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The search for workers continues to occupy the minds of metal … –

When asked “What keeps you up at night?” metal fabricators are quick to point to the lack of workers and the economy. Cemile Bingol / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images
If you read the pages of The Fabricator enough, you know that metal fabricators have a huge interest in manufacturing efficiency. Manufacturing processes are always being scrutinized to eliminate waste. Machine uptime and downtime are tracked to understand just how much true manufacturing capacity is available. Shops are investigating any sort of automation tied to material movement, forming, and welding. Everyone is trying to do more with less.
That’s where metal fabricators find themselves. The domestic manufacturing economy has been pretty hot since the latter days of the pandemic, and fab shops have been trying to do what they can to stay on top of those new opportunities. Because hiring the right people for open positions has proven difficult for most, metal fabricators have turned to automation and robotics to help fill the gap as shops take on new work.
Of course, for those in the metal fabricating industry for any length of time, this automated path might have been inevitable. Since 2007, The Fabricator has conducted an every-other-year survey, asking metal fabricators “What keeps you up at night?” In a majority of those surveys, people were concerned about the availability of skilled workers. (In 2009 and 2011, as the economy was coming out of the throes of the Great Recession, most respondents were focused on the state of the economy.)
Instead of following up with the survey again to get expected results, this year The Fabricator conducted interviews with five metal fabricators to find out what’s on their minds as they run their companies. Here’s what they had to say.
The Fabricator: What keeps you up at night?
Cubbage: The previous two calendar years, finding people was the toughest thing for us. We had huge opportunities, and we missed out because of it. We had more work than we could handle. We couldn’t find anybody to do it.
But with the beginning of this year, it has slowed down, kind of leveled off. So we’re keeping up with the demand.
In light of the struggle to find workers, what have you done to try and retain your current workforce?
Cubbage: We don’t have a lot of turnover to begin with, so usually if people work out, they end up staying. The people we have here have been here a while. We hire people who enjoy working and like to have a good time while doing it. I believe it’s important to enjoy going to work, and I think that has helped us to retain our employees.
To find people, we’ve used temp agencies and put ads up everywhere, like high schools and colleges. We don’t hire a lot of engineers, but we did hire one with the help of a college job board. Other than that, actually, I was getting the best turnout on Indeed. I’m guessing that might just be the place that machine operators are looking the most for jobs. We also offer rewards to our current employees for finding new hires that stay on with us for at least six months.
(From left) Seth Cubbage, GP Precision Sheet Metal Fabricators Inc.; Chad Huff, H&H Metals; John McKeon, Metalcrafters; Greg Fuller, MetalFab Group; Jerry McKenna, Professional Metal Works
What has your company done to take advantage of business opportunities that have presented themselves over the past couple of years?
Cubbage: We’re always trying to maximize manpower. Whether we’re talking in the design stage of how we’re going to fabricate a part or in the process of actually doing it, we want to be as efficient as possible.
On a daily basis anyway, we’re constantly improving our processes. We encourage all of our employees to make suggestions.
Do you think there’s an opportunity to add automation in the next 12 months?
Cubbage: It’s not at the top of my list at the moment. For what I’ve seen and the quantities that we run, it doesn’t make sense for us currently.
We do a lot of prototype work and short runs. As a result, we haven’t looked heavily at automation. Set up is key for us.
Where do you think you might be focusing attention on the next year or so?
Cubbage: I have a laser that we’re replacing. In a sense, I guess that would be better automation.
The one that we’re replacing is quite old. It’s not something that we rely on because it’s a back-up, but it’s becoming kind of a liability just to find parts when they break.
We’re also getting our HVAC and our lighting replaced with the help of an incentive from our power company, which aims to reduce energy usage.
GP Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication, Hackettstown, N.J., operates two laser cutting machines, regularly cutting thicknesses up to 0.1875 in. The company is getting a new fiber laser cutting machine to accompany its 4-kW Cincinnati machine. GP Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication
We are always looking to bring on more work, too. There’s a customer of ours that is looking to retire and sell the business. We fabricate the company’s sheet metal, and then they stuff the enclosures with electronics. We’re entertaining the idea of absorbing them into what we do. We don’t do a ton of that type of work right now, but it is not beyond our capabilities.
We’ve previously done that with another product line. There was another company that was closing that made medical carts for the pharmaceutical industry. That’s been nice over the years as it’s been helpful to offset any downturn we might see in our regular sheet metal work, and vice versa.
