Courier Performance

Courier Services refers to postal and courier activities, such as pickup, transport and delivery of letters and parcels under various arrangements. Local delivery and messenger services are also included. Key Performance Indicator (KPIs) in postal and courier services measure the efficiency in operations and customer satisfaction with delivery.

I found a great study of courier performance created by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). They studied the use of specific objectives and performance measures to manage operational performance. They found common practice among self-sustaining private and public organizations that are responsible for generating sufficient revenue to meet costs and, in some cases, even produce profit.

 

The experiences of these organizations are a rich source of information to consider in the public sector. DOT’s objective was to learn from others what might apply to agencies in the United States working to advance transportation planning. Since their aim was to examine the use of measurable objectives and performance measures by private and public organizations to improve service delivery, they also included toll roads and electrical lines.

Information on the use of operations-related objectives and performance measures was gathered from Federal Express (FedEx), TNT Express Delivery Services, Illinois Tollway, and two power companies. Small package delivery companies were researched because they must closely monitor and optimize their operations to provide good service, which enables them to attract and maintain customers in a highly competitive business environment.

 

A tollway organization was included in this research to provide a closer point of comparison for public sector transportation agencies. An examination of electric utilities illustrated the use of objectives and performance measures for service delivery across wires instead of roads. Note that the US Postal Service was not included! They concentrated on: setting goals and obtaining buy-in; tracking; adjusting the process, adjusting the measures to current needs; demonstrating accountability to shareholders and customers.

From their research, they developed a possible list of what is required:

Those Smelly Old Oil Trains YET Again, Why Are They Secret?

What a crazy scene we have. Oil trains are like a military secret. Wheat and other crops rot on docks while we run oil trains. The only expert anybody seems to find is Warren Buffet. OK, a cool guy. Made lots of coins trading stocks. Otherwise, he has no concern with the American farmer, Amtrak passengers (who owns Amtrak stock?), rich heritage of the BNSF railroad: probably sell it in a New York minute to CSX or NS. He is quoted as an insurance expert: probably owns a few insurance companies.

Two loaded and two empty crude oil trains operate daily over Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor in Maryland and Delaware, according a document submitted by the passenger railroad in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Last month, Norfolk Southern, the freight railroad that operates the crude oil trains, went to court in Maryland to block the state Department of the Environment from making the same information available to McClatchy and The Associated Press.

The Amtrak document also contains some details of Norfolk Southern’s crude oil train operations in Pennsylvania. That state last month denied requests from McClatchy and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to provide information about the shipments.

Dave Pidgeon, a Norfolk Southern spokesman, declined to comment.

In May, following a series of derailments, fires and spills involving crude oil trains, the U.S. Department of Transportation required railroads to notify states about train shipments of 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil to help emergency responders better prepare for an incident.

There is no federal law that shields the crude oil train information from public release. Nonetheless, railroads asked states to sign confidentiality agreements, and some states, including Maryland and Pennsylvania, complied.

However, other states, including California, Washington, Illinois and Florida, did not sign the agreements and have made the crude oil train details available to McClatchy and other news organizations.

In Maryland, according to documents filed on July 23 in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, state Attorney General Doug Gansler’s office had voided the confidentiality agreements that a state official had signed. However, both Norfolk Southern and rival carrier CSX contested the attorney general’s ruling and sought an injunction to prevent the imminent release of the records.

Pennsylvania is one of the largest single destinations in the country for Bakken crude oil by train. On Monday, McClatchy appealed the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s denial of an open records request for crude oil train details there.

Amtrak owns or controls lines in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware that Norfolk Southern uses for freight. The national passenger railroad is subject to the federal Freedom of Information Act.

According to Amtrak, Norfolk Southern’s crude oil trains operate over 21 miles of the Northeast Corridor, the busiest passenger train route in the country. The crude oil trains travel between Perryville, Md., and Newark, Del., sometimes alongside Amtrak’s passenger trains. They also use a portion of a line east of Harrisburg, Pa., that Amtrak controls.The trains are generally 100 cars and weigh 13,500 tons loaded and 4,000 tons empty. By contrast, Amtrak’s flagship Acela Express trains include two locomotives and six cars, weighing a total of 624 tons.

Freight trains commonly operate over the Northeast Corridor at night, but some run during the day. Amtrak restricts Norfolk Southern’s crude oil trains to 30 mph from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Overnight, the trains can operate at 50 mph.

