This letter is written to underscore very important truths that we all must remember.
In 1983, our Sherman Blvd. Plant Manager Gwen Leshore was being recalled from Lack of Work (L.O.W) with G.E. (Bldg. 4). She had been an employee there for ten years and had suffered through multiple, similar incidents. This one was different. Jobs were being transferred from Fort Wayne to Juarez, Mexico.
By this time, Gwen had found another Fort Wayne job. In order to return to winding G.E. motors, she had to give away important earning’s security. That was a risk she could not afford. She had enjoyed the G.E. work, but reluctantly chose to stay in her new job – and break her G.E. service ties.
Gwen, and our International Park employees, might recall feelings of abandonment when they were asked to document their work procedures or assist in moving the jobs out of the United States. I can relate. As a former G.E. employee, I felt the need to leave after 21 years because my chosen career path was uncertain at best; and likely to end at worst.
Before our arrival, Excellon Technologies had bought the “legacy” DC motor lines in 2010. And, with the help of several highly experienced employees, they moved the equipment across town to International Park.
Their original strategy was to take on the challenge of rebuilding the motor’s reputation. This was compromised by several last time buys; shocking pricing; and declining quality. If unsuccessful, their fallback strategy was to harvest the remaining profitable years. Then, as the predicted sales decline appeared, they would recoup their investment by selling off the remaining assets.
Shortly after Jill and I purchased Excellon Technologies, we changed the strategy to one of building a solid, lasting business. Early on, we expanded the floor space and purchased tool room equipment. New process tooling allowed vertical integration. These things resulted in market shifting lead time improvement. More recently, we further expanded space, dramatically improved lighting, and invested in new equipment. As owners, we had to personally guarantee a new 5-year lease. Today, our motors enjoy the same strong reputation that G.E. had created in days of old.
Now, we are holding think tank meetings to develop new products. All of this is done to reverse the decades old trend of exporting instead of improving. Our culture is based on maintaining and expanding employment for the generations to come.
The first “new generation” employees are already in place and starting to learn multiple, complicated processes. However, our documentation and work instructions must be dramatically improved to ensure continual improvement. Our pioneering “close to second retirement” employees are now faced with the old, haunting dilemma. Why should I help the company eliminate the need for me? I have walked this path before and it remains as a painful memory!
The answer, if not comfortable, is simple. By making training easier for all to follow, I can be proud of my role in adding more jobs for future generations. If and when I choose a new retirement, I can return to visit the plant, smile and say to those who remain, “I was here at the startup of this plant. We did everything we could to help it be successful. I am so thankful that you came along to keep the torch flaming.”
The reality is that since 2010, our Company is reversing the old direction from “out of country” to “become highly competitive and stay where you are.” We are proud of all the employees that helped us make this happen.
Claude W. Sparks