MakingChips | Equipping Manufacturing Leaders

MakingChips is a weekly podcast that will equip leaders in the metalworking manufacturing industry with valuable content to utilize in their career and business.
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MakingChips | Equipping Manufacturing Leaders






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Feb 10, 2016

Last week, we talked with Frank Holthouse about East Leyden High School’s Metals Program, and how they are providing an environment for students to learn modern manufacturing practices. This week, we continue that discussion. What can we do to spark interest in manufacturing to the younger generation? How can you replicate the success of Leyden’s Metals Program in your own community?

“We need to see more of this in high schools … Those in the industry should be pushing their local high schools (or other outlets) ... to cater to getting more people involved in the world of manufacturing.” - Rob Stuebing

On this episode of MakingChips, we speak with Rob Stuebing. Rob is the Vice-President of Qualiseal Technology and Current Chair of the Leyden Technology Council. Rob talks with us about the inception of the council, the success of the metals program, current objectives for the organization, and enhancing your high school’s metalworking program. We also discuss manufacturing news in the current political climate.

Episode Outline:

  • [00:07] - Episode Preview
  • [01:15] - Crain’s Manufacturing
  • [02:56] - Manufacturing News
  • [05:15] - Welcoming Rob Stuebing
  • [07:10] - Leyden Technology Council  
  • [09:40] - Technology and Manufacturing Association
  • [10:10] - Inception of the Technology Council
  • [12:15] - Appealing to the Younger Generation
  • [14:50] - Objective of the Technology Council
  • [17:09] - Enhancing Your High School Metals Program
  • [18:55] - Meeting Agenda
  • [20:37] - Success Stories
  • [23:00] - Conclusion of Episode

Mentioned in this Episode:

Feb 3, 2016
Just a few years ago there were stories of mass layoffs in the manufacturing industry. Now, that is no longer the case. In 2015, Forbes listed Machining as one of the top 10 hardest jobs to fill in the United States. Today, Manufacturers are increasingly looking to high schools and community colleges to fill current staffing needs. Many schools are working to meet demand by modernizing their manufacturing education programs.
We’re very proud of where we are, and where we’ve taken our program since the 1940’s" - Frank Holthouse
On this episode of MakingChips we have a conversation with Frank Holthouse. Frank serves as the Industrial Technology Chairperson at East Leyden High School, where he has been teaching  for the last 10 years. Frank instructs East Leyden’s metalworking program, simply referred to as the Metals Program. The Metals Program provides opportunities for students to learn about modern technical practices, industrial organizations, and the role of technology in our industrial society. Students are encouraged to explore several courses, specialize in a specific course area, and ultimately participate in the school/industry cooperative work program.
Episode Outline:
[00:07] - Episode Preview
[01:00] - Crain’s Manufacturers Summit
[02:18] - Manufacturing News
[04:15] - Welcome Frank Holthouse
[05:20] - Industrial Program at East Leyden H.S.
[09:08] - Machines in the Shop
[10:21] - Enrolling in the Metalworking Program
[13:15] - Safety and Measurements
[15:00] - Structure of Metals Class
[16:55] - Fundamental Machining Skills
[17:40] - Jim’s High School Experience
[20:45] - NIMS Credentials
[22:25] - Marketing the Program
[25:20] - Challenges of Running the Program
[26:45] - Size of Metalworking Program
[27:30] - Success Story
[30:10] - Conclusion of Episode
Mentioned in this Episode:
Crain's Manufacturers Summit Promo Code: MANU2
Leyden Metals
Jan 27, 2016

An important part of what makes a manufacturing leader successful is their ability to think outside of the box. This line of thinking should also extend to the hiring process. Successful companies are good at bringing the right people into their team, but it isn't always so easy. What if you had the ability to see candidates in action before you made a decision about who to hire?

“Manufacturing has always been sexy... It just needs a generational communications facelift.” - Elena Valentine

This week on MakingChips, we welcome back last week's guest Elena Valentine. Elena walks us through Skill Scout's process of screening, assessing, and recommending candidates through hands-on manufacturing activities. We also discuss the Crain's Midwest Manufacturers Summit, the consequences of declining oil prices, how Skill Scout got involved in manufacturing, the "new" old way of doing things, and steps to finding the right candidate for your business. 

Episode Outline:

  • [00:07] - Episode Preview
  • [01:00] - Crain’s Manufacturing Summit
  • [03:15] - Manufacturing News
  • [05:40] - Welcome Back Elena
  • [06:15] - Why Manufacturing?
  • [09:40] - How Companies Experience Candidates
  • [10:11] - Skill Demonstrations and Work Samples
  • [14:15] - Learned Interview Behaviors
  • [17:00] - Finding the Right Candidate
  • [20:00] - Virtual Meaningful Conversations
  • [22:50] - Outside of the Resume
  • [24:30] - Elena’s Call to Action for Listeners
  • [25:50] - Conclusion of Episode

Mentioned in this Episode:

Jan 20, 2016

Finding the right person for your company is crucial for building a thriving business. When recruiting for open positions, employers look for candidates with the skills, experience, and demeanor they believe will benefit their company. That said, it isn’t always easy to identify candidates who understand the needs and expectations of the job. What can an employer do to capture and relay their company's culture to a prospective candidate, while showing them exactly what the job entails? How can you more meaningfully connect a candidate to your company?

"This is not just about building your employer brand, this is about getting quality talent in the door, so that you can get them on-board right away and build your business."          - Elena Valentine

On this episode of MakingChips, we have a conversation with Elena Valentine, CEO and Co-Founder of Skill Scout. Skill Scout uses an innovative and fresh approach to connect potential employees to companies. Elena shares some of the methods the company uses to match candidates with employers, most notably in the form of video job postings. Also discussed in this episode is the Crain’s Manufacturing Summit and Jim’s recent trip to Jackson, Michigan.  

Episode Outline:

  • [00:14] - Episode Preview
  • [01:20] - Crain’s Manufacturing
  • [03:30] - Jackson, Michigan
  • [05:40] - Welcome Elena Valentine
  • [08:58] - Attracting Talent
  • [10:20] - Bringing Job Posts to Life
  • [13:45] - Better Hiring Results
  • [16:00] - Logistics Behind the Video
  • [20:52] - How to Shoot a Good Ad
  • [23:45] - Authentic Window
  • [25:20] - Success Story
  • [27:30] - Conclusion of Episode

Mentioned in this Episode:


Jan 14, 2016

For many manufacturing leaders, the idea of delegating tasks can cause a feeling of uneasiness. Maybe you think you’ve got everything under control, or that things always have to be done your way. In reality, doing everything yourself is simply impossible, and can cause you unnecessary stress. To be an effective leader you must be able to rely on your team by learning how to delegate strategically.

"Any task that really exhausts or pulls energy from you is not something worth doing." -Jason Zenger

In this episode of MakingChips, Jim and Jason share some simple strategies that can help you effectively delegate tasks. Also discussed in this episode is the upcoming IMTS trade show, task management in Evernote, learning to let go, and managing expectations.

Episode Outline:

  • [00:07] Episode Preview
  • [02:19] Manufacturing News
  • [05:10] Delegating
  • [09:10] Simple Ways to Delegate Tasks
  • [11:50] Task Management in Evernote
  • [15:04] Delegating at MakingChips
  • [17:40] Expectations
  • [21:50] Conclusion of Episode

Mentioned in this Episode:


Jan 8, 2016

It’s the beginning of a new year, which for many is a time to start following through with resolutions and goals. Unfortunately, many people come to find that many of those resolutions don’t always pan out the way we would like them to. If you’re serious about making a change, it’s important that you put specific, time-bound goals in place to help you achieve success.

"You've got to work on the big rocks before you work on the pebbles in the sand."

In this episode of MakingChips, Jim and Jason discuss their main goals for the new year, goal setting for your manufacturing business, a story of priorities and a jar, and manufacturing news. Using the purchase of a new CNC machine as an example, Jim and Jason show you different methods that will help you get one step closer to achieving your short, and long-term goals.

