Industry Scuttlebutt

By Lloyd Graff

Mitch Liss, President of Edsal Manufacturing, being photographed by Today’s Machining World for an interview in September 2010.

Mitch Liss of Edsal Manufacturing, who I interviewed at length for TMW five years ago, is moving his shelving manufacturing company out of Chicago to beautiful Gary, Indiana. I was shocked when I saw the announcement because Liss is a lifelong Chicagoan, whose employees came largely from the city. But Gary provided incentives. Chicago taxes were brutal, and Liss needed room for expansion, which Chicago made prohibitively expensive. If you hit business people in the nose long enough they will eventually walk out of the ring.


I spent a lot of time at the recent Columbus PMTS Show talking to people who have assorted Swiss-type CNC lathes. It struck me that allegiances to each manufacturer were surprisingly fragile and fluid. Star users were switching to Citizen, Citizen fans switching to Tsugami, Swisstek getting into Tornos houses, etc.

Loyalty was tissue thin. Usually the brand switching was not because of sweet deals by a competitor, but because of irritation over the old brand’s service. The friendly, efficient, knowledgeable service person who showed up on time and finished the job quickly was the reason to stick with a manufacturer. Repeated repair snafus killed relationships over time.


The Mayweather Pacquiao story just gets worse and worse. It evidently was a boring fight for those who paid $100 for the privilege of watching two aged boxers jab each other for 12 rounds. But now we learn that Manny had a damaged rotator cuff that he neglected to report. Oh, the power of a $120 million guarantee. Pacquiao has already had surgery. Anybody want to watch the re-match?


The candidates just keep on coming for the Republican primary race for president. Carly Fiorina just announced. She evidently thinks her business credentials as the head of Lucent and then Hewlett-Packard will propel her to prominence. Lucent stock dropped to $2 a share with her brilliant moves. At H-P she paid a fortune for Compaq Computer, which nearly wrecked the giant firm. Well, she has not committed a felony or inhaled, as far as we know, so I guess she’s a legit candidate for now.


California communities are faced with very hard decisions to make about the drought that has hit over the last few years. Weather patterns change. El Niño could switch quickly to La Niña, which could end the drought. Big snows later this year in the mountains could quickly rebuild the local water supply. The Greens are trying to capitalize on the dry conditions by proclaiming it a manmade event.

Some communities like Carlsbad, California, just north of San Diego, have decided to build desalinization plants. The one in Carlsbad will cost $1 billion. It may be money well spent, but 20 years ago Santa Barbara, California, spent a few hundred million to build one and then mothballed it a couple years later when the rain and snow came back. It could happen again. Water conservation, including holding back water from the enormous almond groves that were planted when the almond milk craze hit several years ago, might make more sense than huge capital investments in desalinization right now. I remember when Lake Michigan was going to go dry. Now it’s overflowing.

(Click here to read the interview from 2010 with Mitch Liss)

Question: Do you feel loyalty to your machine tool brands?

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11 thoughts on “Industry Scuttlebutt

  1. Jack

    I am very loyal.
    BUT, service is key. Lot of good machines out there.
    Doesn’t matter how good the machine is if you can’t get someone to fix it when a problem arises. Good service is getting harder and harder to find.
    I’ve had techs show up and not have a clue as to what they’re supposed to fix.
    Some stand there asking, what do you want me to do. Fix the damn machine.
    So I send them away and fix it myself. Now getting too old to climb around inside machines, plus, just don’t have the time.

  2. Bryan

    Service is king. Haas machines would not be where they are at today if it were not for their factory supported service system. It is astounding that many machine manufactures do no understand how critical it is to keep spindles turning so their customer can stay in business.

