On a production floor you have a lot of things going, a lot of things you have to look out for. You have machines that can break down, forms that need constant attention, labor that needs to be well trained, and other outside interferences that can really mess up a day. When all things click, it is really a sight to see. When everything clicks and your production team is working like a clock, filling in the production holes it’s just awesome. As a production manager it is really good to hear a production member say next I have to this task and then someone pipes in and says already done! I love this. That is when I know we are clicking. When the production team members are working back and forth completing tasks for each other to get done more efficiently that is when we click. When we click we are dangerous. Things get done faster, get done better, and overall morale is through the roof. There is no arguing, quality doesn’t suffer, and costs go down. Now when the wheels start falling off and some of the harmony fades, that is when problems arise. Attitudes boil, morale goes down, and quality suffers. What is my point? Running a production floor is like being on a sports team. You have coaches/managers, teammates/production members, and equipment. If one of those three lacks, your team hurts and you don’t click. Personally, every time I reference my guys they are not employees or workers, they are team members. That word team is a powerful word. Makes you feel like a part of something. So whether you are a team member or a coach do your best to operate in a team. Go that extra mile and think before you act. Treat others like team mates not co-workers. Coaches train your team members and continue to let them practice, that is the only way they will get better. And maintain your equipment so it can work for you. That is the only way everyone benefits.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
This quote stated by James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams is my favorite quote from all the movies I have seen in my lifetime. Now this is usually where I’d tie this into concrete or motivation, but not this blog, this blog is going to be solely baseball. I grew up playing baseball from when I was eight until college. I have fond memories of pitching to my dad every night, playing ball at the field with friends day after day after day, and tournaments, oh those are memories in themselves. The cities, the teams, the hotels, man those were the days. I miss those days; those were days without money, without bills, without jobs. We had one task, beat the other team. After a few years baseball just became natural. I was so in tuned to baseball I ate it, I slept it, I lived it. Baseball, to me was everything. I still find myself going back to those moments from time to time.
Moving forward having to part with baseball was one of the most difficult things I had to do. Like James says…”baseball has marked time.” The one thing I find no matter what is going on in America, in my life, in business, baseball is constant. I can mark the events of my life with baseball. Baseball is the release that sometimes makes the day better. To me nothing is better than a 2-2 tie bottom of the ninth and my team hits a walk-off homer, nothing better. One of the best ways to spend a Saturday is at the ballpark with friends. No matter how good or bad the game turns out, it is never a waste of time. I can always come back to baseball. So to part, I love baseball, to me nothing beats it. I hope that some of you who read this have to agree and look forward to this still young 2012 season, not only the baseball season, but the construction season. Go Brewers!
Sunday, April 15, 2012
This week I had to write a good-bye letter to one of our industry friends. He is retiring after thirty-four years of service to our industry. In this colleague’s letter of retirement he really points out the fact that he learned a lot from the generations above him. He really pointed out the value in the older generation teaching the younger generation today. But he also pointed out the fact that the older generation must be accepting of the fact that younger generations need to learn and they should teach the younger generation. I think there is a lot of truth to that. Being a Gen Y’er, I go to college, learn how to conquer the world, and then graduate and shoot to kill. I don’t listen to anything or anyone. Big mistake! I found I didn’t know everything and there were some things my alma mater couldn’t teach me. Things you had to learn from a life of shop working or a life in concrete. These are things that books can’t teach you. This got me in big trouble as I graduated and wanted to change everything that our shop, Dalmaray, was doing. I soon found myself digging Dalmaray into a hole. Wrong, but the people who stood behind me were the older generations who told me, “Look Aaron you can’t change the world in one day.” Older generations, not just my father and grandfather, but guys who worked for us ensured me that change was good, but don’t lose where we came from. Keep our old school values, but put a new school twist on it. That is what we are doing today. Looking at how we did things in the past and improving on them every day.
So moving forward the advice I want to give to my fellow Gen Y’ers is don’t ignore the older generations. Yes they can be old and stubborn, but they can also teach us things we can’t learn on the internet. And to the older generations Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers teach us. We are not lazy individuals who do nothing but waste time on the web. We know some things, you know some things, let’s work together to create new ideas that can change the world.
Thanks for reading!
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Friday I had the opportunity to experiment with some new admixtures in our concrete. I always love doing this, even though I know I must drive my admix salesman nuts. But anyway, when you experiment with new things you really get an appreciation for the equipment you have and for the advances in concrete. As we added the new SCC admix we could actually watch the low-slump concrete turn into liquid. We turned low slump concrete into 30” spread concrete. If you have never seen this happen, I would encourage you to try and see this; it’s one of the neatest morphs you will ever see. Even though we only tested 6 yards it was a lot of fun and kind of recharged the batteries. I sat in my office that afternoon and thought to myself, “Damn, that was cool!” I have seen concrete made over and over and over again, but when you actually create concrete it is really a good feeling. Call me goofy, but you tweak something here, add something there, it is really cool. It is kind of like building a house. You have a set blue print, but sometimes you can just tweak something here or there and make what you really want to have. I can’t wait to see the results tomorrow!
I also really take away an appreciation for our fine mixer from ACT. When you make concrete day in and day out you don’t get a fond appreciation for how nice your equipment is until an outside set of eyes comes in and tells you this is the nicest equipment I’ve ever seen. That’s an awesome feeling. When someone comes in that you know has been to other plants and says you have the nicest equipment it gives you a renewal for what you have. I know at the time when we purchased our mixer we were deciding on other mixers, but now I am glad we went with who we did because we have the best of the best.
So what I want you take away from this short blog is never stay satisfied with what you have. You should never settle for what you were told to have. Make your own way and keep your head looking for the better option. And realize that things change. Newer products are being developed everyday and you should never settle for what has been done. Make your own way!
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
My brother and I were talking today about the business of precasting. He is going to a local college for a degree in business administration. As we were talking he mentions to me, “You know our business does not fit anything I have learned.” I had to think about this and of course I am engineer not a business man. So after thought, I had to agree with him. Personally I think we make the best septic tanks in the state of Wisconsin I think, possibly the nation. But I can’t ship them to Texas or California, it’s just not logical. And even if I targeted septic tanks for a marketing campaign I may pick up one or two customers and that’s it. OK so septics are a hard sells, what about our other products? As our discussion progressed we took apart product by product and how we can sell them better. Eventually it turned into more a conversation about the company and not the products. We learned that we can’t sell products on price. Price is not our game that is for our competition. We don’t beat each other up over prices. That’s not who we are, that is not how we were raised. So that’s out. What do we do? First, quality, our quality standard is so high it makes some of our production guys ill. I challenge anyone to make a more quality product than us. Second, service. Our service is untouched. We do whatever it takes to get the job done. WHATEVER IT TAKES! We have had spans where the production crew including myself have considered putting a camper up because we were pouring around the clock, living on Monsters and coffee. Our installation crews have done the same thing, just in the field. They have had months without a day off. Is it the nature of the business, sometimes, but we excel at it. Lastly, and most important we don’t go away. Being that we can’t sell price we get our asses kicked 99% of the time. But you know we keep getting back up and doing it again. That is who we are, maybe it’s the stubborn Norwegian blood, but we don’t quit. We keep bidding jobs, we keep spreading quality, we keep high quality service, and we don’t lose who we are when times get rough. So who are we, we are Dalmaray and we excel!