Category Archive: News & Info

Manor Tool: Trusted Name for Over Half a Century

History of Manor Tool

On February 19, 1924, Lee Simeone was born in Chicago. Around the time of the United States’ entry into World War II, a young Simeone enlisted into the Marine Corps; he was honorably discharged at the end of the war in 1945. Manor Tool

Returning home to Chicago, the 21-year-old Simeone found work in the industrial sector, learning the art of making tools and dies. Simeone continued to make tools and dies for a number of companies in the Chicagoland area, improving his skills everywhere he went, for 14 years.

Then, in 1959, the now 35-year-old Simeone founded Manor Tool & Manufacturing Company.

Under Simeone’s leadership, Manor Tool grew from the boutique tool and die shop he founded to an expansive metal stamping, finishing services, and parts assembly company. Today, operating a 32-press facility, Manor Tool offers a wide range of services:

Over the more than 50 years since our founding, Manor Tool has become a well-respected leader of the metal stamping industry.

Quality at Manor Tool

The Manor Tool name is synonymous with quality. This is a reputation that we have worked hard over the years to attain. In everything we do, from prototype design to finishing processes and assembly, quality of work is our number one goal.

Every part that we manufacture at Manor Tool is subjected to quality assurance protocols at every stage of production. Raw materials, tools and dies, prototypes, stamped parts, and assembled parts are all inspected for quality. Finally, each completed part undergoes quality inspection before being made available for delivery.

Continuous Improvement at Manor Tool

Part of the reason Manor Tool is so well known for the quality of our parts is because of our efforts at continuous improvement. The moment something stops improving—be it a part, a technology, an industry, or a company—is the moment that it becomes irrelevant.

To ensure our continuous improvement, Manor Tool never rests on its laurels. We are always looking for ways to advance our skills, capabilities, and processes. One way in which we do this is by holding regular Kaizen Events.

“Kaizen” translates from Japanese as “change for better.” At a Kaizen event, Manor Tool team members from a variety of departments gather to evaluate a process and recommend changes to it. Using Kaizen events, Manor Tool has been able to improve in every way—we have increased productivity, grown revenue, improved employee safety, and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Internal Machining Centers for Tool & Die Production and Maintenance

Manor Tool & Manufacturing believes customers deserve the finest in tool and die manufacturing. We believe it is an integral part of the manufacturing process. Our eight machining centers create the tooling required for production, supporting one of the largest tool rooms in the greater Chicago area.

These internal machining centers provide the control required to meet the demands of production cycles in today’s just-in-time work environment.

Reasons that Internal Machining Centers Help Meet Production Cycles

Consider the following:

  • Lead times and production scheduling. Our in-house machining centers allow us to set and follow your timetable to complete the tooling. Using a secondary source for machining exposes the tool & die company (and the customer) to unplanned delays.
  • Better accuracy. Specific tooling requirements for tooling features such as hole size or if the hole is tapped, countersunk, or reamed are programmed by us right off the geometry and done in a single set up. Conveying the same information to an outsourced supplier of machining requires more communication, increasing the potential for error, added scrap, and more re-working to fix mistakes.
  • Improved productivity. Keeping all machining in-house prevents issues encountered using a secondary source. There is no downtime because of delays caused by transportation time or supply chain bottlenecks. Employees maintain focus on the customer’s deadline because there is no downtime caused by sending the tool out for machining.
  • Maintaining control of the die/tool. There used to be a public service announcement (PSA) that appeared around 10:00 in the evening: “Parents, do you know where your children are?” The PSA implied that children left without supervision might get into trouble. The same implication fits when having your product shipped to a secondary supplier for machining. You may know the tool & die shop, but how well do you know their machining source? Our in-house machining centers eliminate this worry. The bottom line result is the on-time delivery of an accurately made product without the excessive waste associated with outsourced machining.

