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Connecting Stimulus to the Growth and Recovery of Manufacturing

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Speaking at the DPA Safety annual buyers conference on April 26th my presentation is titled “State of the Industry.” Yes, quite the loaded presentation, filled with statistics, opinion, fact and of course personal interpretation.

I was challenged to keep this presentation fairly void of any additional controversy, or added opinion. Hard to do when talking about the economy.

As I began my research for this presentation my first stop was to the Price Waterhouse Coopers – PWC website to review the Manufacturing Barometer Report.

A very interesting report surveying the largest manufacturers in the US, with Global reach. Outlook for 2012 – Positive with “Concern.” and Investment in M&A with a Global priority.
Translation, yes the economy is growing, they like it, they are benefiting from agreeable tax incentives and they plan on expanding outside of the US and buying up business to grow.

But… concern there will be inflation, which will cut into their newly adjusted higher profit margins.  Profit margins increased on average of 18%. Primarily due to worker reduction, wage reduction and other supply chain cost savings mechanisms

And, “concern” of lack of skilled workers. What? so you cut the jobs, reduce the wages, cut benefits and now we have a jobs skills disconnect?

Prediction – They will have to pay higher wages as the job market recovers and workers continue to be retrained.

My next stop was to the BLS – Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nothing like getting a good dose of reality. Here you can run every type of report when it comes to labor, employment, unemployment, layoffs, accidents, injuries and fatalities. It is a marketing mecca for safety and data mining.

Factoid: Manufacturing and Construction Jobs were impacted hardest when the recession hit in 2008. Although our financial crash happened on September 28th, 2008 with a 778 point and 1.2 trillion loss in value on a single day. However, when you read the BLS “tea leaves” jobs began to decline in January 2008 in larger numbers before the 28th. We just didn’t know it because so much was already in the pipeline. In fact, most safety distributors I spoke to in 2008 had record sales. Best year ever.

 

Continuing down my path of research I than chose three major companies to contrast the current State of the Industry against and compare the FACTS of employment and allocation of Stimulus funding. I am only showcasing manufacturing at this time and will delve into the effects of Stimulus money in other sectors of the economy on later blog posts.

The companies I chose best represent our Safety Economy and tie directly into investment either directly or indirectly from the government.

The companies chosen for evaluation are:

1) UPS. Nothing tells a success story like reviewing the number of packages shipped by UPS in the past year.The 2012 Outlook is MODEST with MIXED Results. Shipments are up and profits are at record levels.

Read UPS 2011 Annual Report Here

One reason things are good: Global Expansion. One also must ask oneself, if Obama is against business, why would he open up even more trade to the world?

Personally my opinion on trade is again a complicated answer. My overall concern is having an out of balance trade policy which benefits more of the Global, multinational business and ultimately harms a Made in America, create jobs in America approach. This discussion will no doubt continue. Bottom line. I am pro-American Jobs.

Investing to Grow
“We believe in the power of global trade to drive
economic growth and improve living standards, and
were heartened in 2011 that the United States passed
three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia,
and Panama. UPS continues to invest in its global
portfolio of customer solutions to support the rapid
growth of trade and cross-border commerce.” (see page 7)

As we begin 2012, growth in the Euro zone and Asia is slowing, while the United States economy is improving at a modest rate.Our expectation is for mixed economic growth around the world in 2012. Overall we expect global economic expansion to be slightly weaker than 2011. In spite of the macro outlook, UPS expects another record performance, with earnings per share in a range of $4.75 to $5.00. That’s an increase of 9 to 15 percent over 2011 adjusted* earnings of $4.35. (see page 9)

2) GE – GE Works. Being that Jeff Immelt was appointed the Jobs Czar position by President Obama and GE is one of the largest companies in the world (next to Apple), I thought this might be a good place to start to see how the economy is going from the GE Works point of view.  After all, GE Works is the message in their commercials and annual report.

May I just say that nothing says “Obama is against big business” than appointing Big Business into the Jobs Czar spot.

I suppose he could have appointed a professor of business from some fancy school like Harvard, which would clearly get a lot of people worked into some kind of frenzy. After all, he too was a professor and all professors are elitists. This must also mean Robert Gates, prior Defense Secretary, now Chancellor of the College of William & Mary in Virginia is in this elite category.

GE buys a lot of safety supplies and their procurement benefits our industry with far reaching affects. So I endorsed this appointment with cautious reserve.

