....a load off my mind!

Vision and Values…

As new recruit signs Straightpoint mission statement, Mr Loadlink explains what it takes to make the lifting industry a safer place.

The blurb on the back cover of one of my favourite business books—Start With Why—reads, “…in business it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters why you do it. Steve Jobs, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King have one thing in common…”

The author, Simon Sinek, starts the book by explaining how the Wright brothers beat a maths professor from Harvard who was backed by a whopping grant, into the skies because their passion, enthusiasm, commitment and, most importantly, their ability to inspire those around them was greater. Sinek goes on to explain how they, Jobs and Luther King all “started with why”.

I’m not out to emulate such greatness and I certainly have no aspirations to change the world, but I challenge the staff at Straightpoint to embrace our own mission statement with the same passion that inspired others to make a difference.

Why? Because we want to make the lifting industry a safer place.

Camarillo camaraderie

I also agree with Sinek that it is important to build a team of staff to show up because they believe in a company ethos (what he would call the WHY) not the pay cheque they receive for doing so. He says, “…pulling together a team of like-minded people and giving them a cause to pursue ensures a greater sense of teamwork and camaraderie.”

This has certainly been true of Straightpoint. We have grown exponentially as a business in recent years and are very particular about the personnel we introduce who will inspire further growth and do a little bit more each day to make the lifting industry a safer place.

At the turn of the month (September) I visited our North American headquarters in Camarillo, California where John Molidor, the general manager of Straightpoint Inc., has recently welcomed Tressie LaBass, customer and sales support administrator, who I introduced you to in my previous blog. Johnnny Gonzalez and Aaron Orsak (the latter is based in Houston) are also part of the US team.

We allude to the vision and values of our company during recruitment processes but it is most rewarding to present our official mission statement to new recruits so they can add their signature to those of existing staff and commit to helping each other realise our individual and collective goals. It’s not a set of rules or guidelines. It’s more than that. To some extent we make sure new recruits Start With Why.

I’ll take a moment to doff my cap to Gary Mullins, of Action Coach, who provided a valuable perspective from outside our company when we set our mission statement. I am hugely appreciative of the guidance and encouragement Gary has given the team and I to achieve our business goals in recent years.

Above the centrepiece of the statement—Making the lifting industry a safer place—is our goal: To maintain our global position as the number one supplier of load cells to the lifting, rigging and load measurement industries. Below it, we remind ourselves that we accomplish this through world-class customer service and innovative, forward-thinking products.

This text is surrounded by buzz words that are important to us, such as Teamwork, Professionalism and Dedication. Beyond that, we reference the practical components that continue to ensure our growth, like Marketing, Design, Sales and Manufacture.

Tressie, like all new recruits, understands that she is expected to adhere to these visions and values, but not be restricted by them. I know something that John and Aaron particularly enjoy about working for Straightpoint is that the business is flexible and dynamic enough to implement their product and strategy ideas.

Consider how much greater the rewards are by conforming to such a team ethic as opposed to having an isolated team of individuals who only come up with ideas because they think it’s their job to do so, knowing they probably won’t penetrate layers of bureaucracy and achieve sign off at board level.

Aaron presented a fantastic product idea during our meetings in Camarillo and he knows it will be followed up with our engineering team with a view to introducing the concept to market early next year. Congratulations, Aaron, on helping to make the lifting industry a safer place.

What would your company’s mission statement be if you Started With Why?

Autumn equinox

At the time of writing it is the Autumn (Fall) Equinox, which means day and night are of equal length today but, more importantly, Q4 is almost upon us (as it will be by the time many of you read this). The codes referenced above were prevalent throughout our Q4 and 2016 planning meetings, both in Camarillo and at Hampshire headquarters in the UK.

A conundrum always presents itself at this time of year when we’re target-setting: are products and engineering or marketing more important to executing a growth strategy? The answer is probably both (a mix between light and shade, perhaps) but it’s something we discussed at some length as we prepare to put THREE new products to market—the Running Line Dynamometer (the TIMH range); the Towcell, for towing applications; and ATEX, IECEx versions of our most popular product, the Radiolink Plus wireless load cell.

