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Out & About in Cleveland

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Painesville Chamber of Commerce

On Wednesday, March 25th, we started the day in the Village of Fairport Harbor where we took a tour of a the JM Performance Products Plant (JMPP) arranged the Painesville Chamber of Commerce. About 10 people got up early to go on this tour including Mr. Tim Manross, the mayor of Fairport Harbor and Mr. Verne Horton, a village councilman. The tour was conducted by Mr. Andrew Rowley, the President of JMPP, whose stepfather founded the company in the early 1960's in the Euclid area. What really impressed all of us was how clean the shop floor was because whenever we think about manufacturing the first thing that comes to our mind is dirt and grease but from what we saw at JMPP that concept is fast becoming more and more outdated. In fact, within the last couple of years JMPP wisely invested $5.5 million in new machinery and as a result productivity increased by 35%. Most of the machinery was enclosed (the products were created within a closed structure) and everything including the water used within the machines was recycled. The materials were mostly steel and aluminum and every ten 10 days or so a big recycling truck comes here to take away the scrap shavings.

JMPP produces such items as gauges but the big one is retention knobs, of which there are 450 different styles, that are sold all over the world. Actually, JMPP sells its products to distributors who sell to the individual shops. Mr. Rowley estimated that 75% of its ware is sold to places in the United States with Canada in second place and then the automotive and aerospace companies located in Mexico.

He also told us about how JMPP was originally established in the basement of a house as J & M Machine. He even showed us the original machinery that his stepfather used. J & M Machine moved to the Fairport Harbor area in the 1980's and finally opened its current location under the new name of JM Performance Products in 1991 on a seven acre lot. To be sure, there is plenty of room here to expand and in the interim Mr. Rowley's stepfather loves to mow the sizable lawn himself. He is still very active in the company and comes to work almost every day.

Mr. Rowley took us to the break room and showed us plans for a robot that students from Fairport Harbor High School are putting together to compete in the local robotics competition held at Lakeland College. He lets the students use the JMPP facilities and they come here twice a week after school to work on making their vision a reality.

Mr. Rowley has actually hired some of the local students to work as machinists. Of course they need to undergo some online training but Mr. Rowley says that a good attitude is the most important element and the three keys to working in manufacturing at this time are "read, learn, and adapt."

In terms of international competition, JMPP has conducted studies about how United States machine shops can be more productive and compete successfully with those in such countries as China. Just as manufacturing has become cleaner, the markets are undoubtedly becoming more and more international so Mr. Rowley was glad to receive our information about Margaret W. Wong and Associates should JMPP decide to eventually employ some international workers.

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