My reserve is this; GE is a huge benefactor of indirect and direct government contracts through defense, jet engines, railroads (Amtrak), Ecomation – Wind Turbines and Medical Technology (VA) through the new Affordable Care Act – Health Reform – “Obama Cares”.

GE Healthcare division will receive millions in funding to develop software to automate our countries health care systems.

GE Capitol received billions in TARP funding and was able to borrow at 0% from the Federal Reserve, buying our Treasury Notes and earning 2% interest on our free money.  GE Capitol lends those dollars back out to business (no doubt generating jobs) and makes a pretty penny on the whole transaction. Think of it this way.

You go to the bank and the bank lends you endless amounts of money at 0%. You turn around with that free money and buy US Treasury notes which pay at 2% or more. Boom, your free money just made 2%. But, you than take that free money and you lend it to your buddy down the street and you charge him 10% interest or even more if he uses your credit card.

For borrowing money at 0% you just made huge profits. All made possible by US Tax payers and the FEDS ability to print gobs of dollars.

Pretty good stimulus package for business if you ask me.

And finally, Energy Incentives – Remember those Tax Incentives for Energy, if not, Check out the Spreadsheet here “Recovery_Tax Benefit Information“.

GE Renewables – either directly or indirectly the Stimulus has huge dollars allocated to renewable energy grants. Wind Turbines specifically as it relates to GE.

My opinion on all this spending has many nuanced answers.
1) GE created some jobs. Mostly out of the US. But jobs all the while.
2) GE provided incomes to at least 3 safety distributors that I know of.

My self-serving interest towards safety is evident and small business was supported. Which means that families had jobs and owners made money. When owners make money, they invest in their business. Whether it be into another employee, a new computer system, a new building or new warehouse equipment. Everything that owner invests in, creates or supports existing jobs. Albeit some may be jobs outside the US,  but an American worker will deliver that equipment, go through American Warehouses and be Supported by the Logistics of an American Worker. Those workers buy goods and services in the local economy, educate their kids in the local economy, buy a car in the local economy and the local economy is strengthened.
This is how an Economy works, whether you like the process or not. Whether all the jobs are Made in America, or Serviced in America. In nearly all instances, as it relates to our smaller Safety Economy, our local Safety dollars stay right here in America. I personally don’t know anyone that has offshore bank accounts just yet that claim to be a safety distributor. I can’t say the same for the suppliers who most definitely benefit from our generous trade policies.

In all of this, let us not forget where the Economy was created. Government created this specific demand. They created every job along the way. Indirectly and directly in harmony with business through Stimulus, Tax Incentives, Tarp and Free Money administered with great profits through our lovely banking and financial system.

Which by the way, cratered our economy and the world’s economy. They literally were laughing all the way t the bank, it was legal , they got with it and they could care less if they do it again. The worlds biggest bank heist of all time. Live On Occupy Wall Street. Give em’ hell!

So, yes, Government Does Create Jobs and so did Stimulus!

Download the Entire GE 2011 Annual Report Here

Download GE 2011 Business Overview Here

I looked throughout the report to see an actual number of US jobs created by GE. I found one such snipet.  In future posts I will expand on the amount of jobs created overseas.

It is also important to “connect the dots” between stimulus money, Free Federal Reserve Money and Tarp Money to the investments that GE has made. We have funded the expansion of their global economy with very attractive public funding at low or zero percent interest rates. So reading that only 1300 jobs were created is a bit disappointing, don’t you think? If they had created more jobs, I would expect to find that statement in their report.

REBUILDING
EXCELLENCE  – America needs investment to stay
competitive, create jobs and drive economic
opportunity. GE is investing more than $1 billion to
transform the appliances we make, leading to
the creation of 1,300 U.S. jobs. By combining
design and production in one site and using lean
manufacturing, we’re able to bring better products to
market faster and more cost-effectively, reflecting
the world-class competitiveness of our U.S. facilities.

3) Finally I looked at Johnson Controls, a Milwaukee Based company that is a leader in battery technology and recipient of Dept. of Energy (DOE) grant dollars to develop alternative energy sources. ie: Batteries for Hybrid cars.

Johnson Controls is benefiting from DOE grant funding from Energy Stimulus Funding Grants. Commonly known as LEED Certification to buildings.

They also are recipients of the largest single grant of 2.4 billion dollars from the Stimulus bill to push development and mass-production of electric vehicles and batteries in the United States. Their share 300 million dollars.

