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Next Step Helps Old Friends Promote Their New Venture
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What do a new logo and branding, direct mail, literature, social media, a website, old friends and business colleagues, the holidays, and Southwest Florida have in common? 

Next Step Communications Inc. and The Hume Team, a husband-and-wife real estate firm serving Southwest Florida – specifically the communities of Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples!

First, some history:  I go way back with the Humes, starting in the 1980s when I worked with Bill at KONA Corporation (Gloucester, Mass.) and lived about a mile from Bill’s family’s Christmas Tree farm in West Newbury, Mass.   I even worked weekends for a couple winters back then helping out at the farm. 

After starting Next Step Communications Inc. in 1996, I continued providing marketing support to Bill when he served as President of Synventive Molding Solutions, and later as General Manager at Lydall Affinity.  Mitch and I also both worked with Bill’s wife Laurie for several years, supporting her in her role as General Manager at Vitronics Soltec.

Fast forward to 2018: Bill and Laurie decided to move on from their corporate life, so they sold their home in North Carolina and moved to Cape Coral, FL to enjoy the lifestyle and start a new real estate firm, appropriately named The Hume Team.   And who did they call to help get them started?  You guessed it.

I told Bill when he called that we had never really done any marketing for real estate firms, but we’d give it a shot.  We were happy to help Bill and Laurie, they’re great people and I have no doubt they’ll be very successful in their new venture.  In fact if anyone reading this is thinking of looking at real estate in Southwest Florida, I’d highly recommend you give the Hume Team a call. 

For starters, Next Step produced a Hume Team logo, and then a series of direct mail postcards that were bulk-mailed to thousands of Southwest Florida residents and shared on social media.  This helped spread the word that there was a new real estate team in town.  The postcards were fun, featuring some custom cartoon illustrations with a ‘Snowbird’ couple anxiously looking to relocate to Southwest Florida.  After a few mailings these images are already recognizable and will be synonymous with Hume Team branding going forward.

Next came a combined pocket folder/brochure that will be used for presenting proposals.  And finally, a new website, www.humeteam.com, produced on the Squarespace platform, was launched in early December.

Humeteam.com was our second website, and our first was our own, www.next-step.com, which we launched this past summer. Take a look and let us know what you think.  We don’t consider ourselves experts in website development or creation, but we are very comfortable with the Squarespace platform – comfortable enough that we’ve now added website creation as a service we can now provide in-house.  If you’re looking for an attractive, informational, and functional website without too many bells and whistles, contact us, we can probably help you out. 

Meanwhile, while the December temperatures in Kittery Point, Maine are in the 20’s, the Hume Team basks in the 80-degree heat in Cape Coral, FL, and ramps up for the busy winter season in Florida. 

“We are really happy with all the work Next Step has produced for us,” said Bill Hume.  “When Laurie and I made the move and decided to start up this new business, we both knew who to call to help us get our name out there.” 

Mitch Hannoosh
Manufacturing: Alive and Well in America
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It wasn’t that long ago that manufacturing was pronounced dead in our country.  Really dead – as in ‘nobody makes stuff here anymore.’  Low-cost manufacturing was outsourced to China, India, Vietnam, and other low-cost labor markets around the world. 

Guess what?  If you haven’t been paying attention, manufacturing is back – and it’s hot.  I recently attended my first IMTS show in Chicago on behalf of a client, Tormach Inc. ( more on them later).  And what I saw in my brief time there left no doubt – manufacturing is alive and well in America.

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 I’ve got to say, I didn’t expect to see what I saw in Chicago.  On the eve of IMTS, I was privileged to attend an event at mHUB Chicago.  mHUB is a fantastic place, a ‘maker space’ with donated machinery and equipment from some of the best suppliers in the world, dedicated to making manufacturing accessible and understandable to anyone who wants to take part. 

The Sunday night event, co-sponsored by YouTube sensation John Saunders of Saunders Machine Works and NYC CNC, was promoted as a ‘Manufacturing Entrepreneurship Summit’ and ‘day of workshops and tours, with guest speakers’. 

Ho-hum, right?  Ahh – no. 

How about close to 500 enthusiastic, mostly young people packed into an old warehouse in Chicago that’s been converted to a state-of-the-art manufacturing space (a space packed with the latest machines and tools including a brand new 1100M CNC mill from Tormach), listening to talks on CNC machining, talking about their ideas, projects and start-up businesses? 

How about throngs of people clamoring around mHUB’s shop, crowding around to watch demos of live machining on CNC mills, lathes, and 3D printing machines? 

How about the event running until 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, with nobody leaving, until mHUB had to shut down and the crowd went out to afterparties?

An eye opener, to say the least – and then there was IMTS

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I’ve been to many trade shows over the years, but this was truly impressive.  I only attended the first day, but the show ran all week and brought in a record number of visitors – 130,000 visitors – to see the latest and greatest the machine tool industry had to offer.  Companies from all over the world descended on Chicago’s McCormick Place for a one-week lovefest of all things manufacturing.  Our client, Tormach, showed their newest CNC mill, the 1100MX in a 10’ x 20’ booth shared with partner AB Tools Inc. – and the interest was off the charts. 

At a time when factories in our country face a serious labor shortage, especially when it comes to machine operators, it was great to see the enthusiasm on display at IMTS – and make no mistake, our young people are very much on board.  The industry seems to be succeeding in getting its message through to Gen X’ers that manufacturing jobs are plentiful and a good option for a career.  Not to mention, they’re cool – all you need to do is search YouTube to see what’s going on – the stuff being made, the ‘how-to’ videos, and the explosion of information available to the next generation workforce. 

Reports of manufacturing’s demise were not greatly exaggerated – it really was dead, or at least on life support, for a while.  But good news, people – as we approach 2019, make no mistake - manufacturing is back in America.  Here’s hoping that this time, it’s back to stay. 

Greg Hannoosh
Labor Day Sunrise
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Beautiful shot of the sunrise over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Cable Head West, PEI, Canada - Labor Day morning, 2018.  Hoping everyone out there enjoys this day by taking the time to relax and refresh before moving forward into the Fall and Winter seasons.  

Mitch Hannoosh