Ray's Speech at 2nd 1500 Machine Launch

Ray's Speech At 2nd 1500 Machine Launch

"Good afternoon, everybody! Welcome to Seaway. Genevieve, Jim. Joe Bennet, um, gave me a two-page script to follow. It’s on the podium behind me. There's no way in hell I’m ever gonna be able to follow it. I’ve been asked today, how do we do what we do, and how do we handle, uh, integrating new people. So I’ll just start out of the normal everyday routine. You know, we start our day, you know, we have our, our mission, our core values, they’re up behind me. And part of that, is we have a morning huddle, where the leaders get together, and we’ve been doing that since, jeez, going back to like 1999. We’re also an open book company, we share our financials with all of our employees, quarterly. And we’ve been doing that since 1999. So, let’s start with our normal, morning huddle. We stand in a circle, or in a group like this, and we, I forced everybody to say something they’re grateful for. When we first did it, um, you know one of my friends, years ago, gave me a book that had 10,000 things to be grateful for. And I would have that at the meeting, and if somebody was stuck, I’d give’em the book and say, “Open the damn book and just pick something.” Dwyane Tony back there, he’s laughing, he picked on me this morning to go first, and, what I mentioned was is, ya know, I was grateful for all this. Somebody had asked me this morning if I was really excited, I said ‘No, I’m not sure that’s the word that I would use–grateful. I’m very proud of the group of people. So how did this, um, start. We can pick the date of 2015, 2018, somewhere in that time frame. But for sure, in the March timeframe. Joe Bennett–Joe you wanna come up here and stand next to me? I really don’t care whether you want to or not–come on up here. Joe had an idea. If you can’t tell, Joe’s a little bit younger than me, had more energy, but all it took was a spark. And I asked Joe this morning–so it was his idea, all of this–and I asked him this morning, I said, “Did you envision that it was gonna look like this?” Joe looked around, and he said, “Well, no, not exactly.” I don’t think any of this has gone by the plan book. There’s been so many curves, unbelievable, I mean who could’ve foreseen COVID? I have a bunch of these little jokes, er, they’re kind of insider jokes, but… When Joe got me into this, the first 1500 that was available on the market, because, you know, it’s the only one, and other people were looking at it, I think one of the gentlemen sitting here, Mr. Dunford, may have had his eye on it. Where are ya Bob? There ya are. And our guys were saying, “Ray, if you don’t buy that 1500, you will never have another opportunity the rest of your life, because you’re old.” Um. We now have four of em. And when we started out and planned this building it was only to have one. So now we’re squeezing four of these giant machines into this little tiny building. So, no, um, it was hard to envision, and we didn’t see all of this coming, how did we handle it? We made the commitment with the first machine, and the next person I jumped on in our morning huddle this morning is Mr. Swarcheck. Yes, come on up, I don’t care if you have to hobble, let’s go. So Mr. Swarcheck has installed more 1500s than anybody, other than National Machinery. And we have the original manufacturers of these machines here today, and thank you for coming from Tiffin. Jim, um, I think I pursued him for at least four years. I’d send him stuff for his birthday, his anniversary, and stuff just because. And I said, “You know, I know you’re not ready, but when you are, I hope you take my phone call.” It was about four years. I mean, wow. And the next person we had to go after, Tim White. Where is Mr. White? Yes. He reminds me of Tim Misny. Come on, get up here, Tim. So Jim did the heavy lifting. Ok, now, now you need some brains. And Tim heads up our engineering. And the brains to tool all these machines, it’s, it’s unbelievable, um, the number of pieces-parts. And this is where I should hand the mike to Joe, because he has to charge our customers for all those pieces-parts. There's just a lot of tools, and to design them all, from scratch, and I didn’t give them any time to do it, and I, he’s still here. He doesn’t have any hair left, but… Ok, so, heavy lifting, I’ve got brains, um, and, the next person I picked on was Chris Seiber. Um, and I don’t see Steve from second shift. But Chris is, ok, he’s over there