Norfolk Southern crude oil trains cannot exceed 135 cars on Amtrak lines.

The Norfolk Southern trains supply the PBF Energy refinery in Delaware City, Del. The facility closed in 2009, only to be revived with rail deliveries of domestic crude oil.

Most freight railroad insurance policies couldn’t begin to cover damage from a moderate oil train accident, much less a major disaster. And the Department of Transportation’s own database of oil train incidents is flawed because some railroads and shippers provide incomplete information that far understates property damage.

Those conclusions come from a DOT analysis of its own rule proposed to address the series of troubling derailments across North America as shipments of oil by rail surge.

The department issued the analysis Aug. 1, the same day it published its proposed oil train safety rule that is meant to create what Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx calls a “New World Order” in oil trains regulations, including by requiring sturdier tank cars, tightened speed limits and improved brakes for the trains carrying an ever-greater amount of crude oil through communities from Southern California to Albany, N.Y.

The rule would not expressly address the insurance issue, except to cite the general liability landscape as part of the need for the rule, which seeks to prevent the worst disasters from happening and mitigate damages from those that do.

Gaps in insurance coverage became an issue after the July 2013 disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, which occurred when a train that had been left unattended careened down an incline, derailed and charred much of the downtown area, killing 47 people. The damages from that wreck could stretch into the billions of dollars, but the railroad responsible for the derailment carried only $25 million of insurance and wound up declaring bankruptcy.

DOT’s analysis says most of the largest railroads commonly carry around $25 million in insurance, though that can rise to as much as $50 million for trains hauling certain kinds of hazardous chemicals. Smaller railroads — such as the one in the Lac-Mégantic disaster — often carry much less than that.

But the agency’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration estimated that the average derailment that spills crude oil will mean $25 million in total costs — bumping up against most of even the largest railroads’ current insurance limits.

(For “higher-consequence events” — such as the one in Lac-Mégantic — “it appears that no amount of coverage is adequate,” the analysis says. That’s because the maximum amount of coverage available on the market is $1 billion per carrier, per incident.

“You should know the railroads are used to running bare — without adequate insurance,” said Fred Millar, an independent rail consultant who has criticized the government’s oversight of oil trains. “And the situation that is described in the [analysis] from Lac-Mégantic is only just the tip of the iceberg. The railroads basically know that they have cargoes that can cause massive, enormously greater death and destruction than what happened in Lac-Mégantic.”

Devorah Ancel, an attorney for the Sierra Club, said insurance coverage “needs to catch up with the heightened risk that is part of this industry now,” because otherwise “taxpayers end up covering it.”

The Association of American Railroads declined to comment, saying the group is still reviewing the pending rule and its supporting documents, including the regulatory analysis, and the American Petroleum Institute said it would file its comments as part of the public comment period.

(We are working closely with regulators and the rail industry in a comprehensive effort to enhance safety through accident prevention, mitigation and response,” API said.

But railroads know they’re underinsured and have groused about the status quo, particularly considering the fact that energy companies that ship oil and ethanol largely do not bear any liability for an incident once their product is loaded onto a train. And under “common carrier” regulations, railroads cannot refuse a shipment any kind of material assuming it meets proper regulations.

Warren Buffett’s BNSF railroad, the pioneer in the oil train industry, has been requesting that railroads get some of the same protections now afforded to the nuclear power industry, using the Price-Anderson Act as a model. That law requires power companies to contribute to an insurance fund that would be used in the event of an accident, and it also partially indemnifies the nuclear power industry.

The DOT analysis also points to a systemic weakness in the way the federal government collects data on derailments of crude oil and ethanol trains. In the section dealing with the probability of major rail accidents, the analysis observes that it’s “impossible to isolate the derailment rate of only crude oil and ethanol trains” due to “limitations in the reported data.”

(That’s because PHMSA requires an incident report to be filed only if the incident led to the release of a hazardous material — so derailments that did not result in a spill aren’t included. As a result, even some dramatic accidents aren’t included in the database — for instance, one earlier this year that resulted in a crude oil train dangling over Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River.

Separately, DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration maintains data on derailments, including how much hazardous material was released — but doesn’t identify what type of substance it was. “As a result, it is impossible to use FRA data to identify crude and ethanol derailments,” the department said.

And the data that is reported, particularly to PHMSA, is often inaccurate, largely because it is self-reported by railroads or shippers, according to the analysis. And these self-reports often underestimate the damages done in spill incidents.

