....a load off my mind!

Chiang Rai, Time Out and the Power of Paper

A pause for reflection on the most significant month of the year so far at Straightpoint.

I was reading an article the other day about the importance of spending “quiet hours” away from the pressures of modern day life, intensified by the demands placed upon us by mobile devices and social media. The piece outlined how the author has dedicated parts of his day around lunch and dinner to putting his smart phone away and allowing his brain to relax and enjoy other things—food, a cup of coffee, fresh air, or family, for example.

The article resonated with me, not because I could apply every element of it to my own life but because, in essence, it outlined the importance of implementing a sustainable schedule that allows one to be productive, engaged and committed to long-term goals. Like a car, too many revolutions per minute over a long period of time burns lots of fuel and can see you fall short of your destination.

“Quiet hours,” as the author called them, will mean something different to everyone. At Straightpoint, we encourage our staff to be part of the culture and work extremely hard to achieve our goals and develop individual careers, yet, people are productive in different ways.

Sometimes a change of scenery can help, as my trip to Thailand earlier this month proved. It was great to spend some time with my wife and her family, while dedicating time to the tasks that it isn’t always easy to get around to while I’m in the office or at trade shows. I was able to put “quiet hours” to good effect. For me, that doesn’t necessarily mean switching off completely because I like to stay busy, but I was able to put my laptop on a table with a great view of the beautiful Chiang Rai region and focus on tasks that would have taken me much longer had I been on home soil.

Two sentences from the article referenced above are worth pondering: “Technology was built to aid our lives, not control it. We have to make sure we’re making these devices work for us, and not the other way around.” They’re facts I’ll certainly try to be mindful of when I’m engrossed in an important email and I get a message from Twitter saying @LoadCell has welcomed another follower!

I’m very comfortable leaving operations director Alfie Lee in charge of headquarters and we stay in regular contact, as I do with John Molidor, the general manager of the North American subsidiary, which is where modern technology is a help not a hinderance.

Changing of the guard

Talking of the states, it was great to have Aaron Orsak, who recently joined the Straightpoint team in the position of technical sales engineer, over from North America to meet the UK team and learn more about the culture of the company and our product range. Aaron will cover Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama but it was hugely important for him to spend a week in the UK.

Aaron and I in Chichester. Cricket pitches are being prepared for the upcoming season in the background, which you don’t see very often in the states!

Aaron and I in Chichester. Cricket pitches are being prepared for the upcoming season in the background, which you don’t see very often in the states!

Again, striking a balance was key. We only had a week at our disposal but it was important to spend some “quiet hours” getting to know Aaron better and allowing him to absorb the experience. Ok, it wasn’t too quiet in London when we went sightseeing for the day but you get my point. Aaron enjoyed the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and a number of other famous sights that he had only seen before on the television.

Dave, Rich and Aaron

It was good to enjoy a pint of English ale with Aaron Orsak (right), who has joined Straightpoint Inc., and Richard Howes from our PR company (centre) during a trip to London.

I took the opportunity to invite Richard Howes, a director at our PR company, Bridger Howes, to join us for a traditional London lunch—pie and mash! Rich often writes articles about applications and other success stories in the states so I wanted Aaron to meet the person who will no doubt be calling on him for stories in the coming months. Aaron, Rich and I also enjoyed a “quiet hour” over a pint of ale or two!

Later in the week, I introduced Aaron to Gary Mullins, of Action Coach, a leading business coaching company who named us Business of the Year 2014. Gary works with me and a number of our staff to analyse our business practices and ensure we are properly trained to meet the challenges faced by a company growing as rapidly as ours. I know Alfie and other staff speak highly of Gary’s coaching and Aaron was equally impressed.

It was also a good opportunity for Gary to meet Aaron. Part of our discussions over a long period of time have been about achieving an even stronger global presence with a robust US-based business and a distributor network that will be the envy of our competitors. Aaron’s addition to the team only makes that more achievable.

New catalogue hits the streets

The subject of my last blog was the new catalogue, which was launched on 1 April. Over the course of the month we have received unprecedented interest in the document and the new products contained within it. We printed and sent out a thousand, which is double the amount we usually circulate, and even then there have been requests for additional copies.

Having touched upon the 24/7 demand that modern day technology can create, the response we’ve had to our catalogue demonstrates the impact a printed document still has. In fact, I think our dealers and distributors really appreciated receiving a written letter from me, introducing the new catalogue and outlining how highly we value our partnerships.

Upon my return from Thailand I visited our German partners, Pfeifer, who actually brand our products for distribution in a number of countries in mainland Europe. They were very impressed with the new catalogue and in particular the new products.

The main purpose of the visit, however, was to meet my new point of contact, Frank Buttner. My long-time associate at Pfeifer, Wolfgang Gerster, has moved up in the company so it was important to make a connection and, again, spend some “quiet hours” with Frank. I congratulated Wolfgang on his promotion in person and would like to place on record my sincere thanks for a great partnership and many years of success together. I’m sure Frank will continue where he left off.