When you interview primarily younger people for a position in your company, what are they most concerned about?
Cubbage: When I started working, my age group and the people that were older, they all put in the hours. We were interested in any and all overtime that was available. It was kind of like a point of pride.
Today, it seems different. The younger guys that are now older, including me, are not looking to work all those hours, which isn’t a big surprise. But the younger people coming in seem to feel the same way, too. There is a lot of opportunity to capitalize on all the overtime available. I suppose personal time is just a higher priority.
I also have noticed that the younger people like having more ownership of what they’re doing, not just being spoon-fed with tasks. We’ve experienced that here, and it’s nice to see.
Do you think that government officials understand what they need to do to help domestic manufacturing?
Cubbage: On the state level, I’m going to say “no.” In New Jersey, we’re on the higher end of minimum wage and taxes compared to other states. And a lot of the decisions being made are not helpful for me.
Being a manufacturer here, competing against companies right next door in Pennsylvania and in the Midwest, where you have a lower cost of living, is difficult. It’s tougher to do it in New Jersey, and the current administration is just making it more expensive in the state to do business. That’s not helpful.
Is there anything that government officials can do to help you?
A significant portion of sheet metal products produced by Thornton, Colo.-based H&H Metals is sold to the building and construction industry. H&H Metals
Cubbage: I would say lowering costs would help. New Jersey is on the higher end, if not the highest, when it comes to corporate taxes, property taxes, income taxes, minimum wage, and sales taxes. Lower those would help.
How do you see your company doing in the next 12 months?
Cubbage: I think we’re going to continue to grow. Many of our customers are optimistic with regards to the rest of the year and next year, too. We get stronger as a company every year, which helps us to increase our customer base. Customers often find us through word of mouth. Though, we’re also out there knocking on doors and going to trade shows.
With everything that you’ve experienced with metal fabricating, would you recommend such a career to a family member?
Cubbage: If they are interested in it, I would say yes.
My son is starting his freshman year in college, and he’s going to school for robotics engineering. He knows that’s what he wants to do, so I would not necessarily recommend it for him.
My daughter, she’s going to be a junior in high school and is still figuring out what she wants to do. She just started working part time in our shop this summer. This was her first job, and she seems to like it. I could see her doing it because there are lots of different things to do within the company. It’s definitely not monotonous. That’s for sure. So in her case, I wouldn’t be afraid to recommend this job to her.
The Fabricator: What keeps you up at night?
Huff:To be honest with you, it’s definitely a people issue.
Availability of credit is not an issue for us. We’re one of those companies that has slow and consistent growth. I don’t do a lot of leveraging to grow. We tend to grow out of the reinvestment into the company. I don’t have any debt load on any of my equipment.
Metalcrafters, Methuen, Mass., has invested heavily in automation over the years. Metalcrafters
Being in Colorado, we have to deal with a high cost of living. It’s horribly expensive here. Yeah, it’s a great place to live. It’s beautiful and outdoorsy, but it’s completely expensive. So, for me to compete on a national scale, it’s incredibly hard. There are a lot of places that have a lower cost of living and fewer taxes. To compete locally, that’s easy. Competing nationally is a little bit of a different story.
In light of the struggle to find workers, what have you done to find new workers?
Huff: We definitely put ads out on job boards, like Indeed, but the best luck we’ve had is kind of word of mouth. Leaning on your circle of friends and family and putting the word out at our church groups and similar groups like that, we’re finding that’s the best way to attract new people.
I’m one of those people that tries not to poach people from our competition. The metal fabricating industry is an ultrasmall world. Now, I have people that have come from competitors, but I don’t go out and headhunt them. That’s a no-no.
An untapped resource that we’ve found, especially with our part-timers, are retired people. They’re just looking for a purpose and something to do.
Do you think that government officials understand what they need to do to help domestic manufacturing?
Huff: At the federal level, I’m one of those believers that not a whole lot’s getting done there. Some of it’s by design, right? I think probably the biggest thing was when the supply chain crisis hit. That woke them people up. It became big news. But I’m also of the opinion that this is the kind of news that’s going to fade, and we’re just going to go back to the way it was again, which is kind of unfortunate. We are a global economy, but there are certain things that we absolutely need to do here domestically. I don’t think the federal government’s going to get it.
