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Archive for the Our People & Places Category

Dartmouth Engineering Graduate Students are Getting Ready for the Real World

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

I just finished my fourth yearly visit to Dartmouth College to speak to their Master of Engineering Management students about running a manufacturing company. These students are in a great program that prepares them for real world situations. All students go through certification for Six Sigma Black Belt and are well versed in principles of Lean Manufacturing and Theory of Constraints. We had the pleasure of working with two of their students on research projects here at Graphicast. They helped us solve a recurring quality issue in casting and developed a method for reducing set up times in CNC machining. I always enjoy my time at Dartmouth and hope we can work with their students on other projects in the future.

Maybe There is a Future for Manufacturing

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

We’ve had a busy two weeks of visitors at Graphicast. Not from customers or potential customers, but from students. A class from our local high school is learning about career opportunities, soft and hard skills required for success in the workplace, and taking part in internships to gain some experience. I first visited their classroom to talk about all the different skills that are required to run a manufacturing company. The next day, they came by for their plant tour. This was the first chance for most of them to see an operating factory. They had no idea what was taking place within a few blocks of their school. As one student said, “This was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be”.

The second group was from a college industrial design class. This was the sixth or seventh year that this class has toured our plant. We’re part of the materials and manufacturing processes section of their training. and I’m always pleased to see so many students going into this area.
With all the negative news about manufacturing, much of it misleading or exaggerated, we manufacturers need to take every opportunity we have to bring community and educational groups into our operations and let them  know about the many positive things manufacturing still represents in this country.

Business Sustainability and the Recession

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

Graphicast will be one of the presenting companies at this year’s spring conference of  New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. We will be in a session entitled “What lessons has the recession taught us about business sustainability?” Graphicast was asked to participate in this conference based, in part, on how we dealt with the impact of the recession on our business.

We developed an action plan which we communicated to our employees early in 2009. In this plan, we indicated the steps we would follow  if certain situations occurred during the recession. These steps included cuts in discretionary spending, salary reductions, hour reductions, and temporary furloughs. As with many other manufacturing companies, by the spring of 2009 we were at the last step. We did have some voluntary furloughs late in the in the spring, but by mid summer everyone was back on the job. During the furlough period, Graphicast paid 100% of the health insurance costs of our furloughed employees. This allowed them to more easily sustain themselves while they were not working. As it turned out, many of the furloughed employees took advantage of this time to develop stronger relationships with their families and friends. They made the best of a difficult situation.

Several of our employees captured their thoughts and impressions of the furlough during a video interview conducted by Heartwood Media. This video was shown at the “Breakfast with the Best” celebration in February 2010. Take a look at what they had to say about their experiences with the recession.

The Economic Indicators – An Informal New Hampshire View

During my interview on New Hampshire Public Radio on Friday, we talked about the indicators Graphicast is seeing that may suggest a recovery is underway. The biggest thing for us is that our order book in January was the highest it’s been since October 2008, when the bottom started dropping out of the economy. Our February orders exceeded January’s, so that’s two strong months in a row. March will be critical in the trend analysis. Were January and February just inventory catch ups months, or are we seeing sustained growth? We’ll let you know in a few weeks. Here are some of the other recovery indicators people are seeing in their personal and business lives.

Safe for 29 months in a row!

Zero Claims AwardGraphicast likes to think we gave the judges for this year’s Business NH Magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For” plenty of reasons to chose us.

Because of the nature of our business , we work with a several safety organizations to make sure we are current on regulations and maintain  a safe work environment.  Often, we have these people in for facility inspections.  It is a good check and balance system that keeps us on track.

Graphicast is a member of Sigma-One (Concord NH).  Graphicast was a founding member  of this self insured trust that provides workers’ compensation insurance and achieves the benefits commonly associated with “conventional” insurance often found at much larger companies.

At our last facility visit, the Sigma-One group presented an award to Graphicast  for our Claims Management.  The Graphicast team has gone 29 months without a claim!  This accomplishment speaks volumes about the people at our facility and the effort we put into safety. To be recognized and awarded for Zero Claims brings us a great sense of accomplishment. Have a safe and healthy New Year!

