Watching For Winter

Life's odometer has clicked over another year. It's January again .

Columns From: 1/1/1996 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Chris Koepfer

Life's odometer has clicked over another year. It's January again . . . so soon!

Here in Cincinnati, winter has taken a firm grip. Frosty mornings greet us, slowing departure from the warm womb of home, as we brace ourselves, layer upon layer, against a frigid bite visible breath confirms is coming.

Veteran scrapers and jump starters, we keep blade and cables at the ready. Dutifully, with intermittent breaks to huddle a little, we waddle along warily watching for ice patches.

A weather eye is kept for approaching misery. Here, it often comes as ice. Those storms are the worst. A thick glassy glaze covers everything. Iced-over brittle branches remind us of our own aching limbs, stiff from the cold.

Like the inevitable cycle of seasons, our metalworking business reflects the alternating currents of good and bad times. Economically, it's good times. Our industry continues to bask in the glow of a warm summer's sun. We know, however, that like their seasonal equivalents, good times are transient.

A midwest winter serves many purposes. It makes us appreciate summerthat's for sure. But it also acts as motivator for preparation. Starting in autumn, we begin the tasks that will ensure a good summer. We prune trees, rake leaves, pull up the frost-killed carcasses of perennial and annual flora so new can be cultivated and planted and enjoyed. No matter how hard the winter gets, there will be summer.

Everyone experiences summer. And likewise, economic good times are there for every business. But, when the flowers bloom and healthy trees give shade from the sun, it's easy to see who did the ground work in fall.

No one is predicting the end of our current prosperity run. Signs actually point to a very long summer for the metalworking industry. But we know, especially those of us seasoned in this business, that there will be a turn--eventually.

It's the successful business and wise leader who understands the dynamics of our industry. Being ready for winter doesn't mean enjoying summer less. It's more like not going out on a January morning in shorts and a T-shirt. Once you're out in the cold, it's too late to change.

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