Making Manufacturing Jump Off the Screen with Professional Photos

February 20, 2014

Today we have a guest post from Hal Stata of Stata Productions sharing how to make your manufacturing operations jump off of the screen by using professional photography.

There has been a recent trend of Ohio’s manufacturing companies jumping on the website bandwagon. In the last few years, I’ve seen quite a few local companies investing time and money into having an online presence. Their need to reach out and show and tell fellow businesses and the general public about what they do, what they produce and who they are has been a growing desire.


My job as a professional photographer is to show these products, people and applications in the best light. Showcasing these images to grab the attention of potential buyers is a process of troubleshooting and experience.  Don’t make the mistake of trying this on your own with an iPhone. Making manufacturing locations jump off the screen takes wide angles, and lighting.

Keeping assembly lines running, people working and still getting great shots is the mark of a professional.

Typically a walk through a week in advance will make everything flow smoother the day of the photo shoot. I’ve been asked to recommend how much clutter needs to be removed to should we repaint markings and rails. The more pre-work a company wants to do the better; but if that is not possible I’ll work with the creative director to find an angle or a crop that eliminates less than desirable areas.

I typically like to work with scheduled start times and work around break times, moving equipment to the next location during these breaks.

You would be surprised how many images we can produce in one day of shooting. Sometimes we have to wait for the perfect day for exteriors. These shots are based on building direction and weather.

All and all, a photo is worth a thousand words…

Images courtesy of Hal Stata, Stata Productions.

From MAGNET: The Future of Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio

February 13, 2014

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at

This post originally appeared on MAGNET’s  Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission.

The Future of Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio


In today’s market, several of the country’s most valuable manufacturers are finding a strong and beneficial base in Northeast Ohio. Producers of globally distributed products have found that Northeast Ohio provides a great deal of resources to make their efforts a reality. This video, produced by the Greater Cleveland Partnership for MAGNET’s Partnership for Regional Innovation Services to Manufacturers (PRISM) program, explains why so many manufacturing companies have found tremendous success by calling northeast Ohio their home.

Click here to read the original post.

Five Observations From The 2014 AHR Expo

February 6, 2014

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

2014_AHR_EXPO-2I attended the 66th International Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Exposition in New York City (January 21-23, 2014). For those not familiar with this trade show, it is the largest HVACR show in the United States, endorsed by 33 leading HVACR industry associations and co-sponsored by ASHRAE  and AHRI. This year’s attendance was once again very strong, with more than 61,000 people attending and more than 1,800 exhibitor booths.

Here are five of my observations from the show:

  1. Strong 2014 Outlook – in addition to the positive sentiment of almost everyone I spoke with at the show, the recent ASHRAE/AHR Expo survey forecasts a pretty good year for the HVACR business. Of the 1,000 HVACR manufacturers worldwide surveyed, 79% of the respondents said their prospects for business were either “excellent” (19%) or “good” (60%) for the coming year, 90% of the HVACR manufacturers believe sales will increase and hospitals/healthcare, light commercial and data/telecom centers were the top three market segments identified to be the most promising for 2014.
  2. Trade Publications Are Not Dead – 35+ publications had a presence at the this year’s show, each with their army of sales people combing the aisles for new and potential advertisers; there also seemed to be an increase of international publications covering both Latin/South America as well as Asia.
  3. Technology Continues To Play Strong Role – it seems every year at this show more and more technology is introduced to the products and services showcased, whether it is the software driving these products or the tablets used to control and monitor them. Again this year, there was a dedicated AHR Expo app for the show which not only helped you find your favorite booth, but also had valuable information about the speakers, educational sessions, transportation and local NYC attractions.
  4. Growing International Attendance – exhibitors from more than 30 countries attended the show. Asian manufacturers have been coming to this show for a number of years and 2014 was no different; however I did notice an uptick of Latin/South American as well as European exhibitors and attendees this year.
  5. “Efficiency” Is Still The Buzzword – with the way the economy has been over the last few years I think we have all gotten used to “doing more with less.” In the HVAC market that is nothing new, no matter which aisle you walked down during the show “efficiency” rang out in booth messaging, product benefits and sales pitches.