It just seems like everybody is talking about reshoring and bringing it back. That might have temporarily happened, but as the costs are more expensive here, things are going to continue to go back. I’m curious to see over the next few years if the reshoring tend is really going to stick.
The biggest thing about the federal government is, honestly, less is more. For example, be more predictable. When the federal government isn’t predictable, that’s when we get the roller coaster. It’s like when they create tariffs, and then all of a sudden the tariffs are off.
Being predictable can really help. That’s going to really level things out, especially for material prices. That’s been one of the biggest struggles for us in dealing with our customers, dealing with those swings. I feel like I have some customers where I’m more of a stockbroker than I am a metal fabricator.
Since it’s installation just over a year ago, a new BLM LT8 tube laser cutting machine has allowed MetalFab Group to take on longer-run cutting jobs. MetalFab Group
I know more about steel prices today than I ever have in my career, and that’s sad. It used to be the price of steel would change a few pennies all year long, and now it’s like massive changes take place in 24-hour periods. It’s kind of tough to predict, especially on your larger orders.
It kind of seems like it’s leveling out a little bit, but it was crazy there for a while. There were suppliers that I would call for quotes, and I would say, “How long is my quote good for?” And they’d say, “Until you hang up the phone.”
Do you think there’s an opportunity to add automation in the next 12 months?
Huff: Absolutely. I always say if you’re not adding automation right now, you’re getting left in the dust.
For us, the easiest place to deploy automation has been in our welding department. We have two robotic welding cells. We have one that’s more of a fixed robotic welding cell, and then we have a cobot that we’ve deployed. They are very accurate, and one thing it brings to light is you have to have very accurate parts to put in those things.
These robotic welders have been key for us because they can be run literally by accountants. We actually have a retired accountant running one of the cells. You have the welders set them up, validate it, and spot check it, but they don’t necessarily need to be running the volume.
We’ve ordered an upgrade to one of our press brakes to include sheet followers because we do a lot of large panels for the glass and glazing industry. It takes sometimes two, three, or even four operators to work with some of these bigger panels. Soon we’ll be able to do that with a single person.
We definitely have product lines that are higher volume, and we definitely deploy automation in those instances.
When you interview primarily younger people for a position in your company, what are they most concerned about?
Huff: No. 1, especially with the younger generation, they’re all worried about the dollar per hour.
An AMADA automated press brake cell has helped Professional Metal Works, Lansing, Mich., stay on top of new job opportunities. Professional Metal Works
Location has been huge as well. It takes a good hour to get from one side of our city to the other now. As a result, we tend to get people that are around our area.
The other thing that they absolutely love—and this is totally a Colorado thing—is the outdoors. Because of this, we went to a four-day workweek about 20 years ago. Our employees love four-day workweeks. Everybody bookends it, right? So on Mondays and Fridays, we’re a little lighter staff than the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays, when we have everybody here.
The beauty of it is if we do get into an overtime situation, it’s still during the workweek. That’s great because the younger generation loves their weekends.
How do you see your company doing in the next 12 months?
Huff: To be honest with you, we’ve got more work coming at us than we can handle. Our biggest issue is how do we handle that new work? How do we still serve our customer base well, but still take on those new opportunities? That’s a constant struggle.
We are absolutely going to continue to grow. As a matter of fact, the last two years we’ve seen double-digit growth, and we’ve done that with about the same amount of people. We’ve become more efficient over the past couple of years.
How would you sum up your career in metal fabricating so far?
Huff: Absolutely blessed. It’s a super-stable industry. We can pivot on a dime. When one sector slows down, another’s going to pick up.
And there’s so many things out there that include metal. It’s everywhere. We’re building awards for the Ironman triathlons one day and then turning around and fabricating some lockers for a space exploration company. It’s just kind of all over the place.
The Fabricator: What keeps you up at night?
McKeon: Inflation, the economy, energy costs, labor cost, and finding qualified candidates to add to our workforce. Hiring good employees has become harder and harder each year. We have very knowledgeable and skilled employees who have worked for Metalcrafters for many years, some up to 45 years. As our workforce ages, it becomes more difficult find suitable replacements long term.
In light of the struggle to find good workers, what have you done to try and retain your current workforce?
McKeon: Metalcrafters has been in business for 80 years, many of our employees, past and present, have worked here for decades. We are all a part of the Metalcrafters family, and our President Andy Tucker and Vice President Marty Tucker firmly believe in family first. This has allowed us to retain employees that many businesses wish they had.
