Welcome to the newest monthly newsletter offering from MetalForming magazine and PMA. We hope you find it useful and interesting; please feel free to share your thoughts with us.
This regular column from MetalForming magazine provides an inside look at the management styles and techniques of metal forming and fabricating company executives. We’ll share some of their 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.
HVAC-industry supplier Morrison Products prepares to celebrate its
100th year in business (in 2025), it faces an imminent challenge. That
is, retooling many of its eight facilities to meet new energy-efficiency
regulations coming to the HVAC industry in 2023. In addition, the
company has been on a huge growth spurt since Megan Fellinger took its
reins in 2017. In our conversation with Fellinger, she talks at length
about maintaining the family-like culture as the company has grown,
while staying laser-focused on developing new products to meet the
changes coming in 2023.
Explaining her philosophy for growing her management team, she says: “We hire for intelligence, energy and ethics—a mantra that my uncle, who previously ran the business, instilled in all of us. As long as our managers have those three basic characteristics, I feel that we can train anyone to do their jobs. Yes, there are still some unique skill sets required for each management role, but those three characteristics serve as a baseline to ensure long-term success at Morrison Products.”
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“Many of you couldn’t be happier to see 2021 come to a close,” writes Laurie Harbour, in this month’s Love Letter to Manufacturers blog post. “The past two years have been challenging for the metal forming industry—to say the least. However, before ringing in the new year, leaders need to consider what work needs to be done in 2022 to improve performance, maintain or grow margin and continue to battle the headwinds facing the industry—labor and supply-chain shortages, increased cost of doing business and inconsistent demand."
To help company leaders focus their energy on driving performance improvement, Harbour offers six New Year’s resolutions. Among them: Measure performance with actionable KPIs, and rely on data to make optimal decisions and manage complexity.
“The latest steel price update indicates that the U.S.-EU agreement to replace the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs with a tariff rate quote has done little to narrow the price difference between the United States and the rest of the world,” says Paul Nathanson, senior principal, Policy Resolution Group at Bracewell LLP and executive director of the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU).
“While ending the tariffs on the EU is good news for U.S. manufacturers,” Nathanson continues, “who continue to experience the highest prices in the world and long delivery delays, it is disappointing that the agreement did not completely terminate these tariffs. Continued government intervention and restrictions on steel and aluminum imports could lead to market manipulation and distortions, and allow for gaming of the system that puts small U.S. manufacturers at an even further disadvantage. It is clear that the U.S. steel producers cannot produce enough steel to meet demand and more steel imports were necessary. It’s time to end unnecessary trade restrictions on our close allies.”
On Oct. 4, 2021, the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department issued FAQs addressing rules regarding premium incentives for COVID-19 vaccinations and rapid coverage of preventive services for COVID-19. As explained in a recent Pitcher Insurance Agency Inc. blog (www.pitcherinsurance.com/blog), “the FAQs clarify that a group health plan (or health insurance issuer offering coverage in connection with a group health plan) may offer participants a premium discount for receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. However, plans generally may not condition eligibility for benefits or coverage on vaccination status, and any discount must comply with the final wellness program rules.”
IHS Markit expects the U.S. infrastructure bill to supplement only 66 percent of the required needs for electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations through 2026. “Some $7.5 billion has been allocated to alternative fuel charging, primarily for EV chargers and supporting infrastructure across the country,” notes this Automotive Parade article. “IHS Markit estimates that the U.S. federal investment will directly contribute to the construction, maintenance and operation of approximately 400,000 newly installed Level 2 AC and Level 3 DC fast chargers between 2022 and 2026…unlikely to meet the growing demand.”
“Don’t hold out hope for the U.S. stainless steel shortage to get better until you know of new supply coming online. There appear to be no plans in the works to increase domestic production. Supply may tighten even more than we have seen. This is similar in scale to the chip shortage.”
So goes this Metal Miner guest commentary from C.J. Nord, founder of the nonprofit Supply Chains for Good, and Harry Moser, founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative. The shortage became a national concern nearly a year ago, the authors note, when ATI Metals shifted production away from Type 304 stainless steel to produce Type 316. “The ATI change took roughly 30 percent of our nation’s supply offline,” they add. “Furthermore, only about 10 percent has come back online.”
The OESA Q4 2021 Automotive Supplier Index, designed to gauge the sentiments of North American automotive suppliers, not surprisingly, finds pessimism in the wake of OEM shutdowns caused by supply-chain disruption and labor shortages. Other findings: Terms of commercial loans and credit lines are expected to continue to tighten; 38 percent of suppliers believe they are ahead of the industry’s pace of innovation, while 28 percent feel they are behind; 41 percent of suppliers are very confident that their company will implement the needed capital investment to meet their 2022/2023 demand requirements; and, “acquisitions seem to be the new trend, displacing R&D,” says one respondent. “If you can't invent it, buy it!”
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