of substantial investments in electrification.”
The press release also provides EV market share by U.S. geographic region.
Kristen Dziczek, vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), reviews here several actions taken by the Biden Administration that have direct impact on the automotive industry, in particular the industry’s transformation to a low-carbon future. Up for discussion: rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement; the review of the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule; and the establishment of the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon.
Dziczek includes links in the article to several referenced documents, and pledges in future articles to review how the administration’s policies on labor, trade and infrastructure may impact the automotive industry.
the Precision Metalforming Association on Thursday, April 29, for a
pair of webinars providing a snapshot of the automotive industry, and a
look ahead. The webinars, part of the PMA Automotive Parts Suppliers
Conference (APSC), which has been rescheduled to October 20-21, 2021, in
Detroit, MI, are free for APSC registrants. On the agenda for the
online Spring Forecast meeting:
Providing an automotive outlook is Jeff Schuster, president, Americas Operations and Global Vehicle Forecasts at LMC Automotive. Schuster will discuss the recovery path forward for the automotive industry and describe the risks and opportunities that exist. Offering a longer-term perspective, he’ll also discuss the transition to electrification and autonomous vehicles.
Joining Schuster on the agenda is Daron Gifford, a partner with Plante
& Moran, where he leads the strategy and automotive industry
Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) membership offers access to quarterly economic trend reports from ITR Economics,
which provide economic intelligence to reduce risk and drive practical
and profitable business decisions. The ITR reports deliver critical
information to make informed business decisions.
With the onset of the new year, according to the January 2021 ITR
report, there are a multitude of signals suggesting cause for optimism
moving forward. Recovery in the U.S. industrial production sector
already has begun, and our dashboard of leading indicators suggests that
the annual production trend will transition to Phase A, recovery, in
the coming months.
One cause for optimism, according to the trend report, stems from U.S.
Nondefense Capital Goods New Orders (excluding aircraft): quarterly new
orders already are up 12.7 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
companies expect business conditions to remain steady during the next
three months, according to the February 2021 Precision Metalforming
Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report.
Among its findings: 37 percent of metal forming companies forecast an
improvement in economic activity in the next three months (compared to
39 percent in January), while only 7 percent anticipate a decline (the
same percentage reported in January).
The report also indicates that lead times continue to increase. When
asked about lead times compared to the previous three months, 54 percent
say that they have increased, up from 43 percent in January.
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