Forty-seven other recipients, including General Motors, lithium-ion battery maker A123Systems, Honeywell International Corp. and Navistar Inc., shared in the grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy. It was the largest investment of its kind in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric cars.

Read more here

In choosing Johnson Controls I am showing another “connection of the dots” to Stimulus money, connecting directly to manufacturing, thus creating growth and recovery.

These investments take time to implement and ultimately benefit the economy as a whole, but I am safe to say that Hybrids and Electric cars are here to stay and the citizen of the US are finally going to benefits from this technology.

Long overdue, as Europe has been far more visionary and strategic in this area. Anyone that travels to Europe knows that gas prices have been at 8 dollars per liter for years. They had no choice but to change their thinking to renewables. Unfortunately the US has been late to the party. But finally, we are at the party. Lets hope we are not thrown out for bad behavior.

Read more on Johnson Controls 1st Quarter Earnings Here

So, how did my presentation go…. don’t know yet. At the time of this posting I am still polishing my presentation. I have to decide how far down the Stimulus to Manufacturing path I want to go. It may make some of my colleagues uncomfortable.

You see in safety our entire industry is based on a single mandate – Regulations that make companies buy stuff from us. It is wonderful, there are laws that mandate companies comply with the standards which translates to dollars for us. Safety Glasses, Safety Gloves, Respirators – all the stuff your employee must be given at the expense of the employer. You gotta love it.

Where did I hear that Government can’t mandate anyone to buy something they don’t want?

The Safety Industry is the beneficiary of natural disasters, man-made disasters (BP Oil Spill), Terrorist Attacks (911). In fact, Safety is still benefiting from the Department of Homeland Security, the largest expansion of government in 50 years. Thank you George Bush.  Safety loves the EPA, Safety loves the Army Corp of Engineers, Safety Loves the Department of Defense, Safety loves, absolutely loves the GSA, Safety loves Border Patrol, Department of Justice, ICE, the CIA, FBI, Department of Health and Human Services (remember Antrax scare, 3M sold 8 million respirators in a matter of days)  And finally, the  Military and War. We benefit from every branch of Government spending

One thing is clear…the Economy is recovering with a Modest Rating, but recovery is happening. Big Business knows it, they are benefiting from all the dollars thrown at this problem. You cannot deny that the strategies of the recovery are working. Oh there will be those that point out the fraud, waste, and redundancy. Most definitely this is happening.  But so is 4 Trillion in uncollected legitimate tax revenue.

Yes, you heard me right. The IRS reports 4 trillion in uncollected tax revenue a year. Their collection rate is 85%. That means 15% of all Americans are underpaying or evading taxes. These people are not W-2 workers. They have their tax deducted from their checks and sent to the IRS automatically.

We are talking about 15% of people that have “other income”, capital gain and investment incomes. All sitting in offshore and swiss bank accounts.

For more reading on the Swiss, check out the $780 million fine to UBS (United Bank of Switzerland) over not  disclosing the names of tax evaders.

Read more here

This again is another post on another day.

This should be an interesting presentation, one I am sure will bring lots of controversy, opinion and all out negativity. But, hey, that is what I do and everyone knows I speak my mind. I challenge them to set me straight.

Stay tuned.

Kellie

 

Panda Post 22

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It’s the Holidays again. The stressful time of year when there’s too much going on, always a plate of fattening cookies in the break room, and when Frank from accounting gets a little too touchy feely at the office Christmas party. (No offense to accounting departments – it’s a joke.) We here at the Panda Post would like to wish all of you the best during the Holiday season. Even Frank.

You’d think after doing the overnight delivery gig for centuries, that Santa would be more careful about safety. Ice cleats from our friends at Due North? Nope. Fall protection for those slick roofs? Not for this jolly (but careless) old elf. Hi vis gear for Santa and the reindeer? Nothing but bright red, jingle bells, and Rudolph’s nose…hardly ANSI approved. Kris Kringle qualifies for most safety directors’ naughty lists. There’s a reason Santa’s exact whereabouts at the North Pole aren’t known. OSHA has to find you before they can fine you.

Panda Moves to Newer and Bigger Digs!

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It seems that we have the seven-year itch, again.

It’s our third move in over 14 years. We are moving to NEWER, BIGGER and SPIFFIER office space, literally just down the road (two miles).

