Manufacturing

11:13am

Wed August 14, 2013
World

French Maker Of Military Rafts Gets An American Identity

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 6:40 am

U.S. Marines with 4th Force Reconnaissance Company slide off F470 Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts during training in Waimanalo, Hawaii. The French company Zodiac has been the U.S. military's choice for inflatable rubber rafts for roughly two decades. Now the company is making the rafts in the U.S.
Lance Cpl. Reece E. Lodder Marine Corps Base Hawaii

For roughly two decades, the Zodiac has been the U.S. military's choice for inflatable rubber rafts. These rafts, especially the high-end model F470, are not the recreational rafts you take out to the lake on a Sunday, says Lionel Boudeau, the head of Zodiac's North America operations.

"It is used for a large variety of missions, like assault landings, infiltration and exfiltration," he says. "It can be deployed from the shore or deployed from the air by an aircraft, a helicopter, by a submarine. It is used by special forces and regular Army."

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1:04am

Wed August 14, 2013
The Record

Why Steinway Is Likely To Be Sold To A Hedge Fund Manager

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 9:16 am

The Steinway Musical Instruments factory in Queens, N.Y.
Ilya Marritz

Steinway & Sons, the 160-year-old musical instrument maker, is set to change hands.

Last month, a private equity firm emerged as the company's likely buyer. But a mystery bidder — rumored to be hedge fund manager John Paulson — has swooped in at the last minute, and now looks likely to take control of one of the oldest manufacturers in the United States. Paulson made billions betting against the housing market at a time when many thought housing prices could only go up. His reported offer for the company is $458 million.

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12:41am

Sun July 7, 2013
The Record

Small-Town Audio Geeks Bring Big Sounds To The Dance Floor

Originally published on Sun July 7, 2013 12:21 pm

Fulcrum Acoustic engineer Rich Frembes (left) and founder Dave Gunness pose in their workshop. The company produces more than 2,000 speakers a year, often testing and tweaking the units obsessively to meet each client's specific needs.
Andrea Shea

The headquarters of Fulcrum Acoustic is only an hour outside Boston, but finding the audio company can be tricky: Its address in Whitinsville, a quaint former industrial village in Massachusetts' Blackstone Valley, doesn't register on GPS. Fulcrum's founder, Dave Gunness, opened his workshop here five years ago and says people still have trouble finding it.

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7:54am

Sat July 6, 2013
National Security

Defense Contractors See Their Futures In Developing World

Originally published on Sat July 6, 2013 3:12 pm

A mannequin in night-vision goggles is part of a display at a border-security expo in Pheonix last year. Defense companies are seeking growth in markets in the developing world, or in homeland and cybersecurity.
Amanda Meyers AP

Defense manufacturers worldwide are facing tough times ahead, as tight budgets force Western governments to cut spending. But while the West is cutting back, developing countries around the world are spending more on defense — a lot more.

Last fall, defense contractors warned of massive layoffs if the U.S. government enacted the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Now, sequestration is in effect, but job losses are limited, in part because many Pentagon contracts were already in place and will keep assembly lines rolling for much of this year.

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2:34am

Fri June 21, 2013
Planet Money

How Brush Factories Survive In America

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 1:46 pm

Fourth-generation owner of Braun Brush, Lance Cheney, stands next to a special-order brush his company made for the artist Richard Artschwager.
Marianne McCune NPR

Brushes are pretty simple: a bunch of flexible fibers sticking out of something stiff. Not surprisingly, Chinese manufacturers have grabbed a big share of the U.S. brush market. But several hundred small U.S. brush factories are still hanging on. Here are three strategies they're using to survive.

1. Compete On Quality

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