Episode Outline:

  • [0:07] - Intro
  • [1:55] - Manufacturing News
  • [06:30] - Call to Action for Listeners
  • [07:10] - MakingChips Website
  • [08:45] - Our Main Goals
  • [10:20] - Rocks
  • [14:45] - Complexity in Today’s Business World
  • [16:10] - SMART Goals
  • [20:55] - Goals for Zenger’s
  • [22:30] - Key Motivations
  • [25:00] - Jim’s Goals
  • [28:44] - Conclusion of Episode

Article Mentioned in this Episode:

Dec 23, 2015

Some people think additive manufacturing will radically change the face of manufacturing. Although it is still a relatively new technology, additive manufacturing (also referred to as 3D Printing) has caused quite the buzz in the manufacturing community. Will additive manufacturing eventually become the way of the future, or has it's usefulness been overhyped?

“Additive can not do its adding anywhere near as fast as machining can do it’s subtracting." - Peter Zelinski

In this episode of MakingChips, we welcome back Peter Zelinski of Modern Machine Shop Magazine. Peter, Jim, and Jason discuss all things Additive Manufacturing, as well as the importance of manufacturing discussion among the presidential candidates.

“Manufacturing happens in small facilities.” -Peter Zelinski

Episode Outline:

  • [00:17] - Episode Preview
  • [01:26] - Welcome Back Pete
  • [02:00] - What Guided Pete to Manufacturing?
  • [05:30] - Additive Manufacturing
  • [07:50] - Is Additive Manufacturing Overhyped?
  • [11:30] - Additive Manufacturing Under the Radar
  • [13:00] - Modified Machines
  • [15:01] - Can Additive Encourage Domestic Production?
  • [18:00] - Presidential Candidates and Manufacturing
  • [22:40] - Prototyping vs Production
  • [24:00] - Additive vs Machining
  • [27:30] - Call to Action for Listeners
  • [29:45] - How to Reach Peter Zelinski

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Dec 16, 2015

This is MakingChips Episode 50!

In this episode of MakingChips, Jim and Jason recap some of their favorite episodes and interviews from the last year. This episode highlights the story behind MakingChips, as Jim and Jason share their experiences from the beginning to where they are today.

“Jason and I really want to thank each and every one of you for tuning in every week, listening to us, being with us, and taking this ride with us. We had no idea that it was going to be as popular and successful as it has been so far. We’re really working hard (very hard) to make it even better.”

Episode Outline:

  • [00:08] Episode Preview
  • [01:52] The Story Behind MakingChips
  • [05:15] Hiccups along the Way
  • [06:40] Episode 1
  • [07:50] Episode 2
  • [08:20] Recession
  • [09:20] One of our Favorite Episodes
  • [10:00] It’s Not Your Dad’s Machine Shop
  • [11:25] The Power of Networking
  • [12:24] Robots in your Shop
  • [13:00] Skip Generation
  • [13:20] Fernando Ortiz
  • [14:00] Most Downloaded Episodes
  • [15:00] San Diego
  • [15:45] Michelle Mabry
  • [16:30] Patricia Miller
  • [18:09] Jon Baklund
  • [18:18] Eric and Heidi Schmid
  • [19:30] Focus on What You’re Good At
  • [20:00] Tom Hilaris
  • [20:25] Workshops for Warriors
  • [22:45] Julie Poulos
  • [23:30] LinkedIn
  • [25:20] Thank You Listeners
  • [25:45] Jason’s Call to Action
  • [26:24] Thank You Guests
Dec 9, 2015

What makes a good leader? Leadership is the single most important factor in the success or failure of any business. Great leaders use their leadership traits to motivate, inspire, and build high performance teams around them. The role of an innovative leader greatly differs from the conventional image that many people hold of good leadership. What kind of qualities do these innovative leaders share?

“The innovators in this industry, (machining, desecrate part production) are engaged together in this huge open source effort at figuring manufacturing out.” – Peter Zelinski

In this Episode of MakingChips, we sit down with Peter Zelinski of Modern Machine Shop Magazine. Peter has been a writer and editor for Modern Machine Shop for more than a decade. Peter regularly visits machining facilities to learn about the manufacturing technology, systems and strategies they have adopted, and the successes they’ve realized as a result. He shares many of his insights from these experiences with us, including 4 Traits of Modern Manufacturing Leaders and 3 Deep Level Trends in Manufacturing.  

“Even making metal parts is ultimately a people business.” – Peter Zelinski

Peter Zelinski’s 4 Traits of Modern Manufacturing Leaders:

  • Authenticity
  • Persistence
  • Love
  • Genuine Regard for People

3 Deep Level Trends in Manufacturing:

  • Automation
  • Additive
  • Atmosphere

Episode Outline:

  • [00:07] Intro/Preview
  • [01:36] Manufacturing News
  • [04:30] Welcome Peter Zelinski
  • [07:45] Leadership Characteristics
  • [09:10] Authenticity
  • [10:32] Persistence
  • [12:50] Baby Steps
  • [13:35] Process Improvement
  • [19:40] Love What You Do
  • [22:15] Regard for People
  • [25:00] Value of the Employee
  • [26:22] Bad Traits
  • [29:20] Culture Changes (Atmosphere)
  • [33:10] Jason’s Call to Action for Listeners

Shops Mentioned in this Episode:

  • Rekluse Motor Sports in Idaho
  • Baklund R&D in Minnesota
  • C&A Tool in Indiana
  • Byrne Tool and Die in Michigan
  • Tech Manufacturing Co in Missouri

Also Mentioned in this Episode:

Dec 2, 2015

The thought of leaving your machine shop for even a few hours can be enough to cause anxiety for many manufacturing leaders, so it may seem impossible to imagine running your business from halfway across the country.

“To make manufacturing work, to make money, you feel like you have to grab it so hard it slips through your fingers.” – Eric Schmid

In this extended episode of MakingChips, we sit down with brother and sister Eric Schmid and Heidi Schaefer of Schmid Tool and Engineering. Eric and Heidi share their story of how and why they made the decision to work remotely, while still maintaining their respective roles in the company. There were many important decisions that they needed to make along the way in order to ensure a seamless transition. This episode covers a range of topics that can help manufacturing leaders decide if working remotely is the right move for them. Topics include Letting Go of Control, Planning the Transition, Bumps in the Road, Being Accessible, Holding Accountability, and Mastering Fear.

Episode Outline:

  • [0:07] Intro/ Preview
  • [1:34] Manufacturing News
  • [5:00] Welcome Heidi and Eric
  • [6:10] The Roots of Schmid Tool
  • [7:40] Roles in the Business
  • [9:30] Working Remotely
  • [11:40] Letting Go of Control
  • [14:00] Planning the Transition
  • [14:50] Bumps in the Road
  • [17:00] Being Accessible
  • [19:00] How Do You Let Go?
  • [22:30] Cultural Consistencies
  • [24:00] Making the Move
  • [27:20] Management and Leadership
  • [29:20] Steps to Working Remotely
  • [31:25] The Illusion of Control
  • [33:00] Accountability
  • [35:30] Mastering Fear
  • [37:00] Give and Take
  • [38:40] Helping the Owners
  • [40:00] Conclusion
Nov 25, 2015

Last week on MakingChips, we sat down with Craig Zoberis of Fusion OEM for the first half of a two part interview. This week, we cover a range of topics relating to a company’s Core Values.

In part two of this episode, Craig shares with us his set of Core Values that define his company while guiding his team member’s actions. Later on, Craig presents us with his insight about the difference between generic Core Values, or what he calls “The Ticket of Doing Business”, and meaningful Core Values that resonate with his employees.

The Right Core Values:

  • Strive for Simplicity
  • Show Gratitude
  • Be Flexible
  • Have Fun
  • See Possibilities
  • Go Home Safely

Episode Outline:

  • [1:23] – The Daily Huddle
  • [4:00] – How to Handle Sharing Bad News
  • [6:00] – Identifying Bottlenecks
  • [7:00] – Managing Different Schedules
  • [9:00] – Expectations of the Huddle
  • [11:00] – The Three “I’s”
  • [12:15] – Jim Asks Whether Everyone Gets It
  • [15:45] – Employee Growth and Trust
  • [16:30] – The Wrong Core Values
  • [18:45] – The Right Core Values
  • [23:50] – Jason on Core Values
  • [25:40] – Fusion OEM’s Monthly Rock Star Program
  • [30:29] – Jason’s Call to Action for Listeners
  • [32:00] – Outtakes (Craig and Jason Discuss Books)

Mentioned in this Episode:

Nov 18, 2015

In the modern business era, we consistently hear the terms “core values” and “company culture”. Among many other business terms, we have integrated these words into our everyday language. But what are company core values and why are they so important?