Graphicast Featured in Business NH Magazine’s Best Company Issue

Graphicast-Best-Company-Cover

A full page of Business NH Magazine’s December 2009 issue is devoted to Graphicast’s successful quest to become a Best Company to Work For in New Hampshire in 2009.

Check out the article here

Graphicast Named Among Top Ten Companies in New Hampshire

Manchester, NH — Business NH Magazine and NH Businesses for Social Responsibility are proud to announce the 2009 Best Companies to Work For in NH.

BestCompany2009At a time when the economy is testing the most solid company cultures, this year’s Best Companies to Work For competition demonstrates how making employees partners in a company’s success is not only good for morale, but also good for the bottom line. Respect for employees, no layoff policies and creative strategies to keep everyone employed have earned Wire Belt Company of America in Londonderry the title of Best Small Company to Work For in NH, and Hypertherm Inc. in Hanover the title of the Best Large Company to Work For in NH, in Business NH Magazine’s 13th annual competition.

Wire Belt has 94 employees in NH, and Hypertherm has 870 in NH (1,077 total.) Both are profiled with eight other Best Companies to Work For in the December issue of Business NH Magazine.

Named to the Best Large Companies list are:

#1- Hypertherm Inc. in Hanover (1,077 total employees/870 in NH)

#2- Comcast in Manchester (100,000 total employees/1,500 in NH)

#3- St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua (2,032 total/NH employees)

#4- BAE Systems in Nashua (9,000 total employees/4,736 in NH)

#5- RiverWoods at Exeter in Exeter (338 total/NH employees)

Named to the Best Small Companies list are:

#1- Wire Belt Company of America in Londonderry (94 total/NH employees)

#2- Dynamic Network Services Inc. in Manchester (29 total/NH employees)

#3- Clark-Mortensen Agency Inc. in Keene (52 total employees/47 in NH)

#4- BittWare in Concord (40 total employees/30 in NH)

#5- Graphicast Inc. in Jaffrey (28 total/NH employees)

Stryker Biotech of Lebanon enters the Hall of Fame, which honors companies that have been named Best Companies to Work For four out of the past five years.

Companies across New Hampshire answered Business NH Magazine’s call to compete, completing extensive applications detailing their benefit packages, company culture, communication and employee development strategies, workplace philosophies and letters of support from employees. The field was narrowed to 21 semi-finalists by a panel of Business NH Magazine judges. From there, a panel of four outside judges evaluated all 21 applications while site tour judges, consisting of CEOs and human resources professionals from across the state, visited each company to interview their CEO and employees and tour the facility. Bruce Mast and Associates in Exeter organized the site tours. The outside panel of judges then reviewed scores from the applications and the site tours to determine the 10 finalists.

The 11 semi-finalists are: Bottomline Technologies in Portsmouth, Colby-Sawyer College in New London, Harbor Homes Inc. in Nashua, Lonza in Portsmouth, McLane Law Firm in Manchester, Southern NH Health System in Nashua, Geophysical Survey Systems Inc. in Salem, On Call International in Salem, PixelMEDIA in Portsmouth, Whipple Hill Communications in Bedford, and Wiggin & Nourie, P.A. in Manchester.

This year’s judges include: Therese Gesel-Towne, principal consultant and president of Aegis Consulting in Bedford; Daniel W. Griffiths, state director of the Human Resources Council State Council of NH; David Henderson, executive director of the Safety and Health Council of Northern New England in Concord; and Molly Hodgson Smith, executive director of NH Businesses for Social Responsibility in Concord.

The 2009 Best Companies to Work For in NH offer their employees an impressive variety of benefits, from on-site gyms and childcare, to profit sharing and tuition reimbursement.  One thing they all have in common is the creativity and flexibility to keep their employees motivated and happy. While not immune to recessions, the Best Companies to Work For have a strategic advantage—motivated, loyal employees.

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Taking Innovative Casting Technology to Your Bottom Line™

Graphicast Inc.

PO Box 430 36 Knight Street,
Jaffrey, NH 03452
phone: 603-532-4481
fax: 603-532-4261