These are just a few of my observations, but if you attended, I would love to hear any key takeaways you had from the show.

IBS/KBIS – Las Vegas Insider’s Guide

January 30, 2014


For those of you that are heading to Las Vegas for this International Builder Show or Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, we put together an Insider’s Guide to Las Vegas by asking friends and business associates about gems in the city that you might not be aware of. It includes Restaurants, Nightlife, Events and more. It’s available here.

We hope you have a good show. See you there.

Does Your Company Have an Open-Door Policy?

January 23, 2014

Today we have a blog post from Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman at Sonnhalter, discussing factory tours and how they reflect your company’s brand image.

SonnhalterLincolnElectricTourLast month, Sonnhalter employees had the opportunity to get their hands dirty with a visit to a local manufacturer, Lincoln Electric, that designs, develops and manufactures arc welding products, robotic arc welding systems, fume extraction equipment and plasma and oxyfuel cutting equipment.

We were greeted by our contact, given “VIP” badges and ushered into a comfortable lecture room where each employee’s name was on a placard alongside a packet containing Lincoln Electric information, safety glasses and headsets. After a short greeting by our host, our group was invited to snacks and beverages while watching a short video that covered a history and overview of the company and safety rules for our tour. After the video, we were turned over to our tour guide, a long-time employee, who regularly conducts tours.

Sonnhalter’s experience at Lincoln Electric was a terrific impression reflecting professionalism, pride, friendliness and openness that ultimately mirrors the Lincoln brand.

Does your company have a factory tour policy? Is it an open-door policy? Or is your company one that refuses visitors for fear of losing carefully guarded company secrets?

How your company handles the requests for factory visits, whether it is by an interested community member or a potential customer, is a reflection of your brand.

And once you decide to let visitors in your doors, how you handle their experience is another reflection of your brand.

Suggestions for creating a positive experience:

1. Select knowledgeable, experienced, personable people as tour guides.

2. While tours should be flexible based on your audiences’ needs, provide consistency in the messaging that is being revealed.

3. Establish rules that management or ownership is comfortable with, i.e. no photos, no cell phones.

4. Remember safety at all times.

5. Be friendly.

Having a policy on factory tours is important, and how the tours are handled ultimately affects your company’s brand image. Make it positive!

Happy Holidays!

December 18, 2013

I’ll be taking some time off and will be back after the first of the year. Enjoy the Holidays with your Family.


From MAGNET: How to Sustain Lean Results

December 5, 2013

This post originally appeared on MAGNET’s Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission.

How To Sustain Lean Results

Michael O’Donnell, Growth & Innovation Advisor, MAGNET

Sustaining “Lean” results is a critical challenge for many organizations. Although Lean knowledge and tools are important to implementation and results, they are not sufficient to ensure sustainability. Many organizations, hungry for quick fixes, focus heavily on tools and achieve short-term results, but no long-term impact.

Tools and Methods do not sustain results.

“The attraction of tools is that they can be employed at many points within an organization, often by staff improvement teams … it’s understandable that lean tools came to the foreground – 5S, setup reduction, the five whys … value-stream maps, kanban and kaizen … But just as a carpenter needs a vision of what to build in order to get the full benefit of a hammer, we need a clear vision of our organizational objectives and better management methods before we pick up our lean tools.”
—Jim Womack, “The Challenge of Lean Transformation,BPTrends, January 2007

Lean is a way of thinking.

It is about each person in the organization developing a group of thinking patterns to strive to make scientific working a daily habit. It is about every person using the scientific method in their daily work to develop solutions to improve their process, from the shop floor worker to the top managers. Lean thinking focused on the process of how solutions are developed which results in sustainability.