In this two part episode of MakingChips, Jim and Jason sit down with Craig Zoberis, founder and current president ofFusion OEM. Fusion is an OEM contract manufacturer for industrial OEM’s whose offerings range from Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) and Kanban system systems for machined parts and private labeling equipment.

Craig founded Fusion OEM from his home in Illinois, and has grown the company exponentially since it’s inception in 2002. In 2009, Ink magazine named Fusion OEM as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held companies in the country.

Craig begins by giving us a bit of information on his background, what sparked the idea for Fusion OEM, and what his business is all about. Later in the episode, he shares valuable insight on his company’s culture, customers, and core values.

Outline of this Episode

  • [0:08] – Intro (Preview)
  • [1:26] – Veterans Day (Workshops for Warriors)
  • [4:12] – Welcoming Craig Zoberis
  • [7:20] – Fusion OEM
  • [12:30] – What Sparked the Idea for Fusion OEM?
  • [16:15] – Fusion’s “Ecosystem”
  • [21:55] – People
  • [24:00] – Core Values
  • [25:30] – Wrong Core Values
  • [30:20] – Jason’s Example of Core Values
  • [32:26] – End of Episode

Mentioned in this Episode

Nov 11, 2015

In this episode of MakingChips, hosts Jim and Jason talk about millennials, the future of manufacturing, and 7 millennial traits that baby boomers need to learn.

The Millennial Generation is made up of people born around the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Currently they make up nearly 1 in 3 American workers. With 3.5 million manufacturing jobs expected to be created in the future it is important for manufacturing leaders to have an understanding of what drives millennials. Jim and Jason cover 7 different traits of millennials to help older generations understand their needs and passions.

7 Millennial Traits Explained in this Episode

  • Passion
  • Risk-Taking
  • Work and Life Balance 
  • Project Based Thinking
  • Energized Through Newly Learned Skills
  • Spontaneity
  • Travelers

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:07] – Intro (Preview)
  • [1:56] – MAZAK Discover 2015 Event
  • [6:35] – Millennials in Manufacturing
  • [8:40] – 7 Different Traits of Millennials
  • [22:31] – Recap and Questions
  • [24:00] – Outro

Article Mentioned in this Episode

Nov 4, 2015

Episode 44 of MakingChips is inspired by Matthew Feight of Miller Welding.  He writes:

I should start by saying that I am a Plant Manager for contract manufacturer in central Pennsylvania. We have approximately 400 employees within our 3 locations and are a contract manufacturer of fabricated metal products with capabilities in cutting, bending, welding, machining & painting. I was just referred to your podcasts yesterday by the President of our Company. I have listened to several of your episodes, a couple of your first, and a few of the more recent. One that I took particular interest in was the one regarding Business Management Tools for Manufacturing Leaders. I believe it was Jim who stated that he uses Evernote quite extensively and I would definitely like to hear more on how. I have been using Evernote for some time but do not feel I use it to its potential and would be interested on how Jim uses it to manage his time and tasks. Any input would be greatly appreciated. I am looking forward to listening to more of your podcasts.




From Jason:


Thank you for reaching out to us.  The funny thing is that Jim did not mentioned this…it was me (Jason)…so, either we sound the same or we are always talking over each other (most likely).  I hope that you enjoy this episode.



Show Notes:

Everybody has a different way to manage getting things done. For some people, it can be as simple as using an “old school” paper planner. For others, they may prefer organizing their tasks into various software programs. The most important thing is to use one system, and stick to it. Using multiple systems of management can be a tough habit to break. Figuring out a way to transition to one form of task management can do wonders for increasing productivity, and simplifying your life.

In this episode of MakingChips, Jason shares his knowledge of task management that stems from one of the most popular business books ever written, “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. The main premise of the book is relatively simple to grasp, “Get your tasks out of your head, and don’t touch them multiple times.” Jason shares a quote from his father that captures this concept perfectly. 

“Don’t open your mail unless you are going to deal with it now and get rid of it.”

Later in the episode, Jason explains (in great detail) how he uses the business application, “Evernote” to manage his to-do lists, tasks, and projects.

“The Basics of Getting Things Done”

  • “Clearing Your To-Do List”
    • This will help you gain peace of mind and focus on what tasks are most important  (New Job, New Quote, New Hire, Increasing Productivity, etc.)
  • “Creating an Inbox of To-Do’s and Projects
  • “Weekly Review”
    • It’s important to spend a short amount of time every week to review your to-do’s and projects. 
    • Put them into context so you can tackle in a more productive manner.                     (Who, Where, and When)

“8 Different Ways to Organize Tasks”

  1. Single Step Task Items
  2. Can Be Completed in Under 2 Minutes
  3. Trash 
  4. Reference Filing System
  5. Task to Create a Project
  6. Delegated List “Waiting For”
  7. Someday/Maybe List
  8. On the Calendar

“Things to Manage without Evernote”

  • Trash
    • To put simply, trash it and never think about it again because it is of zero importance. (An event you won’t be attending)
  • Calendar
    • Something you are doing on a particular date or time that doesn’t need to be thought of before that time. (A meeting with a partner)
  • 2 Minutes
    • If it is something that can be completed in under 2 minutes, just get it done now and move on.

“Setting Up Evernote”

  • Create a notebook called “Action Pending” and another notebook called “Completed” or “Completed Tasks”.  Then drag one of those notebooks on top of the other to create a nest or stack and rename that stack “Tasks”.  Jason mentions that he uses a third notebook with Tasks called “Completed Content”, which is where he puts everything associated with this podcast once finished.
  • Create a tag called “.When” and “.Who”. The reason for using the dot is so you can group these together with all of your tags.
  • Begin creating your “Who’s”. (Who you are talking to)
  • Create your “When’s”


Projects are “things” that need to be broken into smaller steps. You should never manage a project like a to-do because it can become overwhelming. Jason refers to an old adage that captures this concept perfectly.

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

  • Create a note with the project name in the action pending notebook.
  • Tag is as “Project”.
  • Break up the project into small actionable steps.
  • Create 2-3 of those to-do’s or action steps as notes just as you would for a normal to-do.
  • Once you create the to-do, delete that step out of the master project note.
  • Review your projects once per week to see what new to-do’s need to be created out of it.
  • Once the project is done, move the note to the Completed notebook.

“Other Tips”

  • All to-do’s should start with an action verb.
  • This may sound really time consuming and complex, but is actually really easy once you get the system up and going.
  • Brain dump everything that you need to do as soon as you think about it.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:30] – Manufacturing News
  • [7:45] – Matthew Feight from Miller Welding
  • [9:20] – “Getting Things Done”
  • [17:15] – Handling E-Mails
  • [20:19] – 3 Things Not Used in Evernote
  • [23:00] – Structuring Evernote
  • [30:10] – Reviewing Evernote Structure
  • [39:00] – New Projects

Jason’s pre-show notes before Ryan rewrote them.

Oct 14, 2015

Get out your scuba gear, we’re taking a deep dive today! In this episode of Making Chips Jason and Jim are with a guest, John Berard who has a ton of experience in the research and implementation of ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) systems in manufacturing businesses. John’s got a lot of actionable advice for both the small and larger size manufacturing operations about how to determine your ERP needs, how to find and choose and ERP system, how much budget to set aside for the purchase, and what to expect during the implementation and transition period. This episode could help you take that bold step into a more streamlined way of managing your machine shop.

What is an Enterprise Resource Planning system? (ERP)

An ERP is business management software—typically a suite of integrated applications—that a company can use to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities. It might and probably will include other software systems (known as MRP - Materials Resource Planning systems). Some of the things a good ERP may include are systems that track product planning and costs, manufacturing or service delivery, marketing and sales, inventory management, and shipping and payment. It sounds complex but once you have the right ERP solution chosen and implemented in your business, the long term benefit is cash savings on a daily basis. Find out more about ERP systems from our guest today, John Berard as he discusses the topic with Jim and Jason.

How does an ERP system work?

ERP provides an integrated view of your most essential business processes, allowing you to see a “big picture” of what’s going on in your manufacturing operation from many different levels. It also allows you to “drill down” into those broad categories to see the details you need to make better business decisions. A good ERP often does this work for you in real-time, using common databases maintained by a database management system integrated into the program. The applications that are a part of the system share information across the various departments of your operation (manufacturing, purchasing, sales, accounting, etc.). Hear the benefits your business could derive from implementing a good ERP system by listening in to this conversation.