According to the analysis, damage information reported to PHMSA is typically “only the most basic costs” such as the value of spilled petroleum and damage to tracks and cars.

“PHMSA believes that response costs and basic cleanup costs, when they are reported, do not represent the full costs of an accident of the response,” the report said.

Underreporting damages, particularly for environmental cleanup costs, ends up hiding the true impact of a spill from policymakers, Sierra Club’s Ancel said. She hopes the pending rule will address the issue.

“It is extremely important that the industry is required to adequately report — and there should be some sort of mechanism in the rule where the agency has inspectors that are ensuring that they are,” she said. “So not only should the industry be on the hook for reporting, but the agency needs to be able to have the resources to ensure that they are.”

 

 

What Wastes More Employee Time: Fantasy Football or Microsoft Upgrades?

Last April we reported that Microsoft was going to discontinue support of their popular XP software. No, the sky did not fall in and lots of us realized it was a sneaky way for them to “make their numbers” by selling upgrades.

Guess their numbers are still falling (but not the sky) because Microsoft is discontinuing support of their older versions of Internet Explorer.

Nobody but me talks about how much employee time is wasted in “applying” these upgrades, but just saw an article on how much Fantasy Football will cost employers in the upcoming season.

One Fantasy Football estimate was $13 billion. Not sure if this included the obligatory “water cooler conversations” or not. Think of it! Steve Ballmer paid $2 billion for his dream team LA Clippers. My apologies to previously accusing Steve of “retired and sitting on a rocking chair on his front stoop”. In a recent release: Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has said he is stepping down from the board with immediate effect. In a public letter, Mr Ballmer said he had become “very busy” since he quit the top job and that it would be “impractical to continue”. His decision to leave follows his recent purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. “I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of my time,” he wrote. He said his departure would be immediate due to a “hectic” autumn including both the start of the NBA basketball season and his teaching of a new class. Mr Ballmer left the chief executive role in February after more than 14 years at the helm, and has been involved in the company for more than three decades. He still holds more Microsoft shares than any other individual, and on Tuesday he pledged to hold onto them for the “foreseeable future”.

Now back to Microsoft. Don’t see too many unbiased opinions on their upgrades (have to go to page 3 of Google search to find any……and everybody knows nobody EVER goes beyond page 1…….maybe Microsoft bought all the key words so this would happen). So the things that get IMPORTANT (sic) upgrades are:

  1. Silverlight: nobody (outside of Microsoft) can agree why you even want it.

  2. Outlook: Was a BAD product to start with. Used to have HOTMAIL…got merged into Outlook. Probably resulted in the fantastic rise in use of Gmail.

  3. Internet Explorer: Where have you been? The world is moving to FireFox, Chrome or MyPerfectiNTER.Net

  4. SECURITY: I thought by now everybody had AVAST and those kinds of things

The bottom line is:

  1. Keep your XP software

  2. Change to FireFox, Chrome or MyPerfectiNTER.Net and dump IE

  3. Your employees can now enjoy a great Fantasy Football season

windows_xp

New Hampshire Northcoast Corporation

Sunday afternoon and looking for a cool blog topic. All the required stuff was under control and co-worker KC Jones was busy commenting on big changes in the Mid-West; our manager was tied up with FAIRPROMISE. Then I spotted magic: a shortline in New Hampshire that just received a grant. Now, I love shortlines: you can put your hands around them and understand them. I love New England (almost as much as the Adirondacks). Had my usual fit about online map services, including GOOGLE EARTH, being so concentrated on “mobile” users that I cannot find decent maps anymore because I still use a C-O-M-P-U-T-E-R.

 

NewHampshireDOTMap

The New Hampshire Northcoast Corporation (reporting mark NHN) operates part of the former Boston and Maine Corporation‘s Conway Branch between Rollinsford and Ossipee, New Hampshire. The railroad’s primary traffic is quarried sand. It interchanges cars with Pan Am Railways in Dover; the cars are then taken to Boston Sand & Gravel in Massachusetts.

