Blog posts from April, 2016

MAGNET brings manufacturing trends, thought leadership into the spotlight

April 26, 2016 by Liz Fox

On Thursday, April 14, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network and the University of Akron’s Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing hosted the inaugural [M]anufacturing Matters session in conjunction with the Ashland Small Manufacturers Council. The event encouraged business owners, educators, and economic development leaders from across North Central Ohio “follow the trend lines, not the headlines” when it comes to understanding the present and future of the U.S. economy. Led by MAGNET Senior Growth and Innovation Advisor Bob Schmidt and University of Akron Associate Professor Andrew R. Thomas, the meeting in Ashland County addressed an array of manufacturing concerns, including the current state of the economy, patterns in domestic manufacturing, and what companies can expect in the future. “The presentation was eye-opening and very interesting,” said Tyler Shinaberry of EPIK. “We need to be creative and think creatively … The session presented challenges for the future, and we must look outward and get creative for the future.” “I thought I knew a lot about our economy, but this proved I did not,” said Gary Funkhouser, President and CEO of Certified Labs. “It was informative and interesting. It was worth the time investment, and we should do more of these

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How do I become a thought leader in my industry?

April 25, 2016 by Liz Fox

In the world of manufacturing, the term “thought leadership” is an ever-present buzzword that transcends industry. People perceived as thought leaders often speak at conferences, maintain blogs, and write extensively on topics pertinent to their audience. More importantly, thought leaders engage in the sharing and discussion of ideas that influence the thoughts of others and help people achieve success. But what does it really take to transform yourself into a thought leader? While you might not become the next Seth Godin or Jim Tompkins, it’s definitely possible to drive conversation and influence key people in your industry. The following characteristics can help you not only be perceived as a thought leader, but engage with others on multiple levels that can propel your ideas forward. Enhanced Storytelling: Stories are the first step to connecting with your audience on a personal level. Begin with a hook, then dive into details to which you feel they’ll respond. Anecdotes from your own life often serve as great backdrops, descriptors, and metaphors for the larger message you may be trying to convey. Quality Curating: Thought leaders know great content when they see it, and many have the impulse to share it with others. Think about

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Does your work culture really need "fixing"?

April 12, 2016 by Liz Fox

New ways of business emphasize the importance of creating the “right” work environment. However, experts say culture isn’t something to be fixed; rather, it is achieved through implementing new processes to combat other challenges like outdated strategies or less-than-stellar business models. In an April 2016 article in Harvard Business Review, business leaders in various industries explain how corporate transformation and better internal efforts led to the byproduct of culture change. Among these is former Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who joined the company in 2006 and faced harsh obstacles, including sequestered units that made different vehicles, targeted different markets, and existed independently of one another. He later implemented One Ford, an initiative used to eliminate waste and improve communication between upper management, executives, and Ford employees. This also allowed Ford to easily identify low-sellers, which made more room to focus on the production of compact, energy-efficient models. Novartis CEO Dan Vasella followed a similar route. By streamlining operations and establishing key objectives, the company shifted from a business rooted in prescription drugs to a healthcare products portfolio. “[The chief goal was] to discover, develop, and bring to patients better medicines again and again,” Vasella told HBR. “First you have to deliver

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The True Benefits of Additive Manufacturing

April 07, 2016 by Liz Fox

From stereolithography to 21st-century 3D printing, additive manufacturing has traveled a long way to provide a cool, cost-effective way to create assorted goods and components. Though the medium boasts several decades of history, the average manufacturer has only recently become receptive to the innovations additive has to offer, namely in the areas of engineering, economics, and supply-and-demand. But what benefits can companies reap from the switch? Fail flexibly. Redesigns, edits, and modifications are staples of the product development process, and being able to roll with the changes is essential to success. The ability to quickly produce prototypes (known as “rapid prototyping”) boosts the convenience factor and allows engineers to explore different possibilities without sacrificing too much material or cost. Because the CAD workflow is also used during this process, it takes less time for an idea to sprout from your head and find its way into your hands. Decrease cost and labor. Keeping up with high demand is tough with old-school subtractive techniques. Thankfully, the technologies of AM can be utilized to produce consistent, quality products at a fraction of the cost and manpower required of other methods. An example of this shift lies in MAGNET’s work with Heat Seal,

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