  3. Eric

    Spot on the tissue thin loyalties. We currently have Citizen’s and are in the process of switching all of them to Tsugami’s. This is solely because of the Citizen distributor’s refusal to travel the far distance from their home office to service our equipment. We are pretty much left on our own to fix issues we have despite our desire to pay them whatever to make our problems go away. I have had the distributor tell me they really only care about selling new machines and service and parts sales don’t really matter to them. I have had a Marubeni Citizen-Cincom service engineer tell me that they have no documentation on what the different machine parameters do because Japan doesn’t share that information with them. I had to work for two days with no help from Citizen, Distributor or Mitsubishi to figure out on my own which parameter I has to adjust to make the machine transfer correctly after a 3rd NC control replacement. I have had the Mitsubishi service tech tell me that Citizen locks them out of the control and they have to send parts to citizen directly to have them reformat hard drives and reprogram control boards made by Mitsubishi. They also told me most manufacturers don’t lock them out like citizen does. After working for 2 weeks on control issues he told me he couldn’t fix the control and gave up. All this adds up to for me is a lot of time and money wasted because of their screwed up service. I’m done. Tsugami here I come.

  4. Bud

    Regardless of Ms. Fiorina’s qualifications or, in fact the qualifications of any of the other candidates; I think that it is a delight to have so many individuals competing for the Republican nomination. Our democracy is made stronger by robust competition for the hearts and minds of the voting public, as opposed to having the “inevitable” obscenely financed one or two candidates.

    From my perspective…the more the merrier!

  5. Seth Emerson

    As far as the candidates go, there is plenty of room left in both party’s “clown cars”. If nothing else, it will do two things: It will make the first six months of 2016 “interesting” and fill the coffers of the Radio/TV stations, probably expanding the budgets for them to air more bogus “newsfotainment”. For Service – If the choice is between “loyalty” and “staying in business” – That makes for an easy choice.


    Hey Lloyd,
    We all remember how you went gaga over Obama. Please don’t tell me your going with Hillary just cause she’s a woman! Please………..say it ain’t so Lloyd.

  7. Lloyd Graff

    At the moment I am intrigued by Marco Rubio. Scott Walker could be interesting but he ‘s a stealth candidate at the moment. Jeb Bush. Frankly no, I’m Bushed out.

    For the Dems I would like Bernie Sanders to make a showing. He has no personal money, just like Rubio, he is smart and not afraid. Also Jewish, but who’s checking. A real Lefty but a Rubio vs Sanders matchup would be fascinating and actually give the voters a dramatic choice. A man can dream.

  8. Joseph

    In your first story, it was interesting to read “If you hit business people in the nose long enough they will eventually walk out of the ring.” Walk out of the ring is the point that I got out of the story. I feel if your “in a ring” you should be prepared to fight not walk out. Now the story is short and may not have addressed every angle, but is Mitch of Edsal really just walking out of the Chicago ring without a fight? It looks to be so. Did he contact the City of Chicago or the State of Illinois to see if they could offer his company help? I don’t think he did. Believe me the resources and help are there for the asking. It’s also interesting that you say that Edsal “needed room for expansion”. Good luck in Indiana, but maybe just maybe the reason why your business is expanding is because you were in Chicago. A success in business is more than just about paying slightly less on your tax bill.

  9. DRB

    loyalty from builders has become an even bigger issue. they jump from dealer to dealer forsake of a deal rather than stay loyal to their dealer network. they will even go direct behind the dealer or take it as a house account. sad, but there is no loyalty among thieves. they provide very little support for service and parts because they are too busy chasing the deal on the next sucker. not all builders are this way but we have been running into this more and more in the past few years.

  10. Dick Crosby

    If we Illinoisians had voted Democrat, Pat Quinn, back into office, last November, I could see/understand why Edsal would leave Illinois. But! If I have my numbers and memory correct, Republican conservative, Bruce Rauner, took 101 of the states 102 counties in the Illinois gubernatorial election. Cook County (Chicago), being the lone Dem stronghold. But that was a given. And people wonder why Illinois is $111 billion in debt in government pension funding commitment.
    You could almost hear the sigh of relief from the business community on that Wednesday morning.
    Stick around, Edsal. There’s lots of empty factory space going begging in Illinois.
    Look around outside of Cook County.
    We downstaters are disgusted with Chicago style politics. Look what they sent to Washington. Now it, like Springfield, is a Chicago suburb.


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