If the cover of this month’s issue seems a little familiar, you have a good memory. For the first time since 1981, we’re producing an updated version of Snips’ Shop Layouts guide.

Longtime readers may remember that former editor and publisher Nick Carter put out a sheet metal shop layout guide in May 1975 and a revised edition in September 1981. It was a mix of tips from industry experts and reprints of contractor profiles that emphasized the efficiency of their sheet metal operations.

Apparently, the guide was so popular, many subscribers kept a dog-eared, well-read copy in their desks. That was how Snips publisher Sarah Harding heard about the issue. Mestek Machinery marketing manager Rian Scheel showed her his copy, carefully preserved in a zip-top storage bag, with the original scanned as a PDF for extra safety.

We decided it would be a great idea to reproduce the guide in this issue, with updated information and excerpts from the original that still have value today. You’ll find suggestions on shop layout with a lean manufacturing perspective from Dennis Sowards, and classic tips from Richard Budzik, a sheet metal instructor and frequent contributor to Snips in the 1970s and 80s. And I interviewed officials from Mestek Machinery and Vicon Machinery on the process of helping customers put together their sheet metal forming facilities.

We hope you enjoy the issue. And a thank you to Rian Scheel and Michael Bailey of Mestek, and Tim Walsh and Kevin Baydar of Plasma Automation/Vicon Machinery, for their assistance in putting this issue together.


Don’t demand with customers

We are primarily a smaller, rural HVAC contractor and fortunate that my family has been in this business for over 65 years. We don’t rely on “both spouses must be home” before we’ll visit a perspective HVAC customer (“Is this policy sexist – or just good business?” Editor’s Page, July).

I don’t allow any hard-sell or high-pressure-type methods, so we have no problem looking over the system, visiting with whichever spouse can be home, figure the replacement cost and furnish the owners with brochures as needed. 

I do remind them that the sooner they let us know, the quicker we can get to the job, but that’s about the only method I’ll use to entice them to make a decision. 

Roger D. Hutchcraft

President/general manager

Hutch’s Heating and Cooling LLC

Union Star, Missouri


Company uses wrong tactics

I think this Detroit firm has strategic errors in their sales approach (“Is this policy sexist – or just good business?” Editor’s Page, July).

The key decision makers in many cases are females. Even if they are housewives, the home is largely their territory and they need to feel comfortable about who comes in.

My present rep does her bonding and rapport at the dining room table, learning about the positive and negative experiences the homeowner has had with her competition, and this is what she uses to build trust and learn what not to do.  Her goal is to build trust that we will not overcharge, and that our company will do reputable work and stand by the installation.

Russ Kimball

Owner/general manager

Evergreen State Heat & AC

Everett, Washington