Member Spotlight - Brian Swanson

May 2016

Each month, the PMA Member Spotlight features an outstanding member sharing his/her insights into the latest industry trends and technologies.

Brian Swanson
PMA is pleased to highlight Brian Swanson, CFO of E&E Manufacturing Co., Inc., Plymouth, MI. For 50 years, E&E has served its world-class customers by manufacturing heavy gage stamped metal fasteners, progressive die metal stampings, and high value-added assemblies.

Read Brian's thoughts about game-changing metalforming technology, what keeps him up at night as a metalformer, and more!

Q: What is on your wish list for your shop this year (i.e., a new piece of equipment) and why?
A: Last year we looked at a laser cell for cutting blanks that was coil fed and incorporated a laser cutting arm and a material handling robot. The cell, which would be purchased for our fabrication division, was designed to handle various materials including carbon steel and aluminum. The total investment turned out to be higher than we expected and we decided to delay the decision. This is an opportunity I’m hoping to explore again this year.

Q: What do you see as a technology game-changer for metalformers?
A: 3-D metal printing. This technology is already being used by the medical and aerospace industries for complex and low-volume parts. As technology advances and the investment becomes more affordable, I can see DMLS changing how we manufacture certain automotive components.

Q: What would be on the agenda of your ideal metalforming conference?
A: As a finance guy, a big part of my job is managing risk. Along that line, product and customer diversification is a subject I would be interested in hearing more about.
Also, I’ve always been intrigued by emerging technologies and trends, and really enjoy listening to futurists speak about their vision for the future.

Q: As a metalformer, what keeps you up at night and why?
A: Our business relies heavily on talent. The fact that we continue to struggle to find enough people with the right skill-sets so long after the great recession is something that deeply concerns us.
Many metalformers, including ourselves, have taken matters into their own hands and sponsored apprenticeship programs to development talent in-house. Vocational programs have seen some support from the government and education system, but have a long way to go to return to the strength they had during their heyday.

Q: What was the best piece of business advice you were ever given?
A: Our mantra has been to “always surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.” I’ve seen firsthand the benefits that come from hiring folks that see things with a different angle than you or have more experience in a certain area than you. We find that we can accomplish so much more with a broader perspective.

Q: If you could have a dinner party with three famous people (living or dead), who would you invite?
A: George Washington, Walt Disney, and legendary U of M football coach Bo Schembechler. They were visionaries in their time, and I admire their ability to inspire people long after they’ve moved on from this life.

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