How should you start the process of finding and implementing a good ERP system?

John Berard, today’s guest on Making Chips, recommends that the owner of the manufacturing company NOT try to make this decision on his own. It’s vital that everyone involved in the collection and use of data within your company be a part of the process. The combined knowledge of the particular facets of your business will enable you to make accurate and helpful decisions about what kind of functionality you’ll need from an ERP system. John’s got some very practical suggestions about how to stage and manage those conversations and how to go about finding the right company with the right solution for you. If you’re considering an upgrade to an ERP system, the basics John shares could save you tons of time and money. Be sure to listen.

There are 3 main ways you can mess up the implementation of your ERP system.

John Berard has seen many implementations of ERP software and has some “horror stories” about how you can mess it up. #1 - Ignore your people. You have to listen to those you’ve entrusted with the areas of your business. They will have the information and hands-on experience to help you make a good decision. #2 - You want to listen to your peers who have done an ERP implementation in the past. They will have “lessons learned” that will be of great benefit to you, so don’t let the bells and whistles of a fancy ERP system and a smooth talking salesman lead you down a path that a peer is saying may not be the best. #3 - If you have a gut feeling that the software consultant is not serving your best interests by highlighting the bells and whistles of the software that don’t really apply to your operation, listen to that feeling. You don’t want to make a huge mistake on this crucial decision. Find out more from John’s experience on this episode of Making Chips.

Outline of this episode

  • [1:05] Welcome and introduction to this episode with John Berard.
  • [3:27] What is the direct function of a ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning tool) or MRP (Materials Resource Planning tool) system?
  • [6:00] How do you bring all the “islands” of MRP systems together under one system?
  • [9:05] An example: a small CNC machine shop, business is good, how do they formalize a plan to bring everything together?
  • [12:13] Success stories of how this transition works.
  • [14:15] Finding an ERP software solution to fit your needs.
  • [15:51] A disaster in ERP implementation solutions and 3 ways you can mess up the transition.
  • [17:28] Avoiding the bells and whistles the salesman might point out so you can apply the system to your typical jobs.
  • [19:37] What should a small manufacturer budget for this type of software?
  • [21:31] How long does it take to implement these software solutions?
  • [21:56] John’s advice to those considering implementing an ERP solution for your company.

Links mentioned in this episode

John’s podcast:

Or call us at 312-725-0245

Oct 7, 2015

Chambers of commerce have been around for a very long time. The very first recorded mention of a chamber of commerce was in Marseille, .France in 1599. Trade associations have an equally long history with Associations finding their roots in organizations such as the church, medieval craft guilds, and merchant trading groups. Both groups still exist today and could be an important avenue through which your manufacturing business receives support, stays engaged with your community or industry, or becomes known for what you do and the quality with which you do it. On this episode of Making Chips, Jim and Jason chat a bit about the differences between chambers and associations and give their input about the value of each.


What is a chamber of commerce and how should you decide if being a member would be beneficial to your company?


When you think of a chamber of commerce the first thing that comes to mind should be the word “local.” A chamber of commerce is always tied to a local community, whether it be a township, city, or other local area. The focus of a chamber is to consider and discuss the interests of all businesses in its local area, moving beyond individual interests to that of a collective group. The establishment of chambers provides merchants, traders, craftsmen and business owners a public forum to discuss issues facing them as a business community. This representation of common interests became, and remains, the foundation of chambers of commerce worldwide. Should YOUR business become a member of your local chamber? Jim and Jason have some things for you to think about as you consider that decision. Take a few minutes to listen to this episode to hear what they advise.


What is a trade association and would it benefit your business to join one?


A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry or a specific niche of an industry. An industry trade association participates in public relations activities such as advertising, education, political donations, lobbying and publishing, but its main focus is collaboration between the companies that make up its membership. Associations may offer other services, such as producing conferences, providing networking or charitable events, or offering classes or educational materials to its members. In the manufacturing industry there are a number of associations, many specialized to serve its particular membership. Should your company be a member of a specific trade association? Only you can answer that question but Jason and Jim have some thoughts about what you should consider before deciding. You can hear their advice on this episode of Making Chips.


Why would I want to join my local chamber of commerce?


Given your company’s role and profile in the community, membership in your local chamber may not be a good fit. But there are many good reasons TO join your local chamber: Membership could bring credibility to your business in the community. Membership could increase your visibility in the community. Becoming a member could provide networking opportunities for your business. Being a chamber member could also give you an amplified voice in governmental issues. As part of your local chamber you’ll also make local business contacts. With a chamber membership, you can also reach potential clients through member exclusive advertising and opportunities for business-to-business advertising and publicity.


What are the benefits to joining a trade association?


Trade associations provide a valuable resource to those who take advantage of their resources. Some of the reasons you might want to be a part of a specific association are: 1. You can receive specialized knowledge. Odds are that someone, somewhere, in the industry has already discovered the solution to a vexing problem in your particular niche. 2. You can enhance your company’s reputation. 3. You can make personal and industry-related connections. 4. You could increase your company’s purchasing power. Trade associations often arrange for members to receive discounts on certain products and services. 5. Your company could gain political clout and expertise. Trade associations bring competitors together, turning each small voice into a persuasive, collective shout that gets the attention of lawmakers and officials. Listen in as Jim and Jason discuss the benefits of their membership in various associations.


Outline of this episode


  • [1:00] The Making Chips Youtube channel is live!
  • [3:12] IMTS 2016 is coming up in September of 2016… and we’re putting together some ideas about the Making Chips audience coming together for collaboration.
  • [4:06] Associations, Chambers, and both.
  • [4:26] Local Chambers of Commerce… a local opportunity: Jim’s experience.
  • [6:00] The kinds of things to expect at a local chamber meeting.
  • [8:27] Costs and time investments required to be a part of a local chamber.
  • [9:16] A success story from Jim being on the board of a local chamber of commerce.
  • [10:32] The differences between an association and a chamber.
  • [11:49] Clear focus characterizes associations.
  • [13:05] For both chambers and associations, getting involved is important.
  • [14:50] A sampling of associations that are available.
  • [16:15] Thing you need to know about chambers and associations.
  • [17:20] Things to do before joining an association or chamber.
  • [18:00] Give us your feedback about chambers and associations.

Links mentioned in this episode


Mazak’s upcoming event -


Or call us at 312-725-0245

Sep 30, 2015

Word of mouth advertising still works. It’s wonderful when a satisfied customer tells someone else about their experience with your company. But there are more options today than just relying on word of mouth. Technology and social media have created the opportunity to put your advertisements in front of the people who are most likely to buy your products or use your services. How is it possible? Through data that is collected through platforms like Facebook. In this episode of Making Chips, Jim and Jason will be discussing their experience with Facebook ads, including the results they’ve seen, the cost they paid, and why they thought it was a good idea. Listen in to get the whole story.


Getting in front of your ideal customer is easier than ever.


When a person first sets up their Facebook account they’re asked a series of questions about their interests, hobbies, work, likes and dislikes. The responses they give are more than just ways to connect them with other people. Those are data points used by the Facebook machine to organize ad campaigns for those who use the Facebook Ad platform. On top of that, every click, every like, every comment is recorded and logged as well, giving Facebook an immense amount of data on every user over time. That’s the data you could tap into by using Facebook Ads. Find out more about this amazing opportunity, in this episode of Making Chips.


Jim’s experience using Facebook ads for Carr Machine and Tool.


At one point Jim decided to try out Facebook ads and set up an ad campaign for his business, Carr Machine and Tool. He was able to target people who either worked in the manufacturing industry or were interested in machining, tools, etc. It was amazing how easily he could “drill down” into the very group of people he wanted to target to put his ads in front of them, and them only. The results? He actually had one person send him a bid opportunity because of his Facebook ads. Find out more about how Jim and Jason are planning to use Facebook Ads in the future by listening to the conversation today.


The Mazak event is almost here. Act now to be a part of this amazing event!


Mazak is a company that leads the way in the manufacture of advanced technology solutions including Multi-Tasking, hybrid Multi-Tasking, 5-axis, milling, turning, CNC controls and automation. Their upcoming event, Discover 2015 is one of the largest events held in the United States and is an educational, technology, and networking event manufacturing leaders won’t want to miss. How can you be there? Go to the Mazak website and register for this event, coming up October 27-19, 2015, in Florence, Kentucky.

