Paul Roberts: Welcome to Manufacturing Talk Radio, the only show that takes a look at the obstacles and opportunities opened too small to mid-sized enterprises to manufacturers here in America. Brought to you by All Metals and Forge Group. With your hosts, Tim Grady and Lew Weiss. Hey guys.
Tim Grady: Welcome everybody to Manufacturing Talk Radio. We’re certainly excited to be here at the ISM Conference. We’re broadcasting live from Las Vegas. And we have got a very special announcement this morning. We have two special guests with us. I will introduce one and then my co-host, Lew Weiss, will introduce the other.
I have the privilege of introducing ML Peck, who’s Senior Vice President of Program and Product Development with ISM. ML has got a very interesting background because she’s been with four profit and non-profit as well. So that’s a very unique mix.
And her focus is on leading the product development and marketing teams working closely with business supply chain leaders, subject matter experts, volunteers and business partners, as well as collaborating with colleagues across a range of disciplines. ML, you got quite a background. Welcome to Manufacturing Talk Radio.
ML Peck: Thank you.
Tim Grady: And Lew, if you would, introduce our other guest please. And then we’re going to let them make the announcement that’s been kept under wraps. We’ve been under embargo for weeks on this. We’re very excited to hear about it. Lew?
Lew Weiss: We’re going to be doing a new scoop, which we’re going to let Linda Rigano do. Linda is the Executive Director of Media Relations. And Linda, I’m not going to drag this on any longer. I’ve been dying to tell people about it. And I’m going to leave it up to you. So take it away, Linda.
Linda Rigano: Okay. Welcome. Thank you. And thank you for having us. This is a really nice delight. We are big fans of Manufacturing Talk Radio, and I hope your listeners are enjoying the show and take advantage of much more good content that I know Lew and Tim coming down pike.
And actually, ML is going to talk about the announcement of what we’re calling the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chains Stars Program. ML, you want to take it.
ML Peck: Thank you. And does so, ThomasNet and ISM are co-sponsoring that program 30 Under 30 Rising Stars recognition. And our primary goal is to generate the awareness of the new generation by celebrating accomplishments of the young, bright, passionate millennials who are in supply chain or procurement today.
We look at a Rising Star as someone who’s making a contribution to the organization and to the supply chain profession, someone who demonstrates leadership, initiative and innovativeness. Nominations of these Rising Stars can be made by colleagues, friends, family members and even the nominees themselves.
It’s an opportunity for these stars to be a shining example of just how exciting, rewarding a career in supply chain or procurement can be. In fact everyday, supply chain management and purchasing professionals make decisions that affect their companies’ brands, competitive positioning and bottom-line performance.
Linda Rigano: Exactly. And you may be asking why the two organizations are doing this. ThomasNet.com has a very rich history with ISM. Not only, but also our website, ThomasNet.com, which is the leading product sourcing and supplier discovery platform in the country. How to get that little plug-in, guys? Is that okay?
Tim Grady: No problem.
Linda Rigano: But we have been long-time members of ISM. We love what the institution of supply management has been doing. And we both have similar interests and similar concerns. And there are some key issues that led us to do this program, namely that when we look at supply chain and manufacturing as a whole because I know a lot of your audience there are manufacturers, we have to face the facts that we have what we’re calling a ticking biological clock.
You have a group of people in an industry that are primarily baby-boomer age. I know we’re all nodding our heads here, right? Me too, but we’re baby-boomer age. And face it, over the next 20 years, we’re going to be retiring hopefully.
Lew Weiss: We could be dead.
Linda Rigano: As we are retiring, what’s going to happen? We need those millennials, those people who are 20 and 30 years old to be coming up the ranks who can take charge, whether it’s in the ‘?’ feed, whether it’s at a management level or whether or not it’s on the floor, inventory, whatever it is that they’re doing.
We need to really become brand ambassadors, and we’re asking you to join us too. Today is the day about celebrating who these young people are. And when I say being a brand ambassador, I mean that we need to attract more people, more millennials to come into supply chain and to celebrate the folks that are already doing some great things. ML said we’re going to celebrate them by doing this program.
We deliberately picked 30 Under 30, because everybody knows 30 Under 30, from Fortune, from grades, from different areas. But there is no other 30 Under 30 program out there in the country that talks to supply chains, the supply chain stars. And that’s why we’re doing this because people know it and it’s going to be the first time where we highlight young folks who are doing very special things.
