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Industry issues in 2019

Editorial | April 1, 2019 | By:

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

~Carl Sagan


So it’s March now … and the end of six weeks of some of the most unpleasant weather Minnesota has had in decades. Snow, cold, snow, cold, snow, cold, snow and cold together for variety, and then, as the sun grumbled its way a bit higher in the sky and subzero ceased (mostly) to be a concern, it rained for three days on top of an 18-inch snowpack, leading to ice dams, street flooding, basement flooding, the formation of canyonesque potholes, and the certainty of lake, stream and river flooding as the rest of the snow melts. If Minnesota had an ocean nearby, that’d probably be flooding, too.

I’ve tried to regard water in the basement as an indoor pool, but the permanent iciness of my back sidewalk (leading to the garage on the alley) defied any positive interpretation. So naturally, I looked at the motorized tarp systems on trucks and wondered why someone hasn’t invented a tarp system for sidewalks. It’s all about fabric. Failing that tarp system, what about a heated geotextile pavement? Or both? Maybe a zipline? Where is the specialty fabrics industry when you really need it?

So, also naturally, that sent me into thinking about the 2020 editorial calendar for the Review, and the equivalent of that icy sidewalk for our readers. In our last reader survey, respondents ranked our editorial content, in order of its interest and usefulness, in this order: new products and services, industry research and trends, industry news, calendar of events, the annual buyer’s guide, and the Perspective article, followed by the rest of an issue’s regular sections. With more specific responses, readers asked about things like comparisons on imports versus domestic fabrics, repurposing materials, problems fabricators are having, how to find specific fabrics, investigating crossover uses for innovation to other industry segments, opportunities for collaboration and cost-saving ideas.

In other words—within that framework of industry trends, most of our readers take a very pragmatic approach to what they like to read in this magazine. So as I begin to assemble next year’s editorial roster, my framework of those important industry trends starts like this:

• students, interns, employees, management, leadership. How is our business structure changing?

• increasing automation vs. custom manufacturing. Is there a curve?

• communication with customers. Not just marketing, but holding a conversation, and building a reputation.

• reinventing products and processes. Not just problem-solving, but making something better each time it’s touched.

• sustainability. In resources, in management, in economics. Making short-term profits with long-term decisions.

There’s where I’m going to start building Review’s editorial calendar for 2020, to keep the conversation going. If you have some advice for me, send me an email and tell me what I’m doing right, or wrong, or not doing at all. (Like walking on my back sidewalk until July.) This magazine is 104 years old—and there’s always something to talk about.

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