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When Ego Sinks Your Lifeboat

Author: Selim Maalouf

It is no secret that the manufacturing industry in the U.S.A. has seen better days. After years of fighting overseas manufacturers for work, this current recession has been the impending nail in the coffin for some.

Most machine shops and manufacturing facilities in the U.S. were built in the same way: with blood, sweat, and tears. The grit required to survive in manufacturing tends to weed out anyone who cannot weather the storm and keep going.

The same type of people, however, tend to be true captains: ready to go down with their ships instead of jumping on the lifeboat.

If you’re reading this, and you feel like your business is suffering in silence, it is time you raise your hand and ask for help.

Pride does not keep the doors open

We don’t often see companies looking for new ways to help smaller manufacturers keep their doors open. But that is exactly what this week’s podcast guest, Jenn Ryan, is doing with her team over at Xometry. Jenn is the SVP of Global Operations at Xometry, and she’s been hard at work finding new ways to help her network of manufacturers keep their spindles turning and making chips. But Jenn mentioned her biggest challenge is not operational, but emotional:

“If you don’t raise your hand, if you say I’m fine, it’s very hard for me to find you.”

Everybody is hurting right now. If you look at your neighbors next door, they might look like they are doing well, but I assure you, they are going through the same plight you are. This is not the time for pride, but a time for survival. There are people out there offering ways to help, you just have to help them help you. And it starts with raising your hand and signaling that you need help.

It’s time to change the question

Once you overcome the emotional barrier and ask for help, it’s time to change the way you are thinking of your current struggles. Whenever you are faced with potential work, you ask yourself: Can I do that job? If you are a small shop, working on your own, you are more likely to be turning down the job than not. Not everyone can have every stage of manufacturing covered, be it turning, milling, wire EDM, finishing, or even assembly. And when the economy shrinks, the available jobs tend to consolidate with the bigger shops.

But it doesn’t have to!

If you open up your business for collaboration and join a network of complementary shops, the question suddenly changes. It changes from “Can I do this job?” to “Which part of this job can I do?”. This allows specialty shops to keep working and that is what Xometry aims to do: build an extensive network of small shops that span across the U.S. and cover all aspects of manufacturing. That not only helps smaller shops keep landing partial jobs, but it also builds resilience in the supply chain for the end customers.

Removing the fear from logistics

There is no denying it, for any business owner out there, especially in the manufacturing industry, these are scary times. It is ok to be scared, that shows that you care about what you built and do not want to lose it. But you should not let that fear dictate your business decisions. Decisions made out of fear only push you deeper into your quest to gain back your comfort zone. But this is no time for comfort zones. Instead, you need to look around you and explore new opportunities that you have never considered before.

Ask yourself this honest question: What is stopping you from doing work?

Whatever the answer is, there is someone out there who is ready to help.

Are you missing work in your pipeline? Are you missing supplies? Are you missing cash flow? All of these are true challenges that you might be currently facing. But if you keep to yourself, you might never be able to overcome them.

Collaborating with the right partners can help you remove these challenges. And if one partner can solve all of those problems, then it is easier than ever to get back on your feet and get that spindle running again.

Wrap-around services for the small American manufacturer

Everyone strives to be self-sufficient when it comes to business. The prideful American manufacturers want to keep their cultures of grit and perseverance. But when you reach the end of your line and the fear of shutting down looms over your head, there is no shame in joining a network of complementary machine shops and logistics companies that are working together to keep American manufacturing alive. Xometry took the initiative to pivot during COVID and find ways to help their partners.

When someone is lending you a helping hand, consider grabbing it and pulling your business out of a hole it doesn’t need to be in.

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