Report from America: MANA – Louisville, Ky.

By November 18, 2006Report from America

Report from AmericaYesterday found the blogger-in-chief in Louisville, Kentucky, visiting with and speaking to the good folks at the Manufacturers Agents National Association, the professional association for manufacturers’ reps. These folks help sell our stuff domestically and around the world. As such, we are great allies and they are part of the great brother- and sisterhood of manufacturing in this country. They were led for years by our good friend Joe Miller, who recently retired. Bryan Shirley has taken Joe’s place and is our newest friend at MANA, with whom we hope to work for many years.

Lots of interest in manufacturing, of course, took some questions about skilled workers, a growing issue in this booming economy. We talked about energy, and noted Rep. Jim Davis’ (D-FL) comment on CNBC’s “Squawkbox” this week in opposition to tapping our own resources in the Outer Continental Shelf. Debating OCS warrior Rep. John Peterson (R-PA), Davis said he feared that in looking for natural gas we might hit oil. Said one MANA attendee, “What’s so bad about striking oil…?” Good point. Only in Washington is that a bad idea.

In any event, here’s a copy of our slides from yesterday. Thanks to Bryan and to Jay Owenby and Linda McKee for their hospitality. Always good to be among members of the manufacturing family.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • I can think of only one way to improve on Pat Cleary’s slides presented to the Manufacturers Agents National Association on November 17. That would be a slide that reminds us that manufacturing, along with mining and agriculture, is the true foundation of an economy. All other activities—banking, real estate, wholesaling, retailing, broadcasting, the U.S. Marine Corps, places of worship, and so on—merely rearrange the value that the industrial foundation produces. The slide about the declining number of degreed engineers is an eye-opener. There is a growing disconnect between non-technical corporate leaders and the people who make things happen on the plant floor. Industrial decisions are increasingly made by people have no concept of how heat, force, and motive power are applied to raw materials to transform them into the products we use every day. Similarly, many policy leaders are not familiar with industrial decision-making, which challenges business leaders to strike a balance among risk, time, and money. Also, let’s remember that fewer production people are trying to cover more responsibilities. As a consequence, competition arises within industrial corporations, especially at budget time, pitting plant against plant, department against department. Example? During a recent plant walk-through, a question about a persistent steam leak was met with the response “it’s not my leak.” So to sum it up: a dim awareness of how manufacturing works—of how resources are budgeted and utilized in the creation of wealth—opens the door to waste and inefficiency. This insidious “competitor” resides inside our own facilities, inflating the cost of the goods we produce, effectively undermining our competitiveness. The good news is that this “competitor” can be acted upon immediately, without the time and effort needed to draft a bill and build a policy consensus.