FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107-6302
815-399-8700 | Fax 815-484-7700
President & CEO,
FMA Communications Inc.:
Group Publisher: Dave Brambert
Editor-in-Chief: Dan Davis,
Senior Editor: Tim Heston,
The Tube & Pipe Journal Editor:
Eric Lundin, firstname.lastname@example.org
STAMPING Journal Editor:
Kate Bachman, email@example.com
Practical Welding Today Editor:
Contributing Editor: Amy Nickel
Associate Editor: Sue Roberts
Senior Copy Editor: Teresa Chartos
Graphic Designers: Mary Mincemoyer,
Janell Drolsum, Margaret Clark,
Publication Coordinator: Kelly Palmer
Director of Circulation: Kim Bottomley
Circulation Manager: Brenda Wilson
Data Verification Specialist:
Senior Fulfillment Specialist:
Web Content Manager: Vicki Bell
Multimedia Specialist: Sherry Young
Senior Web Developer: Jason Bartholme
Web Developer: Johanna Albee
Senior Account Representatives:
Statement of Policy
As the official publication of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, The
FABRICATOR recognizes the need and importance of disseminating information about modern
metal forming and fabricating techniques, machinery, tooling and management concepts for
the metal fabricator. The policy of the publisher and this journal is to be nonpartisan, favoring
no one product or company. The representations of fact and opinions expressed in the articles
are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher and this journal.
By including information on new products, new literature, news of the industry, articles, etc.,
this impartiality is strived for and extends to the mention of trade names. Unless product
identification makes the reference unavoidable, the generic name is used. We acknowledge
that on occasion there may be oversights and errors; the editors regret such oversights and
re-emphasize their policy to be impartial at all times. The publisher reserves the right to
refuse advertising deemed inappropriate for publication in The FABRICATOR, including ads
for classes of products and services not considered of significant interest to the readership.
“The FABRICATOR” is a service mark and a trademark of the Fabricators & Manufacturers
Association, International, and is used, under license, by FMA Communications Inc. Standard
Rate & Data Service lists our advertising rates in Section 88. Consult SRDS or our current rate
card for full rates and data. Publications of FMA Communications Inc. maintain a policy of
keeping editorial and advertising separate to ensure editorial integrity that most benefits our
readership. Editorial content, including feature articles and press releases, is determined solely
by the publisher. Editorial content cannot be purchased, nor can it be used as a benefit of
advertising dollars spent. Editorial is free-of-charge, subject to space availability, and open to
all interested parties that submit items meeting our editorial style and format as determined
by the publisher. Note: Some photographs printed in this publication may be taken with safety
equipment removed for photographic purposes. However, in actual operation, it is recommended that correct safety procedures and equipment be utilized.
The Correct Cost?
Let me first tell you that I believe your magazine is
the best one around when it comes to fabrication. I
make it mandatory reading around here.
I often look to your publication to help me benchmark my operation, and in September I read about
Ludlow Manufacturing Inc. [“Automation and the
big picture,” The FABRICATOR, p. 76]. In the article,
you refer to an industry sales per employee average
of $158,000. I assume that is per direct employee,
not office staff and engineering.
In my shop I typically find that my typical cost of
an item is 25 percent material and 75 percent labor.
Can you give me any insight?
Editor’s Note: That average comes from the 2015 “
Financial Ratios & Operational Benchmarking Survey”
This survey asked respondents to divide total an-nual sales by total employees, including temps. Note
that responses varied widely, from $76,000 all the
way up to more than $250,000. This mainly comes
from the variety of operations this survey covers,
from industrial/heavy fabrication shops with large
projects and a lot of engineering to fab shops specializing in piece-part production.
In that same survey, we also ask for the “value add-
ed per payroll dollar” metric. That formula is:
(Sales – Material cost)/ Total payroll expense.
This gets to the heart of the matter: For every dollar
you spend on people, how much do you get in return?
Responses averaged $2, though they ranged from
just over $1 to more than $5.
The Apprentice: He’s Hired!
Editor’s Note: The November 2015 edition of “Fabri-
cating Update” e-newsletter referenced a recent blog
post from Senior Editor Tim Heston, “How the master
and apprentice relationship builds a skilled work-
force” ( www.thefabricator.com/blog). Heston wrote
that even with the emergence of new fabricating
technologies, younger employees still need the guid-
ance of more experienced mentors to learn the tricks
of the trade. The following notes address this master
and apprentice relationship.
I started out as an apprentice. My foreman embodied the spirit and form of the master.
I remember thinking that this man could talk to
steel with his hands, and it would listen! I also said
to myself that I wanted to learn everything that I
could from him, and I did!
Of course, I’m sure that through the years I was the
cause of more than a few headaches and outright
nausea. One day, however, he told me that he wanted
to retire and I was his choice to take the reins.
I started as a rookie in 1973. I took the mantle of
master in 1985. Since then I have hired 10 appren-tices. Most of them quit before completing their
apprenticeship. Against my advice, they were lured
away by the promise of high dollars for just “pulling
wire.” More than one tried to come back when the
well ran dry, but I had to turn them away. Only two
stuck it out and became awesome fabricators. One
of the two is being groomed to step into my shoes
when I retire.
There is another avenue that I have brought peo-
ple through. I have had much more success hiring
“trainees.” These folks don’t get the formal training,
or schooling, but they have learned the trade and
have become first-class fabricators in their time. I
have seen potential in janitors, burners, helpers,
and more. There is such gratification when you see
someone do a great job by doing the best they can
at what they do, and when given the opportunity,
they excel in a skilled trade that will carry them
through the rest of their lives.
It’s kind of funny. I don’t know when it happened,
but somewhere along the line, I became the old guy
who everyone looks to for answers. But those ap-
prenticeship days really don’t seem that long ago.
Link Engineering Co.
The long-standing tradition of apprentice learning
from the master has been replaced by accommodation and apathy.
Being a journeyman of some 25 years allows me
the opportunity to pass along the skills and most
importantly the methods of sound and traditional
concepts that never go out of date. I find more and
more that younger workers have failed to establish
a proper work ethic. That makes teaching extremely
I believe our schools are to blame. As society focuses more on making profit, and less on making
quality products, we all suffer from the results, as
our formerly dominant industries end up on the
hook in the ever-present pursuit of excessive profit.
Younger people today are getting the short end of
the stick, and they are well aware of that fact. Try-
ing to teach someone who resents who you are and
what you represent becomes next to impossible.
I’m sure others share my frustration, but unless
and until corporations start thinking beyond the end
of the current quarter, the resentment will remain.
Manager, Stamping Division
D. D. Wire Co. Inc.
Temple City, Calif.
I don’t know when it happened,
but somewhere along the line,
I became the old guy who
everyone looks to for answers.
—John Fauls, Link Engineering Co.