Manor Tool Machining Centers

Our eight machining centers are housed in two locations:

Manor Tool & Manufacturing headquarters (three machining centers that work primarily on maintaining dies)

  • Okuma 3-axis CNC machining center
  • Feeler
  • VMC Haas VF5

CLL Engineering (five machining centers focus on die production)

  • Quantum CNC machining center
  • 2 – Okuma 3-axis machining centers
  • Haas CNC machining center
  • Haas TL-2 CNC lathe
  • Versatility in the Machining Center

These machines provide the versatility to accommodate large capacity dies, offer high-speed milling and perform standard CNC machining. Each location emphasizes either production or maintenance support.

However, both locations have the flexibility to do the other’s work in order to meet production needs. A complete list of our tool room equipment is available here:

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For more information on our manufacturing processes, or to learn more about Manor’s in-house machining centers, contact your Manor representative today.

Top Reasons for Reshoring in Manufacturing

Reshoring: A Reversing — and Growing — Trend

Reshoring—the trend of bringing manufacturing jobs from overseas back to the United States—has become increasingly common in the past few years.

It marks the beginning of a reversal of jobs leaving the U.S. for cheaper labor and enterprise costs in developing Asian countries like China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, which in turn translated into cheaper prices for consumer goods like cell phones and flat-screen TVs.

reshoring manufacturing jobs

Many companies now, however, including such massive manufacturers as Ford, General Electric, Whirlpool, Apple, and Wal-Mart, are heavily investing in reshoring. The Boston Consulting Group recently conducted a study that found that executives at over half—54%—of companies based in the U.S. with more than $1 million in sales are either planning on or actively considering bringing back production from China to the U.S. A similar survey in 2012 found that only 37% of executives were planning to reshore.

According to these executives, economic conditions seem to favor reshoring. Although specific circumstances and the benefits are unique to every company, there generally are three main reasons to reshore.

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1. Narrowing Gap in Pay

A significant factor behind offshoring to countries like China has been lower costs of labor which led to lower manufacturing costs overall. This pay gap, however, has been recently shrinking. The International Labor Organization found that real wages in Asia were up by 7.1%-7.8% every year between 2000 and 2008.

In addition, according to the Boston Consulting Group, the average Chinese worker received 10% higher pay and benefits every year between 200 and 2005, which jumped to 19% every year between 2005 and 2010. The Chinese government has even set a target to increase the minimum wage by 15% every year until 2015.

The Economist reports that, following a 2010 strike, Honda gave its workers a 47% raise in pay, while the Foxconn Technology Group, manufacturer for big tech firms such as Apple, doubled the wages for their workers.

By contrast, the McKinsey group reports that pay in advanced countries grew by only 0.5%-0.9% from 2000 to 2008. Real wages in America—declining annually 2.2% since 2005—are comparatively more favorable to manufacturing firms.

2. Lower Energy Costs in the U.S.

Energy costs are critical to any company considering reshoring. Since 2005, wholesale prices for natural gases have fallen by 50% thanks to a rise in large-scale deposits from underground shale deposits yielded through hydraulic fracturing. In contrast, natural gas is three times more expensive in France, China, and Germany, and prices are expected to remain that way for several decades.

It is expected to take between five to ten years before the infrastructure can be put in place for large-scale export of American natural gas. This means that domestic energy prices will remain more cost-effective over other countries.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, natural gas is estimated to account for only 2% of average American manufacturing costs, while electricity is expected to account for 1%. Natural gas and electricity in China, by contrast, is expected to account for 6%. The energy advantage is also expected to create 1 million more jobs as more factories are built.

3. Shorter Lead Times

Due to the 2008 financial crisis, order sizes for U.S. manufacturing companies have decreased, while those for companies overseas have increased. However, this leads to longer lead times, especially as supply chains can become complicated depending on the method of shipment, such as by cargo ship.

Manufacturing here in the U.S. can be far faster than offshoring. Products can travel quickly and reach customers sooner. It can also lead to more collaboration between marketing and engineering teams, helping improve time-to-market as well as resulting in a better product.

The Reshoring Forecast

According to Forbes, reshoring will continue in 2015-2016, but mostly for manufacturing companies that have access to cheap natural gas and global markets, such as chemicals and metals. Reshoring will also grow for industries that see rapid change, such as technology and fashion apparel, where the value of the product compared to weight ratios make it difficult to justify the cost of air freight.

