Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Perfect Employee

As management personnel, I have had a lot of recent conversation about employees and finding and retaining employees.   It’s hard to explain to hires what they are getting into.  Being part of a precast plant and small business is a different entity.  You aren't putting part A into part B, you aren't on an assembly line, your job is different everyday and the work is tough.  I push my employees hard and I expect perfection.  But my definition of perfection is different than most.  I don’t expect everything to go flawless, every product to come out perfect.  How do you define “perfect”?  Perfect is about your relationship with your family, your God and your co-workers.  Being able to be true to your family, true to your religion, and true to your co-workers is perfect.  I always tell my guys family comes first, than Dalmaray.  But when you come to work I expect them to leave nothing unturned to end the day saying there was not one more thing I could have done to be better.  Now it’s easy to relate this motivational speech to sports, but how does it apply to business.  To me business is about succeeding not only for me, for my company, but for my employees as well. It’s about being the best and employing the best. When I wake up every morning, it’s a new game, a new Championship, a new Super Bowl and I’m going to win.  Why do I feel this way?  Simple I have a legacy to carry on, this is my company.  I have more on my shoulders than employees, but I wish everyone would see what I see and feel how I feel.  It’s hard to change mindset, but I wish every day would start with this speech, start with this motivation.  I want people to stay motivated; I want everyone to know that I do everything I do, not for me, not for the company, but for everyone at Dalmaray, for the guy next to you and I want employees to feel that way to.  That’s what the perfect employee is.  I realize it is hard for the guy making the low wage to feel that way, but I think that if everyone looked at a job with honesty in their eyes and say I will do the best job possible and make this happen then we as a company would be perfect.  Eventually good things will happen and times will be better, but for now if we do everything we can to make the day easier on each other with truth and love we will move forward in unison and be perfect. 

-- I will not stop fighting and turning over the stones

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Change 2013

It’s 2013!  Time to change!  If you didn’t see the video check out my YouTube page, it is time to change.  For the past three years I think we as an economy have felt the better part of pure stagnancy.  We have seen ups and downs.  I for one am tired of it.  This is the year business controls the economy.  I am so sick of listening to excuse after excuse about how we can’t be better than we are.  The economy sucks, the drought killed sales, the competition cut prices.  Done! I’m done with it!  Time to change.  No one controls your fate except you.  But how do you get ahead, how do you get on top.  I got a few ideas…

1.       Take chances….You can’t get anywhere playing it safe.  This is the time, this is the year.  Take the risk.  We have been saving up this energy for years now, let’s release it.  Take the risk.  Make products you haven’t made before, try new processes that may make you more efficient, invest in the new technologies…TRY!  You don’t know what is out there unless you try.  Plain and simple try, try, try.

2.       Believe in your people….Your people have either stood by you through the mud of the bad economy or you have hired new people who believe in a new vision, one of hope.  Most of you have a combination of both.  Now is the time to unite those folks under one common vision.  I believe in you, believe in me.  Make them understand your vision, make them understand your dream!

3.       Support your local economy….Do you know what your neighbor does?  Chances are you don’t.  Ask them.  Challenge your local manufactures to make things that will help you.  This will do three things.  It will inspire them to take chances, keep your costs low, and plug money in your locale.  Support your local economy; chances are they are as passionate about their business as you are in yours.  Help them help you.

4.       Support your organizations…Your organizations are the ones that have been behind you this whole time.  They are the associates who help you build that item, they are the members who gave you that advice, they are the professionals went to bat for you when you wanted change.  Support them.  Without your support they don’t exist, and sadly neither will you. 

5.       Be humble…Things will happen this year.  Good and bad.  I don’t care what you do, where you come from, where you work.  Things will be good and bad this year.  This is the year, though, that we as a nation are on the edge waiting to be pulled back down the sunset trail or pushed off the edge.  Don’t be pushed off the edge.  Stand tall, believe in your path.  Stick to you what you believe and you will succeed. 

6.       Learn…I can’t say this enough.  Learn! Learn! Learn! You have never ever learned enough.  Learn from your mistakes, learn from your organizations, learn from your elders, and learn from your experiences.  Be smart this year.  That is what it’s about.  Learn and react.