The driving force behind this railroad it is the New Hampshire Railroad Revitalization Association and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. In 1982 and 1984, the CONWAY BRANCH was partially rehibilitated. With the purchase of a portion of the Conway Branch from Rochester to Ossipee by New Hampshire Northcoast Corporation, an 18 mile rehabilitation project began, that consisted of replacing the existing rail with 112 # RE relay rail, new tie plates, joint bars, bolts, lock washers, spikes and anchors. Funding for the project consisted of $1,023,054 in State funds and $177,922 in New Hampshire Northcoast funds. New Hampshire Northcoast was responsible for the installation of the materials. Phase I was completed in December 1987. In 1988, an 11.75 mile rehabilitation project consisted of replacing the existing rail with 112 # RE relay rail, new joint bars, tie plates, anchors, bolts, lock washers and spikes. Funding for the project consisted of $777,202 in State funds and $143,816 in New Hampshire Northcoast funds. New Hampshire Northcoast was responsible for the installation of the materials. Phase II rehabilitation project was to be completed in 1990. In 1997, The Governor and Council approved the rehabilitation of the railroad between Rollinsford and Ossipee and the construction of a car shop in Ossipee using $469,434 from New Hampshire’s Class III Railroad and Cog Railroad Capital Rail Line and Equipment Revolving Loan Fund. Also in 1997, The DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION acquired from the New Hampshire Northcoast the Farmington Branch, from Rochester to Farmington. In 1998, The Governor and Council approved the rebuilding of the prime movers in three locomotives, the purchase of a used caboose and the completion of a car shop in Ossipee using $401,931 from New Hampshire’s Class III Railroad and Cog Railroad Capital Rail Line and Equipment Revolving Loan Fund. Also in 1998, The Department of Transportation received $40,000 in reprogrammed funds from the Federal Railroad Administration to reimburse the New Hampshire Northcoast Corporation for the Federal share for the rehabilitation of a portion of the railroad line from Rochester to Rollinsford.
NewHampshireNRHSMap

Now for the meat about the TIGER Grant:

A $1.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economy Recovery (TIGER) grant agreement has been formally reached for the New Hampshire Northcoast Rail Improvement Project, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) announced yesterday.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the TIGER V grant to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which applied for the funding to help cover the project’s $2 million cost. The work calls for upgrading and repairing 42 miles of the the New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad’s mainline between Rochester and Ossipee, N.H. In addition, a 0.7-mile section of washed-out track will be repaired and two grade crossings will be upgraded.

The New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad’s line connects with Pan Am Railways in Rollinsford, N.H., and a rail-banked line in Ossipee that’s owned by the state. The project will enable the short line to expand its service on the line and operate more efficiently, said Shea-Porter in a press release. The New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad will be able to accommodate 286,000-pound rail cars and increase train speeds on the route.

“The Northcoast line connects to the national freight-rail network via Boston and is a vital transportation link for the Granite State,” said Shea-Porter. “These repairs will complete a multi-year effort to modernize the rail line in partnership with local communities and the private sector.”

Other than the Boston gravel train, NHN also serves its own satellite gravel facility in Rochester, New Hampshire as well as Eastern Propane at the same location.

NHN runs an average of two trains approximately five days a week: one southbound, and one northbound. The trains generally arrive at the pit in Ossipee around 11:00 AM and depart for the Pan Am interchange around 2:00 PM. “Shuttle” trains are run as needed to bring sand and gravel to the facility in Rochester. Once the train arrives in Dover, it assumes the Pan Am symbol DOBO (Dover to Boston) for the run to Boston. It returns as BODO (Boston to Dover) in the early morning. Until recently when they were replaced with a pair of EMD GP38-2s, the trains ran with several EMD GP9s.

 

Operator is ALLEN RAILROAD

 

OK, now that I have given you a first-grade education on New Hampshire Northcoast Corporation, check out the people who really know this railroad: the RAILFANS at RAILROAD.NET. Don’t forget, we have been discussing the New Hampshire Northeast Corporation but NOT the Conway Scenic Railroad …… the tourist animal. These folks really know the stories. The beavers and the tourist lines are part of the culture.

New Hampshire is really amazing when you think of what has been abandoned and what has been saved!

Nallian selected as one of the winners of the Benelux Venture Forum

On June 18 2014, the Benelux Venture Forum welcomed a select group of promising entrepreneurs from the Benelux Region to meet and present themselves to active international investors and corporations seeking investment and partnerships.

The Forum fosters start-ups and high-tech, high-growth entrepreneurship and promotes Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands as innovative, attractive and rewarding countries to do business or to invest in.

Nallian presented at the Forum and was selected as one of the winners! Participating companies were assessed on the basis of their business potential, technology merit, competitive position, investment or partnering interest, team experience and project profile quality.