Products that require little labor are also expected to reshore. Chemical plants, for example, will bring jobs back, although most of these jobs never left the U.S.

Advances in Reshoring

reshoring initiative websiteFurther enhancing reshoring efforts in the U.S. is the Reshoring Initiative. Founded in 2010, the organization is a collection of manufacturers dedicated to bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.

According to the Reshoring Initiative, the forecast looks even better for the return of jobs.

  • Since January 2010, there have been 25 known cases of fabricated metal products reshored, involving 1,749 U.S. jobs.
  • Thanks to reshoring and foreign direct investment, there are now more jobs coming back each year than are being lost to offshoring. In 2003, there an estimated 150,000 jobs offshored and only 2,000 reshored. In 2013, there were an estimated 30,000 jobs offshored while a calculated 40,000 jobs reshored. The projections for 2016 predict 20,000 offshored jobs compared to over 50,000 reshored jobs.

Reshoring is ultimately beneficial to the U.S. economy. The IEEE states that the key to successful reshoring is to perform comprehensive Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculations, which reveal the true cost of offshoring.

The TCO calculates the cost of products sold, “hard” costs such as prototyping and shipping, risk-related costs such as quality, opportunity cost, and branding, as well as strategic and environmental costs. Using these calculations reveals that through reshoring, an estimated 2 million jobs can be created in the U.S. in 2015 alone.

TCO analyses help manufacturers clearly see the benefits of bringing these jobs back to the U.S., especially when compared to rising costs shipping costs and wages overseas, and the resurgence in popularity of American made goods.

The Reshoring Initiative offers a free TCO calculator so you can aggregate of cost and risk factors into one cost.

The organization also has various tools and resources such as the Reshoring Library, the Economic Development Plan, and the Skilled Workforce Development Plan to help companies see how reshoring can be beneficial across the enterprise.

Sensible Domestic Manufacturing

The message seems to be clear. Based on narrowing pay gaps, rising energy costs, and complicated supply chains, manufacturing domestically seems to make the most sense as jobs return to the U.S.

Manor Tool has been located in Illinois since our founding. In many ways, our capabilities illustrate the very real benefits of reshoring. Due to our domestic headquarters, we can fully partner with our customers, ensuring constant transparency, meticulous attention to quality, and most importantly, rapid turnaround times.

Our stamping, tooling, and design capabilites are all subject to the highest quality standards. These services were instrumental in quickly providing clients across a range of industries with solutions such as an aluminum alloy drawn basin for the medical industry, and a steel dimpled annular for the automotive industry.

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At Manor Tool, we have seen—and are proud to be a part of—the rapid and continuing growth in the manufacturing, fabrication, and time-to-market capabilities of companies right here in the U.S.

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Manor Tool’s Safety Program – Safety at its Best

At Manor Tool, we have actively sought to make safety a priority for not only management but every employee here, from production staff to company executives. By embracing a culture of safety and empowering all personnel to take ownership in the creation of a safe work environment, we have not only received numerous safety awards, but more importantly have had 1348 consecutive accident free days as of August, 2014.

This achievement has been accomplished by employing a comprehensive multi-level safety program that is comprised of multiple committees who work in conjunction with one another to proactively monitor and correct any potential hazards before an accident occurs.

Manor Tool’s First Level of Safety – Safety Management Team

The first level of our safety program is made up of the safety management team, which includes the president, vice president, general manager, maintenance staff, safety director and union representation, as well as an observer from the production floor. This team is responsible for the overall structure and content of the safety program.

By incorporating personnel from all levels of the organization, the safety management team is able to effectively match the needs on the plant floor with the expectations of management in accordance with the latest industry standards and government regulations. This team also meets with WCTI, the Workers Compensation Trust of Illinois, on a quarterly basis to discuss the efficacy of various safety policies and explore new ideas with other like-minded manufacturers.

Manor Tool’s Second Level of Safety – Safety Champion Team

The second level of our safety program is the Safety Champion team. This team consists of volunteers from the production department, including the machine shop and tool room, who provide a strong presence on the shop floor. This team is uniquely positioned to constantly monitor the production area and report back any issues that are found.

