Come to grips: keep a monkey wrench out of the works.

Author:Seeds, Dennis G.
Position:Larger margin

The new year, in most people's minds, is a time to start fresh. However, here at Tooling & Production, we are offering our traditional annual Industry Outlook--but with new questions and new answers.

Industry leaders in our report talked about, among other things, flexibility: how to respond when the demand changes and retain your investment as much as possible. The current economic problems were obviously on the minds of all, whether they mentioned it or not.

We also heard that innovation holds a promise for stability.

Innovation brings to mind that some 140 years ago, a mechanic named Daniel Stillson affected an entire industry. He invented the Stillson wrench, more commonly known as a pipe wrench. Before his invention, pipes were tightened with serrated blacksmith's tongs. The Stillson wrench made such tongs obsolete because the more force was applied to the wrench, the tighter the angled jaws clamped down on the pipe. Overnight, the pipe industry was transformed with a tool to make work easier and quicker.

Actually, it wasn't an overnight process. As the story goes, Stillson wanted a high royalty from his employer, the Walworth Manufacturing Co., which would make the wrenches. That made the price...

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