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The culture of Yankee ingenuity is a defining characteristic of historic American industrial and economic energy and power. That culture and the first special machine tools have a common genesis.
History gives much of the credit to a single individual for their simultaneous rise. Special machine tools have been fundamental to mass production since 1798 and the production of 10,000 U.S. Army muskets.
In 2003 the American special machine tool industry is in serious decline. Its principle market, the American auto industry itself, is involved in a fierce struggle with powerful global competitors.
This historically invaluable resource is not being called upon in 2003 when needed like never before.
About the Author
Jim Egbert spent 45 years in the American special machine tool industry. He advanced to V.P Engineering, V.P. Operations, V.P. General Manager and ultimately President of one of the leading special machine tool companies in the world, with four plants in the U.S., one each in Canada, England, and Germany. He retired in 1991. He later accepted the positions of President of a division of another large special machine tool company, retiring again in 1997.
Sweet and Sour Grapes
By Jim Egbert
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Copyright ” 2003 by Aspatore Books, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the United States Copyright Act, without prior written permission of the publisher.
Cover design by Traci Whitney
Material in this book is for educational purposes only. This book is sold with the understanding that neither any of the authors or the publisher is engaged in rendering medical, legal, accounting, investment, or any other professional service to you directly. For legal advice, please consult your personal lawyer.
This book is printed on acid free paper.
A special thanks to all the individuals that made this book possible.
The views expressed by the individuals in this book (or the individuals on the cover) do not necessarily reflect the views shared by the companies they are employed by (or the companies mentioned in this book). The companies referenced may not be the same company that the individual works for since the publishing of this book.
This effort was made for the purpose of bringing to a larger audience the author’s view of an important but little known industry and its triumphs and travails - the American special machine tool industry. Hopefully that audience will include some who have been a part of that industry and who deserve whatever small measure of recognition this may provide.
It involves successes and failings of some inside the industry and of some associated with it from the outside. The intention has been to avoid inflicting discomfort on any organization or individual, but at the same time not soften any impact that may have resulted from their involvement.
After all is said and done, these are the author’s views and opinions and not known to the author to be those of other individuals or organizations.
This effort has been profoundly influenced by industry entrepreneurs too many to list. They range from Eli Whitney to Edson Gaylord and Ralph Cross and their numerous contemporaries.
The following are just some of those who have also had an influence although in some cases they may not be even aware of it. They are in no particular order.
Vince Langely - whose use of some “reasons we work” and “TGIM” inspired their use in this effort.
And of course my wife, Barbara Egbert, who provided generous encouragement, sanity checks, and patience.
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About the Author
Jim Egbert was born in Northern Wisconsin. He graduated from Henry Ford Trade School in Dearborn, Michigan (high school) in 1951. His first full-time employment as a beginning mechanical draftsman with an engineering firm followed.
Some years later and for a period of seven years, Jim was an equal partner in an engineering company that supported the special machine tool industry. He then joined a large special machine tool company advancing to V.P. Engineering, V.P. Manufacturing, and then V.P. and General Manager of that company’s largest division.
In 1987, he became president of one the leading special machine tool companies in the world with four plants in the U.S., one in Canada, one in England, one in Germany and an important licensee in Japan. He retired at the end of 1991. In those years, the company reversed a serious decline and prospered.
He then accepted an opportunity to lead a small division of another major machine tool company. That division prospered, doubled in size and put in place, a foundation of contemporary product technology during the five and a half years prior to his retirement at the end of 1997.