Manufacturing Anonymous?

A good friend of ours, Regina Maddox, Executive Director, Next Generation Manufacturing recently shared some thoughts with us about the state of manufacturing. This lead us to co-author the following blog. We’d really like to hear your thoughts.

We’ve been working with manufacturers of all shapes and sizes for many years. We’ve noticed an interesting trend of late. Many “high tech” manufacturers don’t want to think of themselves or market themselves as manufacturers! No, really! It’s as if being called a manufacturer and not a high-tech company is somehow a bad thing.

What's in a Name?

We decided to probe a little deeper to try to understand this phenomenon. What we learned is really quite remarkable. It seems labeling one’s company as a “manufacturer” and not a “high-tech manufacturer”, or “technology company” somehow connotes an old-line business and diminishes the perceived self-image of these firms.

We’ve also come to learn that conventional wisdom seems to believe market valuation would be negatively affected by referring to their organizations as manufacturers. There is no argument that our most famous high-tech manufacturers such as Apple, Dell, Intel and scores of others have changed our world but, one should not discount the old-line manufacturers. 13 of the Fortune 50 are what we would think of as traditional manufacturers (although these firms have adopted very modern and sophisticated manufacturing techniques). Their valuations and profitability remain high.

Eagle Technologies, a provider of robotic machine solutions, tells us high tech manufacturing isn’t so different from other manufacturing:

“Companies in the high-tech manufacturing industry use much of the same processes that others do. They rely on the forming, casting, molding and machining that other industries use to make products. Extensive laser engineering is utilized, along with manual work on some of the more delicate details. Part of the high-tech manufacturing industry creates the circuits, chips and tools to be used in other goods manufactured in other sectors. Such goods forgo the extensive assembly processes.”

In other words, high-tech manufacturing is manufacturing!!!

Our advice to these new high-tech manufacturers is to embrace the long manufacturing heritage we have in this country. In a world of “virtual” products and services, these firms should take pride in the fact that they actually produce a product that exists in the 3-D world and can improve the quality of life for its customers, their customers and our society.

The discipline it takes to bring a product to market, the rigor of producing a quality product in a sustainable fashion at a profit, is something the services sector can learn from.

Manufacturers, be proud of your heritage. Keep making great products, keep innovating and keep changing the world!

We’d love to hear your thoughts! …….