....a load off my mind!

Remove the Business Blinkers…

The spirit of collaboration and the return of LiftEx as we know it, feature as Mr Loadlink blogs again.

I am a regular visitor to Goodwood Racecourse. There’s something therapeutic about the unmistakable thud of hooves striking the turf as horses approach the winning post, whether you’ve backed the winner or not! More importantly, the course, set in the picturesque South Downs in West Sussex, is a fantastic backdrop for networking.

Bridger-Howes joined me and Mr Loadlink junior for a day at Glorious Goodwood

Bridger-Howes joined me and Mr Loadlink junior for a day at Glorious Goodwood

Such was the case during the autumn season finale earlier this month when horses thundered past our enclosure with the reds and oranges of the season making the scene even more spectacular. A number of horses were wearing blinkers to limit their peripheral vision. Use is typically governed by temperament and a horse’s ability to avoid distraction. I’m no equestrian expert, I’m sure it works a treat but it’s amazing how many people take the same approach in business.


We’ve got a room marked Top Secret at Hampshire headquarters (not far from Goodwood), as any good business should have, but it’s reserved only for ideas and concepts the leaking of which would have a seriously detrimental impact on the business. In the main, I champion the theory of abundance and am passionate about the spirit of collaboration. To some extent we’re in a race, but I like to know exactly what’s going on around me and work with as many people as possible to navigate the rolling hills as each furlong throws at us its challenges and opportunities.


Lunch with a peer

The first appointment in my diary this quarter was a meeting with Sarah Spivey, who is managing director of spreader beam manufacturer Modulift. As many readers of this blog know, we’re both UK-based manufacturers of premium, market-leading technologies and, as I’ve said before, I find the relationship between the two businesses personally and professionally satisfying. I keep in regular contact with Sarah and we frequently meet up.

As our latest meeting proved, it’s of constant value to build such relationships, share stories and explore avenues of mutual opportunity. Sarah and I share many of the same connections in industry and our products are distributed around the world by a number of the same dealers. It’s amazing how often I’ve travelled by plane, train, automobile and even packhorse, to arrive at a facility in the middle of nowhere to find she has penned her name in the visitors book only a day or two earlier. Similarly, we attend many of the same shows and trade events.

Diversification and people were the key takeaways from this latest summit. It’s fascinating how a product designed for one purpose, like a load cell, can be applied to a myriad of applications. As the oil and gas market continues to face challenges, regular readers will know how keen I am to explore new areas such as the entertainment sector, for example. Rest assured, I will be building as many relationships as I can as I tread the boards with increasing regularity.

I’d urge anyone in business to take the blinkers off and embrace such collaboration. It’s a myth in most sectors that secrecy is the key to success. I’d certainly be a poorer business leader and Straightpoint’s growth more laboured if I hadn’t reached out a hand of friendship and engaged my peers in such conversations. It’s not as cynical as quid pro quo but you do get out what you put in.

A rising tide lifts all boats

A few days after my meeting with Sarah I boarded a flight to Abu Dhabi to leverage another collaboration that has been hugely rewarding. Our partners Rigmarine were exhibiting at the Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats show and it was opportune to have a presence on their stand to stage the Middle East launch of our new product for measuring tension on lines—the Running Line Dynamometer (or TIMH).

The product, part of the tension in motion range, is built with dockside, marine, offshore, towage and salvage applications in mind and represented a perfect fit for the show’s audience, who dwindled somewhat in number from previous years but the quality was very high and we received some excellent enquiries. Quality trumps quantity every time when measuring trade show footfall.

I expect Rigmarine to generate ongoing interest in the TIMH, aided by their new calibration facility. The return on their investment in the calibrator will be two-fold in that they can welcome business for calibration services but, more importantly, they can provide the service to a local marketplace, thus, generating greater interest and ultimately sales. I enjoy working with such an ambitious, forward-thinking company.

Imagine how tall this robot must have been to make me look so short at the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference in Amsterdam.

Imagine how tall this robot must have been to make me look so short at the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference in Amsterdam.

Back in Europe, I attended the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference in Amsterdam with our marketing manager Tanya Gregory. The event has been on our radar for a while but I wanted to walk the aisles before committing to exhibition space in future. It’s the only way to get a real sense of the footfall and assess how fellow lifting and below-the-hook equipment suppliers are presenting themselves to the audience. Tanya more commonly pulls the marketing strings from headquarters so it was opportune for her to absorb a trade fair first hand.

The show also presented an opportunity to visit our Dutch distributor, Van Gool, who, like Rigmarine, is among our top partners. We typically spend time with Pieter van Duijn, commercial director, but he was at a prior engagement so we met with Timo de Bree from the sales department, who was a great host and facilitated a productive meeting. We’re back in Holland for the Europort show next week (3-6 November) where Pieter will meet Jessi Hill from headquarters, who is his primary point of contact.

Exploding onto the scene

The following week, we’ll be in Liverpool for the return of LEEA’s LiftEx show to its standalone two-day format. Now in its 11th year, and following an experimental co-location with a London-based safety event in 2014, it feels like this is the most eagerly anticipated staging of the show ever. Furthermore, we will show two new innovations, including the ATEX and IECEx version of our most popular product—the Radiolink Plus wireless load cell. We will also show our new towing device—Towcell®—for road going vehicles, which displays wirelessly the force being towed.

We already have lifting professionals from Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Europe committed to visiting Stand 18 and I know they’re also looking forward to spending some time in Liverpool, which is a great venue city.

Readers of our newsletter will have already met our new apprentice, Zoe Silk, who continues to embrace the education we are able to offer as a force measurement, load monitoring and suspended weighing load cell manufacturer. Zoe is taking a BTEC National Diploma in Business Administration with PETA (formerly known as Portsmouth Engineering Training Association) and her understanding of the role of apprenticeships and the value such a scheme adds to a young adult is an inspiration to anyone approaching the end of education and looking to make their first big career decision.

Such is the volume of trade shows and events we attend at this time of year, even as I close this blog, John Molidor, the general manager of Straightpoint Inc., and Aaron Orsak, technical sales engineer, have sent me pictures of our stand at the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition (LAGCOE) in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Hot off the press: John and Aaron have made a great start to the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition in Louisiana.

Hot off the press: John and Aaron have made a great start to the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition in Louisiana.

To keep up with our team across the world, follow us on Twitter—@LoadCell—and use the hashtags #loadcell and #belowthehook.

Thank you for reading!

Mr Loadlink

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

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