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Kicking Roboburgh into High Gear in 2019

Home to tech allstars like Uber, Bosch and Disney Research as well as institutions like Carnegie Mellon and the ARM institute, Pittsburgh’s reputation as one of the top robotics research hubs in the U.S. is getting more and more deserved. To support this, the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade organization, has recently announced a strategic partnership with Pittsburgh Robotics Network (PRN), a grassroots organization that aims to elevate awareness of the burgeoning robotics industry in the Pittsburgh area. “Pittsburgh has a rich history in robotics and automation,” said RIA president, Jeff Burnstein. “We’re excited to partner with the Pittsburgh Robotics Network to e

Keeping Pace with Rising Wages!

Today’s recruiting challenges are rapidly leading to real time, in-house, employee adjustments! Your existing workforce is very aware of the wage inflation strategies being used to attract new employees. Whether or not it is true for your organization, the perception exists and will become a real issue when the next performance review time arrives. At the beginning of each year, employers typically ask for industry specific survey data that can provide benchmark wage ranges for various jobs. These requests traditionally focus on existing workforce incumbents and align with growth rates in the targeted industry segment. For 2019, it may be more effective to benchmark new hire wage rates, and

Buy Local: Why Small Business Owners Must Practice What They Preach

You've asked your customers to buy local, and you should buy local too. Business-to-business (B2B) purchases can have a ripple effect on the small business community. Here are four factors to keep in mind when choosing how to spend your business dollars. Small businesses often advocate for consumers to buy local, and the message seems to have caught on. In 2016, SCORE, a nonprofit resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration, reported that 90 percent of Americans shop at small businesses at least once a week thanks to their convenience, unique inventory and stellar customer service. These consumers' purchases go a long way toward growing communities and creating jobs, but whe

Governor Wolf’s Budget Goal: Create ‘Strongest Workforce in the Nation’

Harrisburg, PA – Bold and sensible plan will rebuild Pennsylvania’s economy and prioritize skills training from birth to retirement. With the commonwealth on a comeback, Governor Tom Wolf today outlined in his 2019-20 budget address a bold plan to move the commonwealth forward by building the strongest workforce in the nation that drives the strongest economy. With a comprehensive package of programs and an overhaul of policies, the Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program will provide opportunities for Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement. “Today, I present a comprehensive plan to help grow our economy by continuing to invest in our workforce,” said Governor Wolf. “This

Oat Foundry, the Local Company Reviving Split Flap Displays

An idea that stemmed from a college thesis project has grown into a national and international success in product development. Oat Foundry is an engineering design and product development company; this group of engineers solve problems by building machines for brands and companies. Their slogan, “We Build Cool Stuff,” sums up their mission. Founder and chief executive officer Mark Kuhn has never had an engineering job outside of Oat Foundry. During his sophomore year at Drexel University he made the decision to become an entrepreneur. “[My mission is to] grow. Grow in ways that we start to look at making things that make people’s lives better, making things that make the world better,” he ex

State initiatives stepping in to fill much-needed skilled manufacturing job openings

Pennsylvania suffers from a lack of skilled labor to fill numerous manufacturing job openings, a rising number that stakeholders across the Commonwealth say has resulted in a cap on the state’s economic growth. Fortunately, several initiatives are underway across Pennsylvania to rectify the issue. At the Lancaster, Pa.-based Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, for example, an April 10 dedication and ribbon-cutting event heralded the opening of a new complex that will house three of the college’s in-demand programs: HVAC/R, metals fabrication and welding, and computer integrated machining. The Thaddeus Stevens College Greiner Advanced Manufacturing Center, located just a few blocks from t

Is Your Focus On You, Or Your Customers?

