Change for the Better, Better Together

February 18, 2019

“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.”-Khalil Gibran

The PMPA Executive board (with the full support of your PMPA staff) has been working on a new approach to ensure that we continue to provide our members with the technical support, information and networking deliverables that our team has consistently delivered.

Your PMPA executive team has a vision that advances the interests and deliverables available for our members, through collaboration and progress with our long time partners, Gardner Business Media.”

The changes of the past year were unexpected, but despite them, our staff has continued to perform and provide deliverables that make us more competitive in our businesses and operations. Our executive team has come together, evaluated many options, and through a vigorous process of strategic planning, we have identified a way forward-not to merely stabilize PMPA, but actually enhance it and make it even more sustainable.

“Better Together” is the approach that we have identified to combine the strengths of PMPA and those of our long-term partner, Gardner Business Media. Together PMPA and Gardner have served the precision machining industry – each by its own strengths. Considering our history of successful and profitable collaboration on the PMTS show, and Production Machining magazine, the surprise to our executive team was “why hadn’t this been considered before?”

“Better Together” describes our proposal to work with our long time partners at Gardner to develop a Management Services Agreement (MSA). This MSA starts with a six-month initial exploratory phase (Phase 1) that will lead us towards a long-term proposal to combine our strengths and staff to enhance the value we provide to our members. This was approved at our Board meeting in Phoenix last week. In this phase, Gardner will assess PMPA organization and processes to identify opportunities to enhance performance- and create new and improved deliverables though our collaboration. “Better Together” is how we will collaborate- with both Gardner and PMPA staff bringing their unique strengths- to continue to deliver “Concierge Quality” services to our membership.

The synergies of collaborating, and sharing talent are exciting. We envision a future where our staff has more opportunity to work on advanced deliverables for our members- enhancing and extending the resources when combined with the Gardner/ Production Machining team. Gardner brings opportunities to expand our reach and better market PMPA in our industry, and beyond. PMPA can provide Gardner with a better understanding of our manufacturing niche, helping them advance the quality of their Top Shops Benchmarking- that in turn can help our members improve their own performance.

All parties will benefit as we advance the benefits of PMPA and Gardner continuing our work together. Deliberately building on our historic collaboration we believe, will allow us to enhance our performance and service to members.

We have a long history of success together. Our organizations have collaborated for many years to make Production Machining and PMTS successful, jointly produced brands. We think that now is the perfect time to re-focus our collaboration so that together we can deliver even greater value to PMPA members.

I can tell you that I am excited at the possibilities. Our PMPA staff- led by Miles and Renee- are equally excited at the continuous improvements that they think this can have for their work on behalf of you, our members. In addition, the Gardner team continues to advance the conversation- to assure that the PMPA continues to be a vital resource for our members and the industry.

We will have more details as this develops. However, I wanted you to know that your PMPA executive team has a vision that advances the interests and deliverables available for our members, through collaboration and progress with our long time partners, Gardner Business Media. I am excited to be able to announce this development. It will be under PMPA board oversight, and at the end of Phase 1, the PMPA board and Gardner will agree on a second phase to further execute our collaboration.

“Better Together” is our vision to build on our strengths with our trusted partners at Gardner. “Better Together”- to better serve us all. “Better Together” – that is our vision and means of “Effective Associating.”

Mike Reader, President, Precision Machined Products Association

For further information contact






Miles Free

Interim Director

Precision Machined Products Association

6880 West Snowville Rd. Suite 200

Brecksville, Ohio 44141

440 526 0300





Melissa Kline-Skavlem

Chief Marketing Officer

Gardner Business Media

6915 Valley Avenue

Cincinnati, Ohio 45244-3019

513 527 8800


PMPA Business Trends Year-end Summary- Optimism for 1Q 2019!

January 28, 2019

2018 was a strong year for the precision machining industry. With sales up 7.2% our shops outperformed nearly every benchmark in terms of sales and performance including prior year and 5-year averages. Sentiment indicators bode well for the first three months of 2019.” PMPA Business Trends Report Year-end Summar

PMPA 2018 Yearend summary sentiment graph

Outlook for first three months of 2019: Lead Time remains level, prospects for Net Sales, Profitability and Employment strongly positive.

We remain optimistic regarding manufacturing outlook at our shops’ “component level.” However we acknowledge that the Manufacturing industry’s rate of growth is decelerating.

This difference between decelerating growth (which we believe we are seeing) and declining manufacturing (not what we are seeing) is important to keep in mind.

The level outlook for Lead Time tells me that we our shops are at their “practical” capacity. When they get busier in January , we expect to see this lead time indicator go up.

How to deal with this? Please see our article: Time to Change Your Thinking


Ignore the Hysteria- December ISM PMI is a Positive Indicator

January 4, 2019

Contrary to the negative descriptions of many of the headline writers, the December ISM PMI index came in UP 0.6% from its 5-year average for December from 2013-2017, indicating growth in the Manufacturing sector in December, and in the broader economy.

How bad are those headlines? Sheeeesh!

How about

Bad ISM gives huge push in US T’s back

or :

US Factory Gauge Tumbles by Most Since 2008.

Nothing like calling up the ghost of recessions past. Recession must be imminent, right?

Now before analyzing these incredibly pessimistic headlines, let us state a couple of Facts.

Fact 1) The December 2018  ISM PMI was actually 54.1 and indicated continued economic expansion;

Fact 2) The average December ISM PMI for the five years of 2013-2017 was 53.4;Fact 3) The December 2018 ISM PMI came in actually 0.6 points ABOVE THE FIVE YEAR AVERAGE!

Fact 4) When the ISM PMI fell in September of 2008 to 38.9 in October of 2008, the index was already in negative territory-below 50.