The construction season is about to start.  Let’s be smart this year and let’s succeed.  We have the power, we have the knowledge, and most important we have the people.  Everyone from top to bottom is hungry.  Let‘s do this thing!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Good leadership is hard to find these days.  I mean good core leadership.  There are several folks who care about their job and are dedicated, but few possess the leadership qualities that can drive companies and inspire change.  Look back and some of the greatest leaders in history Washington, Lincoln, more modern I think former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  What is it that possesses these people to lead.  Some may say it was the positions they were in.  Wrong I say.  Look back at Washington, what made him great.  His guidance across the Potomac River on a blistery cold night, or his persistence to lead a country with no leader.  Either way you look at it, Washington posses the trait of drive.  When the world said no, Washington said yes.  When Washington’s troops said no, he said push.  It’s this instinct to drive until you can’t drive anymore and then go even further that makes a good leader.   That is leadership. 

Look at Lincoln.  What made Lincoln great?  Lincoln to me had empathy and resiliency.  Lincoln’s leading the battle in civil rights showed his empathy toward the common man and his resiliency amongst doubters.  Lincoln believed in one thing, equality.  Equality amongst all men.  This is one of the greatest leadership traits.  Without empathy, how can a leader really relate to those that follow him or her?  It is impossible.  To be a leader is to be a true maverick.  It means pushing boundaries that haven’t been pushed.  You will have those that don’t want to follow.  As a leader it is your job is to make them believe or move on without them.  But you cannot listen to the nay sayers. 

Lastly, let’s look at Rudy Giuliani.  When you think of Rudy, you think 9/11.  We all do.  We all remember those that were lost and we continue to pray for those families that were forever changed that day.  That being said, imagine being a leader and your world coming to screeching halt.  What do you do?  There are thousands looking to you for answers? What do you do?  That brings me to my last trait humility.  Mayor Giuliani states humility is one the greatest traits of leaders today.  Those that have a sense of realization and aren’t afraid to make decisions are those that make great leaders.  Do you think Mayor Giuliani felt good about every decision he made post 9/11.  Probably not.  But he learned from them and stood by them day and day out and now he is one of the most recognized leader in the modern age. 

So like I said before, good core leadership is hard to find.  Personally I think it is really lacking in industry today.  You can’t grow leaders, you can’t find them online.  Leaders come for the situations that make them.  Those that have mind set and the drive will excel in any situation.  Look at the leaders we have had over time Washington, Lincoln, Giuliani, and many more.  Look at yourself, can you put your name in that sentence.  If you want to call yourself a leader, you better think you can. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Diary of Small Production Floor

I have seen a lot of production facilities in my time and obviously I see mine every day.  The one thing that really amazes me is that every production facility I go to has its own personality and its own identity.  Every facility has its star employee and its struggling employee, every facility has its job everyone loves and the one everyone hates, the trick is finding that harmony to operate in.  With the many variables on a floor that harmony is hard to attain.  I will occasionally visit other production facilities and think to myself “Wow these guys really got it together!”  Then I go back to my shop and try and implement what I saw in my shop then CRASH!! It blows up in my face.  I really get discouraged when this happens, but looking at it now I realize that my shop has its own personality and that is why these implementations don’t work.  I can go to another facility that produces the same products and has the same men and I guarantee the two shops would be completely different.  Right now I have found tremendous success in implementing small changes and inspiring free thought.   I mean sure I could be hard about it and say look this is the way it is and that is all no discussion.  But I feel we operate the best when everyone feels like they are on the same level.  One person is not better than the other and we all work together.  One of my ultimate goals in life is to see our plant be NPCA Plant Certified.  This certification puts your company on a pedestal with other plants that are the best in the nation.  If you dissect every single piece of the NPCA Certification Manual, and believe me I have, it’s too much for a small company to absorb at once.  If I tried to implement this 100 % it would blow up in my face.  So instead what I am doing is implementing little small pieces at a time and this is working.  We are on our way.  I tell you I cannot wait for the day when Dalmaray joins the ranks as the top precasters in the nation. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quality Thinking

I was reading one of my favorite magazines the other day when I came across an article on the Cost of Quality.  This intrigued me and as I was reading the author made the statement that quality cost can be 20%-30% of sales.  These costs are the costs not only of implementing quality programs, but the costs associated with diagnosing and fixing the errors of your day to day production.  I really have to agree with this 100%.  I have seen our company fix product and even scrap poor products and that just really hurts.  We as managers/owners really get a pain in our side when we have to do things like this.  Not only does hurt the pocket book, but the morale.  It is so easy and so cheap to implement quality thoughts in to your production staff.  It’s the retention that is hard.   We are going through that right now.  We have a younger work staff and we struggle to retain the quality trains of thought sometimes. We are actively reinforcing over and over again the teachings.  That is where the implementation costs really come into play.  But I would rather spend money teaching and reinforcing than patching and scrapping.  A perfectly delivered product speaks volumes for who you are and what your company is about.  I really am starting to see the tides turning as guys are more about how to progress than feel sorry about themselves.  The other day we had an issue with a form that was not caught in time and we had to patch a product.  This was a setback, but what I saw for the first time was immediate discussion about what we can do to correct this in the future.  There was no finger pointing, no complaining, just instant brainstorming and evaluation.  That is quality thinking in my mind and this making me very proud that the retention is happening.  Good things are happening! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Am Asking for Help