hiding. And Chris is, um, a die-hard Michigan fan, and some of you guys traveled down here from Michigan, so I wore my Michigan tie. I had to really choose, because it’s a real war here, between Ohio State and Michigan. So, Chris, what are you waiting for? Come on down. And the next person I’m gonna pick on, would be, uh, Dwayne Tony. Come on up, Dwayne. So if I failed to mention, um, the c-word, COVID, and the loss of personnel, one of the great things about all these guys, starting with Joe, Jim, Chris, Tim and Dwayne, is they brought teams of people with them. Not overnight; Jim had been burnt enough that he didn’t know if the mission, values, core beliefs, were true. Anybody can put that up on the wall. Then he brought with him a staff that was able to take pieces of crap–you should have seen what the Chinese did to that 1500 machine over there–and being able to rebuild it into the 1500-2. They’re identical machines in almost all capabilities, they’re virtually identical. And to literally the Chinese running the next tier plant, ran 'em until they couldn't hit another stroke. So no, no maintenance for, I don't know, more than a decade. And our guys, my son Raymond, back there–ya gonna wave your hand–and then Jim, ya know, they were in Tyvek suits, respirators, with uh, high pressure hot steamers, in July, steam cleaning em, enough that the state of Michigan would allow em on a truck on the road, and disassembling them. So it took about eight weeks to disassemble, and then it got turned over to riggers. And then to have it fully assembled, and there’s gonna be a little unreveal, they're gonna run some parts for you, um. Which is just really, really, really, really, really cool. But that’s how we did it: great people, they brought families with them. The customers, Joe’s been real careful about throttling customers in, because we really, really, really try not to overpromise. Joe will tell ya that, you know, getting the order, is, it’s hard, and if you let’em down, ya know, they’re not coming back. So we have an on time delivery record in the 99% range. I mean, it’s just, it’s just unbelievable. 99.3, 99.7, I don’t know why we can’t get to 100, Joe, hop, hop. I have to say, another thing about the growth, ya know I have a couple bankers here–it’s always good to have two, just in case. And our bank, um, to do the next expansion we’re gonna have to use some capital. So we’ve been really, really, really fortunate that there were investment tax credits available, grants available, and even the PPP that helped keep the place going during COVID. All of that helped make this all possible. It really, really takes a partnership with the government. I’m committed to it, and that’s nothing new. I’ll be going to Washington with my daughter in a week or two, with the Industrial Fastener Institute for their annual fly-in. I think it’s the, uh, first one since COVID. When we’re competing against China, where the government subsidizes and gives incredible investment tax credits, um, it’s tough, it’s really, really, really tough. These are iconic machines, they’re very, very capital intensive, um. So thank you, um, the United States, it’s fitting that we have a flag and that we're standing below that–it's’ a great country to be in, um, but we do need more. I think that what we’ve assembled here gives us an incredibly bright, bright future. Um, I asked my HR person, who loves to talk–she’s standing in the back–um, to bring out some applications. Some of you guys, I think, still work here, but if you know anybody, good. I have to put that plug in. Anywhere I go, I’m trying to recruit talent, because the demographic wave that we're riding right now, it’s, it could kill manufacturing. So we’re doing the best we can, um, so the representatives from the state of Ohio, and Lorain County, that are here, thank you for coming and believing in us. And, um, since I went off script, Joe, what else would you like me to say? “You did great, that was perfect.” So, you guys from Michigan, thank you for traveling such a long distance, and I can’t forget, Pittsburgh. Very honored to have a friendly, uh competitor, Pittsburgh Plug here. And I’d love to name each and every one of you guys for coming, it’s very, very nice to share this time with us. So with that, Joe? “I think we’re gonna pass it over to Chris, and uh, he’s gonna do his thing and we're gonna walk over to the machine and watch it knock out a couple parts. So again, like Ray said, we… Thank you!"