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  Manufacturing Insights   |   August, 2009
Plan B: Senior Manufacturing Executives Ponder Job Loss
by Thomas R. Cutler
 

In the ten years since the inception of TR Cutler, Inc., the largest manufacturing marketing firm worldwide based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the manufacturing sector has seen many changes. Lean has become normative and a level of technological sophistication has permeated the sector (with many firms on third and fourth generation ERP systems.) Statistical Process Control, Overall Equipment Effectiveness, SaaS delivered solutions, Six Sigma, is all commonplace. Perhaps the most significant changes are cultural.

The man age of the manufacturing CEO has dropped by a dozen years (was 62 years of age in 1999; now 50 years of age in 2009) and the percentage of women in senior management of manufacturing has risen 400% (from four percent to sixteen percent in the same decade.)

The culture shift that is most pronounced in the past eighteen months is fear. With the near demise of the automotive industry and corresponding suppliers, dramatic outsourcing to China and India, upwards of 20% unemployment rates in manufacturing centers of Michigan and Indiana, manufacturing executives are understandably frightened about their future.

Most of these hard working executives are men forty to sixty years of age. They are mortgage holders, often married with children attending college. They have watched their 401K valuations and other retirement programs diminish dramatically in the past year and wonder what to do next.

These capable industrial executives have watched the devastating personal impact on friends, colleagues, golf buddies as professional positions have been eliminated and market demand for their knowledge, experience, and salary demands evaporate. The men are the backbone of industry and are asking, “What if this happens to me? What would I do if I lost my job?”

One can quickly suggest moving out of a high unemployment location; however the ability to quickly replace a six figure income is often not readily achievable. Despite the promises of overzealous recruiters, the prognosis for recovery in the manufacturing sector is not anticipated until 2012 at the earliest.

What is a forty-something manufacturing executive to do?

Having prospered and benefitted from the manufacturing sector for the past ten years, and continuing to grow dramatically even in these tough times, my team felt an obligation to be part of the solution, not merely writing about the phenomenology of manufacturing job loss or examining the epistemological underpinnings of this current economic situation.

The result has been the creation of a new program for manufacturing executives called PLAN B. After research hundreds of possible entrepreneurial segues for senior industrial executives we wanted to identify certain criteria:
  • A six figure income had to be reasonable and plausible within one year.
  • A time commitment of <15 hours per week was needed while still employed.
  • A model of passive income needed to be present, in lieu of trading time for money.
  • A reputable organization in business for >25 years was essential; no start-ups.
  • A consumable and expansive product line was vital to ensure a recession-proof paradigm.
Having profiled more than a thousand manufacturing enterprises over the past decade has illustrated the best and worst of industry. We have been grateful to tell these stories at TR Cutler, Inc. We have grown so quickly that we are in the fortunate position of picking and choosing our clients and the feature articles we wish to author.

With this good fortune comes the responsibility to give back. We believe in the hard-working industrial executives, many of whom are quite scared about their professional future. With PLAN B we are proud to provide an alternative professional model. Go to www.trcutlerinc.com and press the orange PLAN B button. While hackneyed: live long and prosper.



Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc, (www.trcutlerinc.com). Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of three thousand five hundred journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 300 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com. See More Details.

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