For those of you that read my blog and are part of a large company I need help.  We are a small company (less than 15 employees) and we have been struggling with taking the next step.  We have some in the company like myself who want to bigger and want to better.  Then we have those that are content with where we at right now, staying small and not growing, just remaining stagnant.  I will say that we have this problem up and down the organization.  Take for instance, we implement a new policy, there is an initial buzz and everything goes well.  Then as time goes by employees get lacking and we find that we have to remind and remind and remind.  Does anyone else feel this way sometime?  I think we suffer from that small shop attitude sickness.  I like to think that I really get along with everyone well, but maybe it’s me.  Maybe I should be more of a dictator and less of a friend.  Same the other direction we have higher positioning employees/directors who feel the changes we implement are unnecessary.  “Why do we need to improve?” is a common comment.  Again asking does anyone else have this problem?  Do I feel what we do taking the next step is premature? No.  Maybe it’s the staff.  Maybe we need to re-staff, or find that one member who can step up.  I don’t know.  This has caused me great frustration as of late as I feel we are on the brink of the next step.  I am very goal oriented and I feel that if I don’t have goals I really don’t have any other reason to work.  I have done my research, I know what we need to do, and it’s just a matter of keeping the wheels turning.  I don’t quit, I don’t walk away, I’m just curious if anyone else out there has dealt with this type of sickness and has any suggestions.  Anyone made that transition from a small shop to a larger shop or even industry leader.  Or maybe the better quesiton to ask when do you know you are ready for the transition?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Maintenance of Your Machine

I wanted to start tonight’s blog with a quote.  Here it goes

The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”
Robert M. Pirsig

Why this quote is so relevant is because what I want to talk about.  Maintenance.  Yes we develop maintenance plans for our machines, our mixers, our trucks, but do we our employees?   How does one develop a maintenance “plan” for people?  It’s not like you can change the oil every 3 months or replace a belt every 12.  What do we do?  Is it necessary?  My opinion is yes it is necessary and what do we do…three things. Listen, learn, and educate. First listen.  Listen to your employees.  Stick your finger on the pulse of the company.  Is your employee going through tough times, is your employee hiding something, is your employee elated about something?  Every day is different, but this goes back to some of my old blogs, you are only as good as your employees make you.  Listen to them!  There may be something affecting them that could swing you positive or negative.  But like I said every day is different; keep your finger on the pulse.  That is the only way to maximize productivity.  Second and third learn and educate run together.  Your employees can teach you things and you can teach things as well.  It’s a give and take.  I always find it amazing, at our plant we have one guy who can look at something and take it apart in his mind.   Any engine, any machine, he can dissect it.  Well every time something needs repair it’s a learning experience.  I find myself thinking every time what happens when this guy retires?  You can’t replace this knowledge, but what can you do?  Learn and educate.  Teach another, teach each other.  Along the same lines we have an employee that is time and time again the most recommended delivery driver job after job after job.  What does he do differently?  Again I find myself thinking, “We need to keep this mentality up, what happens when he is gone?”  Every person on your floor or in your fleet has value! They all can teach and they all can learn!  Open it up let them be teachers, let them be the students!  I cannot stress this enough.  We are a society of learned citizens who always yearn for the next step, the next plateau, and we as managers/owners need to lead to those plateaus.  And a lot of times those plateaus are within the company, we just never knew it.  That being said we also have more resources than our shop employees.  Why not use them?  Case in point.  I have started an education fund for our employees where I will match whatever money they put into an “education fund”.  This fund will pay their way to educational courses put on by our national organization, the National Precast Concrete Association.  Why do I do this?  Everyone wants to reach that next plateau, they just don’t know how.   Flip the coin over, this is preventative maintenance on my part.  I invest money in my employees to be better educated in their job, what is my return?  A better understanding of their job and a better respect of what they do.  Money well spent period.  That will give more of a return than any extended life filter or belt you will ever buy.  So it’s like Robert says, “The place to improve the world is in one’s own heart and head and hands, then work outward from there. “  Maintenance on a man will go infinitely longer than any machine.  Listen, learn, EDUCATE!