What will it take to put the US economy on a more solid footing for the long term? To enable it to create more and better jobs and fuel a sustained increase in income and living standards? No one has all the answers, but Randy Altschuler, CEO of Xometry, is in a good position to provide important information.
Xometry is a global on-demand manufacturing platform: it connects companies that need components with manufacturers who can produce them; it simplifies the tendering and ordering process; it helps customers understand the pros and cons of producing a part with different technologies, from 3D printing to injection molding; and it helps its own suppliers to source parts and materials.
Manufacturing platforms have become increasingly important in recent years; they improve the efficiency of the manufacturing sector by increasing transparency and price discovery, increasing capacity utilization and making supply chains more diverse and resilient. Investors give this formula a strong vote of confidence: Xometry went public in a highly successful IPO this summer.
The conversation with Altschuler started from the plans of the US government to reorganize the infrastructure of the country. There has been an intense debate about what can truly be considered infrastructure; but Altschuler has a different concern: “We need to make sure that there are as many active participants as possible, that the investments and funding under the plan can actually reach as many American manufacturers as possible, especially the American manufacturers. small and medium enterprises. “
Xometry’s customers include some of the larger companies as well as a large number of small producers, and Altschuler believes that small and medium-sized manufacturers are the backbone of the US economy. They are a source of jobs, innovation and a crucial degree of dynamism and diversification. He also realizes that these small businesses “just don’t have the internal human resources that can spend a lot of time and effort figuring out how to operate these government programs.” The government should therefore ensure that new programs developed to support economic growth are easily accessible.
The comparison with the Xometry platform immediately comes to mind. Xometry has designed its services to be extremely user-friendly, so that corporate clients as small as a family business can easily register, bid to produce parts, and take advantage of all other aspects of the manufacturing platform. . This creates a level playing field, at least in part offsetting the benefits of the substantial administrative and organizational capacity of large companies. And this is not a zero-sum game: a healthier and more flourishing network of small and medium-sized enterprises also benefits large enterprises, which can then draw on a diverse ecosystem of potential suppliers and partners. In fact, Altschuler believes that a healthy universe of small and medium-sized enterprises is essential to making the economy and supply chains more resilient and adaptable – a recognized urgent priority.
The skills of workers are another crucial ingredient for the long-term success of the US economy; and this is another problem to which Altschuler is very attached. “We need to put manufacturing jobs back into the American dream; make more people want to get into manufacturing, because that’s where innovation creates highly skilled, rewarding and well-paying jobs. This requires better information to improve public perception of manufacturing, and more investment in training and vocational education. For now, many manufacturers are struggling to find workers and face a worsening skills shortage problem. Altschuler also pushes back the fear of automation: he finds that an increasing number of robotics companies are now using the Xometry platform, and that these companies themselves are creating new jobs; he remains convinced that innovation will continue to be the net creator of new and better jobs, as it always has. (Xometry just pledged $ 900,000 in scholarships to undergraduate students enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Howard University College of Engineering and Architecture over the next four years).
Another difficult challenge for manufacturers today is rising prices for components and raw materials. This has no impact on Xometry’s margins, as the prices on the platform are updated weekly to reflect market conditions. On the contrary, the inflationary environment makes a manufacturing platform even more attractive, as it gives companies a more efficient and transparent way to ensure that they buy components at competitive prices.
Business volume on Xometry’s platform increased sharply: the second quarter saw a 66% increase in active users and a 50% increase in “big spenders,” companies that spend more than $ 50,000 per year on the platform. This trend suggests that repeated supply chain disruptions as well as rising prices have made the efficiencies enabled by manufacturing platforms more evident and desirable.
Altschuler is determined to continue to push Xometry to grow and add more services, connecting demand and supply and making it easier for its customers to source tools and machines at lower cost, in order to identify the best choice of technology. In a nutshell, “We want Xometry to be the de facto operating system for on-demand manufacturing.”