An important aspect of our safety program, and one of the reasons we have been so successful is that the reporting of safety related issues is not done for the purpose of disciplinary action. All reporting is done with the sole purpose of continually refining and improving equipment, procedures, and policies to eliminate risks as they are found.

For example, if cutting oil is spilled on the floor, it is not only critical that it be promptly cleaned up, but it should be reported to determine whether this is a frequent problem that may warrant an engineering change in regards to the operating process. Additionally, when reminders to wear safety glasses or not to use the air hose to blow debris off clothing come from peers, they are typically more effective than when given by someone else. The Safety Champion team meets every six weeks and the safety director acts as the liaison between the two safety teams.

Manor Tool’s Third Level of Safety – Monthly Company Walk-Thru

The third level of our safety program includes a monthly meeting between one supervisor and two employees during which a company walkthrough is performed. During the walkthrough, the group uses an established document to record any instances in which safety could be improved.

This may include anything from adding more robust guarding to machinery to employees not wearing proper hearing protection or incorrectly stacked dies. Based on the notes taken during the walkthrough, a report is written, and corrective actions, such as modifications to current policies and procedures, are taken.

Manor Tool’s Fourth Level of Safety – OSHA Consultation

As a fourth level of safety, we utilize the consultation services that are available from OSHA to provide an outside perspective regarding various hazards present in the workplace. OSHA offers noise monitoring that provides us with valuable information in relation to our hearing conservation program, as well as industrial hygienists who are able to analyze the presence of airborne pollutants in the work environment.

Industrial hygienists are able to observe specific jobs to determine whether workers are at risk from any chemicals or pollutants present. After OSHA provides us with this information, policies can be updated to correct any hazards that were found during the inspection. OSHA also reviews our safety records, documentation, and procedures for compliance with the newest available workplace safety standards. By seeing OSHA as a partner in safety, rather than as an enemy that simply must be “dealt with,” we have been able to take advantage of many of the professional services they offer and improve the quality of the work environment for our employees.

Equipment Safety

When it comes to safety precautions on industrial equipment, we have found there is a significant difference between simply meeting regulations and actively protecting the safety of operators. To ensure that every piece of machinery meets our rigorous safety standards, each piece of equipment has been assigned a spreadsheet that documents its safety features, such as dual air controls, dual palm buttons, break monitors, sensors, and guarding. After each piece of equipment was audited and cataloged, the equipment manufacturers were contacted to determine the optimal safety features for each piece of equipment.

As an example of our dedication to equipment safety, when purchasing a specific punch press that is designed to eject parts, we were given the option of selecting either a light curtain or barrier guards.

While the light curtain did prevent the operator from placing their hands in the press during the machine cycle, it did not protect against the parts that were ejected. At Manor Tool, we do not place a cost on the safety of our workers, and as such, chose the higher cost barrier guard for the press.

When workers see that management places this level of priority on their safety, it affects the way they see safety in the workplace. Rather than a set of burdensome rules that are reviewed every six months, safety becomes a real priority.

Dramatic Results

Since we have implemented these tools as part of our safety program overhaul, the results have been dramatic. If someone were to walk onto the job floor without safety glasses, they would be reminded by any number of people on the floor to put on their glasses.

Safety is not simply the responsibility of the safety director, or the general manager; it is the responsibility of every staff member from the front office to the tool room. By instilling this level of accountability, we have been able to provide a safe workplace where workers can take pride in the work they do.

In recognition of this dedication and the results it has achieved, we have received Trade Association safety awards for sixteen consecutive years, as well as additional WCTI awards for providing a safe workplace and promoting safety among our staff.


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Options for Secondary Services from Manor Tool

We’re proud to offer metal stamping, progressive die stamping, custom tooling and fabricating services for our clients. Alongside these services, one of the things that has long helped Manor stand out from other companies in the industry is our commitment to providing a complete solution – helping customers to reduce lead times, improve quality, and eliminate many of the headaches that can develop in the manufacturing process with other providers.

secondary machining services 02 plc 003

That’s why it’s important for a metal stamping company to offer a full range of secondary services designed to help you get the best components for your project. Our facilities are designed with these needs in mind. Here are just a few of the secondary services we offer:

  • Deburring

  • Drilling

  • Powder Coating

  • Machining

  • Painting

  • MIG, TIG, SPOT, and Project Welding

  • Plating

  • Assembly

While some other companies offer these secondary services, few work carefully with their customers to ensure the right combination of services is available for every project. It’s part of what sets us apart and allows us to provide the best possible solutions in so many situations.

