Fishin’ with Keats

 

Despite a few stops and starts and some springtime snowstorms, it’s about that time of year again to get out the old fishing rod and tackle box. Nothing is more relaxing (or for that matter, frustrating) than spending a day on the water and putting a hook in the water. At Keats, we are no different. Quite a few of us have used our vacation and weekend time trying to catch the “big one”! 
That’s why everyone at Keats was thrilled when a big name in the recreational fishing industry came to us with an exciting and challenging project. The client wanted to produce something called a “speed clip” which was to be attached to their custom fishing rods. This unique clip was designed to replace the swivel on the rod, and it would allow users to quickly change the type of lure they were using without a great deal of effort.
Working closely with the client, we were able to apply our state-of-the-art four-slide technology to manufacture the clip.  Thanks to our years of experience and highly trained staff, we were able to turn what was an expensive and difficult to produce multi part assembly into a one-piece assembly that saved both money and time.  The best part is that the customer was so pleased he has been relying exclusively on Keats to produce his speed clips for most of the last decade.
While not everyone can fully appreciate how great it is to be able to change lures quickly while in the middle of a long day of fishing, they can appreciate the high quality work, the amazing customer service, and the cost-effectiveness that comes with everything we create.

The Kids Really Are Our Future

 

At Keats, we know that there is a great future in metal stampings and wire forms. As the demand grows for smaller and smaller precision metal parts, it is clear that the world is going to need a new generation of expert four-slide, multi-slide, and punch press operators.  That’s why we got involved with the IllinoisWorkNet program. The program, which was launched by the Illinois Workforce Investment Board (IWIB), was created to help businesses like Keats connect with and develop Illinois’ workforce.
In our case, we chose two outstanding candidates from Wheeling High School to participate in a 6-week internship program. The students from Wheeling High attended a job fair where they ranked the companies and the companies ranked the kids, and a matching process ensued. After careful consideration, we chose our two interns who showed both a proficiency in math and computer sciences and an interest in a career with Keats.
After both students successfully served their internships, we decided to hire them on full-time! They’ve both started in the quality control department and are making strides toward becoming key parts of the Keats family. In future blogs we will keep you updated on their progress, as they move up the ladder at Keats.
Programs like Illinois Workforce are not only the key to the future of companies like Keats, but also the key to the future of our country. If we are truly committed to a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. then we have to reach out to the new generation and show them how exciting and profitable our work can be.
If you want to learn more about or even participate in the Illinois Workforce program please visit their website. If you don’t live in Illinois, go to the Department of Labor’s websiteand find a program in your area. 

Capitalizing on the Future

What comes to mind when you think of Mexico? Most of us probably know Mexico for its great food, beaches, and thousands of years of culture. However, back in the early 1990s Keats saw in Mexico an opportunity to serve the underappreciated maquiladora assembly market.  
In Spanish, maquiladora refers to the practice of millers charging a maquila, or “miller’s portion” for processing other people’s grain. More recently, it has come to define manufacturing operations in Mexico’s free trade zones.  Thanks to NAFTA, there are now almost half a million Mexicans working in over 3,000 maquiladoras. This market is an excellent source of high quality labor for many different industrial sectors including automotive parts and supplies, telecommunications equipment, and medical supplies.  At Keats, we saw that with the growth of maquiladoras there would be an ever-increasing need for superior metal stampings, wireforms, and assemblies. So on August 1stof 1994, only a few months after NAFTA took effect, we opened Keats Southwest (KSW) in the vibrant border town of El Paso, Texas.  
This new location served multiple purposes. First, it directly served our Mexican neighbor, Ciudad Juárez. This booming sister city to El Paso also happens to be home to more than 300, or 10%, of Mexico’s maquiladoras. Second, it allowed Keats to supply not only all of Mexico, but also the entire southwestern United States.
Eighteen years after we took the bold step to move into the maquiladora market, Keats Southwest is now a 24-hour a day, 5 day a week operation. We have 45 dedicated and highly skilled employees who manufacture a wide range of products on 36 state-of-the-art four-slide and multi-slide machines, and 11 metal stamping presses.  During our time serving the region, Keats Southwest has worked on some exciting projects, including designing and building fuel injection steelshieldsand reel to reel phosphor bronze terminals for the automotive industry in Mexico.
Our success in predicting and capitalizing on future manufacturing trends has only just begun. As the world’s economy grows and shifts, Keats is prepared to utilize its practical understanding of foreign markets and its over 50 years of experience to stay ahead of the curve.

Medical Design & Manufacturing West Recap

 

Recently Matt Keats from Keats Southwest took a trip out to Anaheim for this year’s Medical Design & Manufacturing West Exposition andConference. The MD&M show is a comprehensive resource for every aspect of the medical device industry. It gathers medtech professionals and leading medical OEM suppliers together all in one convenient location. Gatherings like this have become even more important, because in recent years the size and scope of the medical device industry has exploded. In 2011 alone, the top 5 manufacturers earned an astronomical $85 billion and this number is only going to increase as the world’s population grows and grays.
At this year’s MD&M West, our booth was less about highlighting any one product and more about letting the medical device industry know that we are experts when it comes to dealing with their smallest, most exacting and delicate metal stamping, wireform, and assembly needs. Our industry-leading four slide and multi-slide capabilities, which we offer at both our Illinois and El Paso locations, are a perfect fit for the world of medical devices.
One important thing Matt noticed during his time in Anaheim is that many medtech professionals are not completely aware of the wide-ranging capabilities of modern metal stamping.  In many cases, innovative devices are being held back by this lack of knowledge. Therefore, one of Matt’s biggest challenges at this year’s MD&M West was to spread the word about what Keats can do to help turn groundbreaking ideas into lifesaving devices.
We are happy to report that his year’s MD&M was a smashing success! Both from his spot behind the table at Booth 1568 and while meeting and greeting, Matt was able to both disseminate our capabilities and make some amazing connections. We truly believe that Matt’s successful trip will allow Keats to play an even bigger role in the future of the medical device industry.

More Medical Devices, Less Red Tape

The FDA recently announced that they have reached a tentative user fee deal with the $105.8 billion U.S. medical device industry. The deal allows the FDA to collect around $500 million from the various companies over the next five years. In return, for this near doubling of fees, companies – and in turn patients – will benefit from a faster and more transparent review process.
While this might not seem like front-page news to most people, it is to us. The U.S. medical device market is the world’s largest. As a country, we spend $339 per person, per year on medical devices. America is home to 7 out of 10 of the world’s largest manufacturers including Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Baxter, Covidien and Medtronic. A faster and more streamlined approval process means more medical devices getting a green light for production.
At Keats, we specialize in the kind of small metal stampings, wireforms, and assemblies that are crucial to making exacting medical devices.  We recently designed and built over 3,000,000 wire links for a leading medical device maker.   The Florida-based medical device maker came to Keats because they needed their medical device parts to be durable, consistent, and exacting. It’s not the kind of component you want made by just anyone. You might even say it’s a matter a life and death.
Many of these devices play critical roles in keeping people alive and well. Because of this, the quality control experts at Keats go to extraordinary length to make sure that nothing leaves our facilities before it is subjected to rigorous inspection and testing.   
Over the next few months, we’ll do our best to keep you informed about how the FDA’s faster review process will directly affect our industry and most importantly, you and your loved ones.