And the criteria for nominating somebody are very simple, literally two questions. It’s asking them about what makes them a – I think you wanted to ask me something in there.
Lew Weiss: I did want to interrupt because—
Linda Rigano: I was wandering off because I got so excited.
Lew Weiss: We’re flying off the point. And one of the questions that I had for you is why ISM and ThomasNet are doing this now. You’ve both been around for a hundred years. You have 200 years of this type of experience, and we’re doing it now.
And I know that manufacturing resurgence is a hot topic and a big button that everybody is pressing in the news media. So why did this happen now?
ML Peck: Well, it’s a natural partnership between ISM and ThomasNet because we’re over 100 years as you mentioned. We’ve had a shared goal of advancing the purchasing the supply chain professions.
Right now, there is an urgency to do this. As Linda said, the baby-boomers who now represent the majority of the workforce are going to be retiring. In fact, some direct data show that by 2025, 75% of the workforce is going to be made of the millennial generation. And we really need to maintain the vitality of the supply chain profession. Both organizations need to continue to cultivate and tap into this rising talent. That’s why we’re working together.
Linda Rigano: Exactly. When you talk about a shift like right now, it’s the natural shift and demographics that’s going on in the industry and in the world.
Lew Weiss: We heard a news broadcast about two weeks ago regarding a Hudson County Community College who started a program, which was in essence a trade school training, getting people into manufacturing.
And they were talking – they had 20 to 25 year-olds who never earned over $20,000 in their lives. And they put them through this three or four year course. And they came out of the course, and they were getting jobs for $40,000, $45,000, $50,000. But the first thing they did was move because nobody wants to live upstate New York.
So in here, there’s a double-edged sword where you’re now getting people who are coming into the manufacturing sector but don’t want to live in certain areas where there may not be as much manufacturing, like upstate New York or bad weather or what have you.
I understand that the University of Las Vegas has a program. Do you know anything about that?
Linda Rigano: We do know that there are well over 50 colleges and universities around the country that has Supply Chain as a major. And that’s something that’s done. When you look at the whole change in supply chain, 20 years ago, you didn’t have these kinds of programs in schools. And it’s not like somebody would say or wake up and say, “Gee, I want to be a procurement manager or I want to be a purchasing director.”
Lew Weiss: That’s very true.
Tim Grady: They wanted to be engineers.
Linda Rigano: Yeah. And what’s interesting is we just did, ISM – you want to talk about the study of the salary survey?
ML Peck: Yes. So ISM has just released it annual salary survey. And what we found was that the average salary for people with one to four years of experience was just over $72,000 a year.
Linda Rigano: That’s a lot.
ML Peck: It is. It’s a very rewarding career.
Tim Grady: I may be changing professions.
Linda Rigano: And that has to be engineering because ThomasNet had a report, not too long ago, that engineers first time out of school, a year or two, were making $55,000 around the country. And this is our average around the country. So you know that obviously in the urban areas, it’s going to be a little bit more.
And also, we’re trying to – when we say, we’re brand ambassadors, we’re trying to put people who can be role-models to other millennials. We’re trying to celebrate them. So we want to pick these three people based on all the things that they’re doing, all the good things. Are they collaborating? Are they creating new things? What are they doing that’s different?
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the job. It could be within their local chapter of ISM. It could be something that they’re doing – it needs to be on a professional level.
So we’re going to select these 30 people, and the 30 winners are going to receive an annual membership for free to ISM, which is very nice. And then, ISM is going to actually pick what we’re calling the Supermega Watt Star. And that person along with the person that nominated them is going to get a free ride to ISM’s 100th Anniversary Conference in 2015.
Tim Grady: How do we do that?
Linda Rigano: I know. We got to lie about our age, I think.
Tim Grady: That would be exciting. ML, I know, I’m pretty clear that from 1946 and 1964 is the baby-boomer generation. Can you define for me the other generations and how that plays in here? Because I think you got more than one program. There’s 30 Under 30, but there may be other programs. Please share that with our listeners.
ML Peck: So we define generation X as 32 to 48 and millennials as 18 to 32. So this program is really geared more towards the millennials, so people that are 30 years or younger as of December 31st 2014.
Tim Grady: Okay. And then, is there also a 40 Under 40 Program?
Linda Rigano: That may be coming. We’re going to try out the 30 Under 30 and see how this goes. And by the way, we have a website. We have a brand new website where you can go to and nominate somebody. Should I say the website?
