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Global Success – a tale of innovation and rebirth in Indian manufacturing

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

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

I had the great pleasure of spending most of the last two weeks in India. My wife and I were invited to attend the wedding of the son of a former work colleague. Besides the chance to spend time with an old friend and to absorb the fantastic cultural experience of an Indian wedding, we also toured many of the famous sites throughout the country. An added treat was a plant tour of my friend’s company, Pradeep Metals, Ltd. Started with his father over 30 years ago, the company has evolved from humble beginnings to become a world class supplier of nuclear grade steel forgings. This journey involved a dramatic change in markets served, additions of many quality standards, an ongoing lean manufacturing effort, constant reinvestment in new equipment and methods, investment in his employees, and a commitment to social responsibility. You could tell this story in any industrialized country and instantly identify the type of company this is – a modern, progressive manufacturing company committed to customer service and employee empowerment.  This level of sophistication is not unique in Indian manufacturing. This level of energy is also not unique.

Throughout India, in addition to the many palaces, forts, and monuments such as the Taj Mahal, you can feel an incredible energy. You see the little stores packed on top of each other in the crowded cities and in the smallest towns. A whole nation of entrepreneurs at work, with few breaks or downtime.  The roads are packed with trucks, cars, scooters, camel carts, bicycles, pedestrians, and the occasional cow or monkey. You’ll see a hand operated water pump next to a bank of solar cells. Universities advertise their degree programs on billboards along the highways. While you can’t escape the broad contrasts of luxury hotels located next to people living in the streets, there is a surging economy gradually making life better for many in this country of over 1 billion people. There are challenges of bureaucracy and corruption working against growth, but not enough to stop it. With a well educated work force, a familiarity with western business practices, and the rule of law prevailing, this seems like a country well positioned to be a focal point for expanding global businesses. I saw a huge difference in the country since my last visit of twenty years ago. I left feeling that even greater changes are at work and India is poised to be a major player in the global economy.

Urban Mining in Jaffrey, New Hampshire

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

Jaffrey, New Hampshire is a small town in the southwest corner of the state. It’s an old mill town that still supports a number of manufacturing and industrial companies. I came across an interesting company yesterday, one that does “urban mining”. Urban mining is the process of extracting and recycling valuable components from discarded items. The big push is on electronic waste, which has become an immense disposal problem. The company, E-Waste Recyclers, brings in all types of electronic and electrical devices for recycling and value extraction, much like conventional mining. They have about 30,000 square feet of warehouse space filled with piles and bales of segregated components such as printed circuit boards, plastic cabinets, sheet metal frames, wiring, and other hardware. Their activity, and the value of the recycled components, is very much affected by the global economy.

Right now, there is a big market for components containing rare earth minerals. These minerals find their way into dozens of high tech products. The main source of rare earths is China, which is tightly controlling the export market, putting pressure on other sources of these minerals. Besides reopening closed mines elsewhere in the world, extracting rare earths from other sources, such as recycled magnets and electronics is a growing market.

At one time, almost all e-recycling was done in China. It’s a labor intensive process, and with few environmental and safety standards in place, and low wages for their workers, the Chinese dominated the market. With the exposure of the Chinese labor and environmental abuses, increased transportation costs, and the growing value and improved methods for extracting  value from components, environmentally safe facilities providing decent wages have sprung up closer to the sources of the e-waste. This is good news and a hidden factor in the broader subject of re-shoring manufacturing, and recycling, back to the US.


Manufacturing Jobs Still Pack the Biggest Punch for Economic Growth

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

    An interesting relationship exists between manufacturing jobs and service jobs. The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy issued a report on the impact of Smart Manufacturing and High Technology on New Hampshire’s economy in March 2011. Besides the fact that Manufacturing and High Tech are the largest portion of the state’s economy (at 19%), more manufacturing jobs equates to more services jobs. In referencing economic scenario models done by Fairpoint Communications, the Public Policy Center reported that every 100 manufacturing jobs created 138 indirect and induced jobs in other sectors, creating a total of $16.5 million in personal income. By contrast, 100 health care jobs created 55 indirect and induced jobs, creating $7.3 million in personal income. Further down on the list, 100 tourism jobs only created 32 indirect and induced jobs, for a total personal income impact of $4.4 million. More manufacturing creates a wealthier economy for all. We need more skilled workers to grow the manufacturing economy!

Graphicast Again Named Among the 10 Best Small Companies to Work for in New Hampshire

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

Graphicast was again named among the 10 Best Small Companies to work for in New Hampshire by Business NH Magazine. For the fifth year in a row, Graphicast’s culture and employee benefits made it one of the prime employers in the state. “Even in these tough economic times and with the sluggish recovery, I think we’ve maintained a consistency that resonates with our employees. Our employees are loyal and recognize the efforts we’ve made to keep things as normal as possible.'”

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.

Graphicast Featured in Business NH Magazine’s Best Company Issue


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.

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