“Knowledge is of two kinds,” writes Samuel Johnson. “We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information about it.” Desiring information to guide their decision-making process, Cleary Gull, a Milwaukee-based boutique investment bank, contacted the Nicholas Center to find out as much as they could about the metal-forming industry so they could determine whether to enter the space as a long-term strategic move.
Second-year Nicholas Center students, along with undergrad research assistants, were delighted to assist in Cleary Gull’s quest for knowledge. Scouring industry reports and interviewing experts, the Nicholas Center team spent several weeks delving into numerous sources to mine the most useful data for their presentation.
With a primary focus on the foundry and machining segments of metal forming, the team then synthesized their findings into a coherent whole. They analyzed the size of the markets, the end markets that are served by foundries and machine shops, the key market drivers including capabilities and innovation, geographic and employment trends, M&A activity, and notable companies in each space. The team even compiled a database of North American companies in each space, along with germane statistics on these companies.
The team grew in knowledge of how best to research subjects as well as how to synthesize findings, while armed with an enhanced understanding of the metal-forming industry, Cleary Gull is now better prepared to decide on whether to move into this space.