Lew Weiss: Sure.
Tim Grady: Sure.
Linda Rigano: It’s www.ThomasNet.com/ 30under30.
Lew Weiss: I’m waiting for the 70 Under 70.
Linda Rigano: I know. I know. I’m sorry about that. You know what’s so great about this? ML and I were talking about this the other night about how the millennial generation – do you want to talk about how this is such a natural field for these folks?
ML Peck: It is a natural field for these folks. A lot of the millennial generations are really passionate about social change and sustainability and social responsibility. And procurement and supply chain management has the most influence. That function influences those people.
Linda Rigano: We were talking just about the different kinds of – their innate nature. When you think of millennials, they’re brought up on technologies. So that’s going to be such a natural move for them, the whole concept of sustainability and doing the right thing.
You hear this often, I think millennials often get a bad rep. And on the contrast, they are actually – they’re young. They’re excited. They have high hopes for the future, but they’re also very much aware of the downsides of things. They’re very much aware of what’s going on in the world. They’re very much aware of what companies are not doing right.
We just found out that there is a website – we were talking about, last time, different companies – we want to share some things – that are just really doing the right thing and doing cool things. And we were talking—apparently there’s a website CompaniesThatDoItRight.com. It’s a website—I’m not so sure. We’ll look at the exact address, but it lists companies that are doing and companies that are not doing good things.
So this is a generation that social change is very important to them. And when you think of supply chain, supply chain—it’s interesting because it’s got so many different elements to it. It’s everything from that initial research development to create a product to delivery, and all of the things that go into that process, which are very complicated.
The purchasing manager of today is completely different from 20 years ago. It’s not—people have visions of somebody’s got a calculator, and they’re cutting deals, and that’s it. It’s so different. And it requires so many skills test and so many management techniques.
Why don’t we talk a little bit about some of the companies that Tom Derry was sharing with us? Tom Derry, he’s President of ISM. He was sharing a couple of examples of different companies that are doing cool things, and one of them was Apple.
ML Peck: Yeah. So we were talking about some of the other things that are natural shift for this generation. It’s the fact that it is a global rule. And a lot of companies now are starting to build their competitive advantage and their competitive strategy around their supply chain.
And one of the most famous examples is Apple, of course, where they locked up the supply of Gorilla Glass before they released the iPhone so that they can delay their competitors from coming into market. Isn’t that great?
Linda Rigano: That a company can do that.
ML Peck: And then there’s another example, what we call Fast Fashion Zara, a Spanish retailer. And typically, the fashion history is 9 to 12 months planning in ahead of trying to pick what colors, what styles are going to be in, not far out. Then, they order their supplies. They contract for capacity. And then, they don’t have the flexibility to really react to the market challenges and market changes.
What Zara has done is they’ve become vertically integrated, and they can actually from the time that they’ve come up with an idea and a design, it’s four to six weeks later, it’s in the store shelves. So they have the agility and the ability to react to consumer demand. And that’s all upon their supply chain.
Linda Rigano: Imagine that, going from eight months to four to six weeks. I mean that’s—
Tim Grady: The technology today makes you—
Linda Rigano: Yeah. Technology allows us to do that. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Tim Grady: I’m getting the sense from hearing the two of you that millennial generation who is very concerned and rightfully so about, if you will, green manufacturing. This plays right into that. ML, is that what you’re experiencing as you introduced this program and worked with ISM?
ML Peck: Absolutely. Like we talked about social changes, it’s very important to this generation, including green environmental issues. And there’s no better place, no better function or role to affect social change than purchasing and supply chain.
Tim Grady: And they have that ability then to select who their supplier is going to be, looking to that supplier and see if they’re green so the end-result is a more green product.
ML Peck: Absolutely. And then, they’re also tasked with auditing their supply chain. So they need to know beyond their first tier suppliers down to their second, third, fourth tier suppliers. And that falls under supply chain.
Tim Grady: You bring up a very interesting point. We heard that from another gentleman we spoke to, Bill Michaels, who is on our show. And he talked about second tier, third tier, and fourth tier. Most people look first tier, and that’s all we used to hear. So give us a quick overview before we go to a commercial here, ML, of that second tier, third tier or fourth tier.
ML Peck: Just one point is if you’re a big company and you got a third or fourth tier and supplier is using child labor, that supplier’s name is not who’s in the media. It is you, that big company. So it’s imperative that you do get some visibility into your supply chain. And Linda has a great example.
