Slam Dunk in Atlanta

By Lloyd Graff

The Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) held its annual Management Update over the weekend in Atlanta (also site of this year’s NCAA Basketball Final 4).  Around the world, conferences, exhibitions, Broadway shows, and basketball games have all been canceled, but not the PMPA Management Update.  One hundred and seventy people signed up, and everybody showed up except me because my wife’s recuperation from heart surgery kept me at home.

This was a true testimonial that the members of this group find this meeting worthwhile and are anxious to attend no matter hell or high virus.

Why do people care so much?  The program is usually quite worthwhile.  Brian Beaulieu, the economy prediction guru who has spoken numerous times, was on the ticket. He again told the group that the next two years will be good ones for turned parts contractors, and that the decade was shaping up favorably. He said he is not concerned about who wins the presidency, but more concerned about the composition of Congress.

Other speakers were professional and informative, according to my son Noah, who attended.  But I think the magnet that brings people from across the country is the desire to connect with peers who live the same fights in the same trenches.  People develop friendships at these events.  They have compatriots to share a problem or a tool or a piece that just broke in their Davenport chip conveyor.  This camaraderie is rare in business today.  It defies region, ethnicity, or size of bankroll.

Another professional group I belong to has gradually lost this quality. The PMPA has gone through a quorum of weak professional leaders in the last several years, but the openness and commitment of its members continues to make it quite a unique professional group that truly gives back to its members.

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The stock market is plummeting.  The coronavirus is everywhere (on the news). As I write this blog on Monday, March 9, there are 600 verified cases in the U.S., and Biden and Sanders are slugging it out in Flint and Dearborn.

I need a rest. The rest of this blog is about college basketball.

Obi Toppin of the University of Dayton in Ohio

At the moment, Gonzaga, Dayton, and San Diego State look like No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament based on their records and national ranking. No Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, or Michigan State, the usual candidates with the multimillionaire coaches. Other than Kansas, top ranked for now under Bill Self, it is all ragamuffins who have never won anything. Depending on your orientation this is either a great thing for fans or a catastrophe for TV ratings.

With the top players going pro after their freshman year or just skipping college to play in Australia or Samoa, the college game is starting to be a place for teams rather than stars vying for draft status.

Dayton’s top player is Obi Toppin. Four stars to you if you’ve ever heard of him.  Malachi Flynn leads San Diego State, which has not had a player of note since Kawhi Leonard a decade ago. Gonzaga has a famous coach, Mark Few, who puts together an international gathering of ambitious young guys every year and flies around the country looking for competition.

Another team to watch is Baylor, which was undefeated for most of the season. Baylor’s athletics department is known for women’s basketball and sex scandals. Baylor’s men’s basketball team is coached by Scott Drew, who previously coached for Valparaiso.  He was hired in 2003, to replace Dave Bliss who resigned due to scandal, because Scott was considered about as clean a college basketball coach around. This year, Baylor put together quite a good team of mediocre players who hustle their butts off.

Enjoy the tournament this year, which will also be in Atlanta.  It will actually be about basketball, not draft picks for the NBA.  Hopefully it will be watched by live fans.


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4 thoughts on “Slam Dunk in Atlanta

  1. Marc Klecka

    Lloyd – Kudos to the PMPA for holding the Conference. In the words of FDR (’33 Inaugural Address), “The only thing we have to fear Is fear itself.” The US machining industry will survive this possible setback (due to media hype in my estimation) as it has many others. May we continue to see the glass as half full. Oh, and wash your hands!

  2. Rod

    I know you are a Trump fan. Sorry.
    Don’t see it effecting machined parts business in the long term.
    Up here in Seattle Boeing has some serious issues ( self inflicted) and the traveling world is going to be hurting for some time to come.
    More hurt for commercial aircraft.
    The Virus is for real and Trump and crew really messed the response to it up.
    They have no idea how many people have it, and people are dying daily up here.
    Trashing the economy and tourism will be pretty slow in our city for some time. No Cruise Ships this summer.
    Lot’s of people being laid off in service industries.
    Restaurants, bars, stores , shows all empty.
    If this spreads across the whole country like it is here hold on.
    It is not fake news or a democrat hoax.
    Disbanding the disease pandemic department at the CDC in 2018 was really a bright move.
    This Guy does not have a clue what He is doing.
    Economy was on the rise when He took over, let’s see how it’s doing when he is done.

  3. Rod

    I do not believe that this president is capable of dealing with something of this critical nature.
    First thing would be to realize that it is not a democratic attempt to get him out of office or make him look bad.
    Be honest with the American public about the seriousness of the situation instead of saying that it’s under control and will magically disappear in a week or two. ( he had a hunch and is really smart about this stuff )
    Bringing together experts with real knowledge and experience on disease and pandemics to get the education he needed to make decisions on the correct way to prepare for something that everyone saw happening in China and was certainly coming to our shores.
    Preemptively setting up regional testing and quarantine facilities to keep the hospital system from becoming overwhelmed.
    The Chinese quickly built large temporary hospitals to deal with there outbreak.
    Getting proper test kit development and manufacturing underway and expedited in quantities so you can effectively track the movement of the virus through the country.
    This was a publicly know situation from the start of the outbreak in China and there was a fare amount of time to get a jump on it to attempt to keep it from spreading at the rate it is.
    There was a system in place to deal with pandemics ( SARS and MERES) and the president thought it was not worth the cost to keep it in place so in 2018 he eliminated the staff and infrastructure as a cost cutting move. ( probably because it was implemented by Obama )
    When this is over someone could do a cost comparison and see if it was cost effective, but the loss of life factor will be hard to justify.
    He claimed today that he did not know about it or who eliminated it. Really?
    Public health only gets his attention when the market tanks, not when people are getting sick and dying.
    It appears that some one or thing ( the market ) was able to bring him to the realization that this is serious.

    I am not a big fan of the democratic group of politicians either.

    A numbers of other countries have struggled with this and others have done a good job.
    This administration’s response is pretty close to a 3rd world countries . Along with our Health Care System.
    What really interests me is how people are willing to accept and make excuses for these people’s actions ( politicians ) that most of us would not accept in our own organizations.

    I do appreciate that we are all still able to have our own opinions and voice them.

    Thank You Lloyd


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