Production Machining

OCT 2018

Production Machining - Your access to the precision machining industrial buyer.

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My lifelong passion for cycling all started ith a lesson 45 years ago—one as applicable to success in business as it as to learning to ride a bike. N ot long ago, a friend asked how many century (100-plus mile) bicycle rides I had completed in my lifetime. I guessed at least three dozen. •at number includes criterium races, road races, cyclocross races, group rides, mountain bike trips in the Rockies and much more. I have ridden thousands and thousands of miles on my bikes. But •rst I had to learn how to ride. Most of us likely remember our •rst bike. Mine was orange, my favorite color. Its seat was a deep draw steel stamping. It had white plastic pedals and training wheels. It wasn't free-wheel, meaning it didn't glide. If I pedaled forward, it traveled forward. If I pedaled backward the bike traveled backward. Today's cycling enthusiasts would call that style of drivetrain a "•xie," but back then it was just a simple kid's bike, and I loved it. My cousin, Gene, lived with us for about a year at that time. Following four years in the Navy, he moved the 450 miles or so from his hometown in Southwestern Minnesota to ours in Southeastern Wisconsin to get a new start on life. I was four years old and about the time he moved in I was ready for someone to teach me to ride my bike without training wheels. Gene took the job. We all know the routine. With Gene's hand on the seat, he balanced the bike upright. Tentatively I would start pedaling, with him walking behind me. I gained a little speed and he started trotting and encouraging me. "•e faster you go," he would yell, "the more balance you get." Eventually, I would get going fast enough that he couldn't keep up. As he released his hand, o' I would go for a few pedal strokes. •en, the front wheel would jostle back and forth as I careened this way and that, down the sidewalk, not long thereafter crashing to the ground, skinning a knee or an elbow and picking myself up o' the ground. "Ready to try again?" Gene would ask with a smile. "No." Until the next day. "•e faster you go, the more balance you get." And the day after, and the next. Before long, I could "y up and down the block on my bike with no help at all, thanks in large part, to Gene. The Faster You Go, the More Balance You Get By Matt Kirchner CONTRIBUTOR Matt Kirchner is managing director of Prot360, LLC, a Wisconsin-based strategic advisor to U.S. Manufacturers; and is CEO of American Finishing Resources, LLC.€ Contact :: mkirchner@prot-360.com •e faster you go, the more balance you get. •is is certainly true of the physics of riding a bicycle, and of running a business as well. I'm now on my fourth business, having led a radio frequency identifcation (RFID) start-up, a custom coater, a surface •nishing supplier and now an advanced manufac- turing skills training systems company. With every new company, I endeavor to do big things—building on the company's tradition and taking it in expanded directions quickly, accelerating growth and trying my best to make a mark. Each time, about six months in, a team member inevitably says, "We're trying to do too much, we're moving too fast." My patent response is, "•e faster you go, the more balance you get." It always elicits a perplexed look on the part of the person receiving the message, and then I tell the story. I tell them about learning to ride a bike and how, as scary as it was, the faster I could get the bike moving, the easier it was to stay upright. It works in business, too. A mentor once told me that rapid growth enables us to get away with a lot of mistakes in business. When a business isn't growing, every miscue takes it backward, adversely a'ecting pro•tability and cash "ow, making the mistake stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Growth covers up the e'ects of the mistake and prevents us from dwelling on it, enabling us to quickly learn from our errors and to move on. Moving fast keeps our teams engaged and challenged, it keeps our customers enthused and encourages us to stay on the cutting edge of whatever is driving our market, it requires creativity and innovation—both key to business success. Moving fast confounds our competitors, leaving them wondering how we do it. Most important, moving fast is fun. On August 6 this year, Gene lost his battle with cancer, an event which caused me to pause more than a few times to think about the cycling lesson he taught me so many years ago, and the life lesson that came along with it. •e faster you go, the more balance you get. BOUT YOUR BUSINESS 26 PRODUCTION MCHINING :: OCTOBER 2018

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