Linda Rigano: Yeah. When you think about companies like Ralph Lauren or you think about other companies that have been in the news – Walmart has been in the news – that can be a real crisis for a company. If three suppliers down the line are doing things that are not economically right or are doing things that are socially wrong, you are unacceptable.
So it really makes it more complex, not just as a layer in in terms of auditing, how you’re monitoring, how they’re doing, and working with suppliers who are willing to reveal that information and making sure that they’re staying on top of it.
Tim Grady: Okay. So how much of that is working with ISM to get all of this education out there. How is that going to position ThomasNet.
Linda Rigano: This is not about ThomasNet. This is not about ThomasNet. This is not about ISM. This is about encouraging young people to be role models. It’s our way of being brand ambassadors. I keep saying that. But it’s really important to us.
It’s about paying it forward. Do you know the expression “paying it forward”?
Tim Grady: Yes, right.
Linda Rigano: This is paying it forward. If you are putting somebody out there who is an example and can be a role model to others, how great is that? That’s just telling them, “Wow, this is an industry I want to be in.” And hopefully, we’ll attract more people to this so that they’re waking up and they’re saying, “Gee, maybe I want a major in supply chain. Maybe I want to have a career on this.”
Tim Grady: That certainly would put the cool and sexy back in manufacturing.
Linda Rigano: That would be great.
Tim Grady: And right now, we’re going to take a quick commercial break. And we’ll be back, in a couple of minutes, to Manufacturing Talk Radio.
Announcer: Let’s pick back up from the floor here and continue this conversation. We did have a Twit that came in, and somebody wanted to know something that was asked before. How do you make manufacturing sexy?
Tim Grady: Manufacturing becomes more exciting when they realize that really the potential from the millennial generation, that generation that wants to really clean up the mess that the baby-boomers made.
So I think that’s what’s going to make manufacturing exciting. And one of the things that we’re going to see now is another very exciting announcement here at the ISM show. We’ve swapped out guests now. We want to really thank Linda Rigano from ThomasNet. We want to thank ML Peck from ThomasNet to be in our show.
Now, I’m going to introduce Kristin Carty who is with ThomasNet. And she is an Audience Outreach Manager. And Lew is going to introduce Tom Greco who is the Vice President.
Kristin has been with the company for a little over two years. And according to her boss, she has the most important job in ThomasNet. We’re really going to want to hear about that. She travels around the country, sharing all the free benefits of the platform.
But before we go into that, Lew, I would like you to introduce Tom, either Tom or Kristin if you’d let the cat out of the bag.
Lew Weiss: This is Tom Greco. He’s the Vice President of ThomasNet. And we’re excited at Manufacturing Talk Radio because we’re part of making this announcement or aiding the announcement that had gone on 30 Under 30. And your special announcement—and we’re pleased to have you here and make that announcement. So the show is yours.
Tom Greco: Lew, thank you. Thanks for having us. And we’re very happy to be here. So I want to start off by telling you what ThomasNet.com is all about.
We are industry’s leading product sourcing and supplier discovery platform. Buyers and engineers from organizations, large and small, the Fortune 1000, small to medium-sized businesses, government agencies used ThomasNet.com to solve their most difficult sourcing challenges. Just to give you an idea of the scope of usage, we actually serve over 2 million visitors that ThomasNet.com is solving their sourcing challenges.
At the core of our platform is our database of 700,000 suppliers, distributors, custom manufacturers, as well as service companies. We have a focus in the direct spend area, particularly in the area of manufacturing. Also very important, thousands of in-depth company profiles are available from the platform and all our applications, information like firmographics, demographics and most important product and capability content so you can evaluate the suppliers as you’re looking for new source of supply.
And I do want to say that no description of ThomasNet.com would be complete without mentioning that we are part of Thomas Publishing Company. And we used to publish the big green books, the Thomas Registers. And I have for you Lew a replica copy of our first edition in 1905. Lots of great information you can find in there. For instance, we have actually categories for cocaine and opium. You can also—
Lew Weiss: Is marijuana in there? Is that only in Denver?
Tom Greco: And you can also find all great new products made of asbestos.
Tim Grady: That’s great.
Lew Weiss: This is terrific. Thank you very much. And frankly, you beat me to the punch because every time I talk to ThomasNet, I say, “You know you guys are really missing the boat with the green books.” So this is very appropriate. So thank you very much.
Tom Greco: You’re welcome.