As a Benelux Venture Forum winner, Nallian will also be presenting at the European Venture Summit on 9 & 10 December in Dusseldorf. The European Venture Summit is one of Europe’s key networking and investment events for high growth technology start-ups, venture capital investors and technology corporations. It offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their businesses across borders. At the European Venture Summit, over 100 companies from across Europe will present to an international audience of investors, corporate representatives and innovation experts.

For more information, please visit www.e-unlimited.com or contact Jean Verheyen at jean.verheyen@nallian.com – +32 3 808 25 81

Made in America? 

Just published a blog on Made in U.S.A. where I told you “to stay tuned for more on this subject”. OK, the next installment is spelled “W A L M A R T”.

Today Walmart is hosting a summit on US manufacturing in Denver. Can you help me uncover the truth about Walmart’s made in America campaign?

With no sense of irony, Walmart is talking about its pledge to invest in American jobs and bring back American manufacturing. But all of Walmart’s expensive television ads can’t cover up the truth.

While Walmart claims to be investing in American made products, the truth is less than .5% of the products it sells on its website say they were made in the USA. What’s more, Walmart is America’s number 1 importer and its trade with China is estimated to have cost America 200,000 jobs between 2001-2006 alone. (Read more here.)

From someone who works at Walmart, shecan’t help but wonders if Walmart really cares about improving US jobs, why doesn’t it start right now by increasing wages for its 1.3 million store workers like her? Most of them are living on the brink as they struggle to care for their families on Walmart’s low wages.

Can you take a look at the image below and then share it with your friends on social media? That way we can let everyone who is attending Walmart’s summit know that Walmart isn’t investing in American jobs, it’s just investing in good PR.

How Did One Get To The Pentagon and More on the Northern Virginia Transit Mess

A few months ago, we wrote a story on getting to the Pentagon in WW2. Thanks to Tim Moriarty , a railfan and expert on the Northern Virginia area, we have some new information to report on.

One of the missing links in the whole puzzle was the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad (W&OD).

Unfortunately the trolley lines in northern Virginia did not live past the 1930s and the line that ran near where the Pentagon was later built didn’t survive long enough to serve it. The book “Old Dominion Trolley Too” provides information on the northern VA lines. The W&OD took down its wires and dieselized around 1941 and ended its passenger service, but it was forced to reinstate it in 1943 due to the war. As we noted, it ended with the loss of the mail contract in May 1951. If the W&OD hadn’t been bled dry by the C&O and forced out of existence to built part of I-66, we could have used it to build a Metrorail line out to Dulles Airport and beyond, saving many years and money, or used it for VRE trains to Leesburg and points west. Now we can only walk and bike on it. Although Tim frequently does just that (biking beats driving to work in this area) He’d much rather still have the trains!

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) was created by an interstate compact in 1967 to plan, develop, build, finance and operate a balanced regional transportation system in the national capital area. The Authority began building its rail system in 1969, acquired the four area bus systems in 1973 and began operating the first phase of Metrorail in 1976. It has gone far beyond original plans and is still growing.

Purple Line which was not in the “grand plan” was born out of necessity in Maryland.

Virginia Railway Express was not in the “grand plan” which never really existed. It was born of necessity and depended on the freight railroads for right-of-way (and we all know passenger railroads are as popular with freight railroads as skunks are at a lawn party).

Dulles Airport and the Silver Line.

Washington’s second airport did not open until the early 1960’s. It was at first a “white elephant” reachable only by car a,d maybe some buses. 26 miles from downton Washington DC. No hint of real mass transit.

Silver Line is the answer. The Silver Line of the Washington Metro consists of 28 existing and six planned rapid transit stations from Wiehle – Reston East to Largo Town Center. It has stations in Fairfax County, Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Five stations are shared with the Orange Line alone, thirteen with both the Orange and Blue lines from Rosslyn to Stadium–Armory, and five stations shared with the Blue Line to both lines’ eastern terminus at Largo Town Center. Only five stations are exclusive to the Silver Line, which began service on July 26, 2014.

SilverLineMap

The line is 28 miles (45 km) long and the new extension cost $6.8 billion. In 2008, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) started building new track in Fairfax County, Virginia. The sections in Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., are to be shared with the Orange and Blue Lines, which were completed in the 1970s and 1980s. Phase 1, an 11.6 miles (18.7 km) service to the Wiehle – Reston East station, after many delays, opened on July 26, 2014.