Do you have a question or topic you’d like addressed on Making Chips? How about a guest you’d like to recommend?


Jim and Jason would love to hear from you so they can better craft the show to meet your exact needs. You can leave your question or make your guest suggestion by going to the Making Chips website - . Don’t be shy, the guys would love to hear from you!

Outline of this episode


  • [1:06] The upcoming Mazak event - a valuable opportunity for networking and interaction.
  • [3:05] Introduction of today’s topic: Advertising your Machine Shop on Facebook
  • [5:31] Jim’s experience posting ads on Facebook for Carr Machine and Tool.
  • [7:38] How Facebook ads work to target who gets to see the ad.
  • [9:25] Who Jim targets with his Facebook ads.
  • [10:44] The amazing ways Facebook ads can be nuanced to hit your perfect customer.
  • [11:43] The importance of using images when creating Facebook ads.
  • [13:48] What is the cost of Facebook ads?
  • [14:40] Jim’s success story from using Facebook ads.
  • [16:25] How Jason would use Facebook ads and what his goals would be.
  • [17:56] The Making Chips experiment to test the use of Facebook ads.
  • [20:39] How to leave your info about topics you’d like Jim and Jason to cover on Making Chips.

Links mentioned in this episode


Mazak’s upcoming event -


Making Chips episode about networking:


Or call us at 312-725-0245


Sep 23, 2015

The world has changed since the days of your grandfather’s old, dusty, dingy manufacturing shop. Technology and a global economy are forcing these changes and the American manufacturing industry is changing along with it. Small manufacturers now have to compete on a global level and it’s to the advantage of all manufacturers within the United States to come together and collaborate so the U.S. manufacturing industry can remain a dominant force in the global economy. It’s to that end that a government/private sector organization, the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation was born. On this episode of Making Chips Jason and Jim do their best to explain what the NNMI is, how it came about, and why it’s an important force behind the needed changes that are coming to the U.S. manufacturing industry.

Collaboration for the sake of all.

That’s the idea behind the creation of the NNMI. If the government can facilitate and encourage the individual manufacturers within the United States manufacturing industry to come together, share knowledge, data, and resources, and work together to increase the manufacturing capacity and ability within the nation, everyone will win. Hear how Jim and Jason are thinking about this new effort and how you can be involved, on this episode of Making Chips.

One organization, many institutes with specialized areas of focus.

The NNMI is focused on helping the manufacturing industry overcome the obstacles to remaining a global force in the world-wide manufacturing community. Toward that end it has created many specialized institutes. Among them are America Makes, Digital Manufacturing and Design, Lightweight Metal Manufacturing, Power America, the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing, AIM Photonics, the Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute, the Innovation Institute on  Smart Manufacturing, and the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Find out more about each of these on this episode.

What do Jim and Jason think about the DMDII from their participation on a panel at their facility?

Jim and Jason were both very impressed not only with the amount of time and money that obviously went into the event they were asked to participate in, but also in the genuine concern those putting on the event had with their input and concerns. As representatives of the smaller manufacturers in the U.S. the two had a unique perspective that those running the DMDII event were very interested in hearing. Jason and Jim are hopeful that is a good sign of the desire to truly cooperate and work together for the benefit of all manufacturers. Hear more of their impressions by listening to this episode.

Do you have comments, questions, or resources you’d like to share with the Making Chips crew?

Jason and Jim would love to receive your feedback, learn from your knowledge, and share it with the Making Chips community. You can connect with either of them through the website at or call them at 312-725-0245. They’d love to hear from you and build a connection that will benefit the entire manufacturing community.

Outline of this episode

  • [1:06] The upcoming Mazak event October 27-30 and November 30-5.
  • [2:21] Introduction of Ryan Scanlan, social media manager for the Making Chips crew.
  • [4:20] Demystifying the NNMI.
  • [6:03] Jim and Jason’s input through the DMDII (Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute), regarding smart manufacturing.
  • [7:47] What the NNMI does: collaboration between government, private companies, and academics to improve the manufacturing industry.
  • [8:40] What these sorts of partnerships could accomplish in the industry.
  • [9:44] A vision for collaboration surrounding innovation within the manufacturing industry.
  • [10:56] Issues surrounding time to market that the NNMI wants to address in light of the change toward a global market.
  • [12:42] Why those manufacturing companies that are resistant and inflexible could be left behind.
  • [13:20] The different NNMI institutes, what they are focused on, and where they are.
  • [19:19] Jim and Jason’s impressions of the DMDII facility and their time there.
  • [22:04] Your invitation to contact the Making Chips crew with your thoughts and ideas.

Links mentioned in this episode

Mazak’s upcoming event -

Workshops for Warriors -

Or call us at 312-725-0245

Tweets you can use to tell others about the episode

Government - private cooperation in the manufacturing industry?

Demystifying the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation #NNMI

What would happen if #manufacturers across the board could collaborate and innovate?

A movement to increase #TimeToMarket speed in the @manufacturing industry

#ManufacturingInnovation through cooperation, on this episode of #MakingChips

Sep 16, 2015

MC039: A Young Woman with Manufacturing Dreams: A conversation with Michelle Mabry


Traditionally the manufacturing industry has been dominated by the presence of men. That’s not a bad thing. But it’s not necessarily a good thing either. Today’s episode of Making Chips is a conversation with one of the many young women who are stepping into the once-male-dominated manufacturing industry and making a very positive difference. When Michelle Mabry moved to Chicago she enrolled in a welding class at a local community college and was set on fire by the wonderful skills and things she could do with a welding torch in her hand. She’s confident that she has a ton to offer the manufacturing industry. Hear her story on this episode of Making Chips.


What inspires a young woman to become a welder?


The answers to that question will be is as different as the young women you’re talking about, but for Michelle Mabry it was the way that welding could be an outlet for creativity and inspiration. She discovered that the skill of welding enables her to create things that otherwise might never come to reality, and that she could transfer those skills to others through teaching and enable them to establish a solid future when there otherwise may not be any hope. Hear more of how Michelle is using her welding experience and education to inspire others to make something great of their lives, on this episode.


Is the modern machine shop an appropriate place for women to be?


Michelle Mabry thinks so… as do the hosts of  Making Chips, Jason Zenger and Jim Carr. Modern manufacturing facilities are not your grandfather’s machine shop. By and large today’s shops are clean, technical, skill-oriented environments where women and men can work alongside each other to create the parts and machinery that keep our country running. Jason, Jim, and Michelle have a very open and candid conversation about the unique perspectives that women bring to the manufacturing industry on this episode, and you get to listen in.

Why are women needed in the manufacturing industry?


A unique mindset and perspective is one of the many things women bring into manufacturing, and Jason Zenger and Jim Carr believe it’s sorely needed. Men and women are different and they feel it’s about time we utilized those differences to move the manufacturing industry forward, opening up doors of possibility that until now have gone unnoticed. With the combined insights and creativity of both sexes, manufacturing companies can innovate and grow in ways we’ve not seen yet. Hear more about how this combination of the sexes in the manufacturing industry could move things forward, in this episode.


What about you? Are you willing to take a step into a new field?


When Michelle Mabry first told people that she was going to enroll in a welding class at her local college, she hit opposition almost immediately. People took exception with her choice because she was a woman, because it wasn’t “normal” for a women to don a welding helmet and apron. But Michelle says the naysayers only fuel her determination. It’s not that she wants to be like a man, she wants to be who she is, and welding is one of the channels she uses to express her creativity and make a difference in the world. Hear Michelle’s inspiring story on this episode. Maybe it will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and develop a new skill as well.

Outline of this episode


  • [1:06] The upcoming Mazak event, “Mazak Discover 2015” - click to register for this incredible event.

  • [3:12] Introduction to this episode: An inspiring story about following your passion!

  • [3:45] Industry news - Jim’s participation on a panel discussing smart manufacturing, and Jason’s journey in working through some acquisitions for his company.

  • [6:10] Introduction of today’s guest: Michelle Mabry.

  • [7:50] Michelle’s move to Chicago as the catalyst that moved her into the field of welding.

  • [9:00] What inspired Michelle about welding?

  • [10:15] Michelle’s enrollment in a welding class: what she learned and the certifications she is earning.

