As recently as one year ago, manufacturing companies of every size and shine were scared: of layoffs, of supply shortages, of losing everything.
We were all caught off-guard by the pandemic and how it kept on and on. Shops avoided layoffs with PPP loans, second mortgages, and emergency funds they’d hoped never to touch.
Some lost loved ones. Others lost jobs, homes, childcare. Everyone lost sleep.
Then all at once, everything shifted again. And as quickly as the work dried up, it came flooding back.
Now, manufacturers have more customers than they can handle. There are more jobs than machinists, operators, and programmers to fill them. Shops are battling for raw materials.
The demand is exhausting, sure, but also exhilarating. You were built for this. Your business was built for this.
But now there’s talk of a recession. Will it impact manufacturing? And if it does, will you be ready? How do you adjust over and over again?
Long-Term Thinkers, Short-Term Survivors
In the 80 years since the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) was founded, we’ve learned a few things about how modern machine shops grow and thrive year after year. It turns out that the most successful shops have two things in common: they are long-term thinkers and short-term survivors.
This simple phrase becomes complicated in practice. What does it take to stay present for the needs of the moment while remaining alert to what lies ahead?
Short-term thinking gets a bad rap, but it’s the key to immediate survival. It allows manufacturers to pivot on a dime; to stay scrappy, resilient, and in business. A short-term thinker knows the quickest fix, the most efficient solution.
Short-term thinking is a gift when you’re merely trying to survive the moment.
But the companies that have been in business for 10, 20, 30+ years know they can’t stop there. To succeed long term, you need a long view. Along with solving short-term problems, you must visualize what’s next. How will today’s decisions affect tomorrow, next year, or the next decade?
Of course, it would be foolish to sacrifice survival in exchange for an unspecified, long-term return. But it is equally ill-advised to trade future success for immediate ease.
What NTMA members need most is an alloy of these perspectives—the short-term and the long-term. No “either/or.” You need survival today and success tomorrow.
Survive Today, Succeed Tomorrow
It’s scary to plan three to five years ahead when you’re not even sure how to navigate the next three to five months. That’s why now—when business is booming—is the time to look inward, around, and ahead.
Take a step back from the immediate needs of your business and consider the bigger picture. How are other modern machine shops growing? What are your customers planning? How are adjacent industries evolving? What socio-economic and political factors are on the horizon?
After all, if you don’t have a three-year plan, is the three-month plan even worthwhile?
The smaller your shop, the harder it can be to juggle various perspectives all at the same time. Larger manufacturing companies can staff for such skills, prioritizing a well-rounded team equipped to bridge the gaps between short-term and long-term realities.
But what do you do when you’re an old-school mom-and-pop business? Or you recently started a CNC machine shop with only a handful of employees?
That’s where a larger community comes into play.
Community Matters, Because People Need People
Modern machine shops of every size need community, because people need community. That need is even stronger for small manufacturers. When a company is small, gaining access to diverse perspectives, ideas, and knowledge can mean the difference between stagnation and success.
No matter how many employees you have or how established your business is, connecting with others in the industry is the best way to continue learning, growing, and thriving.
Cultivating that kind of community is at the forefront of NTMA‘s mission. We believe in leveraging our collective experiences and ingenuity to ensure that all NTMA members benefit.
Our commitment to comprehensive growth is why NTMA maintains affinity partners like Paperless Parts, industry partners like Reshoring Initiative, and membership partners like Women in Manufacturing. It’s why we devote our time to advocating for this incredible industry of thinkers and innovators and creators and problem-solvers.
If NTMA can support you through your short-term needs while helping you establish and achieve your long-term goals, we will have done our job. All that’s left is for you to choose community and collaboration over isolation and competition.
Together, we can survive and thrive, no matter what comes next.
Become part of our community. Join NTMA!