Shootin’ the Breeze

The best part of my job is hanging out and shootin’ the breeze with you gals and guys, and sometimes just watching you shoot the breeze with each other.


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That seems to be when I learn the most from you and how you learn the most from each other. So I took that line of thinking and decided it was time to create a live shootin’ the breeze environment at our annual event, and that is how we introduced our Roundtable Discussions at this year’s amerimold.

Sherry and I sat in and listened to a variety of conversations, mostly addressing business development and workforce training challenges and solutions. We walked away with a clearer picture of what is going on with you, your shops and your industry; ideas on how to cover many of the issues that are affecting you the most today; and, great feedback on how to build upon this roundtable format to help encourage more productive dialogue.

A sample of our takeaway topics include how scale and efficiency will become more important in toolmaking as turnaround time and cost continue to dominate the equation; the next generation of technologically-advanced customers will take for granted that you have all the modern capabilities, so if you don't, you won’t even be considered; advances in process development may end up a minimum skill set to have in the organization to drive efficiency; the face of the OEM is changing from a technical lead to a project manager or purchasing lead; shops need to really focus on employee development and apprenticeships; the importance of actually following ISO procedures and work instructions; the need to get lean to the shop level; the importance of delegating and trusting co-workers and suppliers; there are opportunities in Mexico; ways to work with local metalworking companies to support apprenticeship programs; training tools to use in conjunction with entry-level/apprentice hires; suppliers wish to be involved early; how and when to hand off from sales to engineering; integrating tooling and processing; shortening qualification times through pre-planning and data management; what OEMs look for in a tool shop; how best to identify and reach potential buyers; and, how to leverage partnerships with tech schools to begin to grow our own workforce from the bottom up.

Good stuff. Thanks to all for sharing. This sounds like something I should do in my personal life, since I do like to sit back once in a while at my family get-togethers to just listen and watch … you know, to see how everyone is and what they’ve each been up to. Now mind you, I come from a family of 6 kids—3 boys and 3 girls (yes, the Brady Bunch, but without the maid or dog), who have now given my parents a total of 12 grandchildren all under the age of 13—so it can be nearly impossible to actually hear anything. So, now I’m thinking to be more productive, I’ll organize these shootin’ the breeze roundtables at my next family gathering. I’ll let you know how that goes!