An Empty Street

(poignant… – promoted by pfiore8)

I went to pick up my parts.  For twenty years we have done great things at Victor’s machine shop.  It was always hard to find a parking spot but today the street was empty.  I am a dinosaur destined for extinction, an engineer and part of a working R&D group in a manufacturing industry.  Most rare these days.

Products you use today had their origins in this 2 man machine shop north of Boston.  These machines automated part of or whole processes to make products that were new and innovative.  In the heyday four factories ordered pilot line machines from Victor’s shop and always at reasonable cost, super fast delivery from concept to hardware and very often had concepts that could have generated patents in their own right.

Victor is older now though and planning retirement.  He has had to let his machinist go and our last remaining R&D group simply can’t supply enough business to keep the shop going.  There is no replacement, or rather I should say the replacement would be triple the cost, quadruple the time required and most likely too complicated to run.

The company newsletter let out a telling piece of information.  The Mexican operation started in 1971.  Wow, and NAFTA was not until 1993.  Was that the beginning, the foundation of the push for SHAFTA, as we now call it amongst our group peers.  

Recessions have come and gone and we have been able to endure bonehead decision after bonehead decision from upper management.   Now the death knell comes in the form of a new “global” initiative.

Truth is that when you start making things overseas they make absolute shit for several years as they train their workforce.  We don’t support Mexico much because people have gone down there and come back so disgusted they seek other employment or retire.  The “other” global locations?  Well it’s just too expensive a commute to China.

I have always been proud to be part an organization making something tangible, dealing with real science and coming up with ways to make things better.

To be so great and now so broken, it’s just too fast a rate of destruction to not have an organized global effort behind it.…



  1. The production of valuable goods was historically the backbone of the U.S. economy.

    Then came Reagan and his “service economy” bullsh*t: even then, it didn’t make sense.

    But manufacturing was already crumbling because of antique infrastructure in their own plants.

    Anyway, I was in Sharon, PA (11 miles east of Youngstown, OH) in the summer of 1979.  It was part of the Rust Belt, and it was depressing.

    I am so sorry.

    • pfiore8 on January 12, 2008 at 16:30

    poignant. and somehow, i think we will all miss Victor.

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