Tim Grady: Kristin. There are a lot of alternatives out there for people doing searches to find the source. So what sets ThomasNet.com apart?
Kristin Carty: Oh, sorry. That’s a good question. There’s actually a few different things that set us apart. The first is really our technical foundation. It is the people that are working at ThomasNet. We have over 30 engineers on our staffs that are coming from all different types of disciplines, from mechanical to electrical engineering. And they built our own proprietary classification structure. So it really is the people that working at ThomasNet and the background on that end.
And the other thing really that differentiates us from search engines or sourcing platforms that are out there is our relationship on suppliers’ side. We have relationships with thousands of suppliers. And we are also out there talking to people on the buying side and really understanding what their needs are. So we can share that with the suppliers. It completes the full circle.
Tim Grady: So this is really more—and I know because the Thomas Register was around for 100 years and you guys were out there shaking hands, sitting down, having lunch with the supplier that you had a real relationship with the supplier the few other search engines may not have. They may link to their website, but there isn’t a personal connection there. You folks have that, right?
Kristin Carty: Exactly. Yes.
Tim Grady: That certainly makes a big difference. And Tom, you said Kristin has the most important job in the operation here. Explain what you meant by that. I need your great statement.
Tom Greco: Kristin’s job is to really meet with all the procurement and engineering organizations, companies large and small, and demonstrate ThomasNet.com to them to get them using the application as their primary supplier discovery and product sourcing vehicle. And I might add also to learn about their needs so we can take that input and build it into the new features and functions of the platform.
Tim Grady: Am I right in understanding that ThomasNet is being re-launched, it’s being re-built? Correct me if I’m wrong.
Tom Greco: That is right, Tim. We just announced the re-launch of ThomasNet.com this past week. There’s a ton of new features within the site. Most important, we’ve made supplier discovery even easier to use.
A buyer and engineer can get to that qualified short list of suppliers that they’re going to use to further evaluate even quicker right from the application homepage. A buyer can define the exact qualifications they’re looking for in a supplier.
So for instance, let’s say a rail car manufacturer located in upstate New York was looking for a roll formed ring. They can go right to the homepage, type in that category, add additional qualifications, let’s say 100 miles from their plant in Albany. And let’s say they’re looking for that supplier to be quality-certified. They want that supplier to have AS9100 certification and ISO 9001 certification. They define that upfront, they hit the button and immediately see seven or nine qualified suppliers in that example. And then of course, number one on that list would be All Metals and Forge in New Jersey.
Tim Grady: But of course. Now Kristin, is this kind of relationship between the end-user and ThomasNet.com really a result of working with those engineers in the house to develop the software in a way that they understood what the other guy was looking for.
Kristin Carty: Yeah, absolutely. You know we’re out at events like this one at ISM and talking to people all the time. All of the feedback that we’re getting from them is really what’s going into the development of the platform. One of the other new applications that is new right now is our diversity in quality application. And one of the reasons we launched that was because of the feedback that we’re getting out there in the marketplace.
People are looking for diverse businesses and expanding their diversity programs. So we’ve actually now made it available for them to download certificates right off of ThomasNet.com for diverse quality certified suppliers.
And in the event where we don’t have certificate available, we actually link them back to either a supplier’s webpage or to a third party resource like for example, the SBA, where they can collect that information. So it’s just another new application that comes out of all that feedback that we’re getting from the marketplace.
Tim Grady: Okay. And define diversity for our listening audience. What do you really mean by that?
Kristin Carty: Diverse business could be from a variety of different sources. We actually have over 20 of them available on ThomasNet. So for example, a minority owned business, a women owned business, veteran owned, small business, disadvantaged or even a business in a hub zone area.
Tom Greco: They typically have to be 51% owned by that particular minority group.
Tim Grady: Okay. Lew, you had a question?
Lew Weiss: In the changes that are happening with Thomas over the years, obviously the books were really simple methodology. Your first round at the website was rather a simple system to operate. But as the technology is getting more complex and more difficult at times to use and you’ve mentioned a lot of new applications that are in the new launch, how easy is it going to be for the buyers or even the small and medium-sized companies who are not all that tech savvy or computer savvy? Are they going to have an easy time of it in operating your new system?
Tom Greco: I’m going to answer that in two ways. First, over the last couple of years, we’ve significantly improved all of the search and browse functionality on ThomasNet.com. It is really intuitive and easy to find that exact product for that exact supplier you’re looking for.