Todd and Kellie complained about their four-minute commute to work so they decided to shorten the ride by three minutes. That’s right. Our office is just across Silver Spring Drive in the beautiful Kohl’s Corporate Center.

The Panda Bears are so excited because we now have a sink in the suite and our own bathrooms. Now that is truly movin’ on up! We have a bit more room, a really nice training area, and our roof doesn’t leak!

So the next time you are passing through Wisconsin, come on by the new Panda Compound.

Here is our new address:
N56 W16743 Ridgewood Drive, Suite 300


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Web Design (HTML) Tips & Tricks

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Life is about learning, and every day we go to work our brains should be engaged to learn more. I call it Feeding the Brain. So consider Kellie’s Korner your time to Feed the Brain and learn something new.

One thing I really like to do is read. I read everything—competing viewpoints, various styles. From this Brain Feeding I am able to aggregate a bunch of details and form an opinion. For those who know me, I am never without an opinion. Whether you want to hear it or not.

HTML and Web Design Help
Click here for web design ideas…

Google Analytics
ROI Revolution offers newsletters, webinars, and email training programs on Google Analytics. http://www.roirevolution.com/

Google BLOG SPOT
The Secrets of SEARCH. Direct from Google Themselves.
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/introduction-to-google-search-quality.html

Marketing Websites and Email Newsletters
eM+C (eMarketing and Commerce)
A bimonthly magazine, website and newsletter. http://www.emarketingandcommerce.com/

SEO Search Engine Optimization
SEO strategies and tips from Bruce Clay, Inc. http://www.bruceclay.com

Bruce Clay Newsletter
http://www.bruceclay.com/web_newsletter.htm

Catalog Success Magazine
Ideas from the catalog industry magazine. http://catalogsuccess.com
Web vs. Catalog Pricing article from Catalog Success

Free Image Editing Programs
http://www.getpaint.net/
http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

Panda Post 21

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I’m back. Just in time for Thanksgiving, the perfect time to remember what you’re thankful for (personally I’m grateful that the ink I’m drawn with is permanent) and to gear up for Christmas.

First off, some Thanksgiving safety tips to make sure your holiday is a safe one. The tips are nice reminder during a holiday that combines knives, hot ovens, and the possibility of eating turkey cooked medium rare (not recommended by chef Bamboo).


Video of the Month

Not only have we come a long way with safety products and regulations in the last decade or two, we’ve clearly advanced significantly when it comes to safety training videos. Case in point, this beauty from a few years ago. Sadly, most of the accidents graphically portrayed here actually appear less painful than having to listen to the song playing in the video. Earplugs are highly recommended to drown out the caterwaul that passes for singing. My ears are bleeding.


Road Work Stimulating Wisconsin

“Road construction” is right up there with “root canal”, “undercooked chicken” and “I do”, on the list of the most dreaded two-word phrases. But, quite a few folks in Wisconsin don’t mind road work at all. Stimulus money has created a couple of big construction projects in Dairyland, including one in Madison. http://host.madison.com/ct/business/article_9fd854e6-d7d4-11df-92fe- 001cc4c03286.html


Algae Isn’t Reserved for Ponds and Pools Anymore

Green energy will certainly create some strange products and jobs in the next decade or two. Algae as an alternative fuel source is a good example. That’s right, the green stuff that floats on the top of the half-empty pool at a cheap motel just might power your car soon. Here’s hoping we don’t evolve to the point where we’re creating nuclear powered green algae men bent on taking over the world. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39898804/ns/business-going_green/


People Dig Safety Specialists

Safety specialists are in high demand, kind of like iPads and Ford Fusions (seriously, look around, Fusions are everywhere). If you’re already a safety engineer do a happy dance after reading this report from the ASSE about the demand for occupational safety experts over the next few years. http://www.asse.org/newsroom/release.php?pressRelease=1569 If you’re looking to make a career change, read it and a cartoon light bulb should appear over your head (or maybe that just happens to me).


eProduct Focus

Ice Traction Devices: Icy Slip and Slides are No Fun

If only they made ice cleats for car tires, this ugly (but kinda funny) scene wouldn’t have played out. The folks driving these bobsleds, err, cars need to have the security provided by Yaktrax Pro, DueNorth traction aids, and Ergodyne Trex Traction devices. Pick one, prevent icy slips and falls and consider it tailbone insurance.

Panda Group’s New Digs

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Sorry that it’s taken so long for another Panda Post. But we’ve been busy here.