A Commitment to Meeting Customer Needs

This is best illustrated in our ability to customize project specifications based on customer needs. For example, short run fabrication is an ideal solution for those with lower volume products in need of short lead time for production runs. Short run fabrication gives you the opportunity to pinpoint and fix issues in a product’s design or production process before you go through development of hard tools that can cost quite a bit more. Manor offers this service, allowing you to get into full production faster and with fewer issues.

Supplemental Machining Services

Another valuable secondary service is machining. Whether for shafts, forgings, castings, or fasteners, a full service machine department will allow you greater flexibility in what you develop in plastic and metal parts. Manor has such a department, which you can read more about here.

The bottom line is that the major components of a project are incredibly important, but so too are the secondary services that can speed up production, reduce lead times, and ensure optimal quality for your parts. That’s where Manor comes in, offering comprehensive secondary and machining services for companies like yours.

Contact us today to learn more about these services and what we can do for you. 

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Forecasting for Manufacturing 101

Forecasting for manufacturing production is a combination of past experience, overall skill, and a good dose of financial judgment.  Depending on the size of a manufacturing operation, statistical techniques and tools are useful for the creation of more accurate forecasts.

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In the end, however, forecasting is the mix of subjective judgments of past experience with objective calculations via past and present data (e.g., production, inventory, personnel, schedule, facilities, equipment, etc.) in order to make informed business decisions. In other words, it is an attempt to predict the future via historical data points.

Some of the subjective and objective information and data include:

  • Method of Manufacture
  • Source of Data
  • Timeframes

Method of Manufacture

Method of Manufacture is one way that a company can utilize forecasting.  If the production is typically “Made to Order,” they likely use a Model Option Logic method of forecasting.  This method involves evaluating the production of a specific number of each production model and its options, and then forecasting the number of similar items that will likely be manufactured in the forecasted time period.

The other method of manufacture is “Made to Stock.”  This methodology of forecasting relies on historical trends to determine the number of models and options to produce.  These two manufacturing methods for forecasting are best used in an OEM’s production of uniform products that may have variable options (e.g., appliances, automobiles, etc.).  However, the forecasts can have some utility for a second or third tier supplier to those OEMs, since they may have some data to use from previous production years for various components supplied to the OEMs.

Source of Data

Manufacturers often use both quantitative data and qualitative data to assist in production forecasting.  Solid quantitative data that has a basis in detailed, accurate statistics can yield more definitive forecasts.  However, many of the statistical models can be complex for smaller businesses.  For this reason, it is often easier and more appropriate for small to medium sized companies to work with qualitative data such as sales figures, past demand, customer opinions, and market research.


The timeline for production, sales cycles, and other data are also useful in creating a production forecast.  Past trends, seasonality, sales cycles, and even random orders are all time-related indicators that can be useful in forecasting for manufacturers.

However, as Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing techniques have taken hold in businesses of all sizes, the need to forecast is quickly becoming a smaller part of overall business operations.  In JIT manufacturing organizations, the focus is on production and how to respond to demand rather than a forecast. A company operating within JIT techniques requires a very tight and agile supply chain, in addition to highly responsive production capabilities.

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Robots and Manufacturing: A Partnership in Innovation

The use of robots in manufacturing has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. They are now recognized as an effective way of increasing efficiency and cost-savings, while eliminating reliance on an unskilled labor force and creating a need for new, higher skilled employees.

freddyFor companies in various industries throughout the country, automation is proving to be the key to the competitive edge. For example, Boeing has recently made the decision to utilize more automation in order to stay ahead of its competitors. In a recent article on the subject, it was stated that this decision—largely based on the fact that automation is the key to greater production efficiency—means the aircraft manufacturer could potentially “increase production from 8 jets per month to 10 or even 12.”