I’ve referenced before our intent to provide more product literature in local languages and we decided during my recent trip to the states to translate our web pages into Spanish. Tressie and Johnny were able to complete the translation in house which was a huge advantage. Thank you, Tressie and Johnny, for helping to make the lifting industry a safer place.

We’ll circulate a press release next month (October) about John Molidor conducting load cell training at our Mexico-based partner Cargo Lift. Thank you, John, for helping to make the lifting industry a safer place.

Ricardo Barroso, director at Cargo Lift, notes an increase in interest in force measurement technologies from his region. Ricardo and his team have the full support of our sales and engineering teams as we explore this land of mutual opportunity together. Engaging the local market with online material in their own language can only help; we’ve seen our partners RUD Lifting Japan Co. Ltd. do the same with printed literature.

On my way back to the UK, I stopped at Boston, where I visited our strategic partner Steve Torres, CEO at Group Four Transducers Inc. We team up on a lot of projects together and I also consider Steve to be a very good friend. It was great to catch up in a fabulous part of New England to discuss our families, strategy and the state of the market.

I caught up with my good friend Steve Torres, CEO at Group Four Transducers Inc., this month.

I caught up with my good friend Steve Torres, CEO at Group Four Transducers Inc., this month.

Last week, we exhibited at the LEEA Roadshow in Cardiff, where visitors discussed the LEEA Academy initiative and instructions for use and maintenance of lifting equipment. There is a sudden surge in interest to improve the contents of such instructions and LEEA will help by the publication of the LEEA-062 series of guidance notes to cover that particular subject. It’ll be exciting to watch how this develops.

Thank you for reading.

Keep following us on Twitter—@LoadCell—and use the hashtags #loadcell and #belowthehook.

Mr Loadlink

To the Power of Three

As the British summer disappears in a torrent of rain at Havant, UK headquarters, Straightpoint is awash with new products. Mr Loadlink explains

In Latin, “Omne trium perfectum” means everything that comes in threes is perfect. There’s certainly something about groups of three that invokes an emotional response. Take the Three Wise Men, the Three Musketeers or the Three Blind Mice, for example.

It’s certainly true that good things come in threes at Straightpoint this summer, as three new products are ready to launch almost simultaneously. Such has been the varied nature of the paths these products have take from conceptualisation, it’s remarkable that they’ve all reached this point at the same time. It’s almost as though it’s meant to be; as if it were written in the same stars that were so important to the Three Wise Men.

The three products I’m talking about are the Running Line Dynamometer (the TIMH range); the Towcell load cell, for towing applications; and ATEX, IECEx versions of our most popular product, the Radiolink Plus wireless load cell. The Towcell is available even as I write this, while the new explosion-proof products are awaiting certification that we expect to receive in the coming weeks, about the same time that the TIMH range will be ready.

This isn’t the place to go into detail about the features of the new products but they’re examples of the continued evolution of the company and, moreover, demonstrates our ability to diversify our range to penetrate new marketplaces and provide a broader mix of products to the sectors that we have served to date with force measurement, load monitoring and suspended weighing load cell technologies.

For example, the TIMH range will be particularly useful in the marine, offshore and towage and salvage industries where there is no anchor or dead end and a loadlink, digital dynamometer or other load cell are unsuitable to measure tension force. The TIMH is constructed from marine grade stainless steel and will also, as an option, calculate lineout in metres or feet and line speed.

Towcell, meanwhile, is a towing device for road going vehicles that displays wirelessly the weight being towed. The launch represents evolution of a product that started as a hybrid of the Radiolink Plus following an enquiry from the UK Highways Agency. The agency had a fleet of lease vehicles and needed to ensure they were not towing over capacity and damaging clutches, axles and other components.

Also an enhancement of the Radiolink Plus, the ATEX and IECEx versions of the product will be assembled on a brand new production line ensuring that we can continue to provide quick delivery to job sites around the world.