The portion of the Silver Line between its split from the Orange Line and Wiehle – Reston East station was constructed as Phase 1 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. Phase 2 of the project, is scheduled to open in 2018,will expand the line another 11.5 miles to Loudoun County via Washington Dulles International Airport and add six stations to the line. The $6.8 billion project is the largest expansion by route mileage since the inception of Metro in 1976.

Charles Stark has been named the new executive director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) officials announced yesterday.

Stark will oversee construction of the 11.4-mile Phase 2 extension of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Silver Line from Reston, Va., to Washington Dulles International Airport to Ashburn in Loudoun County, Va. He succeeds Pat Nowakowski, who resigned earlier this year to become president of MTA Long Island Rail Road.

The Silver Line’s first phase launched passenger service on July 26, extending the Metrorail system into Reston and Tyson, Va.

Stark has 40 years of experience in rail transportation, including 20 years in engineering and operations with some of the largest transit agencies in the nation. He also has held senior executive positions with private engineering firms, most recently as vice president and project executive for AECOM, where he managed several projects for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA).

In addition, Stark served as assistant general manager of Bay Area Rapid Transit and was executive officer for engineering and construction for LACMTA. He helped lead the team involved in rebuilding the World Trade Center complex and its public transit facilities after the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City.

“It is unique for someone to have such extensive background in rail operations, systems and also civil engineering. We are especially pleased with Charles’ leadership and successful track record in quality, safety, budget and schedule,” said MWAA Vice President for Engineering Ginger Evans in a press release.

The Silver Line Phase 2 project will include six rail stations, including five at ground level and one on an elevated structure; nine entrance pavilions and pedestrian bridges; aerial guideways through Dulles Airport; and 89,000 feet of track. Engineering and design work began in July and the project is expected to be completed in about five years.

Made in U.S.A.

Just recently, we wrote about a manufacturing plant in Amsterdam, New York (pictured above) that was closing . Let’s use a unique term: it got “Chinesed” to death. It even will cause the little railroad that served it to come crashing to the ground.

Knew the company was called FGI for Fiberglass Industries. Went to Google and typed “amsterdam, fiber glass industries”. First item that came up was for zyfiberglass.com: the company that drove poor little 57-year old FGI out of existence and sent about 120 people to the unemployment lines. (know I will get some comic making a comment that FGI should have hired a better SEO firm to better optimise their keywords AND remembered to pay Google their “tithe” for “ads by Google).

Put this information aside and went back to reading email. First article I read was in “EBN” and written by John Ciangiulli, President, American Component Exchange. It was titled “What is American Made and Why It Matters”. John talked about increased awareness because of on-shoring by major manufacturers, the US Government programs, counterfeiting and sub-par products.

He covers that “American made” can mean many things. Is it South American made? North American made? Is it made in Mexico? 

The Federal Trade Commission, defines a product is made in the USA if it is “all or virtually all” made in the USA. What does “all or virtually all” mean? That phrase “means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no — or negligible — foreign content.”

OK so why does it matter?

1. The US used to be the biggest manufacturer in the World, but factories have closed, etc.

2. US manufacturing went from 19 million to 12 million. John then states “Although losing more than 7 million jobs is alarming, what is more alarming is that, unlike the service sector, for every manufacturing job there are approximately 1.6 jobs created.”

3.National Science Foundation reports, manufacturers in the US perform two-thirds of all private sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector.

Stay tuned for more on this subject.

Utica Comets Have Just Re-signed Defenseman Kent Huskins

The Utica Comets have just re-signed defenseman Kent Huskins to an American Hockey League contract for the 2014-15 season.

The 35-year-old Huskins joined the Comets in November 2013 on a professional tryout contract and spent the remainder of the season in Utica.

Huskins appeared in 65 Comets games and recorded three goals and seven assists with 31 penalty minutes. He’s played in 475 AHL games in a 13-year career and recorded 134 points on 33 goals, 101 assists with 295 penalty minutes.

Huskins, who played collegiate hockey at Clarkson, was drafted in the sixth round of the 1998 National Hockey League Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks.

He was a member of the 2006-7 Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks and he’s also played in the NHL with San Jose, St. Louis, Detroit and Philadelphia. Huskins has 66 points on 13 goals and 55 assists in 315 NHL games.

WOW, What a great career! Comets will benefit from all that experience.