There are other options available as well. One of the other new features that we launched this week is a custom course. This is for custom manufacturing services and custom products. So if you are small to medium-sized company looking to have a part-custom manufacturer or looking for a service, you can come to custom course.
And we have smart RFQ forms that will guide you through defining the capabilities that you’re looking for in a custom manufacturer. Those are RFQs—and you also have the opportunity to upload drawings to those RFQs. Those are—we have an engineering team in our offices in New York, waiting for those RFQs to come in. And they review those RFQs and match you up with five suppliers that can meet the qualifications that you defined.
One of the interesting things that we found and we didn’t back this, often these RFQs are coming in with drawings attached. And the engineers and buyers aren’t exactly clear on what is the best custom manufacturing process to make these particular products. So we’re having our engineering team actually get on the phone with folks that submitted the RFQ and discuss that with them. So we’re really providing a high value service.
Lew Weiss: So there’s no charge for any of this to the user?
Tom Greco: There is no charge for this feature, no charge for anything on ThomasNet.com.
Tim Grady: You’ve gone back to the future if you will, Kristin, in this custom coding with a live human intervention on a custom code.
Kristin Carty: Yup.
Tim Grady: That’s a really exciting feature to be able to use both the high tech and the high tough.
Kristin Carty: Yeah. And we’re actually getting a lot of great feedback from it right off the bat too. So people are really liking it, buyers that we’re showing it to. Even this morning, we’re talking to people here. Everyone is really loving it.
Tim Grady: I bet. How old is this? Is this just a couple of days post launch?
Tom Greco: It’s a couple of days post launch. We had launched in Beta under a different URL. We have to test it out, but it’s a couple of days in.
Tim Grady: Wow, that’s an exciting feature. I had not heard of that feature on the different. And there was always talk about the internet being a high tech, high touch animal. And it just went high tech but high touch dropped off the radar screen and you can’t get a hold of a human and everybody was hidden behind the programmer. So you guys have done a terrific job if this is a re-launch. This is exciting stuff.
Tom Greco: Yeah. I mean we consider that as one of our unique advantages over our alternatives. We combine technology with the technical expertise of human beings.
Tim Grady: That’s great. Yeah, there are some decisions that search engines simply can’t make. And I’ve had the experience in Lew’s company. I’ve seen his sales people when they’re having a conversation with a customer calling in or a prospect calling in All Metals and Forge Group, they really don’t know how this part was made, “I know it’s a forging, but what does it mean to me?”
And his people walked them through an understanding of what that is, what it means, things like grain size, reduction ratios and heat treatments. So they’re really, “Oh, all right. Then that’s the right process for me.” Same thing at ThomasNet?
Tom Greco: Same thing. You might be thinking you’re going to get something stamp. You might not know about the four slide stamp and process. It’s the same exact team, our engineers, as a team of engineers with all different experiences that they bring to the table and consulting with the folks submitting the RFQs.
Tim Grady: That’s a powerful service. That is really neat stuff.
Tom Greco: Thank you.
Tim Grady: That’s great. Lew, anything else?
Lew Weiss: Yeah. I noticed in some of my notes here that the manufacturers can have control over their own profile. Is that the profile and the extensive profile that they can add to it so that the marketplace has a better knowledge of what you’re doing and how you do it?
Tom Greco: Any supplier can come to the ThomasNet.com homepage. The middle of the page is dedicated to the supplier side. They can claim and register their company and they can upload and define all their capabilities on their profile. Again, that is free for suppliers of course. We would also ask suppliers to check out our Promote Your Business section and learn about all the services we have available for suppliers to promote their own business both on ThomasNet.com and off ThomasNet.com.
We have a Product Content Management platform. We manage OEM’s product content. We have a CAD program where we can develop CAD models for manufacturers. And we have a full service digital marketing agency that helps suppliers market themselves again both on and off the ThomasNet.com.
Lew Weiss: I do have another question about ThomasNet and their position in the marketplace against the 800 bound gorilla Google. So how does—is all of these an attempt to hold your position in the marketplace? Is ThomasNet concerned about the Google types that are out there? What are the overall plan and the future strategy?
Tom Greco: That is a great question. We get asked that all the time. Google is a resource for finding new suppliers, but we really feel that there’s no comparison. You can’t go to Google and say, “I want a supplier within 100 miles in my plant that has these three certifications that is diverse and has this unique capability.”
And I think we have talked about the technical expertise in terms of the human touch we bring to our application in curating and classifying all the content. So I think we stand apart.