On September 1, we at Panda officially moved our world headquarters a few miles down the road to a nicer, newer office. The arduous process (packing, loading, unloading, unpacking, repeat) was largely carried out by company VP Todd Hoffmeister and his pickup truck. We’ve still got a few odds and ends to tidy up, but we’re settling in nicely.

We brought everything but the kitchen sink, largely because we didn’t have one at the old space and the new spot comes with one, which was a big deal for the Panda staff. The new office doesn’t come with the poor ventilation system that routinely made us sick at the old location (black lung shouldn’t be a hazard in the safety marketing industry).

Feel free to stop by and we’ll give you the tour, highlighted of course by our shiny new sink.

We have one of those addresses that just boggles the mind… here goes:
Panda Group Inc.
N56W16743 Ridgewood Drive, Suite 300
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051
(Me-No-Money) as Todd likes to say.


Jobs Recovery: Slow but Steady

We all want new jobs to come flooding in and make recession recovery nice and easy (yeah, and I want to win the lottery and date Betty Boop). But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and to add another cliche…slow but steady wins the race. An article by CNN says jobs recovery is slowly happening. Patience is a virtue (cliché no. 3).


National Safety Congress

Do you really need an excuse to head to San Diego in early October? If you do, then this year’s National Safety Congress & Expo from October 3-8 is it. Learn about sun tan safety, yachting safety, safely observing perfect weather, etc. I’m kidding of course. The yearly event is a perfect place to learn about the latest in safety (but the fact that it’s being held in lovely San Diego doesn’t hurt).


Is Your Workplace as Safe as These? Not Likely.

NSA announced a few Safety Leadership Awards in August. Getting on the list doesn’t require bribery…it’s much more difficult. Those recognized have amassed five consecutive years without an occupational injury or illness resulting in lost employee work days or death. Five years?! I can’t go a day without stubbing my toe. Hats off to these companies and their employees. And man, Steris Corporation is one safe place to work.


Safe Driving Means No Texting

Some people are lousy drivers even when their full attention is on the road, but most of us become lousy drivers when we’re distracted by a using a cell phone or the greasy cheeseburger we have to eat while on the road. According to Occupational Health & Safety, OSHA is mounting an anti-texting initiative. Keep an eye on the road and save the texting for the boring weekly meeting.


Green News

Is helping the environment as easy as painting your roof? Maybe. Get into the roof painting business. It just might be an up and coming industry.


From Panda Black and White to Green

One of our favorite Panda alums ventured off into the world to follow her lifelong calling of installing wind turbines. Maureen Faller, and husband Randy, traded in desks and computers for scaffolding and turbine blades and founded Kettle View Renewable Energy in 2009.
Kettle View has been busy, putting up 20 turbines for everyone from private users to schools. Stimulus dollars, and excellent climbing ability, have been helpful to the Fallers.

“The 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit is one of the available incentives that ‘make’ a sale,” says Maureen. “The Investment Tax Credit makes renewable energy projects financially feasible by lowering the payback on the system by as much as 10 or more years. Energy independence becomes a reality, not an unattainable goal we may not live long enough to see.”

The Wisconsin landscape is becoming increasingly dotted with Kettle View turbines. While, we’d rather still have Maureen at Panda, we’re glad she’s out there doing something for the environment. I’m afraid of heights so there’s no way in heck I’d climb on a 100- or 200-foot turbine. I’ll watch and applaud the efforts of the Fallers safely from the ground.


A Urine-Powered Battery?

Sometimes it’s not such a good thing when things get too green (and I’m not talking about cheese or when white bread turns to greenish mold). This comical list shows some green inventions that might be a bit much. I personally prefer the urine-powered battery.

BP Stands for Bad Practices

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I’ve got no good excuses for my lengthy absence. No “dog ate my homework” (I don’t have a dog), “had a flat tire” (cartoon cars don’t have real tires), or “I was sick” (ink doesn’t get the flu). But there’s a whole lot going on in the safety industry (ever hear of BP?) and I figured now was as good a time as any to make it back.


BP is Not a Friend of Bamboo

Despite my occasionally sarcastic tone, I take safety very seriously. Clearly our friends at BP do not. A scathing report printed by ProPublica and The Washington Post shows that BP is pretty good at ignoring safety concerns. It’s too bad that consumers can’t reciprocate by ignoring their price at the tank, but BP has to make money…they’ve got mounting fines to pay and lawsuits to settle.


