Author: Lloyd Graff

I wish I hadn’t bought the story.  Ford, the pickup truck gorilla, was going to take over the electric pick up market which was going to crush the gas and diesel portion over the next few years. Ford knows the pickup business like nobody else. The Japanese and Koreans know new cars, but trucks are a mystery for them. The Germans can spell BMW, but for hauling a boat or a jalopy, “nein.” So when Ford brought in new management, a swami from Apple, and committed at least five years of earnings to building lithium ion batteries and the vehicle…

Read More

What do you do if you are running a major pharmaceutical firm and a team of your employees comes to you with stunning news that an aging drug of yours, soon to lose patent protection, may be a treatment for Alzheimer’s? It happened at Pfizer in 2015. A team was analyzing death insurance claims for users of its products, including the rheumatoid arthritis drug, Enbrel. The computers were checking for the possibility that Enbrel might have had a peripheral benefit for its long-time users. To their amazement, they found that very few Enbrel patients died of Alzheimer’s. This was not…

Read More

When does a theoretical value become really valuable?  When do you decide to buy or sell a business, particularly a precision machining business? How do you assess its value? How do you determine whether a business is a collection of machinery, tooling, and real estate, or if it is something of significantly more monetary value? Another way of saying this is, “does a business have an intangible value,” often called intellectual property? Does it have a valuable identity or brand, even if it is a limited one known only to people in a specific location or specialized field? Or, is…

Read More

In the financial world of banks and funds, stupid follows stupid, which then follows stupid.  It would be funny if trillions of dollars of real people’s paychecks and savings were not the instruments of capital dumbness. I have saved a chunk of money over several decades and put a piece of it into the stocks of successful companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Costco, which are all thriving right now in the real world. But the hedge funds, banks, and pension funds that dictate the stocks’ value have been selling them by the billions every day, driving down their value even…

Read More

I just watched Ken Burns’ new documentary about the role the United States played in the Holocaust. In 1960, my life changed when I read the book and saw the movie, “Exodus.” The film, starring Paul Newman and directed by Otto Preminger, brought the Holocaust to life for a 16-year-old boy whose main interests were playing basketball and trying to understand girls.  The story of the Holocaust, which had ended just 14 years earlier, became a powerful influence in my life. The movie was a fictionalized story in which Newman portrays a young refugee in World War II fleeing by…

Read More

How do you build a great team?  It could be a business, a hospital, or a sports franchise. It’s easier to discuss sports because the results are more recognizable, so we will start there. Two of the best current baseball teams are the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Yankees number one star is outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge was offered a huge contract to stay with the Yanks before the season started, but chose to pass on it and bet on himself. He is having a terrific season with a chance to hit 60 home runs. He will…

Read More

IMTS For me, the initials stood for I am Missing That Show. But as I started thinking more deeply about this piece, I began to change my mind.  The world has changed so much since the last show in 2018. COVID killed big exhibitions for two years and they are just beginning to reconfigure themselves for a lingering COVID world. Train stations near my home are half-filled these days. Downtown Chicago has lost its allure with the threat of violence looming every evening. The Chicago Police Department cannot fill its ranks, but the Bears opening game the Sunday before IMTS…

Read More

This piece was supposed to be about the ridiculous show following Serena Williams’ opening match of her last tournament. Serena won against a weak, inexperienced opponent, but looked overweight, slow, and dressed in a costume. The announcers, particularly Chris Evert, a great champion who never had a farewell like this, fawned over Serena. They generally overlooked her being so out of shape and past her prime.  It was the show afterward that nauseated me. A video from Oprah, Gayle King of CBS falling over herself with grandiose praise. Billie Jean King was the only authentic person who appeared.  This piece…

Read More

Companies in the machining world say they are begging to hire young people who want to work. The statistics from the government say unemployment is at a near record low, yet we all know a young person who says they can’t find a job. Why do we have this apparent mismatch? I see many reasons, and I am sure you know of others. The obvious one is that most young folks do not know manufacturing still exists in the United States. Unless they come from a family in the industry, they probably think all of those jobs left the country…

Read More

The New Union Movement is sweeping the country.  At least you would think so reading or listening to the popular media.  But it isn’t. Some Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, and an Amazon fulfillment center on Long Island has voted to organize too, but to me the shocking fact is how few of America’s massive corporations, which have grown hugely over the last 30 years, have seen unions take root. I have been trying to figure out why the union movement has been so unsuccessful in recent years except in organizing school districts and government workers. Perhaps one of…

Read More