Kristin Carty: And we also have a set of tools for buyers after you find the suppliers. So we have RFI functionality built into ThomasNet. Buyers can save short list of suppliers and manage them all within the ThomasNet platform. That’s something you can’t do in Google.
Lew Weiss: That’s terrific. They have to deal to a wider market and they can’t be that specific. We’re fortunate for that.
Tim Grady: I have to tell you this is really exciting news. This is the first time I have heard – and I’ve been involved with the Internet since 1994. It was actually a move by the US Senate, 1992, to take it public. And this is the first true application, I think I have heard of particularly in the manufacturing industry, where we have high tech, high touch married together. I have to congratulate both of you and this is terrific.
We’re going to slip out to a quick commercial break. Everybody, keep their headsets on and we’ll be back in about two minutes. The Manufacturing Talk Radio.
Paul Roberts: All right. Let’s pick it up here. I don’t know if we can stand any more surprises and world-sharking announcements like the one we had this morning here. But we’ll see in the last 10 minutes if there’s anything else that they’re holding up their sleeves here.
Tim Grady: It certainly has been exciting. It’s exciting to be here at the ISM show. It’s certainly a privilege to have Tom Greco, Vice President with ThomasNet.com and Kristin Carty, who’s the Audience Outreach Manager. Making this announcement, I certainly would encourage our listeners. You ought to be going to ThomasNet.com and just really getting a feel for that website.
This sounds like a terrific development. I know that when we—we’ve been through the re-launch of this and the re-launch of that, Tom and Kristin. I have to tell you that this is probably one of the most exciting ones I have heard because you have introduced this high touch element. That is truly fabulous.
Tom is there anything that you want to share with our audience as we wrap up here about ThomasNet.com or what’s happening with ISM?
Tom Greco: Yeah, a couple of things, a couple of other things I wanted to mention about the platform. The application we’ve talked about so far had been targeted towards the procurement audience. There are a couple of other applications that are really dedicated to engineers.
First, we have our Product Sourcing Application. What we’ve done is aggregated detailed product content and catalog contents from over 28,000 suppliers, over 108,000 catalogs. And what’s really unique about this is we’ve created a state-of-the-art search technology that we built upon our product or proprietary product classification taxonomies.
So our engineers – here’s that human touch again – have actually defined all the attributes that are important to engineers when they’re specifying the top 5,000 product types in our database. So you can go to ThomasNet.com Product Sourcing and type in a highly attributed event or search, something like half inch three-way ball valve with a T-port. And you will get a list of products, specific products that meet all those specifications.
Tim Grady: Wow, that’s pretty intense. That’s pretty accurate. And in our experience working with Lew’s company All Metals and Forge Group, I know as they went through their re-launch, Lew used to have—I think he started out with some – what was it Lew – 50,000 keywords.
Lew Weiss: Yeah. I think it was more. I had lied about it to keep it down.
Tim Grady: And now, we’re finding it’s really stretched out to key phrases. And the end-user is becoming more and more sophisticated. And so what they’re typing in, the answer they want back is to a much more focused inquiry. And is that what you’re finding Kristin when you’re working with people?
Kristin Carty: Yeah. It actually goes both ways too. So you can start with an example like Tom just gave. Or if you’re unfamiliar with the type of product that you’re looking at, you can start with something a little bit more broad.
Like for instance, if you were to just type in “valves,” you would then have all those attributes that our engineers have defined and be able to add them along the way. So we definitely see the long term search strings, but it definitely goes both ways.
Tim Grady: That’s really neat. So this is really a very unique and powerful engineering approach to search for the procurement and supply chain industry.
Kristin Carty: Right. Another thing we have on the engineering side that they love is CAD models. So we have millions of downloadable CAD models on ThomasNet.com. They’re agnostic and they can be compatible with all major CAD software, things like Solid Edge, Solid Works, all the major CAD software out there.
Lew Weiss: So at some point, we’re going to see 3D printing off of ThomasNet.
Tim Grady: That’s certainly some neat stuff too. Do you happen to have—I know one of the things that Lew’s company runs into is if somebody hacked your file and they’ll get it and it’s a CAD file or it’s an RLS. It’s some file that we don’t necessarily find an easy way of opening. Is there any easy way of opening it on ThomasNet.com?
Tom Greco: All our CAD files that are contained within our CAD platform are agnostic and we have a proprietary viewer. So if you find the model on ThomasNet.com, you’re going to be able to view it using the platform.