News of the Obvious

Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP (and the guy currently on at the top of the “Least Liked Men in America”) mentions that in light of the LARGEST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER in U.S. history, his company will reassess safety technology needs for deepwater drilling. Umm, Tony, it’s a few weeks too late.


High-Vis Vests Are Sooo 2009: Lanyards Might Be the New Thing

OSHA is set to improve worker protection from workplace trips and falls on walking-working surfaces. OSHA is a safety trendsetter, so fall protection equipment like lanyards may soon be as popular as shows and movies about vampires.


Hurricane Season and I’m Not Talking About Miami University Football

Hurricane Season kicked off on June 1 and doesn’t end until November 30 (which believe it or not is actually shorter than the NBA season… yikes). Preparation for the least favorite season for residents of the Atlantic Coast includes stocking up on PPE and emergency response safety equipment. (Some also stock up on tequila and ice when the big storms hit, but that’s not at all recommended by the Panda Post.)


The GDP Is Slowly Rising. Ask the Tortoise About Slow but Steady

A less-than-ideal jobs report in May wasn’t the best economic news, but there is a bright spot. The GDP rose a little more in the first quarter.


…And “Help Wanted” Signs Are Popping Up

A few months ago the Help Wanted sign was in the same category as the California condor, newspapers, and Lindsay Lohan’s acting career—all on the brink of extinction. But April job openings rose to the highest level in 16 months. Good news for the unemployed, a group that may one day include Lohan.

Stimulus, Green Jobs and Winter Blahs

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Apologies to my loyal readership for the fact that we’re in February and this is the first Panda Post of the year. I was so happy to get 2009 over with that I put off my journalistic duties for a while. Well, now I’m back, and aren’t you lucky? I’m thinking 2010 will be a better year…my 401k certainly hopes so.

This issue’s video clip comes courtesy of the English, who clearly have an odd sense of humor. Don’t be like Ricky.


ASSE’s Resolutions for 2010

The American Society of Safety Engineers has some goals (resolutions, perhaps) for 2010. They don’t involve “working out more” or “eating less candy at work”. No, the list of 12 is geared toward legislative and regulatory issues. But, working out more certainly wouldn’t hurt.


The Stimulus Update

Sure, the government’s stats keeping on jobs created by stimulus money is a little fuzzy. But how many of us are really good at numbers? Kidding. The independent investigative website www.Propublica.org is doing some number crunching. Their Stimulus Spending Progress Chart clearly outlines what’s been spent, and more importantly, what’s left. If you want to see what both sides of the political aisle have to say, check out a recap article by CNN. Contractors are the proverbial canary in the construction safety coal mine. If they’re happy and singing, things should be good in the safety industry. When they’re lying lifeless on the bottom of their (figurative) cage, we’ve got problems. According to Contractors Supply Magazine , contractors are viewing the stimulus with optimism. Tweet, tweet.


Green Business is Good Business

To (severely) paraphrase Gordon Gekko from the classic film “Wall Street”…Green is good. Besides that whole business of saving the planet and ensuring that we can breathe regularly, green is a burgeoning sector. Wisconsin has seen a couple of green projects come to life. Ingeteam, a Spanish manufacturer of wind turbine generators (I find it humorous that a company based where Don Quixote was written is a leading builder of modern-day windmills), plans to build a plant in Milwaukee. And the northern reaches of the state have a green diesel plant in the works thanks in part to stimulus money.


35 Join the Cool Green Club

Recently, 35 Midwest towns we added to the exclusive list of those participating in the EPA’s Community Climate Change Initiative. We Midwesterners are sensible folks (even us cartoons). Bravo, Waukesha.


ANSI 107-2010: Fun with Standards

The language used in standards is dry as toast (really dry, week old, burnt toast). Hats off to Ergodyne for coming up with this easy-to-read Technical Bulletin outlining highlights of the revised ANSI 107 high-visibility standard. You don’t want to page through 40+ pages of slumber inducing verbiage do you? Pay someone else to do that, you get the highlights from Ergodyne.


Bradley Corp. has Exporting Down

Exports are a good thing, and apparently the folks at Bradley Corp. (based right here in Menomonee Falls, Wis.) are very good at it. Bradley was recognized as an Exporter of the Year by ThinkGlobal Inc. ThinkGlobal is legit (they’re no USA Today Coaches Poll, or, worse yet, the Grammy Awards) and they publish “Commercial News USA” for the U.S. Commerce Department.