Truth be told, the December 2018 ISM PMI continued to indicate “expansion in the manufacturing sector in December and in the general economy For the 116th consecutive month. ISM

How is that bad news?

While the numeric value of the drop  was the “largest” since 2008- the fact that the index remained in positive economic expansion is ignored in the headline- leaving the reader to ponder the scary connection to the Great Recession of 2008.

The 5-year average for December was 53.4. Why all the weeping and gnashing of teeth?

Here’s my headline- December ISM PMI  index at 54.1 remains solidly positive indicating continued expansion.

Economic expansion in the Manufacturing sector -just above the average for the past five December’s- and the 116th consecutive month of expansion in the broad economy. We see it as good news for the season! We think that you should too!


2018-On Track to a Strong Finish for Precision Machining

December 20, 2018

With 80 companies responding, the PMPA Business Trends Index for November 2018 declined 11 points to 130,
which was (still) an all-time high for the month of November! Shops reporting sales declines outnumbered those reporting
gains by a ratio of 4:1- not at all unexpected considering the seasonality of shipments this time of year. The Business Trends
Sales Index remains on track to close the year up 8% over 2017.“- PMPA Business Trends Report for November 2018

Though down eleven points from October’s high, PMPA’s November Business Trends Index remains unseasonably strong.

Outlook for next three months:

  • Net Sales: The sales outlook resumes positive expectations for the next three months despite seasonal
  • Lead Times: Eighty- six percent of respondents expect lead times to remain the same or increase in the
    next three months.
  •  Employment: Prospects for employment continue to be positive with ninety-seven percent (97%) expecting
    level or increased opportunities for employment.
  • Profitability: Eighty-five percent of our respondents expect business and margins to remain strong for the
    next three months, just a slight decline from the prior month.

In our April report we forecast that our index of sales would finish the year at 135, up 8% over calendar year 2017. As of this November report, we are at 135, up 8 percent over 2017 with just one month to go.

How is your shop’s performance compared to last year?

OSHA Inspections 2018 YTD Precision Machining Industry

October 22, 2018

OSHA is still fulfilling its mission promoting worker and workplace safety. Safety, Amputations, and Planned Inspections led the OSHA inspection categories for NAICS 332721 so far this year.

At PMPA we take a look twice a week at the OSHA inspections posted online for our industry. In the event that one of our members is on that list, we call immediately to offer our assistance. If it is a non-member, we look to learn what vulnerabilities are being encountered in the industry shops not belonging to PMPA.

Here’s what we found out.

So far this year, OSHA has posted notices of 53  inspections for our NAICS code- 332721 online. 53!

Chart of OSHA inspections frequency for 2018 NAICS 332721 Precision Machining Shops


The single largest category were for “Safety” – 15 of 53, 28% of all inspections posted.

Go figure.

The second most frequent category was “Amputations“-12 of 53, 23%.

This really is aggravating. There is no excuse for anyone to be losing body parts. We need to contact our people immediately to review the basics about pinchpoints, rotating equipment, and the pointlessness of trying to stop a lathe with our fingers or thumb. 

I won’t display the photos but if you want to see what a drill can do to a human hand click this link:  Graphic Image

Programmed (planned ) Inspections were third  with 7 of 53 or 13%. Routine enforcement is still a “real thing” at OSHA.

Complaints  came in at fourth  with 4 out of 53 inspections being initiated as a result of a complaint- 8% of inspections due to complaints..

Health tied with Complaints at 4 inspections out of 53- 8% of inspections due to occupational health concerns

Rounding out the ten causes were Noise, Reinspections, Accidents, Referrals, and Inspections.

Reasons cited for OSHA Inspections for NAICS 332721 (frequency) Calendar year 2018 YTD


OSHA is still fulfilling its mission promoting worker and workplace safety. The above reasons show how your peers are being examined. Are you ready for an OSHA inspection?

Photocredit: Mystalk

Data and Chart Preparation credit Veronica Hopson, PMPA

Original Data sourced from USDOL OSHA.

Performer Day- Its About Performance, Not Labor

September 3, 2018

I compile the annual wage survey for the precision machining industry, and my sample is a nice slice of industry shops.

We don’t have any labor jobs in our shop hourly wage survey.





On the other hand, the jobs that we do have are all jobs requiring high levels of process ownership and personal performance.

Think of all of the aspects of our jobs- the tools, the offsets, the relationships between datums, the materials, the gages, the chips and their control, the coolants, the controls, the software code- and suddenly being a machinist looks a lot like being a Performer:

Almost as much stuff to keep track of as we have as machinists!

So today, I’m going to cue up a Neil Peart video on Youtube as an appreciative salute to the music made  on our production machines under the watchful practice of our skilled performers.

I’m not celebrating Labor Day.

But I am certainly going to  use the time to appreciate the performers in our shops who make things that make a difference.

Happy Performers Day.

Photo credit 

More info about the Human Performance System Approach to understanding our shops

Neil Peart photo

Why Precision Machining Matters- Lothar Horn

August 31, 2018

I am always pleased when I encounter a quote that neatly communicates an Idea that I firmly believe, but is expressed more clearly than I could.

Imagine my delight when I received a placard containing one of my favorite industry quotes today!

So happy to get this visual reminder of the importance of precision machining, and the tools that we use!

Read the Card!”

“Read the card!”

“What’s it say?


As precision machinist’s, we’re the people that make things.

Things that make a difference in everyone’s quality of life.

And who is is it that makes the tools that help us make that difference?

Why, precision toolmakers, of course.

A big thank you to Horn USA for sharing the placard with my favorite quote.

See you all at IMTS!