Lew Weiss: Wow. That’s really cool stuff.
Tim Grady: That’s great. Kristin, is there anything that you want to share with our listening audience before we wrap up about this whole event?
Kristin Carty: I think just the other thing to mention too—we talked about diversity a little bit before, but we do have a lot of quality certifications on ThomasNet as well that are downloadable. So like Tom had mentioned earlier in his example, if you’re looking for that ISO 9001 certified supplier, we’ve made it very easy for you to find those as well. We have actually 80 quality certifications on ThomasNet.
Tim Grady: Okay. And Lew, do you have the sense that you need to take the All Metals and Forge profile and maybe blow it out a little bit. Do we need to get it updated?
Lew Weiss: It wouldn’t hurt us.
Tim Grady: Yeah.
Kristin Carty: Yeah.
Tom Greco: It never hurts.
Tim Grady: It sounds like you got—it sounds like this is a major re-work of ThomasNet.com. It’s exciting stuff. Lew, give me your take on it.
Lew Weiss: I think it’s terrific, and we’re really thrilled that we’re being made part of it. And we will continue to be part of it along with ISM, which by the way I want to make sure that we stay tomorrow, which we’ve actually never done. We do two shows a month. We’ve been now doing two shows this week.
Tomorrow morning at 10:00 Pacific time, we’re going to have Brad Holcomb who is the Committee Chair at ISM. And we’re going to have Tom Derry who’s CEO of ISM. And they’ll be here tomorrow for an hour show. So everybody tune in. I don’t know if all the ThomasNet people would be able to because you’re out there hustling your own product right now, but we look forward to that.
I want to thank the two of you for joining us today. I hope that this information is getting into all the right hands out in the market. And we’ll be talking more about this. And we’ll see you in the future.
Kristin Carty: Great. And right on our homepage too if anybody wanted to learn more about ThomasNet.com, there is a link to watch a video. You can sign up for a webinar. And we’ll go through all of this in more detail with you. And we’re also happy to come out and do trainings.
Tim Grady: That’s great.
Kristin Carty: Like what we spoke about earlier, we go all over the country and train procurement groups be it webinar or even in person.
Tim Grady: There’s more touch.
Paul Roberts: One final thought before you all wrap for the next minute or two here. Can you give us a quick bird’s eye view of what it looks like on the conference, on the event show floor here today, big show, little show, well-attended, up-down. I know you have more of this information tomorrow when you get to Brad and everybody there, but just give us a quick sense of what you’re seeing today.
Lew Weiss: There’s about 140 and 150 exhibitors on the floor. And it’s a busy floor. There are 2,500 plus attendees who are going into various sessions, which right now I think most of them are in sessions. But there are some straight dogs and cats walking the floor out here. And we’re going to be grabbing them and getting them on our show in just a short while.
Paul Roberts: Has T Boone Pickens made his appearance yet? Or is there still hope we might get a word with him?
Lew Weiss: I think T wants too big of a number that he won’t sit down in our desk.
Paul Roberts: You never know. You never know. This is narrowcasting at its best. It may not be a big number, but look at the people you’ve had on the show today here and the kind of high-level information they’ve put out.
Lew Weiss: It’s terrific. It’s really terrific.
Tim Grady: We’ve been certainly excited to have Tom Greco and Kristin Carty join us. This is such an exciting real time with ThomasNet.com. I wish we had another hour to go into it in greater detail. I wish we could share it with our listening audience, but you all can go to ThomasNet.com and begin to take a look at that video and that webinar. And if you really need to schedule an onsite visit with somebody, that’s the wild stuff.
Lew Weiss: And also, one last point is that in about three hours, Paul Roberts, our engineer, mystery voice in the background will have these programs up on our website. That’s ManufacturingTalkRadio.com. Did you hear me Paul?
Paul Roberts: I did. I’m working on it right now here. I think I may have to beat that record with this information and this much breaking news. People may want to go back and hear them in depth again here that they really say these and what were they really offering here.
Lew Weiss: Absolutely. So the pressure is on.
Paul Roberts: The pressure is on, okay. Thank you.
Tim Grady: This is some hot and exciting stuff. I want to thank everyone for listening. I want to thank all of our guests today for listening to Manufacturing Talk Radio. We’ll be back in the air tomorrow morning, 10 AM Pacific time, 1 PM Eastern Standard time. Until then, good day for now.