Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019 - 6

BRIEFINGS

FORETHOUGHT

The value proposition

T

Galynn Nordstrom
senior editor

hirty years ago, I was working as a magazine editor in a small
Minneapolis-based trade publishing company, and at the time
we had no desktop publishing capability; we typed our copy and
sent it to a local printer, who would typeset it and then deliver it
to us in his battered green pickup. Sometimes he'd drop off a pizza at
the same time. We liked him. But when mistakes happened or changes
were needed, we either had to type the copy up again and resend it to
him, or our keyliners would have to cut up unused typeset words and
articles and glue them down (yes, kind of like ransom notes).
Desktop publishing brought with it speed, economy, flexibility
and increased quality, at least in that mistakes could be fixed at any
stage prior to publication. And anyone can be a publisher now, at least
online-without a gateway for accuracy, accountability or readability.
It's up to the readers now, if there are any, to provide those filters. The
established publishing industry isn't currently winning this challenge.
After reading through Connie Huffa's business column in this issue
("Ready for the new digital future?" on page 60), I started doing some
reading on Industry 4.0, Industry 5.0, macro to micro manufacturing,
from manufacturing to mass manufacturing to mass customization
to mass personalization. What do all these promised global electronic

PERSPECTIVE

Leadership and learning
Kimber Buglass, owner and managing director of Charman
Motor Trimmers and Upholsterers Ltd. in Napier, New Zealand,
started his apprenticeship as an auto upholsterer, and since
taking over the company, has expanded company markets
from autos to marine seating and carpeting, residential and
commercial shade products and other jobs-and "everything
we make is handmade," he says. His primary challenge is
finding employees, he says, so Charman does its own training. Buglass has
trained 17 apprentices, facilitated through New Zealand's Motor Industry Training
Organization, and four of them have won "Apprentice of the Year" awards from
OFPANZ. Charman's employees are trained to take ownership of every job, and
Charman's customers have learned to expect custom quality. "I'm just a guy who
tries to make sure things run smoothly," Buglass says.
If you'd like to nominate a fellow IFAI manufacturer member for coverage in a
future "Perspective" article, please contact Galynn Nordstrom, senior editor, at
gdnordstrom@ifai.com.

6 REVIEW MAY 2019

If you are in a shipwreck
and all the boats are gone, a
piano top buoyant enough to
keep you afloat that comes
along makes a fortuitous
life preserver. But this is not
to say that the best way to
design a life preserver is in
the form of a piano top.
~Richard Buckminster Fuller

connections, centering around customer
demands, likes and needs, have to do
with making one-of-a-kind products for
one customer at a time? Can our industry
capitalize on the advantages of smart
manufacturing but still retain the strengths
of handmade craftsmanship for some
products and markets?
An article in Small Business Trends
entitled "Why Handmade Matters" called
it "the new American manufacturing,"
but I think that may be too sanguine.
There will always be consumers that
will buy based on price, whether
through preference or necessity. If mass
customization can raise quality standards
for customers in general, it's no doubt
well-suited to a lot of products. (Like
cars, for example; I plan to order one that
matches my eyes-but will I be able to find
a manufacturer that will put rhinestones
around the dashboard clock?) There will
also always be consumers who prefer
handmade quality. The question isn't
necessarily whether there's a market for
one-of-a-kind products-it's whether we're
doing a good enough job educating customers on
making the best choices. Good business skills
make for smart manufacturing.
The hardest work comes before
the manufacturing begins.



Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019

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