As I sit at the computer to write my feelings and reflections on what the close to thirty six years of a labor of love means to me I get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of products manufactured by the shop and myself.
The shop succeeded in every way in its mission of meeting or exceeding the expectations of our customers with exceeding the expectations being the rule not the exception. I can count on one finger in the last ten to fifteen years that a project left the shop that was not up to customer expectations and on one hand in the entirety of the shop the number times we did not meet expectations. How is that possible. The answer is simply our pride in our work. Customer satisfaction was a personal challenge. Total embarrassment in not sending out our best was a powerful motivator.
Equal to the pride in workmanship was the commitment to honesty and integrity and our willingness to help other companies when they were in a bind. There was a day when those attributes were recognized and rewarded by the customers you were serving. I am proud to say that as the business world has changed to the focus on the bottom line we remained loyal to those people and companies that gave us great service.
In the late 1980's a Precision Pattern an aircraft interiors company dad had worked for six to seven years earlier called us to see if we could help build small assemblies for them. After dad had a meeting with them and agreed to help the owner asked him if he was helping to set up another competitor. Dad replied he was not and on a handshake, we began a long term relationship with Precision Pattern that embodies the best in supplier – customer relationships. A relationship built on trust and cooperation. There were not many customer relationships after Precision Pattern that were built on those ideals as hard as we tried from our side of the relationship. Our stated goal “Our greatest pride is in the quality we put into each and every project we start and the interest we take in the success of our customers” could not dent the barriers put up by other companies. Barriers I do believe were put in place by people who were/are ignorant of the importance of cooperation and trust in the success of a project.
Dad and I were talking about all of the different kinds of products we had been involved in over thirty six years. The journey includes but not limited to the following custom office furnishings, composite aircraft cabinetry, high gloss finishing on aircraft cabinetry, work on presidential aircraft, plastic vacuum forming, cnc machining, laser engraving, solid modeling, 3D printing. No other business in the area has the depth of experience as our shop has. Experience gained out of necessity and curiosity.
It is my contention that the roots of Design Manufacturers Inc. reach into the mid 1960's when Dad began working at Baldwin Piano Company first as an instructor and subsequently as a plant supervisor. Baldwin is where he began learning manufacturing processes. It amuses me when people come into the shop assuming that the little business has limited knowledge.
So as I begin the process of selling the shops equipment what does that mean? It means a chapter of my life is closing. A chapter I am very proud of. A chapter full of laughter, tears, good times and bad times is coming to a close. A father and son story that should be the envy of every son who left home and never fully got to know their dad.
What is the future? The answer is simply I do not know. Is there a place for a middle aged man who not only has the shops thirty six years worth of experience but has also taken the time to study people, business, companies, leadership, marketing, sales, HR, continuous improvement et all. Dad said it best in a conversation that there is no one more experienced and well rounded than you are in the area. Perhaps there is a business owner out there who understands the importance of well rounded individuals. A well rounded person not being the expert necessarily in any one field but the person who understands the overall picture of how all the pieces of a business need to fit together. Essentially a person who does not need to be the top dog as it were but is comfortable behind the scenes playing a supporting role. Perhaps just perhaps.