Are you ready?

I've heard it, you've heard it, and if you're like me, you're tired of it. The economy sucks. Manufacturing is sagging, the job market is stagnant, new orders are down, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But you know, the bad news is going to end. Your plant still makes some of the best stuff in the world, and people need and want it. One day you'll wake up, the sun will be shining, the birds will be singing, and you'll realize better times are back.

That day may already be here. While manufacturing is flat, the economy is growing slowly. Productivity is edging up. Pricing pressures are softening. Profits are improving, due in no small part to your hard work, and stock prices seem to have bottomed out. Even Alan Greenspan says conditions are ripening for the long-awaited upturn in business investment that will give us a reason to sing "Happy days are here again."

Are you ready?

If you're like us, you've made do. You're stripped down, lean, mean and efficient as hell. By desire or default, you've cut back, prioritized, downsized, outsourced and in too many places, had to just let it go. The deadwood is gone, along with a healthy chunk of good people and pretty much all of your investment in hiring and training for the future.

The good news is you're still standing. That means you and your remaining coworkers have greater knowledge, more experience, a better work ethic. You're the valuable people. But you're a skeleton crew, running on fumes, with too few hours in the day to spend grumbling, complaining or, frankly, to waste reading stuff that doesn't help.

So I don't want to take much more of your time. But I would like to ask you to consider doing three things.

First, congratulate yourself and appreciate your fellow employees. You're working hard, putting in the hours, being resourceful and keeping things running under difficult circumstances. Smile in the face of adversity, help all you can and compliment your associates on a job well done, especially if you're the boss.

Second, have your plans ready for better times. Know what needs to be overhauled first, where the weaknesses are what to do, what to order and what it will cost. Know what kind of help you'll need, and if possible, exactly who and where it can be found.

Third, drop me a line and tell me what Plant Services can do to help. What's bugging you right now? What subjects would you like us to delve into, what kinds of information do you want us to present? In what ways can we make your day more efficient, effective or even just more pleasant?

We appreciate your willingness to spend some of your precious time with us, and we want to make sure you're getting a healthy return on your reading time.

Paul Studebaker

Publisher/Editor in chief

630-467-1300 x 433

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