A Winter Wonderland

I like to think that living through Wisconsin winters makes us a little tougher (or really stupid). Forbes.com validated Milwaukee’s miserable winter existence by including us in a list of the top five worst winter weather cities in America. If you’re selling winter safety apparel, these five places are good to know. Sure there are other lists we’d rather be on (Cities with the Coolest People, Cities with the Best Cartoon Newsletters, etc.) but we’ll take it.

Tips and Tricks: Increasing Your Rankings on Search Engines

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Howdy. It’s been awhile. Phew! What a 2009… glad it is over.

So the lady in the blue cape is getting a crazy amount of calls about SEO – Search Engine Optimization and thought this might be a good time to give you some tip and tricks. Keep in mind that this stuff changes OFTEN. To truly understand SEO and how it affects your site is to understand your CUSTOMERS or MARKET and discover what products people are looking for.


First Topic: Google Analytics.

Each of you have web statistics running on your website. These are called Google Analytics. Each month you are sent a PDF of a basic report regarding your site statistics. I do that so you can see if your site is actually running or if it has essentially gone DARK in the vast internet world. You can also login to your analytics account directly if you have provided your Google account information to Panda. This is the best way to see what is really going on with your site.

What do I mean “Going Dark”? And no, I don’t mean a good base tan.
What I mean by going DARK (lights out) is this …after awhile the GOOGLE GODS decide if no one is visiting your site they simply begin to take the indexes out of their search because they have found your site to be irrelevant. This is done monthly by Google and it is called the GOOGLE DANCE. Here is a link to determine when the dance is running.

http://www.seochat.com/googledance/

Keep in mind that Goggle owes you nothing. You can’t call them to complain, and they don’t care. They just want the best, most relevant information in their search to provide true value to the person searching.


How Can I Get My Indexes Back?

  • Easiest and fastest way, tell your customers to go to your site and start browsing for product. Chances are you have many more products online than you think and the site does provide value. Each time a unique visitor clicks on your site, Google remembers. Next time Google does the Google Dance you get brownie points and hopefully new indexes. It takes some time and you must have a continuous flow of visitors to your site to prevent your site from being delisted.
  • Change your home page. Holy cow. Some of these home pages are as old as the day we went live. Spend some of that co-op money and update your site. Put product on the home page that is specific to the keyword that you want to sell.
  • Example: You sell Arc Flash. Let’s get some Arc Flash listed. I hear Arc-Rated Rainwear is pretty hot right now.
  • Products that Make You Money. No one cares if you have brown jersey gloves or any commodity glove. Do you really want to drive people to your site to buy safety glasses and earplugs? Think BIG. BIG PROFIT MARGINS, things you can drop ship and make 40 points on.
  • Be Season Specific. Ahem… the rainy season is coming, if you sell to guys who work outdoors maybe some Hi-Vis Rainwear, Boots, Jackets.
  • Add a Text Ad to your home page filled with the exact keywords you want to sell. That TEXT ad will get indexed by Google. Are you are Carhartt Dealer? Do a text-only ad on the home page that says you carry a full line.
  • Feed Your Brain. Read the link below – Essential Tools for SEO. You want to know what everyone else is doing and how they get their rankings higher, they feed their brain…often.
    Essential Tools for SEO – Use these FREE tools to find out what the popular keywords are, than go back to your Google Analytics and read up on keywords that are tracked in your site. Hint – you will see popular keyword searches that you can then tie back to the Popular Keyword Tool. If you see a 100% bounce rate in your analytics that means someone searched on a keyword and landed at your site, but they left.
    Bounce Rate is a completely separate topic.

  • Get yourself listed on the following directories:
    • DMOZ.org
    • Yahoo Directory
    • Kelly Search
    • Supplier Websites
    • Start another branded website and link back to yourself. – Back Links to YOUR site are the No. 1 way to get higher rankings in Google.
  • Seek Professional Help. Be careful there are many shysters out there just wanting to rip you off. The best partnership in SEO has your involvement – a good SEO company needs your brain and product knowledge, access to your Analytics Reports. The last thing you want is a $5000 SEO service that lands people at your website for keywords like “safety glasses”, “PPE”, or something totally generic. So great, you got to the website and there is all this blah, blah, blah information on the page. I guarantee you that the user will bounce the second it becomes too much work to find the specific item they want to learn about or buy.
    So beware of generic SEO companies promising you to be on the first page of Google. The first page of WHAT KEYWORD? And does that keyword actually generate more than .50 per unit in profit? GO FOR THE HIGH MARGIN NICHE PRODUCTS.