  • [14:00] Michelle’s aspirations to teach welding once she’s finished with her education.

  • [16:02] Hopes for the future: Sculptures, encouraging others to consider their possibilities, and the desire to help others excel.)

  • [17:56] How to get the younger generation or women interested in the manufacturing industry.

  • [19:21] How a welding lab can breed confidence in people who otherwise might not have it.

  • [20:26] The power of manufacturing skills to give people a new lease on life and dreams for their future.

  • [22:04] What the average manufacturing employer is looking for.

  • [22:43] Michelle’s “Ah Ha!” moment when she knew manufacturing was what she wanted to do.

  • [23:20] How Michelle dealt with the naysayers.

  • [24:16] The importance of women in the manufacturing industry.

Links mentioned in this episode


Mazak’s upcoming event -


Workshops for Warriors -


Or call us at 312-725-0245


Tweets you can use to tell others about the episode


What motivates a young #woman to become a #welder?


A young #woman who became a #welder, and how she dealt with the #naysayers


Why women are vitally needed in the #ManufacturingIndustry


How #manufacturing skills can inspire and motivate people to a better more productive life


Using #welding to #inspire and #motivate others, in this episode of #MakingChips

Sep 9, 2015

Business growth what we all want to see. More customers, more jobs, and more revenue. But there are other ways to grow your company, including the purchase or acquisition of another company in your niche. In this episode of Making Chips Jason and Jim chat with Tom Hilaris who has recently become CEO of Ergoseal, a company that manufactures seals for OEMs in the industrial and aerospace rotating equipment industries. Within a two month period Tom’s company acquired 2 other companies and grew both his manufacturing capabilities and his bottom line. Find out more about Tom’s experience, including things to watch out for in acquisitions, on this episode.


What is the right motivation for acquiring another company?


While the individual details of each situation will vary, there are a couple of foundational motives that would make the acquisition of a company a good deal, and there are others that wouldn’t make sense - financially or otherwise. Tom Hilaris shares his experience in leading Ergoseal in the acquisition of two other companies in the last year, on this episode. It’s about more than simply acquiring another company. It’s about adding to your product line, cutting expenses, and making greater profits. Find out how to make those determinations regarding possible acquisitions on this episode of Making Chips.


Did you know that you can hire an acquisitions advisor to guide your company in an acquisition process?


A very important part of Tom Hilaris’ story of leading his company to acquire two other companies, is the role a hired Acquisitions Advisor played. He was instrumental in helping Tom and his team pull together the paperwork they needed, locate the right companies to purchase, and strike the deal in a way that was beneficial for everyone. Looking back, Tom feels that he could possibly do those things himself from here on out, but feels that he’ll stick with an Acquisitions Advisor for future acquisitions as well simply because the expertise the Advisor had made his role much simpler and the process more streamlined. Find out more on this episode.


What are the funding options for acquiring another company?


Jim and Jason asked that question of Tom Hilaris in this episode and his answer came from his experience in leading his company in 2 acquisitions. He says that owner financing is obviously the best deal if you can make it work, but most owners who are trying to sell are wanting out of the situation entirely and aren’t open to carrying the financing. They want to take the cash from the sale and leave. That means that other types of financing will be required and Tom found that the tight formulas used by the larger banks made it impossible for his smaller manufacturing company to get financed with them. He wound up going with a smaller bank that took other things into consideration. Find out what options might exist for your situation by listening to Tom’s advice on this episode.


Hear the 3 fundamental things to consider when looking at a possible acquisition.


The lessons we learn from experience are often the best ones, and Tom Hilaris shares 3 important things to keep in mind when you’re considering the acquisition of another company. First, he cautions that you make sure you have the right motives for making the move, second, that you figure in at least 3% more than the costs that show on paper for related expenses, and third, take into account the cultural impact the acquisition will have on your employees and the employees of the incoming company. Hear more hard-learned wisdom from Tom on this episode of Making Chips!

Outline of this episode


  • [1:17] Extended promotion of from Thyssen Krupp (sponsor). Get your 15% discount by using the code CHIPS2 (through September 2015)

  • [3:12] Business news: Acquiring a new business as part of your current business?

  • [5:17] Introduction of our Guest: Tom Hilaris, CEO of Ergoseal.

  • [6:16] Tom’s recent experience acquiring companies to add to his present company.

  • [7:12] The motivations involved in buying and selling companies.

  • [8:29] The steps Tom took to begin acquiring companies and how they navigated the journey.

  • [9:34] What is an acquisitions advisor? How does his role help in the process of acquiring a company?

  • [11:24] Gaining a product line through an acquisition - the benefits Tom experienced.

  • [12:31] How gaining the customer list of an acquired company boosted sales, etc.

  • [14:11] Tom’s decision to acquire a second company that was in the same building his company was in.

  • [15:22] How an acquisition could be a good option for older owners who are thinking of liquidating.

  • [15:59] How the advisor helped them determine the costs and projections for the acquisition.

  • [18:09] What is the best approach to finding funding for a company acquisition, and what hurdles or roadblocks might you experience?

  • [21:50] The impact federal regulations have on business financing for acquisitions and growth.

  • [22:47] The 3 fundamentals to consider when thinking about an acquisition of another company.

  • [25:07] Be careful of the overall costs - add 3% to what you see on paper.

  • [27:40] Tom’s plans for further acquisitions.

  • [28:44] Contact Tom Hilaris on LinkedIn.

  • [29:19] Please comment or interact about these issues on the show notes page


Links mentioned in this episode


Connect with Tom Hilaris through his LinkedIn Profile -


Tom’s company - Eergoseal -


Or call us at 312-725-0245


Tweets you can use to tell others about the episode


Benefits of company acquisitions, on this episode of Making Chips


There are more ways to #GrowYourNusiness than adding customers


3 fundamentals to consider when looking to acquire another company


Add 3% to the acquisition costs you have on paper - here’s why


Company culture is a huge consideration when acquiring another company

Sep 2, 2015

In this great part-two episode, Jason and Jim continue their conversation with Sarah Caldicott. Besides being an extremely intelligent student of business and innovation, Sarah is an author and the great grandniece of Thomas Edison. Her study and writing is largely based on her own interest in her famous relative who was not only an amazing inventor, but also a manufacturer in his own right. Listen in to hear tales of Edison’s life and systems and why his contributions to the manufacturing industry continue to impact us today.


Thomas Edison’s “systematic innovation”


Edison had a process that he followed to not only innovate in his own thinking and processes, but to encourage innovation in his employees. It was a different way of thinking which included many aspects, including collaboration, product creation, and looking at issues from a variety of angles. He demonstrated that true innovation comes about by truly getting outside the conventions that exist to approach situations and problems in different ways that provide new solutions to the problem. Listen in as Jim and Jason chat with Edison’s great grandniece, Sarah Caldicott.


“Charismatic optimism” is how Sarah Caldicott (Thomas Edison’s great grandniece) describes his attitude


It’s more than a “rah-rah” mindset that is filled with unrealistic fluff. It’s a “can do” mindset that sees opportunities where others see obstacles. Edison was legendary for that kind of optimism even in the face of incredible difficulty or tragedy. In this episode Sarah shares quite a few instances of how Edison pushed through difficulties to accomplish incredible breakthroughs and turns a corner to help you see how that kind of attitude can become infections in your company, enabling you to accomplish more, innovate to a greater degree, and become more profitable. That’s on this episode, so listen in.


Better educated employees make for a more productive and innovative company


Thomas Edison had a library IN his manufacturing facility that contained over 50,000 volumes. He encouraged his employees to borrow books from the library to read, learn, and grow at all times. His belief was that employees who were growing in their knowledge and in their ability to see and recognize patterns. He believed that individual growth in his employees would make them better employees and enable his company to thrive and innovate even more. Hear the entire story by listening to this episode of Making Chips.


When you assess things, how are you at “engaging other senses?”


Thomas Edison had a summer home in Florida, at which he had a manufacturing facility, garden, and many other atypical things. He loved to get out into the gardens and feel, smell, and experience natural things. He believed natural things could be used as inspiration and even elements of the design itself. As an example, the first filament Edison used in the light bulb was made of bamboo. Listen in to hear Sarah Caldicott’s take on how manufacturing leaders can engage all of their senses in the manufacturing realm, all on this episode.