I want to take a moment to reference the dedication to the project shown by Roshan Divakaran, our design engineer, who has overseen the product’s development from the outset.

Roshan Divakaran

Roshan Divakaran holding our latest new product

Roshan and the team have worked tirelessly with the Sira Certification Service, an independent certification body, to meet the requirements of ATEX and IECEx, while ensuring that we can put a production line in place ready to deliver with the same short lead time that epitomises our entire range. Customers in marine, highways, oil, gas, heavy lift and many other industries know that this ability is a hallmark of the company.

Learn or leave

Another Latin phrase I like is “Aut disce aut discede,” which broadly translates to “Learn or leave”.

Every product launch can teach one something about a market, a company and the supply chain that will take it to lifting (or towing) applications in industry. What these three particular products have reiterated to me is the importance of making sure the arduous processes that are sometimes involved—especially true of explosion-proof product launches—are respected and completed in tune with the overarching ethos of the company.

There would be little point in launching a product if we couldn’t provide it to the same quality, at the same speed, for which we are known. I’d go so far as to say it is our number one selling point. Towcell customers will expect the product to be effectively on the shelf, while we’ll exceed the expectations of Running Line Dynamometer customers in delivering product within a week. Oil and gas clients already know well of our ability to do that.

You can take a lot from the success experienced to date in shaping your future. Aut disce aut discede, one might say. Within each successful product, where is there a component or piece of engineering that could be utilised by another application?

John Molidor, the general manager of our North American subsidiary, considered this when introducing to manufacturers and end users of two-point (swing stage) adjustable suspension scaffolds our load shackle that will measure the combined weight of personnel and tools prior to use. It’s a market that could consume our product pretty much as it exists. The entertainment industry is another sector of interest, as discussed in last month’s blog.

It’s worth asking yourself, how might your products be used in other applications you haven’t yet considered or components applied to the continued improvement of your offering?

We’re constantly asking ourselves questions to challenge the company and the individuals within it. As a result, we approach the final quarter of the year as a very different business to that which turned the corner of the year eight months ago. It’ll look very different again this time next year, I’m sure, as distributors and users continue to inspire innovation and ingenuity.

“Work hard. Never give up.”

Part of that evolution and improvement will be represented by the new faces that we introduce to the business. Our North American subsidiary has been a focal point of our growth for some time; we recently welcomed former Bishop Lifting Products and Certex USA employee Aaron Orsak as technical sales engineer. Aaron is based in Houston and covers the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama regions.

tressieFurther west, we have expanded our team at US headquarters in Camarillo, California, with the addition of Tressie LaBass, who joins as customer and sales support administrator. The quality of personnel we are now able to attract is another yardstick by which we can measure our progress. I particularly like Tressie’s LinkedIn tagline: “Work hard. Never Give up.” Hear, hear!

What’s the Latin for that, I hear you ask. Something like “Labor omnia vincit,” I think!

The aftermath

Tremors are still being felt throughout the industry following the news that Konecranes Plc and Terex Corporation will combine their businesses in a merger of equals. The combined company, to be called Konecranes Terex Plc, will be a leading global lifting and material handling solutions company with estimated combined 2014 revenues and EBITDA of $10 billion and $845 million.
I know there have been many references to consolidation—and fragmentation—of the industry, particularly from these companies, but this surprised me. I’d be interested in the challenges and opportunities such a significant merger presents for your company.

Only as I was posting this blog did news break that Schlumberger, a leading oilfield service provider, will buy Cameron, one of the biggest oilfield equipment manufacturers, in a deal worth a whopping $14.8 billion!

I’m off to the states to spend some time with John, Tressie and the team before drawing breath in readiness for another trade show season which gets underway as always in September. I look forward to catching up with some of my readers over the next few months.

Thank you for reading. Keep following us on Twitter—@LoadCell—and use the hashtags #loadcell and #belowthehook.

Carpe diem!

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