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Chris Koepfer

Chris Koepfer has been involved in metalworking for 30 years. His first 14 were in the machine tool group at Cincinnati Milacron where he honed his technical writing skills in turning, machining and grinding before joining Modern Machine Shop in 1992 as an associate editor. In 2001, he helped found MMS’ sister publication Production Machining, which speaks to the precision machined parts segment of the industry. Chris is graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, as are three of his four children, and an XU basketball fan—which can be as daunting as working in metalworking, he says.

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 15. November 2012

Passing the Baton

My son, Chirstopher, recently got married. Here is a picture of our happy family at the wedding.

Parenting involves raising our children. When we help teach our co-workers, we call it mentoring. In many ways, these two things are similar. It is the successful efforts of parenting that create ground that is fertile enough to accept and use mentoring efforts later in life. They are hand in glove and represent hope for the future.  

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 10. September 2012

Coming Home: Reshoring is Real

The reshoring worm has turned for many manufacturing businesses. Work is coming home from distant shores, and it’s a good time to learn how best to take advantage of the trend.
 
Harry Moser, a 45-year industry veteran and founder of the Reshoring Initiative, is presenting on the topic during IMTS to help U.S. manufacturers recognize the profit potential of using local sourcing and production, as well as the critical role they can play in strengthening the economy. Reshoring has been an important driver for manufacturing’s ascendency in the past few years, and it’s also important to maintain the momentum.
 
Moser presents on reshoring from the IMTS main stage, located between the North and South halls of McCormick Place, from 9:30 to 9:55 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, Thursday, Sept. 13, and Friday, Sept. 14. He explains how reshoring is an efficient means of reducing imports, increasing exports and regaining manufacturing jobs in the United States.
 
Reshoring is not passive. Moser will present manufacturers with tools to help explain the importance and profit potential of domestic manufacturing, such as recovery from offshoring’s poor quality, trade secret thefts, supply chain disruptions and lengthy delivery times.
 
Another aspect of the Reshoring Initiative’s mission involves proprietary Total Cost of Ownership Estimator software that’s free and available 24/7 at reshorenow.org. With this software, users can account for all relevant factors when trying to determine their total cost of sourcing decisions. Many of these factors can be overlooked, and this software is a tool to help make more informed decisions.
    
Visitors to this year’s IMTS are well-advised to plan some time on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday to hear what Moser has to say on the subject of reshoring. It may have a very positive impact on your business.
Posted by: Chris Koepfer 20. July 2012

Group Think

 
I’ve lived in greater Cincinnati for almost over 40 years and never have been called for jury duty. That string ended in May when my summons arrived.
 
That initial summons provided a one-time exemption with the stipulation that I reschedule in a reasonable amount of time. Well, since I was holding a ticket to Switzerland the court excused me. My reschedule was set for July 9.
 
I show up and on the first day get assigned to a trial. It was a malpractice suit that lasted for an unusual seven days. It was detailed and tedious.
 
My take-away from the experience has less to do with the doctors, lawyers, expert witnesses and other courtroom trappings and more with my fellow jurors. We met as strangers, yet by the end of deliberations I think it fair to say we were certainly much closer.
 
I found the process of deliberation particularly interesting because eight people from different backgrounds and circumstances found a way to come together to get the job we were assigned done. Within the stricture of the law, we reviewed the lawyers’ presentations and weighed the preponderance of evidence to reach a verdict.
 
There was give and take from each of us because the end result was important and necessary. In this room, we discussed, with civility, where we each were coming from on the various points of determination and in the end reached a unanimous decision.
 
Was everyone in total agreement? Absolutely not. However we managed to put ourselves somewhat into the background in order to accomplish our civic duty.
 
In many ways, the exercise in that jury room is designed to mimic how we should function in business. My fellow jurors each made contributions to the outcome of the trial. Each was given a voice and listened to with respect.
 

According to our presiding judge, this is the strength of the justice system, people working together to make the best decision they can based only on the evidence, without ego or prejudice. Perhaps there is a lesson in here for who might be invited to the next meeting you call. In our group, eight out of eight contributed dispassionately to the strength our collective decision. We did right and we did it together.   

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 14. June 2012

Worth the Trip

 
Getting to Elmira, New York is not the easiest thing to do. Earlier this month, I jumped a plane from Cincinnati to Philadelphia to Elmira. Each plane got smaller and smaller, starting with a 50-passenger CRJ and finally a wing-over, prop-driven 20-seater for the last leg. But it was worth it.
 
The occasion was a visit to Hardinge for its second HMTS (Hardinge Machine Tool Show). The company welcomed more than 750 visitors to the company’s headquarters in Elmira June 6 and 7. A lineup of turning, grinding, milling, automation, rotary and workholding applications were on display in the 50,000-square-foot showroom.
 
Also included were more than 40 of Hardinge’s industry partners including tooling, software and accessory providers, which rounded out the trade show atmosphere. Technical people from Hardinge’s varied product lines and its suppliers were on hand to discuss technology and applications with visitors.
 
A neat thing about having a show in your shop is that it allows for a plant tour. Hardinge’s tour consisted of 11 stops throughout the manufacturing facility with presentations by the team members who actually do the work.
 

The idea seems to be catching—this year’s event covered four times the floor space of last year’s premier exhibition. Elmira may not be on the beaten path, but it’s a worthy destination for metalworking manufactures to see made in America alive and well.  

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 7. March 2012

Senator Mitch McConnell Visits MAG

 
On Friday, March 2, Senator Mitch McConnell dropped by the Hebron, Kentucky facility of machine tool builder MAG. We were invited to listen in as company executives explained the nature of the facility’s business, which is primarily aerospace and renewable energy, and sought help from the senator on issues affecting manufacturing.
 
The list included export control reform, extended R&D tax credit and bonus depreciation, financing support for the EXIM bank, promotion of job training and creation of a “smart force.”  MAG’s Hebron operation relies heavily on exports, with about 60 percent of the machines built there exported, MAG President Dan Janka explained to the senator.
 
After meeting with the company executives, the senator addressed the assembled employees with brief remarks followed by a Q&A session. Standing on the main assembly floor and surrounded by large machines used to produce composite components for the aerospace and renewable energy industries, he began his remarks by commenting that it is “stunning what you do here.”
 

He’s right: It is stunning what companies like MAG and shops like yours do everyday to maintain a critical manufacturing base in this country. Perhaps we keep our light under a bushel basket, but if more of our officials would come out and see what vital and successful manufacturing in the United States looks like, the list of needs from companies like MAG and shops like yours might not only be heard but acted upon.       

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