Outline of this episode


  • [0:58] Do you know what the “L” at the end of a metal designation means? (sponsor)

  • [8:14] Thomas Edison’s “systematic innovation” and what it means for manufacturers today.

  • [10:01] The different way of thinking Edison used and how it integrates with collaborating with others, creating products, etc.

  • [11:43] How Edison’s positive mindset helped him differentiate himself from others in industry.

  • [12:35] How non-product-creating manufacturers can bring innovation to their organization.

  • [14:05] How anticipating a client’s needs is powerful in helping them make the decision to go with your proposal.

  • [15:09] How to move forward in collaborative ways once an order is placed.

  • [16:10] How you can develop your brand with potential customers.

  • [17:00] What is charismatic optimism and how can leaders employ it to be better leaders and business owners.

  • [18:09] How a tragedy in Thomas Edison’s career was turned around to become an opportunity instead of a liability.

  • [19:59] The reason Making Chips exists and how Edison’s story inspires that goal.

  • [20:50] How Thomas Edison encouraged learning in his employees, and why he did it.

  • [22:05] How Jason is following Edison’s model to raise the bar for his employee’s productivity and the company’s success long-term.

  • [23:01] How Edison was a fan of “engaging other senses.”

  • [24:43] Thomas Edison’s experiments with using natural substances for manufacturing.

  • [25:34] How manufacturing leaders should use a notebook as Edison did.

  • [29:38] How to connect with Sarah.


Links mentioned in this episode - Thyssen Krupp’s website - our sponsor.


Midnight Lunch - Sarah’s book


Innovate Like Edison -  Sarah’s other book


Sarah’s website -


Or call us at 312-725-0245


Tweets you can use to tell others about the episode


Learn the #1 way to boot up your mind and become an innovator


What was in Thomas Edison’s notebooks, and how it can help you innovate


Why Thomas Edison encouraged his employees to learn and grow… in this episode


What is charismatic optimism & how can leaders employ it to be better leaders & business owners.

How non-product-creating manufacturers can bring innovation to their organization

Aug 26, 2015


Thomas Edison was an undeniable genius. His processes and inventions still influence the way we live our lives today. Today’s conversation is one that will turn the lights on (no pun intended) for you and your manufacturing team if you’ll open yourself up to some ways of thinking about how you run your business. Today’s guest is Sarah Caldicott, author and great grandniece of Thomas Edison. Her new book “Midnight Lunch” profiles many of the strategies of collaboration and innovation that came out of Thomas Edison’s work teams, and delves into the ideas you can draw from his example to make your manufacturing company a game changer in the industry.


Thomas Edison didn’t believe in a hierarchical company structure


Don’t misunderstand, he was entirely “in charge” of the companies he created, but he was never a dictator or one who felt he had to come up with all the answers. He fostered a climate of cooperation and peer relationships that served to spark innovation and creativity in ways most manufacturing companies today can only dream of. Sarah Caldicott shares stories of Edison’s amazing work habits and approach in this episode of Making Chips, and in doing so provides practical ways you can adjust your approach to innovation and product development that could transform your place and impact on the manufacturing industry.


What would happen if the teams within your company engaged in more dialogue and debate?


At first, the idea might sound a bit out of control, or difficult to manage. But we’re not talking about adversarial debate, here, we’re talking about challenging, constructive, goal-oriented debate that brings about new ideas and fresh ways of thinking. It’s the type of atmosphere Thomas Edison built into every one of his many companies, and the type of synergy that enabled him to bring so many world-changing inventions to the world. Sarah Caldicott highlights how that happened and provides ideas about how modern manufacturing companies can apply the same approach to become innovators in their niche of the manufacturing industry.


If you can cross-train your employees you’ll be able to create a greater synergy.


That’s a principle straight out of Thomas Edison’s own approach to building and working with teams. He found that having team members adequately trained to work in multiple areas and even on different projects enabled the team as a whole to come up with better ideas, see other options, and approach difficulties with fresh eyes. Nobody was allowed to stay locked in one area of expertise but rather was encouraged (even required) to step into other projects that grew and challenged their thinking and abilities. The end result is that Edison’s teams were able to pioneer 6 distinct industries within 30 years, all which are still with us today. Find out more from Sarah Caldicott as she discusses her newest book, “Midnight Lunch” on this episode of Making Chips.


What was the only reason Thomas Edison ever got angry with an employee?


Was it when they failed to reach a designated goal? Was it because they made a huge mistake? Was it because they failed to do what they’d been told to do? None of those are the reason. Thomas Edison only got angry with employees when they were careless. Carelessness means they weren’t “taking care” to think through the eventualities and possibilities of what they were doing and to safeguard against bad results as much as they were able. How does that approach shed light on your attitude toward employees? How can you adjust to make the environment in your company more amenable to cooperation and collaboration? Find out how  Edison’s approach could help you grow in those areas, on this episode.


Outline of this episode


  • [1:06] Welcome and introducing Sarah Caldicott, great grandniece of THE Thomas Edison.

  • [1:40] Calls to action for this episode

  • [2:08] Introduction of Sarah, her background, experience, and current projects.

  • [3:47] Sarah’s summary of her newest book, “Midnight Lunch,” and how it came from the practices and experiences carried out in the workshop of of Thomas Edison himself.

  • [7:23] How a 5 person company could create great innovations in the Manufacturing Industry.

  • [8:00] The importance of hiring people who are not like you to be part of your team.

  • [8:20] The importance of dialogue and debate on a team.

  • [9:05] Trying to create “low social distance” in your manufacturing business - a non-hierarchical work climate.

  • [11:10] How Thomas Edison did cross-training and encouraged synergy among his teams.

  • [13:17] Taking the concept of the “midnight lunch” to a small manufacturing company.

  • [15:00] How dialogue and collaboration spark innovation in a company.

  • [16:51] Collaboration as “discovery learning.”

  • [17:38] How Thomas Edison created 6 industries in 30 years.

  • [18:36] The only reason Thomas Edison got angry with people on his teams.


Links mentioned in this episode


Midnight Lunch - Sarah’s book


Or call us at 312-725-0245

Aug 19, 2015

The last episode of Making Chips featured a conversation with Hernán Luis y Prado, U.S. veteran and founder of Workshops for Warriors. This episode is a continuation of that important conversation. Hernán is passionate to see two things: the manufacturing industry rebuilt in a sustainable, truly effective way, and the reintegration of veterans into the American society and workforce. Hear how Workshops for Warriors is doing that in their San Diego training facility and how they have achieved 100% job placement - in this episode of Making Chips.

What should an employer consider when employing a veteran as opposed to someone else?

When Hernán Luis y Prado, the founder of Workshops for Warriors was asked that question, his answer was shocking and immediate. He said he doesn’t care who manufacturing leaders hire, he just cares that they hire and train people to prepare for the devastating problems that could hit the manufacturing industry if another huge demand were to hit. His heart is for veterans to be trained for the manufacturing industry because of their level of expertise and ability to produce on a level that is unmatched, and they are ready to be trained now. Find out more about how Hernán is changing the manufacturing industry on this episode.

Workshops for Warriors is really just a drop in the bucket.

Though the work they’re doing is amazing and powerful, Workshops for Warriors is a very small part of the help the manufacturing industry needs. At this point there are 150 locations around the United States where a similar training facility for veterans could be established and thrive. And Hernán Luis y Prado believes those 150 facilities are vitally needed. What can you do to help meet the need the manufacturing industry is facting? Find out on this episode of Making Chips.

Hernán Luis y Prado’s biggest disappointment in running Workshops for Warriors…

has been an ongoing problem since the organization first began, and it’s a responsibility he takes squarely on his own shoulders. He is disappointed that he’s been unable to effectively communicate, to successful, intelligent people, why they need to be active in ensuring that the manufacturing industry is supplied with competent, trained workers not only now, but for generations to come. In his mind, if the manufacturing leaders of today don’t get on board to help supply a vast pool of qualified workers for the industry, the entire industry will fall prey to some terrible effects in the near future. Find out more about how you can get involved, on this episode of Making Chips.

The cannibalization of the manufacturing industry is a very real possibility.