By the time you read this I’ll be packing my bags again for another trip across the Atlantic—this time for the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. I’m looking forward to catching up with John and seeing Aaron working his new patch.

It’s been a privilege to share the highlights of another busy, challenging and exciting month at Straightpoint. Make time for those “quiet hours”!

Mr Loadlink

Big Things Come in Small Packages

The launch of our new catalogue is as much symbolic of our growth as it is a celebration of our industry leading product range.

FullSizeRender (2)I said in my last blog that this month’s catalogue launch would represent one of the most significant milestones in Straightpoint’s history. However, only when the first copies arrived at Havant headquarters did it really strike me just how momentous the occasion was. As soon as I opened it, the catalogue made even last year’s edition look dated. It demonstrated just how far we have come over the past 18 months.

The new catalogue represents the culmination of months of hard work and dedication from the whole Straightpoint team—a process that for many started at the turn of the year. So committed were we to hit our target distribution date of 1st April that a number of staff spent the last weekend of March in the office. We created something of a production line with one person putting folders together, another counting catalogues and me taping DHL labels on the packages. I don’t think any were upside down!

The DHL driver’s face was a picture when he arrived to collect the catalogues for distribution. I don’t think he expected a company our size to be able to generate so much information. I guess that’s testament to the scale of our growth. The level of distribution and impact the catalogue will have across the world is something we should be very proud of.

As soon as the new catalogues were being opened before the Easter weekend, the telephones were ringing and emails were arriving from our distributors and partners in all four corners of the world. I know what Pieter van Duijn, commercial director at our Dutch partner Van Gool, meant when he called the new catalogue “fresh”.
Our designer, Ian Gregory, IG Designs, who was up until the early hours of the morning working on it towards the latter stages of production, deserves a huge amount of credit for the design and visual impact of the brochure. Many pointed to the sharp design, breadth of information and general saleability of the new catalogue.

New products

Of course, what stood out for most was the volume of new products and enhancements to our industry leading range of force measurement, load monitoring and suspended weighing load cells. In the opening pages, we detail the new, remodelled Radiolink Plus. Our best selling product by some distance now features improved ingress protection to IP67, increased battery life to 1,200 hours and reverse polarity circuitry to protect the load cell should the batteries be inserted incorrectly. From mid-2015 the Radiolink product is available for use in zone 0 hazardous areas; we will be able to offer the Radiolink ATEX IECEx approved with classification Ex ia II C T4 Ga.

Pages 4 to 7 present our Wireless Loadshackle and Wireless Compression load cell ranges. These products are now fitted with a new chassis that will give all the benefits of the Radiolink Plus. Our popular SW-MWLC wireless data logging software is also improved allowing the operator the ability to view and data log up to 100 Straightpoint wireless load cells simultaneously!

As the pages are turned, great products keep coming: our wireless accessories on pages 10 and 11 now include the addition of a new SW-SD LED ‘score board’ LED display and a rugged, industrial windows tablet, while our cabled Loadshackle range is detailed on pages 16 and 17, before the compression load cells on pages 20 and 21—now fitted with an o’ring protected machined enclosure that ensures that the load cell can be used in the harshest environments.

The new Low Headroom link is on pages 18 and 19, designed for use where space is a premium and accurate measurements are required. Designed with the entertainment rigging industry in mind this will soon become a very popular product in the Straightpoint catalogue. This is a niche sector we will take very seriously over the next couple of years.

Welcome to Aaron Orsak

In the UK, Hayley Willis is settling into her new role in purchasing, having taken over from Tanya Gregory, who is leading the company’s marketing efforts. Meanwhile, across the pond, I am thrilled to announce that Aaron Orsak has joined the Straightpoint team in the position of technical sales engineer, reporting to John Molidor and based in Houston, Texas.

Aaron will cover Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and brings a wealth of experience in the lifting and rigging industry. In fact, he sold many Straightpoint products during his time working at Bishop Lifting who are one of Straightpoint Inc.’s biggest customer. More recently, he had experience with Certex, who are standard-bearers in the

straightpoint team

John Molidor (right), General Manager Straightpoint USA and Aaron Orsak (left), Technical Sales Engineer

New recruit Hayley Willis embraces a Straightpoint load cell

New recruit Hayley Willis embraces a Straightpoint load cell

fall protection industry as well as providing industrial rescue courses and critical testing services.

We are very excited to have Aaron on board. The nature of our industry’s supply chain means we can introduce people to the business who already have an intrinsic understanding of the marketplace and our products. Of course, Aaron will still spend the coming weeks working with John and the team in Camarillo to get fully up to speed with the role and will also visit UK headquarters to complete his induction process.

Personalities are very important to our growth strategy. Hayley has proved to be a great addition to the UK operation and I know Aaron will fit in equally well in the US. When John and I decided it was time to grow the North American team, Aaron was the first person we thought of. We plan to grow aggressively in the Houston area and Aaron will be a perfect fit when we are looking for someone to lead that operation when we open an office in the not too distant future.

It’s been a privilege to share the highlights of another busy, challenging and exciting month at Straightpoint. I hope you enjoyed reading this—and the new catalogue!

Mr Loadlink