Oct 24 2013

Should We Buy A Water Jet Cutter?


Should We Buy A Water Jet Cutter?

Back in 2006 I was close to buying another sheet metal fabricator in Massachusetts that had a water jet cutter and I decided not to move ahead with the deal. At the time ETM Manufacturing did not have the laser cutting equipment we now have – everything was outsourced. We had (and still do have) extensive punch tooling, so little laser cutting was needed. Then we got the call from Tim, who had a new boss, and the message was clear to him; reduce the supply base from 5 to 3 sheet metal suppliers. Without the laser, we didn’t make the cut.

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Oct 17 2013

Need Help Finding a Great Business Development Manager


Need Help Finding a Great Business Development Manager

Every year we ask for your help in finding 1 or 2 great New Business Development Managers. And every year I struggle with asking for help. Many of our customers already have a great ETM contact that is supporting their business, so why help? Simply put, adding a Business Development Manager ultimately lowers our costs to all of our customers and they help improve our competitiveness. How?

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Oct 13 2013

What I Learned At The International Baking Industry Exposition


What I Learned At The International Baking Industry Exposition

I am just back from an unexpected trip to the IBIE, a show that occurs every three years for large baking companies to see the latest innovations in equipment and ingredients for their industry. Up until about 5 days ago I wasn’t planning on attending, but we heard that some of our customers would be there, so off I went. I expected to see the normal cake and donut demos and I was not disappointed, but I was also surprised by how little the industry knew about a pretty standard product we make for their plants.

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Oct 03 2013

What a Difference Twenty Years Makes


What a Difference Twenty Years Makes

Today I have the great fortune of celebrating my twentieth wedding anniversary with my wife Denise. We met almost 25 years ago in Pittsfield, MA when we both worked at GE. Over the years we have had our fair share of challenges, but we think that has made our marriage that much stronger. As with any big life event, I have found several life lessons that apply to running a sheet metal fabricator in Massachusetts.

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Sep 27 2013

My Initial Impressions of our New VP of Operations


My Initial Impressions of our New VP of Operations

Last week our new Vice President of Operations, David Puleo, started with ETM. For over 2 years we had been talking about David joining us and finally we were both ready. David started working in sheet metal over 20 years ago in his Dad’s shop, Commercial Sheet Metal, learning each position until he was finally running operations. At their peak, his company was running in 65K SF with over 100 employees serving many great customers. His Dad and uncle owned the business until about 3 years ago when they decided to close their shop. That’s when I first met David and we started talking about our VP of Operations position.

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Sep 23 2013

ETM to the Rescue


Mike is in trouble again. Several months ago his team estimated the costs for supplying hundreds of curved panels for an new airport they are constructing. Now when the time has come to find a source to make the panels, he is having a hard time. This is when he approached us and asked for help. He knows we don’t have rollers, but he knows we are good at figuring things out. This case was no different.

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Sep 12 2013

A Radical Approach to Credit Terms


Recently it seems the tide has finally turned on the economy and several customers and suppliers are getting busy. Customers seem more interested in securing capacity than lowest price. Suppliers are choosing to service their more profitable customers first. At the same time, when business picks up, cash flow is tight; all available extra cash goes to extra or overtime payroll. So while business is good, payables extend – for suppliers, for customers and for ETM. This puts us in the uncomfortable position of asking more from our suppliers while paying them slower than usual. There has to be a better way.

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Sep 05 2013

So Long to Another Customer


So Long to Another Customer

The other week I met with Mike, an ETM customer for the last 17 years, to help wrap up his business with us. From time to time our customers struggle just like we do. Some folks exit the business for better opportunities and some are hand-picked to help transition the business. In Mike’s case, his company was bought by a conglomerate and then consolidated to California. He’s been asked to stay on to help the West Coast entity absorb his supply chain. In our bittersweet meeting, I learned a lot about Mike and a lot about how we can improve.

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Aug 28 2013

Sometimes The Questions Are As Important As The Answers


Sometimes The Questions Are As Important As The Answers

Every year we send out a survey to our top customers asking for their feedback in a number of years and every year we ask the same questions. This doesn’t stop me from thinking every year, “Are we asking the right questions?” The logic behind the same questions is that it allows us to compare, year over year, the changes our customers are seeing. They are typical questions around quality, delivery, cost, service, etc. What we don’t know is if these typical areas are relatively minor compared to a huge challenge they are facing, and we don’t ask!

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Aug 22 2013

Our Inc. 5000 Listing Is Really About Our Customers


Our Inc. 5000 Listing Is Really About Our Customers

This week we were recognized by Inc. Magazine as being one of the 5000 fastest growing private companies in the US. This is the third consecutive year we have been listed. In our world, where we are so focused on our customer’s success, it is nice recognition for all that we have done over the past 3 years. I am also reflecting on how hard it is to grow triple digits year after year. Every year we have a burst of growth that helps us improve our processes, systems and structures then another burst happens, typically in another direction. As a result we have added polishing capabilities, welded frame capabilities, production assembly, electronic assembly and now CNC turning. We could not have done this without the fantastic support of our customers.

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