Organization – My Secret Weapon
Trade secrets are very, well, secretive. Most people guard their philosophies, processes, and systems very carefully. I do not. I believe in sharing what I’ve learned, because I hope that my experiences – both successes and failures – can help others. I want to see manufacturing flourish again. I cannot wait for the day when we can look back and say, “American manufacturing is back.” I hope that my small company can contribute to the resurgence of manufacturing in America. This blog post, and others to come, are written with that statement in mind.
If you know our story, you know that Staub Machine has been very successful since starting in 1975. The business began in a 1-1/2 car garage and now has grown to 28 employees with state-of-the-art equipment housed in three buildings. We are proud to be located in the Village of Hamburg. Often people ask “What’s the Secret” to our success? It’s a hard question to answer without mentioning many, many things. I like to boil it down to three: Processes, Organization and Details. I think all three are key factors for us, and the business wouldn’t be what it is today without all of them.
Organization in the Shop
I want to talk about one of my favorite things: Organization. I guess I was always an organizer… I just didn’t realize it. In the early days, I went to auctions for used equipment. I didn’t bid on machinery or tooling. I bid on cabinets. I bought them back, cleaned them up and filled them with tooling. I would build a table to hold my belt sander and it became a cabinet. I had drawers and cabinets and shelves and racks everywhere – all for organizing.
Then came the Dymo Label Maker, model 1610. You rotated a wheel to get the letter you wanted. Then with a squeeze of the trigger, you would emboss that letter onto a colored tape. After removing the backing, the label was ready for sticking. I became obsessed with labeling things. I would label the drawers, the dividers in the drawer, the cabinet and sometimes the tool itself. The shop had labels everywhere. I became known as a labeling fanatic. I took it home and made labels for the forks, the spoons and the knives. I put labels in the fridge for the ketchup and the milk. I labeled my closet for tee shirts, collared shirts, long sleeved shirts and pants.
Eventually, I found the Brother Label Makers. They are electronic and have a full keyboard including special characters. They are a labeler’s dream! The labeling has caught on in a big way. We now have 11 label makers at work, I have 2 at home, and I’ve given one to each of my daughters. In my opinion, I was just ahead of my time!
Organizing our Organization
At some point I decided to focus on organizing my organization – that is, finding a way to make Staub Machine a more organized company. That started with a mission statement: “Staub Machine Company exists to solve customer problems with cutting edge technology.” The “how” and the “what” of our business are byproducts of this vision. Organization in our facilities has allowed us to organize our goals. I don’t focus on what we do or what we make. In fact, even how we do things is secondary to why we do them.
Only good things can come from being organized. Life becomes less complicated when everything has its place. Organization frees the mind. Removing the clutter, both physically and mentally, has allowed us to be more focused. We’re able to react quickly. We can spot the details that others may glance over, and we know when something isn’t working just right. We are able to focus on our customers and find solutions, because that is how this company has been organized.