Remember the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?”

Traditional Thinking:Focus on Solutions Lean Thinking:Focus on how solutions are developed
Establish targets Establish targets
Identify solutions, assign   actions Develop capacity in people to develop solutions
Establish incentives Coach and practice a common way of developing solutions (Lean tools and methods)
Manage implementation of   solutions Establish a teachable pattern of thinking and developing solutions
Periodically check results Evaluate and update coaching and methods – Plan, do, check, act
Rother, Mike (February 2010). Toyota Kata. Mobilizing our ingenuity through good management, 20.  Adapted from

Lean thinking is a habit.

Teachers say a student must practice something at least 17 times to learn and become a habit. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to practice?

Although habits can be hard to change, humans have the ability to change habits, through deliberate practice. At first the practice uses our conscious mind and is slow and difficult. But, after many repetitions, the habits becomes part of our subconscious mind and becomes fast and easy. Think about the following habits, and when you first learned them, from a teacher or coach, through hours and hours of deliberate practice.

  • Addition and subtraction, multiplication tables, spelling, touch typing
  • Riding a bike, driving a car, flying a plane
  • Martial arts, golfing, tennis, sports
  • Playing video games – Halo, Call of Duty, Wii, Kinect
  • Cooking

Current research supports the importance of deliberate practice to learn new thinking habits.

For Continuous Improvement to be effective and sustainable, it requires a systems approach involving the entire organization. Management should guide the organization in four fundamental areas to ensure success:

  1. Purpose – maximizing customer value
  2. Process – continually improving speed and defects for factory and office
  3. People – involving people in improving the process, providing knowledge and tools
  4. Sustainable culture – encouraging change, communicating success and results

We’re interested in hearing about you and your organization’s Continuous Improvement results, and the effectiveness of the Methods and Tools you use. Comment below or email at

Let us know what is working and what is not.

Learn more about MAGNET’s Lean Strategy & Implementation at:

You can read the original post here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2013

As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, I’d like to say thanks to the many friends and clients we’ve had the good fortune to come in contact with over the years. We’re all running in several different directions all the time, and this time of year we need to slow down a bit to appreciate the things around us.

So this weekend, don’t take your briefcase home, and your emails will still be there Monday morning when you get back in the office. Recharge your batteries this weekend. Play with your kids or grandkids, visit an old friend or watch some football. We take a lot of things for granted sometimes – our Families and Friends. And no matter how screwed up our country is in Washington, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Enjoy the weekend. We can get back to the rat race next week.

2013 STAFDA Recap

November 20, 2013


Just returned from the 2013 STAFDA Show in Las Vegas. According to STAFDA, attendance was up to around 4,900 participants.

The show for the most part was upbeat, and the economic forecast for the next few years looks promising for the construction market.

I talked to several manufacturers and they seemed happy for the most part on the turnout for the trade show. The last day didn’t set any records, but most trade shows don’t.

In talking with several distributors and a few buying groups that were there, they confirmed that they were having great growth in 2013 and expect it to continue into 2014.

It was nice to go to a distributor/manufacturer meeting where both sides were positive. Hopefully the crystal ball will be right.

Flush With Gratitude!

November 19, 2013

logo_bigThe can, John, latrine, porcelain throne, commode, potty… No matter what you call it, the toilet is an important part of daily life.

Today is World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day was started to bring awareness to the global sanitation challenge. Here are just a few facts about the global sanitation challenge:

  • 2.5 billion people do not have a clean toilet
  • Sanitation is a human right
  • Safe toilet facilities keep girls in school
  • Sanitation is a good economic investment

You can read more information about World Toilet Day and the facts above here.

We have the pleasure of working with companies serving the tradesmen that keep our toilets in excellent flushing order and help maintain the sanitation systems that we rely on. Their jobs are not considered glamorous, but they are so important.

Today, and every day, we are flush with gratitude toward them for everything they do!


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