We often oversimplify what we believe a customer’s need is, often due to the fact that many organizations view customer needs through an internal lens. “Because we sell widgets, our customer must need widgets. Our customers must want them to perform reliably, have them delivered on time, and at least meet a minimum quality standard.” Organizations frequently view this as their organizational purpose and mission – to generate a product and sell it to as many customers as possible who might buy it. Yet this can be a self-fulfilling perspective, presuming that your offerings are addressing all the needs a customer may have. Why is this mindset so prevalent in a lot of companies today? It usuall

Sisters taking the helm for Yuengling at 190

For the last year, Yuengling has pushed a marketing message of “spread your wings” and drink beer made by the nation’s oldest and largest independent brewery. The tagline also pays homage to the history of the Schuylkill County brewery, which was originally called the Eagle Brewery. But more than that, the message is something that Wendy Yuengling and her three sisters — the sixth generation of Yuenglings to run the brewery — are living in the beer business today. “Spread your wings is about us too as the next generation,” Yuengling said earlier in April at a private media event in Pottsville to celebrate the company’s 190th anniversary. The Yuengling daughters, who run the company alongside

Using Employee Ownership to Build a More Equitable Future for Work

When the trash collectors of the 1930s (then known as “scavengers”) formed cooperatives to organize their work, they did so to meet an immediate and pressing need for better jobs. Their intervention in the labor market was a crisis response to market gaps. But they also laid out a vision and a set of principles that pointed at a different way to organize economic activity. Cooperatives have always walked this line between practical and visionary. Market gaps change with the times, but employee ownership is once again being used to fill them. As job creation in our economy concentrates in the service sector, Americans increasingly find themselves working contractor gigs and patching together

Life's Too Short to Run Your Company into the Ground

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and the founder of Amazon, recently predicted to a group of employees that “Amazon will go bankrupt.” He was reflecting on the recent bankruptcy of Sears, which not that long ago was as formidable as Amazon is today. “If you look at large companies,” he said, “their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.” I know what you’re thinking: That doesn’t seem right. Large companies have enduring strength. Massive corporations such as those in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) are cornerstones of our economy. We don’t think of them in terms of life expectancy; instead, we imagine them as permanent. After all, companies like America

Hard Hat Turns 100; Impact on Industrial Safety Never Gets Old

Luckily for industrial workers everywhere, Lt. Edward Wheatley Bullard of the U.S. Cavalry climbed out of the French trenches with an idea that would spark the industrial safety movement: the hard hat. Bullard, the son of a mining equipment supplier, was inspired by the metal helmets doughboys wore to deflect the hail of bullets raining down on them courtesy of the Kaiser. When he returned home, he invented the first commercially available industrial hard hat, called the Hard Boiled hat. Prior to its invention and subsequent production in San Francisco, gold and copper miners in California and Nevada basically wore leather caps—which might not be all that good at stopping hail, let alone the

Suppliers Hit Hardest in GM Closures

A recent article in IndustryWeek, “Laid-off GM workers and their supporters gather for a vigil—and vow to fight,” focused on the 1,400 GM employees in Ohio losing their jobs under the company’s announced cutbacks. While layoffs are always difficult, I applaud General Motors for being proactive rather than reactive in addressing current—and what they perceive will be future—changes in the automobile market. I realize my opinion may seem a bit heartless. Although 1,400 is a large number, the greater number of jobs lost with the closing of this plant will be with Lordstown’s suppliers. I don’t have any recent data to draw upon, but back in 2008 when General Motors was on the verge of bankruptcy

Reuse of Daily News Building a Big Win for Mon-Valley

The reopening of the former Daily News Building as the "Tube City Center for Business and Innovation" is a signal that McKeesport officials want to direct their focus to revitalizing the city's Downtown area. "We have development coming in at all different corners of town --- in Christy Park, on East Fifth Avenue, and RIDC is going to be out with a big announcement within the next 30 days," McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said at Monday's ribbon cutting ceremony. "Up and down the Walnut Street corridor, we have new businesses and construction." One part of the city hasn't seen that level of activity: Downtown. "That's the part of town we're here about today," Cherepko said. More than 300

Cochranton teen a role model in tooling and machining trade

Shelby Anthony doesn’t consider working in the tooling and machining industry a job — it’s a profession with a future for young women like herself. Right now, Anthony, 19, of Cochranton, is wrapping up the first year of a four-year apprentice program through the National Tooling and Machining Association as she’s employed at Starn Tool & Manufacturing. “I like just trying to figure things out and how they work,” Anthony said about why she wants in a career in manufacturing. Both of Anthony’s parents work at Channellock Inc. and for Anthony her interest began as as a young girl when she and her father built model car kits together. As she’s gotten older, it’s grown to working with her dad on

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