While I like to turn a buck as much as the next guy, when it comes to manufacturing I am often unable to refrain from allowing my emotions to cloud my judgment. I ridicule or rant about companies and folks that could be consulting customers, and usually get an earful from friends and associates, telling me to tone it down and play the game the way it is supposed to be played. Manufacturing is too important to me to do that, however. I don’t think manufacturing is just another line of work. I believe it is the core of America’s economy and the essence of what makes America great. Companies that cut into our manufacturing capability really bother me. Companies that aggressively pursue manufacturing excellence inspire me.
While she has been my harshest critic, I think that Kathleen Fasanella and the following she has built of mostly small, mostly female, mostly struggling folks in the fashion business is great. They seem to be intensely interested in learning about lean manufacturing, and anything else that will help them take on the world. It takes no small amount of courage to do battle with the monsters of the fashion industry, and the notion of these folks gearing up for battle every day, creating jobs and hacking out a living is inspiring. They use lean manufacturing to make America a better place a little bit at a time every day.
I am also inspired by the work that, in spite of all of my blustering about the Estate Tax, guys like Costikyan Jarvis and his family at Jarvis Cutting Tool do. They are in a tough business in a tough part of the world to do business in and, like most family businesses, they are driven by principles greater than profit making. People work hard, make a good product and live a good life in a small town in New Hampshire, thanks to Jarvis. The U.S. and the Superfactory readers group are full of people like the Jarvis family who have manufactured for generations with pride in out of the way places and make this country great.
I wake up to a full email box just about every day thanks to Superfactory. I am moved by the pride in the attacks I get from employees at Delphi and General Motors. While their companies may have problems, these people are loyal to their employers and committed to fixing the problems. I am stopped in my tracks by email from people in Iraq, both U.S. military personnel and Iraqis, who look to me and Superfactory for insights into how Iraq can have some of what Kathleen and Costikyan have. I can only smile at the naivety and optimism of the young guy from Africa who believes that his country can be just like the U.S. in his lifetime through lean manufacturing. I hope he’s right.
While the mail I get from those who follow the Superfactory blog always touches me in some manner, today was the most humbling day of all. My book, Rebirth of American Industry, came out yesterday. The outpouring of compliments from those who have read it, wishes for success from people I have never met, and the number of people who bought the book in its first 24 hours of existence have overwhelmed me. I can only say thank you to all of the Superfactory blog readers from the deepest place in my heart. I thank you for your kind words to me, and even for the dissent. I thank you for your support for my book. Most of all I thank you for the personal commitment to manufacturing excellence so many of you have made, and for allowing me to think that I have been able to make some small contribution to your success.
I wish all of you the very best of holidays in all of the corners of the world in which you live and work. Thank you.