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25 Easy Ways to Get a New Perspective on your Small Business

Do you ever notice that you get more ideas (and get them faster) when you step aside from your normal business routine? I can sit at my computer for what seems like hours struggling to write a blog post or put together a proposal. Then, the moment I step away from my desk to grab a soda, I get all kinds of inspiration. A change of scenery, even one as simple as standing up from your desk, can do wonders for your creativity — and for your business. As summer winds to a close, there’s no better time than now to break away from your usual routine and try something new. How to Gain a Fresh Perspective Even the smallest changes can have big effects on your outlook, freeing you up to see business

Sheet metal school to be built in Hamburg with help from $1M state grant

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state awarded a $1 million grant toward the cost of building a school in Hamburg that will train sheet metal workers, a field in demand in the construction industry. Sheet Metals Workers Local 19 was awarded the grant to build the post-secondary school at 102 Windsor Ave., which is expected to cost $2.6 million. The 12,000-square-foot facility will contain four classrooms, a shop and laboratory and provide some of the latest technology. The facility will be used for apprenticeship and journey worker education for the union’s more than 4,000 members. The school will have space to accept additional students, who will be paid during their training. The s

INFOGRAPHIC: The Facts About Manufacturing

There’s a very old parable, thought to have originated in the Indian subcontinent, of six blind (or blind-folded) men asked to describe an elephant. They reach different conclusions depending upon which part of the elephant they touch: Side – it’s like a wall Leg – it’s like a tree Trunk – it’s like a snake Tusk – it’s like a spear Ear – it’s like a fan Tail – it’s like a rope The point is that people have the tendency to project their partial observations to represent the entirety of something. Each man was “correct” in their assessment, they just did a poor job of explaining the entirety of the elephant. A similar challenge arises when trying to describe or characterize the role of manuf

Tariffs complicate paint can manufacturing business

If you've ever bought a gallon of paint, there's a chance the can was made in Springettsbury Township by BWAY Corp., one of the largest manufacturers of metal paint cans in the U.S. Tariffs, however, are driving up the cost of tinplate used to make the cans, prompting the manufacturer to consider sending some of its production overseas. “We’re not doing that and don’t want to do that, but it’s an option we have to look at,” said Leslie Bradshaw, executive vice president of procurement and logistics for BWAY. “We’re still fighting the fight.” In June, the U.S. imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports, forcing BWAY, like other manufacturers, to pass the cost onto customers. The company has

Think You Can’t Lower Your Baseload Energy Needs? Guess Again

There’s nothing I can do to lower my baseload. If you work at a manufacturing plant, I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard this -- or even said it yourself -- more than a few times. But here’s the thing: This assumption keeps us stuck in efficiency status quo, when in reality it simply isn’t true. With the right approach, you can lower your manufacturing baseload and increase your efficiency in the process. To implement this at your own plant, start by following these best practices, developed through my decades of energy management work with manufacturers across industries. Conduct night or weekend audits to find the “phantom” users. I’ve seen energy teams reduce their baseload by 40% just b

In Gratitude, Paper Manufacturer Tours Country Donating to Charities

"We think our world could use a little more gratitude, and we spent three weeks doing our part to thank the unsung heroes of our company and our country," explained Liberty Diversified International. Liberty Diversified International traveled 6, 426 miles in 20 days, crossing 26 state lines, making 17 stops to donate to charities in towns that it has operations. The company, which is comprised of seven companies, specializing in corrugated fiberboard and office furnishings, decided the best way to celebrate its 100 year anniversary was to show gratitude to its customers and employees. So this summer its fourth generation CEO Mike Fiterman led a cross-country bus tour, giving away more than $

The Perfect Storm for the Manufacturing Workforce

Just as American manufacturing seems to be hitting its stride, the sector now faces the perfect storm when it comes to finding and developing the workforce of the future: Baby boomers are retiring from all sectors at a rate of 10,000 a day in the United States, taking their institutional and technical knowledge with them into retirement. The number of American youth with sufficient STEM education for a shop floor or R&D department is inadequate – and those who do have these skills typically do not entertain manufacturing as a career option, often favoring the tech sector. In recent years, the opioid crisis has reached critical levels, and a new report by the MAPI Foundation shows an ominous

Brian Dawkins takes Bollman Hat to Hall of Fame

In the marketing world, there’s a powerful practice known as product placement. It’s when a manufacturer pays to have its product placed prominently in a television show or movie, so the item is seen by millions of viewers (a.k.a. potential customers). But there’s an even better strategy. It’s getting a product seen by millions of viewers without having to pay a cent. That bit of good fortune descended on Bollman Hat Co. last weekend when the company’s newest collaborator, Brian Dawkins, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The beloved former Philadelphia Eagle had launched “The Brian Dawkins Collection” of hats the day before. The hats were designed by Dawkins an

How a Little-Known Tax Credit Can Pay Off Big in Automation Costs

To meet productivity and efficiency demands, industries are rapidly turning to automation. But automation systems are expensive. A highly underutilized government incentive, the Research & Development (R&D) Tax Credit, help offset much of the development and implementation costs for automation systems and provide a source of capital for the acquisition of additional technical talent. The Evolution of the Tax Credit In the late 1980s, the U.S. took steps to battle an economic slowdown by implementing the R&D Tax Credit to encourage domestic corporate innovation. And in the decades since its inception, the requirements surrounding the credit have evolved to the overall benefit of U.S. business

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