Metalcrafters offers opportunities for future growth and development. We invest in our employee’s future. We offer great wages, a benefit package with 401(k), 25 to 35 days paid time off, excellent PPO health insurance, dental, vision, disability, life insurances, and more. We believe if you work at Metalcrafters you can make this your home away from home.
What are some of the things that the company is doing to attract good employees?
McKeon: Ideally, we want to work with local vocational high schools and bring in co-op students who want to build a career in manufacturing. We want to develop these students into successful long-term employees. We also work with various companies to find skilled labor, but this can be difficult at times. Over the past 15 years or so, a number of manufacturers have closed, and many of their employees decided to work in different careers, decreasing the talent pool. Skilled labor in the precision sheet metal sector has become harder to find.
Is working with co-op students something new that your company is trying?
McKeon: No. We have been doing this for a very long time. We will bring students in and immediately start the training and development process. During this time we identify students who show interest in what they are learning. If they retain information and training and have a desire to grow, we will do everything we can to help the student achieve a successful and long-term career. This is the goal, but I think many people have different philosophies and expatiations than people did from my generation.
Do you think this different philosophy is the case with most of the people you interview?
McKeon: Not all, but many. For example, I came from the philosophy of “let me get my foot in the door, show you want I’m capable of, work hard, and then discuss my value and my wages.” This is how Metalcrafters works. Today, it seems many people believe in “you’re lucky if I accept the position, pay me now, and then I’ll show you want I can do later.” It’s a tough situation because we reward hard work and good employees, and it takes time to get there.
What has your company done to take advantage of business opportunities that have presented themselves over the past couple of years?
McKeon: We adapt to whatever our customers’ needs are. We have many long-term customers and new customers. Our customer base is very diverse, and they expect the highest level of quality and customer service. Each year we invest in our employees and their development, purchase cutting edge technology, and most importantly, build and maintain solid relationships with our customers.
Do you think there’s an opportunity to add automation in the next 12 months?
McKeon: Actually, we recently purchased numerous machines, and the last one was installed a few weeks ago. Over the past 16 months, we have installed an AMADA 9,000-W laser with load and unload automation, an EMK turret punch, and an EML punch laser combo with load and unload automation and part pickers. We also added a second ATC press brake that reduces setup time from hours to minutes.
The vast majority of our equipment is automated. Metalcrafters firmly believes in automation and making the manufacturing process better, faster, and overall cheaper for our customers.
Do you think that government officials understand what they need to do to help domestic manufacturing?
McKeon: That’s a tough question, especially being located in Massachusetts. Federal and state laws are put into place for the betterment of all, but some of these laws come with a significant cost to employers. Our local government has placed many financial requirements on us, and it limits our ability to invest back into our employees and the business. Also, we cannot tell our out-of-state customers that we are increasing their prices due to the financial mandates imposed on us. It’s a very fine line when our customers can use a manufacturer whose state does not impose such requirements.
Is there anything that government officials can do to help you?
McKeon: It would be great if our government understood the overall cost to ensure Metalcrafters is a safe, thriving, and growing business for our employees and customers. I don’t think this is taken into account when lawmakers make their decisions. We are a part of what keeps the community thriving.
How would you sum up your career in metal fabricating so far?
McKeon: Challenging, rewarding, and successful. I’ve been happily in this industry a very long time, and I am lucky to have found a career where I can say this.
Would you recommend a metal fabricating career to a family member?
McKeon: Yes, and as a matter of fact, we are very pro-family. We have a number employees who have brought family members into Metalcrafters. We encourage employees to bring their kids in when they’re out of school to work during the summer.
How do you see your company doing in the next 12 months?
McKeon: We have always been a thriving business and will continue to be so into the future. Our customers allow us to prosper every year, and we will do everything possible to ensure they come first.
The Fabricator: What keeps you up at night?
Fuller: It’s still finding people. I know I’m singing the same song and dance that everybody’s been singing for the past year or two, but it’s still finding people. Trying to find the qualified candidates is just harder.
Internally, over the past year, we’ve tried to open up different opportunities and offer different training opportunities with the idea of advancing people in different departments. That might involve cross-training or just having them work under some of our more experienced fabricators.