  • Buy Adwords. Yes advertise. Use some of that co-op money and drive people to your site. Remember when I mentioned Carhartt? Last month 3 million people searched on that keyword. I guarantee you they found http://www.workingpersonstore.com/.

Learn about Adwords here:

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/static.py?page=learningcenter.cs


Take the FREE Adwords webinars here:

http://www.google.com/intl/en/adwords/webinars/
One other thing… If someone is looking for Ansell Hynit gloves do you really think that showing them the Ansell look-alike Hynit Generic gloves is going to convert to a sale? NO, the user wants the HYNIT and at that point PRICE and AVAILABLITY, HOW THEY ARE SOLD and HOW QUICK they can get the product is all that matters to them.

Finally, I can confidently tell you that a massive amount of business is done online. Much of this is done online as a destination to the website. Example: Lab Safety, Grainger, Conney, Northern, Arbill. The user is already quite familiar with other cross marketing or multichannel marketing promotions coming from those marketers (catalogs, flyers, postcards, email blasts) so they naturally just go to those sites. If you want a piece of this organic business you have to give them a reason to find you.

Trust me, very large dollars go through E-Commerce. They are just not going to you. You can change that!

Festivus, Food Safety and OSHA

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Happy Holidays to my loyal readers. I’m a big fan of Christmas, mainly because I get to wear this cool getup, and also because it’s an especially busy time for my cartoon brethren. Charlie Brown buys his crappy tree every year, Frosty melts, and the Grinch steals Christmas (even after the heart expansion incident he’s still a bad dude and he has awful breath). Enjoy the vacation time and consider this lighthearted Panda Post my gift to you (I didn’t have shirt sizes for all of you so this will have to do).

Quick Christmas video tips from the Fresno Fire Department. The FFD apparently has a sense of humor.


A Christmas Video Bonus!

It is the season for giving, so I’m giving my loyal readers another informative safety video. This one illustrates exactly why it’s essential to pay attention when driving a forklift. Disclaimer: No one was seriously hurt (or I wouldn’t show it), although several bottles of vodka paid with their lives.


Holiday Food Safety

There’s nothing like a little foodborne illness to ring in the holidays. Be careful what you eat at your family gatherings because some foods can ruin your yuletide glee. Aunt Gertrude’s fruitcake is an obvious offender, but there are more common offerings that can put “blah” in your Fa La La.


Festivus: The Wagner Companies are Making Poles for the Rest of Us

Sometimes fiction just makes sense. This isn’t one of those times. But I’ve got to hand it to the Wagner Companies (located right here in Milwaukee) for finding a new product to manufacture and sell. Wagner is a leading maker of Festivus Poles. That’s right, the bare aluminum poles introduced to a lucky America by Frank Costanza in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld. If you want to order one to make your holidays complete go to www.festivuspoles.com. The poles are made of 100% recycled material. Need more Festivus info? For more Festivus info check out the hilarious instructional video on the website.


Top 10 Ways to Get Coal (Courtesy of OSHA) in Your Stocking

Those who work around scaffolding are the most likely to be on the “naughty” list, at least according to OSHA’s list of the Top 10 Safety Violations of 2009.


Stricter Enforcement of OSHA’s Naughty and Nice List in 2010

I’ve got some good ideas for New Year’s resolutions—eat less candy, don’t swear, no more ranch dip. But here’s one that’s good for everyone reading this…make sure you’re in OSHA compliance. An article by ISHN.com shows that there’s an increase in OSHA enforcement funding on the horizon. Apparently OSHA’s resolution is more enforcement.


Could Ergonomics Be Trendy in 2010?

I’ve got a gut feeling about a few things that might be hip in 2010. You can tell everyone that the Panda Post told you that hybrids, earth tones, cow flu, Taylor Swift, the Apple i(insert word here), and Velveeta will be big this upcoming year. Safety News Alert had this insightful bit about ergonomics likely seeing an uptick, and they’ve actually got the reasoning to back it up.
BPA and Sexual Dysfunction, Now It’s Serious

There have been plenty of studies hinting that BPA might be unhealthy (disregard the research paid for by plastics manufacturers) but now it’s gone too far. This NIOSH-funded study linked BPA to male sexual dysfunction. Does BPA scare you now? You bet it does.

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