We started out talking about just a couple of kinds of grapes but have covered just about all the fruits and vegetables in the market. It has been a recollection of experiences and thoughts coming out of nearly fifty years involvement in the special machine tool industry. You are to be congratulated that you have come this far, or is this a case similar to the tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it. Did it make a noise? Is anyone still reading? Does it make any sense? Does the significance of Yankee ingenuity and special machine tools in our history come through?
The intent in doing this book was to illustrate the reasons for the decline of an industry not normally visible to the general public in America. It is, however, an industry that has served an important function in the American success story. Even more important are human factors that have been the foundation of that industry and without doubt, the historic American success story. An important question that we must ask ourselves is; are those foundation factors eroding more broadly in American business and industry than we realize?
Much of the subject matter has not been special machine tool specific and probably applies in many industries, vocations, and professions, and as stated in the beginning, there is some opinion involved; would you believe it?
Several recurring terms have been a large part of the discussion: imagination, passion, courage, rules, the “find a way” mentality, the W3 “why we work” logic and the exercise of our individual liberty. They are the “foundation factors”.
The culture of Yankee ingenuity is in stark contrast to some existing environments in American industry today. Merit and recognition are bad, the “suck up” mentality, “the blue collar glass wall,” “the auction process,” “this is how we in Detroit expect you to do it,” and repressive rules and paradigms are the antithesis of the culture of Yankee ingenuity.
Passion for what one does, as in life’s work, is the most powerful tool anyone could have for whatever his or her goal happens to be. It can overcome or sidestep any obstacle and when teamed with imagination, courage and the reasons we work, W3, will work wonders – these are the “sweet grapes.”
In which of the three ingredients of human personality does passion originate, and can it be influenced by life’s experiences and can it be acquired through training and mentoring? While there is likely a genetic influence, passion, like imagination may be awakened or instilled through training, mentoring, and especially by example. In America, the fulfillment of the promises of the reasons we work is ours if we really want it. Remember that the personal liberty that we as Americans, Yankees, all share is personal power. This is something John Quincy Adams told us, but it takes our courage to make it work.
The American economy today is the largest and most effective in the world, just as it was during WWII. The manufacturing segment is a smaller percentage of the total than in those times. While the national well-being is in excellent condition, the challenges from the global free market in manufacturing causes some nervousness. Those capabilities are essential to our well-being, our needs, comforts and our recreation and in most other ways that you may think of.
The challenges the special machine tool industry faces today in its own recovery, along with the need to apply accelerating technology advances, are difficult ones. The culture of Yankee ingenuity must be reawakened in the industry and in its client organizations, the users of its products. The need to be imaginative and innovative in using technology plays to the industry’s strengths and along with heeding lessons of the past will be key to its re-birth.
The American special machine tool industry can sustain itself, grow, prosper, and be “sweet grapes” intense. It will need the help of those who benefit the most from its capabilities and services, its customers, by letting the free market really work for it.
Those readers who have interest in some of the technical aspects of special machine tools, especially in their application in the auto industry, stay tuned. The addenda cover certain aspects of the technology and additional historical perspective.