In the past, I don’t want to say we had strict qualifications in hiring, but we kind of tried to really pick and choose the cream of the crop to work here. But over the past year, it’s been more and more difficult to find those types of people. Now we’re looking more at technical community colleges and relying on our own training internally to kind of find people, which has been all right.
Have these relationships with the community colleges proved beneficial?
Fuller: It’s actually gone well. We got one of our lead fabricators that way, and he’s transitioning into our R&D department. His father is the head of one of the technical schools in Cleveland, and we are working closely with them and preparing them for the type of welding or fabricating that we do here. We do a lot of thin-wall stainless, and these guys are artists. I’d put them up against any welders in the country as far as weld quality is concerned. So we’re always trying to stay at that same quality.
We have three different companies here. Stainless Works does aftermarket exhaust products made out of thin wall stainless tubing. Then we have MetalFab Group, which is a job shop/contract manufacturer, where we’re fabricating sheet metal. And then we have another company that fabricates aftermarket Jeep bumpers, which is all heavy-wall MIG welding. The thin-wall stainless stuff is definitely the most challenging.
We’ve been working with the tech school and supplying materials, fixtures, and guidance. It’s been pretty good so far. I couldn’t imagine not working with them and having to deal with the employee market the way it is today. So, it’s definitely been successful.
What are your thoughts about the way your company is reaching out to younger people for job openings?
Fuller: It’s interesting because when I was growing up, educators were always pushing us towards college, right? If you didn’t go to college, you weren’t going to succeed in life. I think we’re seeing the shortcomings with that sort of thinking.
I believe we’re starting to see that flip where we’re valuing trades more than we are a college degree. So, when we reach out to the younger generation and push them towards manufacturing, we’re trying to not be the old-school manufacturing company, where we get on a guy to put the helmet down and get back to welding. We try to be open to the new age way of thinking, where we’re a little more lax with the hours or a little more lenient with schedules. We are definitely trying to make the workplace atmosphere somewhere they enjoy coming to.
Are these efforts resonating with younger people?
Fuller: I definitely think so. I typically go out to the technical college and speak to them every quarter or so, stressing to them that everything that they do is kind of an input of who they are. It’s not just what’s on the resume. So if our expectations can align with their expectations, I think that resonates with them.
In light of the struggle to find workers, what have you done to try and retrain your current workforce?
Fuller: The last two years we’ve done a profit-sharing program, and we’ve increased pay over 15% in the last two years. That’s not just doing so because we want to stay relevant. It’s because, partially, we want to stress to them that there is no cap. As long as we’re producing and making money, we want to put money back into employees’ pockets because they are the heart and soul of what this company represents.
We want to stress to our current employees that the more output we can produce, the more money that comes in, the more money that we can pay people. Also, we want to create the environment where it’s a clean and safe workplace. It’s not somewhere you’re going to come in and leave with an inch of soot on your shoulders. We’re doing everything we can for our employees.
What has your company done to take advantage of business opportunities that have presented themselves over the past couple of years?
Fuller: One of the things we really focus on is making the investments in new technology. Last year we purchased a $1.6 million tube laser. It has a lot of capabilities and has helped us to increase efficiencies as well. So instead of saw cutting or adding features into tubing after we bend them, the tube laser has increased our throughput, eliminating some of those bottlenecks that we were seeing.
We also brought in an OTC robotic welder that has increased capacity in our welding department. We also have added powder coating. So, we’re definitely one of the companies that tries to increase our capabilities through capital investments.
We’ve definitely seen a great amount of growth in the past two years. Because of that, we bought the 2 acres next door to us, and hopefully in three years we’re planning to add a 36,000-sq.-ft. facility.
Do you think that government officials understand what they need to do to help domestic manufacturing?
Fuller: It’s tough to say. There’s a group out of Northeast Ohio here that we work with closely called MAGNET—Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network. They’re more in tune with the political side of things. They are like a government-funded agency and provide a lot services that are very reasonable compared to some of these other consulting companies. So we’ve done a lot through them.
They’ve helped us integrate our new ERP system. They’ve helped us with some of our different sales approaches. They’ve been a great resource for us over the past year or two.
Is there anything that elected officials can do to help you?
Fuller: I think one of the main issues over the years has been the educational system pushing everybody towards college. I would love to see the trades highlighted more for the younger generation.
Even if they would just be vocal about supporting manufacturing. Like I said, when I was growing up, the trades were kind of that ugly thing you did if you weren’t going to college. Whereas now, I step into the trade route and it’s full of opportunity.
