Ceramic Industry

Inside CI: Making a Difference

December 1, 2005

As a new parent, I've recently begun to worry a lot more than I used to. Of course there are the usual concerns over illnesses, nutrition, and physical and mental development. But I also find myself thinking down the road, to when my son is in high school and college, preparing for his future career. What kinds of opportunities will he have? Will there be many jobs available by then, and will they pay enough for him to make a decent living? To support a family? What can I do to help secure his future?

I'm sure many of you can identify with my fears. And they're justifiable-as a nation, we've become adept at short-term, bottom-line, selfish thinking. It's no secret that manufacturing has been shifting offshore to lower-cost regions. But so are other jobs, in the service sector and in other fields. Another plant closes, hundreds of workers are laid off...and the stock market cheers. Meanwhile, consumers continue to clamor for low-priced goods and services that are inevitably fulfilled outside of the U.S., leading to more plant closures and more layoffs. Where will it end?

Economists reassure us that it will all balance out eventually. Personally, I'm a little concerned about how long that might take, and about what might happen to our standard of living in the meantime. But we're not helpless bystanders-each of us can play a role in determining what the future will hold.

The company leaders profiled in this issue are prime examples. They come from various educational and professional backgrounds, operate in a variety of industry segments and have different management styles. But they all have one thing in common-they're not afraid to make a difference. They value their employees, get involved in their local communities and industry trade groups, foster education, and take a stand for their beliefs. They are smart businessmen, but they are also visionaries who are willing to take short-term risks to reach long-term goals. They don't wait around for someone else to take the lead-they roll up their sleeves and get the job done. These individuals recognize that they are catalysts for positive change in the world around them and for future generations.

Fortunately, we don't all have to be company presidents or CEOs to apply these principles. As we approach the holiday season, now is a good time to reflect on how each of us can reach out to others and inspire positive change. Together, we can make a difference for the future.

Happy holidays from all of us at Ceramic Industry!