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Industry Voices

Mass media

By Lynn Stanley

Above: Manufacturing Talk Radio co-hosts Tim Grady and Lew Weiss.

Manufacturer uses the Internet and radio to become a “broadcaster” of both information and forging services

April 2017 - All Metals & Forge Group (AM&FG) built its reputation on superior quality and short turnaround times for its bars, blocks, gear blanks, flanges, forged discs, cylinders and custom shapes. But the Fairfield, New Jersey-based company does more than merely shape and form metal. Owner Lew Weiss is using the Internet and radio waves to forge closer relationships with a broad cross section of manufacturers by delivering mission-critical information. 

Weiss has worked in the industry for 56 years, since he was 18 and studying marketing at Queens College in New York City. He landed in metals because “I needed a job. I went to one of those 42nd Street employment agencies in Manhattan,” Weiss recalls. “They said, ‘Do you have any interest in selling?’ I said ‘Sure!’ I began working for a steel distributor in Brooklyn and I’ve been at it ever since.”

In 1972, Weiss started AM&FG as a service center for specialty metals. The company grew, but competition in the 1990s prompted AM&FG to alter its product mix. “We were working for pennies on the pound,” he notes. “We added forging to our offering and developed exclusive agreements with four area shops.” 

AM&FG took an equity position in one of the shops in 2006. The company exited the service center business and today produces a wide range of forgings, including carbon, stainless, alloy and tool steels, titanium, nickel and copper. AM&FG’s open-die forging process produces seamless rolled rings with a sound internal structure and circumferential grain flow that provides superior yield, tensile and fatigue strength and toughness. The rolling process also produces excellent concentricity and surface smoothness. 

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The forge manufactures products to ASTM, AMS, AISI, Boeing, GE, DIN and other stringent specifications.

The forge shop manufactures products to ASTM, AMS, AISI, Boeing, GE, DIN and other industrial specifications. Its diverse customer base includes other forge shops and end users in such markets as oil and gas, aerospace, power generation, mining, shipbuilding, defense, automotive, construction and general metalworking. Forged products can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. The company produces seamless rolled rings up to 108-in. OD. 

Frequencies

“Our ability to anticipate customer needs, our willingness to become involved with their business, and our commitment to respond quickly and cost effectively have cemented our position as a leading forging vendor,” says Weiss. AM&FG’s market share continues to widen even as it receives a solid amount of repeat business from both small and large manufacturers. Weiss, who first launched the company’s website in 1992, has become the king of conversions and downloads. In 2013, he found another way to engage the industry with Manufacturing Talk RadioMFG-TALK-RADIO2.jpg

“The idea came to me as a night vision,” Weiss says. “I had a dream and said, ‘Radio.’ My wife woke up and said, ‘Radio?’ Two weeks later we hosted our first radio show,” with Tim Grady as co-host.

Manufacturing Talk Radio has aired 180 shows. “It started as a vehicle to attract new customers to AM&FG,” acknowledges Weiss. “But we quickly realized that the things we were hearing, and the trends we were seeing, were contributing a wealth of information to the industry. You won’t hear these types of manufacturing topics reported on by mainstream media or talked about on the Sunday morning talk shows. We fill a gap that has existed for a long time.”

Topical talk

Over the past three years, the self-funded show has featured guest speakers and panel discussions on topics ranging from drones and 3D manufacturing to logistics, supply management and the impact of politics on manufacturing, and the show’s audience has grown dramatically. 

Weiss and Grady credit their following to the show’s ability to provide a bird’s-eye view of industry trends balanced by in-depth business and technology reports.

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AM&FG’s open-die forging process produces seamless rolled rings with a sound internal structure.

With a new administration in place, the future is shaping up for the forging business, notes Weiss. “It’s looking good for 2017 and 2018. Regulations that have had a stranglehold on manufacturing are being lifted. Activity is underway to rebuild the military and the infrastructure. Metalworkers will see big benefits from initiatives like these. So will machinery builders, oil and gas companies and the aerospace supply chain.”

At AM&FG, he continues, “we’re already seeing a large release of orders from customers. We have our fingers on the pulse of the economy, not just for our company but for the manufacturing industry as a whole.”

The radio show has also given Weiss and his guests a voice to help reform the prevalent cultural mindset he calls the “dark, dirty and dangerous syndrome.” He’s referring to the skills gap and the perception many parents still have about careers in manufacturing. 

“Parents want their kids to go to college,” Weiss says. “We’ve partnered with the New Jersey Institute of Technology and participated in a number of Manufacturing Day events. Young people are coming out of trade schools with certifications in skills that command salaries of $70,000 to $80,000 a year versus graduating college in debt and struggling to find a job.”

With its variety of programming, Manufacturing Talk Radio’s audience ballooned from 100 to more than 400,000 people who regularly download the podcast. One key demographic is women, notes Weiss, who “represent an untapped pool of talent.” 

Partnering with the U.S. Women’s Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Weiss supports training opportunities that can equip women for positions in manufacturing companies and he promotes programs designed to make young girls aware of career choices in manufacturing. “Two years ago, our female listeners represented 20 percent of our audience,” he says. That number has already doubled to 40 percent.

The radio show has fed AM&FG’s website and vice versa. The website content provides an accessible resource for manufacturers that need metal forgings. “Our goal was to become a center for both information and forging services,” says Weiss. “We’re providing intellectual products through the radio show and the website,” which has nearly 50,000 unique visitors a month viewing 1,500 pages of content. 

In addition to a newsletter (Metals & Manufacturing Outlook) that has 46,000 subscribers, the website posts a comprehensive list of raw material specifications and a metallurgy dictionary with more than 5,000 terms. Reports containing the characteristics, chemical analysis, physical properties and applications for each alloy remain one of the site’s largest draws.

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Tubular steel shafts that taper in a series of steps, rather than one continuous narrowing.

Ambassadors

To continue telling both AM&FG’s story and stories of the broader manufacturing landscape, Weiss and Grady take their podcast on the road—to trade shows, expositions and conventions. Show visitors and exhibitors don’t have any difficulty spotting their booth. The two radio hosts wear their signature neon yellow jackets.

Weiss has become an ambassador for the industry through his company, radio show and website. But he’s also built a culture that encourages employees to be ambassadors as well. “We teach our employees to be friends with our customers,” he says. “If we can’t meet their immediate forging needs, we talk with them about what they do and try to investigate other ways we might help them.”

Weiss works at balancing his forging company with his media empire. “Next week, I’m working with one of our salespersons on a multimillion dollar opportunity,” he acknowledges. “Then I will ask them if they would like to be guests on a radio show.” FFJ

Sources

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