Automation in metal stamping has proven to reduce cycle times and increase productivity. When looking to remain competitive, greater efficiency, higher production and lower costs are the keys to success. At Manor Tool & Manufacturing Company, our robotic work cell—affectionately known as Freddy—has proven to drastically reduce cycle times for a number of clients. Freddy automates the movement of pieces between machines,  placing and separating final parts that have been formed from scrap web.  This has created a truly innovative use of automation for metal stamping at Manor. When Michael Wenzel, a well-known German robotics expert, visited Freddy recently, he was certainly impressed.

True innovation is what has always set American manufacturing apart, and is what will continue to do so. Robots are one of the brightest spots in innovation right now, and it’s exciting to think of what they will continue to do for the industry in the future.

(Want to see Freddy in action? Check out this video)

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How Metal Parts Move Millions—and Billions

In most major cities throughout the world, the average person’s work day begins and ends with a ride on the train or subway.  In New York City, over 5.3 million people ride the subway on each average weekday, with a whopping 1.6 billion people having boarded the subway in 2012. Imagine how the city’s workforce would be affected if the subway cars didn’t work.

If you’ve been on a New York subway recently, you may have noticed that they’ve come a long way.  Today’s subway cars all begin with metal stamped parts, making up two different types of cars that are constructed of stainless steel with fiberglass blind end bonnets. “A” cars are powered by four traction motors, and “B” cars by two traction motors—both combining a multitude of parts that rely on each other to run effectively.

Today’s NYC subway cars are part of the R142 model class, manufactured by the leading transportation company, Bombardier (a client of Vogel Tool, which is part of the Manor family of precision component companies).  While 5,000 Bombardier rail vehicles transport Americans every day, millions of New Yorkers get to and from work on their subway cars.  The company has been manufacturing NYC subway cars since 1982, and today’s 1,030 R142 cars include electronic braking, automatic climate control, advanced on-board intercom systems, and Alstom ONIX AC propulsion.

As a result of decades of success, Bombardier recently announced that they will be providing New York City Transit with 300 new R179 cars between 2014 and 2017.  This newest model will incorporate state-of-the-art engineering and technology, including BOMBARDIER MITRAC propulsion equipment with new, energy-efficient inverters, and the MITRAC train control and management system with internet protocol technology.  Everything is to be manufactured at Bombardier’s facilities in theU.S.

Beginning with precision metal stamped parts, incorporating advanced design and technology, and ending with millions upon millions of people getting to work in the morning and home to their families at night, this is a perfect example of quality engineering moving everyone ahead.

The Past, Present, and Future of Skunk Works

The highly advanced engineering of the American aerospace industry, particularly in the defense sector, has been responsible for saving lives, ending wars, and protecting democracy for many decades.  Thanks to major innovations in all areas of aerospace engineering—including metal fabrication advances—the industry serves as an example of modern American manufacturing.

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One company for which this is especially true is Lockheed Martin (a client of Manor).  Their Advanced Development Programs (ADP), officially known as Skunk Works, has been responsible for some of the most famous and impressive aircraft designs for 70 years.

It all began with the 1943 partnership with the U.S. Army Air Force, when the company was chosen to provide jet fighters that could counter the growing threat of Germany.  They developed and delivered the XP-80 Shooting Star jet fighter in only 143 days—seven days less than the Air Force required.  It was a highly secretive project run out of a rented, strongly-scented circus tent, where the name Skunk Works was derived. Over the years, Lockheed Martin’s engineering excellence, along with the dependability and elitism of their secretive Skunks Works program, was counted on for countless military needs.

Today, as in the past, the Skunk Works program is focused on tomorrow—specifically on furthering the future of the industry through advanced technology solutions for manned and unmanned systems.  Founder Kelly Johnson’s mantra, “quick, quiet and quality” is seen throughout every venture, where complex conceptual designs, systems engineering, and project management combine to create the aircraft of the future.


Every single aspect of the Skunk Works projects and products relies on perfection—including the initial metal stamping of parts.  A program as important and elite depends on this.  This obsession with flawlessness and technological advancement has led to 70 years of racing toward the future, and it’s thrilling to see what this company will do next. 


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