Monthly Archives: May 2009

America the Forgiving

What do Marv Albert, Michael Vick, Eliot Spitzer and A-Rod have in common? They are all disgraced public figures who are or have been recreated as guys we’d love to meet for a beer at Applebee’s.

Marv is doing the NBA semis on TNT after the forgotten shame of cross-dressing and acting rather badly with his erstwhile girlfriend. He was banished for a year and basketball suffered. Marv is the master of calling a game. The heir to the great Marty Glickman, Marv has surpassed the glib Glickman and has no peer in sports broadcasting.

Michael Vick is out of prison now and starting to limber up his arms and legs. After he gets the electronic chains off he’s going to be a hot commodity. If Brett Favre is still in demand, think about the prospects for a contrite Michael Vick in Oakland or Washington.

Eliot Spitzer has recently guested on CNBC and MSNBC. He has come off as arrogant but brilliant, the qualities that made him a terrific Attorney General in New York and launched him into the Guv’s office in Albany. His shameful dalliance with $5,000 call girls is a distant memory as he jaunts back to prominence with an Internet gig on the Slate Web site.

Alex Rodriguez had his fling with Madonna and a steroids mea culpa, but he had a convenient exit with hip surgery. This vacation reminds me of Michael Jordan’s long forgotten sojourn away from basketball to baseball after we learned of his penchant for gambling. Alex hit a walk-off homer in his first game back and his loving teammates mobbed him at the plate. All is right with the world.

Americans like to give celebrities second chances. Kobe Bryant—MVP, who’s next? Could Barry Bonds be the next Oprah with the right P.R.?

Is Gene Haas headed for Sacramento?


“Michael Vick Regrets Wearing Dog-Skin Coat To Meet With Goodell”

(Satirical fake headline from The Onion newspaper)

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One auction in May, the machining world looked brighter

By Lloyd Graff

Auction prices today are very hard to figure. I talked at length with Dennis Hoff of Hoff-Hilk Auctioneers about his May 26 sale at Bystrom Precision, a small CNC shop in Minneapolis. The magnet pieces in the 150 lot sale were three L-20 Citizens, Type VII new in 2000 with Iemca Genius barloaders.

Hoff says he told the client the sale price for each of those machines would be in the $30,000 to $40,000 range. The day after a long Memorial Day holiday is a lousy day to do an auction because people are just getting their plants up and running. An hour before closing, the prices were a little above dirt.

Hoff told me that the seller was distraught as he looked at the disappointing numbers on the screen, but suddenly the bidders started waking up. In the last few minutes of bidding, the Citizens spurted from $12,000 to an average of $60,000 for each of the three machines with barfeeds.

The Royal Master centerless grinders brought $15,000 for one and $20,000 for a second, and a one of a kind model went for $5000. Uglier ones sold in Canada a month earlier for $500 each.

There were three small Brother TC31A drilling and tapping machines which sold for an average of $11,000 each.

A Daewoo Lynx 200A turning center fetched $12,000, and a Eurotech 7 axis 420SLL with a 1-3/4” bar capacity new in 1999 brought $33,000.

The weak sisters of the sale were three Nomura CNC Swiss Model NN13-SB, which scored $10,000 bids, with Fedek loaders hitting around $2000.

This auction is no definitive marker of the beginning of a turnaround—it may be more a function of shrewd marketing by Hoff-Hilk. But on one day in May, the machining world looked brighter.

Question: The Consumer Confidence Index had a big bounce Tuesday, are you seeing anything positive?

Citizen Model L20-VII CNC Swiss Type Screw Machine from sale

Citizen Model L20-VII CNC Swiss Type Screw Machine from sale

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Inside the Swiss Screw Machine Industry

Paul Huber of Comex comments on the recent Bosch auction in which 75 Escomatics were sold by Asset Sales Corporation. Paul came to the U.S. as a Tornos service engineer and is now the wise man of the Swiss screw machine industry.

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A Plan for Iran

I had a chance to talk to Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board on Sunday. In my opinion, Stephens is one of the most astute observers of the Middle East political morass who I have read. He is a young guy but he has spent several years in Jerusalem and knows Israeli-Arab relations as an insider.

Benjamin Netanyahu, former and current head of Israel, met President Barack Obama on Monday, and the big topic was what to do about Iran’s atomic weapon program.

Stephens feels that the U.S. must stop Iran now because it will have a weapon which can be placed on a missile by 2011 at the latest. He thinks that the U.S. should place severe sanctions on companies who sell refined gasoline to Iran. This action would kill the country’s economy because although Iran produces a lot of crude it lacks refining capacity, making it dependent on imports.

If the gasoline sanctions do not force cessation, he believes the United States or Israel must attack the three primary atomic development sites. I asked Stephens if he thought that such an attack would be successful. He said that the sites are heavily defended and hardened but they are still essentially big industrial factories which are vulnerable to a daring attack with the right weapons and creative sabotage.

An Iran attack could mean turmoil in the Persian Gulf and a confrontation in the Straits of Hormuz. The consequence of a nuclear armed Iran would probably be a nuclear Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey—an even uglier scenario to contemplate.


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The Advantage of Building Your Own

    Derrick Perkins of Liberty Research in Gonic, New Hampshire, has a creative approach to customer acquisition. He targets a long running job which he feels he can refine and then virtually own once he cracks the code.
    His approach is to design and build his own equipment to elegantly and efficiently run the component in play. Perkins and his team of designers and toolmakers essentially invent the machine to make the part. He would rather build a special machine than buy existing technology in many cases because he is always looking for the “unfair” advantage versus his competition.
    He has successfully constructed rotary transfer machines up to 24 stations with an off-the-shelf Hirth coupling and built-from-scratch units.
    Derrick is also in the archery products business with a company called American Broadhead. Always the independent entrepreneur, he is attempting to build a name for his brand despite being an outsider to the big box buyers of such hunting equipment.
    I think that for entrepreneurs like Derrick Perkins the joy is in doing the next to impossible, whether it is inventing a new machine or building the best arrow.


Domien Van Buynde & Wildebeest
(Hunting equipment from American Broadhead)

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What good is a high school diploma?

At the 2009 Precision Machining Technology Show, Noah Graff interviewed David Holscott, consultant to the Precision Machined Product Association Education Foundation.

Holscott said he was pleased with the PMTS show’s student attendance, which he projected to be about 225. However, he remains concerned that people still do not sufficiently emphasize to students the importance of post high school education nor do they recognize the potential for vocational schools to lead to fulfilling careers.

Question: Do you fear that in five years the U.S. manufacturing sector will not have a sufficient skilled labor force?

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