What does that mean? It means that when the demand for skilled workers for the industry is so great, like it is right now, the tendency is for the larger companies to entice workers at smaller companies away from their jobs, which clearly benefits the large company short-term, but could be a devastating blow to the smaller company, which will hurt the entire industry in the end. The fact is that there is plenty of work to go around and every company that is producing quality products is needed to meet demand. What is needed is effective and thorough training of a new workforce for the manufacturing industry, and Workshops for Warriors is leading the way. Learn how you can avoid that kind of short sightedness by supporting Workshops for Warriors, on this episode.

Outline of this episode

  • [1:06] Tyssen Krupp - Defined Vendor Management Systems for material applications.
  • [3:07] What should an employer consider when employing a veteran as opposed to someone else?
  • [3:34] The need for more manufacturing workers and the danger of cannibalization in the manufacturing industry.
  • [4:51] 100% job placement through Workshops for Warriors.
  • [5:16] The Workshop for Warriors visit to the White House.
  • [6:40] 150 locations that are ripe for another facility similar to Workshops for Warriors.
  • [9:02] The main two main pain points Workshops for Warriors has.
  • [9:57] What is needed from the manufacturing community to meet the vast need.
  • [10:27] The biggest holdup to people getting involved in training more manufacturing workers.
  • [12:31] A story of Workshops for Warriors’ success.
  • [14:08] The greatest disappointment Hernán Luis y Prado has experienced with Workshops for Warriors.
  • [15:09] The personal cost Hernán is paying to get veterans trained.
  • [15:46] Your opportunity to get involved supporting Workshops for Warriors.
  • [17:01] How you can help WFW on a political level.

Links mentioned in this episode - The Tyssen Krup website (sponsor). Use the code CHIPS2 to get 15% off! - Make your contribution to help Workshops for Warriors

Or call us at 312-725-0245

Aug 12, 2015

There is a problem in the United States among Veterans of the U.S. Military


After sacrificing a great deal to protect their homeland, U.S. Veterans often struggle to find their place in civilian society. It’s especially difficult for those who are injured or disabled and come home to industries and jobs that are not suited to their newfound disability. Many fall into drug use, crime, and other non-productive walks of life. Workshops for Warriors is the vision of one man, a veteran himself, who saw the need and stepped into the gap to make a way for those oft forgotten heroes to find a place of productivity in the society they have given so much to serve. This episode of Making Chips highlights the efforts of  Hernán Luis y Prado, founder of Workshops for Warriors.

A painful need, right in front of him.


Hernán Luis y Prado came face to face with the debilitating problems many wounded warriors face when trying to reintegrate into American society when he encountered a fellow serviceman who’d lost his legs in service to his country. It was at that point that he realized that many have made tremendous sacrifices in service to their country, and through nobody’s fault, are being left to fend for themselves when it comes to the rest of their lives. That’s when he began developing a plan to train and equip disabled veterans to move into the manufacturing industry as productive workers. Find out more on this episode.


How many 18 year olds are used to being responsible for million dollar pieces of equipment?


That’s a question Hernán Luis y Prado asks when he is asked why veterans make ideal candidates for important careers in the manufacturing industry. He’s making the point that their experience in the military has trained them to take technical demands and needs very seriously, and they know how to put that expertise to use. It’s second nature, and one that can be redirected to energize and reinvigorate the U.S. manufacturing industry. The slogan of Workshops for Warriors (Hernán’s organization) is, “Rebuilding Manufacturing, one veteran at a time.”  Find out how he’s doing that on this episode of Making Chips.


Manufacturing equipment, redesigned to accommodate wounded warriors.


That’s one of the many steps Workshops for Warriors has taken to make it possible for those who have given it all for their country to be able to do valuable jobs in the manufacturing industry so they can once again serve their country with distinction. WFW also provides training in many areas, computers, machinery, welding, all with a focus on enabling veterans to continue to provide value to the country in important ways. If you, or someone you know is in need of this kind of specialized training, listen to this episode to find out more about Workshops for Warrior’s varied programs.


But that’s not all of the conversation…


We’re just getting started. Part 2 of this important conversation will publish next week, and Hernán Luis y Prado will reveal more of what Workshops for Warriors is doing for disabled and returning veterans, the kinds of training they provide, and how you and others you know can get involved with their programs and training school to build a career in the manufacturing industry. It’s a continuation that you won’t want to miss, so listen to part 1 here, and watch for part 2 next week.

Outline of this episode


  • [0:01] Welcome to this episode of Making Chips - THE Podcast to equip manufacturing professionals!

  • [0:17] Introduction to today’s guest - founder of Workshop for Warriors

  • [1:04] Featured audio from Workshop for Warriors - a look into what the organization does.

  • [4:15] Introduction of Hernán Luis y Prado, founder of Workshops for Warriors.

  • [6:02] Hernan’s service in the U.S. Military and his journey to starting Workshops for Warriors.  

  • [11:42] The specialized welding equipment for disabled veterans Workshops for Warriors has created.

  • [13:28] How the dream began in  Hernán’s garage and moved on from there.

  • [15:59] The U.S. problem with equipping veterans to reintegrate into society.

  • [17:45] The problem with drug abuse and crime among U.S. veterans.

  • [19:34]  Hernán’s transition to working with WFW full time.

  • [22:35] The first training programs WFW was able to begin.

  • [23:02] The Workshops for Warriors facilities - what they have and the programs veterans can take advantage of to receive training.

  • [25:34] How the U.S. Military uniquely equips veterans for the manufacturing industry.


Links mentioned on this episode


Or call us at 312-725-0245

Jul 29, 2015

The nature of things in the manufacturing industry has changed. Gone are the days when a physical filing system will adequately contain all the documents and resources you need to help your company thrive. The technology era is here and the manufacturing leaders of the future will be the ones who are able to stay on top of the ever changing technical world and use it to the advantage of their company and employees. In this episode of Making Chips, Jim and Jason point out 3 tools they use consistently that enable them to stay on top of their workload and lives.


Email is more than it used to be


Most manufacturing leaders have been using email for a long time. But are they using it to its fullest potential? Email platforms have changed dramatically, no longer serving as a digital post office, but also integrating with other applications to provide powerful tools for use in your manufacturing company. In this episode, Jim and Jason talk about how they use Gmail and the integrations it has with the Google product suite.


An organized business is a profitable business


In a day when more and more of the resources we use in our manufacturing businesses are becoming intangible through the avenue of digital media, manufacturing leaders must stay on top of the changes in order to keep their shops ordered and running smoothly. Diagrams, schematics, work orders, quotes and estimates, all of these and a thousand other things are being transmitted and stored digitally and need to be available at a moment’s notice. Do you have systems in place that enable you to manage the digital flood? Listen in to this episode to hear Jason and Jim’s recommendations of applications that can help you do exactly that.


Where is that to-do list?


Isn’t it maddening when you have been so careful to write down your tasks and responsibilities so you won’t forget them, but then you lose the list? It’s happened to all of us, but in today’s digital world we don’t have to fall prey to such things anymore. Now there are software solutions for computers and smart devices that will automatically sync on your phone, computer, and via the internet to the storage cloud. No matter where you are, you can log in and find the information you’ve saved. Platforms like Evernote, OneNote, and Dropbox put your resources at the tip of your fingers. Listen in as Jason and Jim tell you the software they use and how it helps with their business.

Dropbox to the rescue


In this episode of Making Chips, Jim and Jason highlight one of their favorite online tools, Dropbox. If you’re not familiar with Dropbox, it’s an online service that allows you to store documents, spreadsheets, images, audio and video files, and much more “in the cloud” (on the internet) so that it’s available for use anywhere you have access to a computer. But just as important is Dropbox’s ability to sync the files to your device so you can always have your documents and resources available even if you don’t have an internet connection. Listen to hear how Dropbox has helped Jason and Jim organize and run their manufacturing businesses.


Outline of this episode


  • Welcome to this episode of Making Chips - THE Podcast to equip manufacturing professionals!

  • Introduction to the topic: Management Tools for Manufacturing Leaders

  • Tool #1: Email - both Jason and Jim use Google apps for business - and why they prefer it to an in-house server system.

  • Tool #2: Evernote: A great tool for capturing thoughts, to-dos, recording lists, document storage via images, and even task management. Microsoft OneNote is an Evernote alternative that comes native on many new devices.

  • Tool #3: Dropbox: A cloud storage and syncing platform to make files, large or small, available to you wherever you are.

  • The problem of having too many software applications.


Links mentioned on this episode


Google apps for business -


Evernote -


OneNote -


Dropbox -


Or call us at 312-725-0245

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