Monthly Archives: March 2009

Need more info on Delphi's Sale to China

By Lloyd Graff

Just saw on the Internet that Delphi is selling its brakes and suspension businesses to two Chinese companies and the Chinese government. Sale is set to close in fourth quarter. Does anybody know exactly which plants will be affected. Any of you bloggers doing work for this part of Delphi?

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Is It all Wagoner's Fault?

By Noah Graff

Here’s what I keep asking. You all are asking it too I’m sure. Is GM’s plight almost entirely the fault of Wagoner. Would a different person, a super genius, an extraordinary motivator make the company thrive, or would anyone have fallen victim to our awful economy?

I think that it could have been somewhat different. After all, Toyota and Honda (although they are in tough times too) are not on the brink of bankruptcy. But was Wagoner handcuffed to begin with by crappy designs, terrible UAW agreements…etc.?

Could Apple’s Steve Jobs have made GM thrive?

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A Renaissance in Detroit

By Noah Graff

Last week I went to Detroit to shoot a video spot for an advertiser of Today’s Machining World. A melancholy vibe permeated the city that I can only compare with the one I felt when I was last in New Orleans. When I arrived there were only three taxies and two limos sitting outside. Five vehicles to serve the entire Detroit Metro airport? I decided to query the empty rental car buses driving by to see if they had any cars available. I asked Hertz, Avis, and Budget, and every driver claimed that there weren’t any cars. Evidently so few people are traveling to Detroit Metro that the rental car companies have transferred their fleets to other more bustling cities.

Yet amidst all of its depression and desperation, Detroit now has an unexpected grassroots movement, attempting to revitalize the city’s housing market. At this moment, artists from around the world are buying houses in the Detroit ghetto for a few hundred dollars each.

Four years ago, artists Mitch and Gina Cope, bought a broken down house on Detroit’s North side for $1900. The house had been ravaged by scrappers who stole everything from copper plumbing, radiators to electrical lines. But the Copes bought it anyway and decided to turn it into what Mitch Cope calls the “Power House Project.” “Our idea — instead of putting it all back and connecting to the grid, we wanted to keep it off the grid and get enough solar and wind turbines and batteries to power this house and power the next-door house,” Cope says.

He thinks he can make the whole place operate “off the grid” for around $60,000, a cost he hopes to help cover with grants. He plans for the first floor to be a neighborhood art center and the second floor to be a bedroom for traveling artists. Of course, his grand vision is for the entire neighborhood to transform itself into an artist community using dirt cheep real estate as a magnet for new settlers. Cope has already convinced around a dozen artists from countries around the world such as the Netherlands and Germany to buy houses. Jon Brumit, a prominent artist from Chicago just bought a house in the area for $100.

You may find this story uplifting yet then put your nose up when you remember only 12 homes have been bought. But maybe manufacturers can learn from what these artists are doing. The bottom line is that the real estate in Detroit is going for practically nothing, Michigan is going out of its way to give tax incentives for new development, and there is an abundance of laid-off, skilled workers who potentially would jump at the chance to work at a job shop, even for a modest wage. Sounds like an opportunity for some creative types.

Listen to a podcast of the story at

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Even Medical is Suffering

The auction market for good used CNC machinery is being overwhelmed by a rush of supply. Even CNC Swiss lathes, always in short supply, are appearing in auction brochures almost weekly.

Recently a dental instrument maker, Hu-Friedy Corporation of Chicago, sold 13 late model Stars in an online sales event.

The machines were in beautiful condition, well maintained, and being sold because the company wanted the space for other manufacturing operations. Hilco had given the company a guarantee on the proceeds of the sale several months earlier and had been attempting to liquidate the machines prior to the auction date. They sold (3) SR-20 machines in December, but the balance of the deal was sold in early March.

The auction prices did not reach the computer’s reserves, but I understand many were sold to the unsuccessful bidders after the sale.

The Stars at Hu-Friedy were exceptionally nice machines with Iemca loaders on each one. The fact that not one piece brought the reserve price on the web auction is a clear indicator that even one of the strongest CNC markets is quite weak.

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