Matthew Kirchner

Matt Kirchner: God Created the Finisher, Too

By: Matthew Kirchner 10. April 2013


By far, my favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was the one featuring the late Paul Harvey and his rendition of “So God Made a Farmer.” Photographs of sturdy farm buildings, farmers, children, livestock, tractors and weathered hands stream by as Harvey, in his unmistakable intonation, explains how on the eighth day God created the farmer. It made my hair stand up.


I descend from a long line of farmers. My maternal and paternal grandparents farmed, and many of my aunts, uncles and cousins chose farming as their vocation. I know first-hand that few, if any, work harder.


And I am a Paul Harvey fan. I have vivid memories of my father tuning into Paul Harvey’s News & Comment program virtually every day at noon and then The Rest of the Story later in the day. Harvey’s folksy nature and gift for spinning a tale are legendary.


So if Paul Harvey says that on the eighth day God created the Farmer, I accept that.


But assuming He did, it wasn’t long after that …


God created the Finisher.


To read more of Matt's column, please click HERE


KIRCHNER: 5 Trends In Surface Finishing

By: Matthew Kirchner 25. April 2012
In this space last month we contemplated predictive analytics, the idea that we can use the data collected in our businesses to predict future customer, supplier and employee behavior, and then use the data to get a jump on the competition. Another valuable process is to consider market and industry trends, and modify strategy to take advantage of them. Consider the following finishing industry trends and the opportunities they create in our markets:
A move that should come as welcome news to those working in coatings operations and their suppliers alike, the moratorium on capital asset investments finally has been lifted. Talk to just about anyone involved in manufacturing and he will tell you that economic activity in his sector is robust. Growing production volume brings with it a need for additional capacity, as well as investments in repairs and upgrades that were deferred during the extended downturn. The good news is that growing production volumes also bring the incremental cash flows necessary for such investments. Thus, finishers are beginning to open up their checkbooks and make investments in their equipment and operations.

MATT KIRCHNER: "The Number One Problem Facing Surface Finishers Today"

By: Matthew Kirchner 26. January 2012

The absolute best part of my job is spending time around paint, powder, e-coat and plating facilities and leaders. Custom coaters, OEMs, job shops… you name it, I love it. One of my favorite questions to pose to the leaders of these facilities during my visits is: “What’s your biggest challenge right now?”
For more than a year now I get the same answer almost every time. The number one problem facing surface finishers today is … finding qualified employees.
On its face, this almost defies belief, and had I not heard the same answer from so many coaters and experienced the problem in my own business, I would have a hard time accepting it myself.
As of the date I author this article, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places the official unemployment rate at 9 percent. According to Gallup, the underemployment rate—which takes into account those wishing to work additional hours, an additional job or a new job with longer working hours—hovers just above 18 percent.
With nearly one in five American workers either unemployed or underemployed it seems inconceivable that coaters and manufacturers alike would have such a difficult time finding the right people. Mention this problem to a friend working outside the manufacturing sector and your statement produces a confounded gape. Raise the issue with a coater and watch for the knowing acknowledgement. What’s the problem? There are three, actually.


KIRCHNER: 'And you can quote me on that!'

By: Matthew Kirchner 28. November 2011


A great quote is the perfect combination of brevity, deep insight and inspiration. Years ago I started collecting a list of quotes that, for one reason or another, caught my interest. The standard for making the list is relatively high. The quote must be out of the ordinary. It must be relevant to my business or personal life and, of course, it must be inspiring in some fashion. Over the years the list has grown to 106 quotes. To follow are some of my all-time favorites, each of which applies in its own way to leading a finishing industry company or department:

"Leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate." – Bossidy, Larry, & Charan, Ram. (2002) Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. New York City: Crown Business. Anytime I struggle in the leadership area I ponder this quote from a book co-authored by Larry Bossidy, the retired CEO of Allied Signal (later Honeywell). If you’re not getting the performance from your team that you think you should, ask yourself whether you are setting the right example and expecting the right behavior or are you tolerating less from your team than you should be.

MATT KIRCHNER: We're Here for You

By: Matthew Kirchner 21. October 2011
The Blizzard of the Decade … or so you would have believed based on the television and radio news hype. I was living in downtown Milwaukee, Wisc., at the time and the blizzard was just getting itself going. I sat on the couch watching the weatherman analyze the radar and share his total snowfall predictions for the first big storm of the season. Living just blocks from Lake Michigan, we were being blessed with what is commonly referred to as ‘Lake Effect Snow,’ a phenomenon that occurs when cold air moves across a warm body of water, picking up vapor, gaining energy and then dumping huge amounts of snow on the leeward side of the lake.
According to the weather reports my neighborhood was at ground zero. School and business closings were predicted and residents were urged to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel. So my wife and I did what any rational couple would do: we went out to dinner.
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