How would you sum up your career in metal fabricating so far?
Fuller: It’s been very satisfying. I went to school and got my engineering degree at Ohio University. My dad started the company, and he’s since retired. Now I’ve taken over. So I’ve been working in the shop since I was right around 13 years old.
Just being in the position I am now and seeing things being made with our hands is kind of what has always piqued my interest in the manufacturing sector. Seeing somebody with a certain skill set make parts that go into huge pieces of machinery is very rewarding.
Would you recommend a metal fabricating career to a family member?
Fuller: Absolutely. It’s a thriving sector. Everybody’s got their different experiences, but we haven’t seen a slowdown since—if you discount COVID—the recession in 2009.
The industry seems to be ever evolving with technology and ever adapting with different parts and components being reshored to America. I would definitely recommend it to somebody.
How do you see your company doing in the next 12 months?
Fuller: Everybody’s speaking of the R word, but we haven’t seen signs of a slowdown as of yet. Over the past year, we’re already up 12% to 15%. So it’s been great. We’re continuing to look to ride this wave.
We’re continuing to invest in employees and continuing to invest in technology. So, we see it continuing to at least be stable, if not continue to increase.
The Fabricator: What keeps you up at night?
McKenna: Finding workers has been a struggle. I think we’re more fortunate than others. But over the next six to 12 months, the economy is my biggest concern right now.
In light of the struggle to find workers, what have you done to try and retain your current workforce?
McKenna: We do a good job of retaining people. We’ve had people that have been here almost since day one.
We have a good shop and work environment. It’s a clean work environment. It’s safe and organized, and we have modern equipment in it.
Also, we offer a good benefit package and decent pay. It’s always tough to find experienced people, so we want to keep the ones we have.
Where have you had success in trying to find workers?
McKenna:Word of mouth still works. We’ve offered some incentives to employees if they refer somebody we hire. That’s usually your best way to find a job candidate because typically an employee is a good employee and is not going to refer somebody that’s going to make him or her look bad.
We’ve also used some of the online recruiting services such as Indeed, which are great for setting up interviews. But it can be pretty much hit and miss. I mean, you might get 10 requests for an interview and only five of them might show up.
What has your company done to take advantage of business opportunities that have presented themselves over the past couple of years?
McKenna: We’ve done a couple things. We have added capacity. Two years ago, we bought a new facility [in Lansing] and spent six months upgrading it. We moved into it and still maintain our old facility [in Haslett] as well, which has given us more capacity as far as space.
We continue to make capital acquisitions as far as equipment, more leaning towards some more automation, such as cobots, robotic welding, and a robotic press brake. We want to be able to run our machines unattended at times.
Are there any other areas where automation investments have been made?
McKenna: Yes. On one of our lasers and one of our turret punch presses, we have automated load and unload tables, so they can run unattended. One of our press brakes has an automatic tool changer, so it can do the tooling setup in under two minutes. Additionally, we have installed a powder coating system with automatic sprayers to replace our old batch system.
The software, controls, and safety features on today’s equipment allow a less-experienced operator to step in and run the machines. The learning curve on these machines is not as long as it used to be.
When you interview primarily younger people for a position in your company, what are they most concerned about?
McKenna: It’s just different nowadays. Their choices of a work environment are more wide open than what people like me grew up with. There are a lot of people that want to work from home and want the freedom to go to live and work anywhere. I don’t know if you can overcome that if they already have that attitude.
So, you try to read the person. Are these people going to want to work every day? They can’t do it from their couch.
How do you see your company doing in the next 12 months?
McKenna: I think we have our work cut out for us just to be stable. I do sense a downturn.
I see indicators that it’s starting to occur. We see it in certain markets, but I don’t think it’s going to be across the board. We just have some potholes we need to avoid.
How would summarize your metal fabricating career?
McKenna: It’s been rewarding. I got into manufacturing in 1984, so I’ve been at it for a while.
Would you recommend such a career to a family member?
McKenna: I do have family working here. My son has worked here through high school, college, and beyond. Whether or not he decides to take the reins from me is ultimately up to him. I’ve never tried to persuade him into manufacturing. It’s been his choice all along.
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Dan Davis is editor-in-chief of The FABRICATOR, the industry’s most widely circulated metal fabricating and forming magazine, and its sister publications, The Tube & Pipe Journal and The Welder. He has been with the publications since April 2002.
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