Letters To The Editor For January 2005

Small manufacturers need voice in steel debate; cell phone users need to be quiet.

The Manufacturing Agenda: Steel Prices

I agree totally with your view of how manufacturing in the U.S. never seems to catch the attention from Washington that it should. [" Editor's Page -- Putting Manufacturing Back On The National Agenda," November 2004] Our company has been a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) for over 15 years, basically since our inception. We are a small manufacturer in the material-handling industry.

I also read the article interviewing the new CEO of NAM, John Engler. [ NAM's New CEO," November 2004] I don't see from his interview that NAM really has a grasp on what is hurting small manufacturers. His concerns about education are great, but if U.S. manufacturing all moves off-shore, or south, education will not be that important.

What we are facing today are extremely high steel prices that have been driven up by the demand for scrap steel in China, and the lack of any new steel production in the U.S. We are now attempting to pass the steel increase through to our customers with a lot of resistance, to the point [that] they are deferring projects or canceling them altogether.

I have seen almost no media coverage about the effect high steel prices are having on the economy. I personally know of five manufacturing companies that have filed Chapter 11 due to long-term contracts not allowing them to recoup the increase in steel prices.
Jerry A. Stone, CFO and Exec. VP
Northstar Industries Inc., Jonesboro, Ark.

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This Electronic Life

E-BOOBS! What a great moniker! [" Brandt On Leadership -- Way Too Wired," November 2004] Even more annoying than the inane cell-phone chatter we are forced to listen to in restaurants and airport bars is the self-important e-BOOBS who find it necessary to call out every play like a baseball commentator: "I just landed . . . I'm in O'Hare . . . I'm in the jetway right now . . . Any phone calls for me? No? I'll call back in three minutes. . . ." Get a life!

Gary Lizotte, Director of Corporate Quality Ariel Corp.,
Mount Vernon, Ohio

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What a relief! How long have I thought that there is something wrong with me. [" Brandt On Leadership -- Way Too Wired," November 2004] I very seldom use a cell phone and when an excited voice announced to me one day on my office phone, "Congratulations, you've just won a free Blackberry!" I had to respond with, "Isn't that something that grows on a bush?" Thanks for a humorous -- but true -- observation and fun article.

Tom Whalen, President FAI Inc.,
Mishawaka, Ind.

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IW welcomes letters from readers on topics of interest to management. We will print as many views as space and time allow. Email comments to: [email protected]. Include your name, title, company name and address, and telephone number. We reserve the right to edit letters for clarity and space.
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