We don’t pick the 10 Best Shops that are spotlighted in this issue: they select themselves. Their standing reflects their exceptional performances in AM’s annual Benchmarks for Machine Shops survey. Each of them sought to confirm their standing among their peers, and by demonstrating their accomplishments against others they set the standards.
Now we know these are North America’s outstanding machine shops for 2009, and their accomplishments are all the more admirable because they have been made in the face of a fearful economic downturn.
One confounding aspect of this recession is that it has spared no one: Everyone feels the effects of weak demand. Everyone looks anxiously for something to build upon. Yet, the 2009 Best Shops demonstrate that there is always a way to improve one’s performance. They are succeeding in spite of the challenges. Some of them rely on management strategy, as in the way they arrange their shops or organize their workers. Others emphasize marketing techniques, as in ways to target customers or apply machining capabilities. All of them recognize they must be versatile in both skills and strategies to be available and capable when circumstances change, or opportunities appear. In other words, they are the Best Shops in part because they are so creative.
Of course, machining is a creative science, but the 2009 Best Shops remind us how much success results from originality. From high-precision bladed products to thrill-ride components, to medical devices and low-lead brass plumbing fixtures, they develop products that need to be developed, to supply markets that need to be defined. They make changes happen, and their success speeds the advances of others.
They reward their customers, their investors, and their workers with that success, but its notable that they didn’t seek recognition, only confirmation. And so, we can observe that the most notable, the most admirable characteristic of the 10 Best Shops is their determination to grow and prosper, even if determination is the only resource available to them.