October 25, 2008

Photo of the day, Saturday, 10/25/08

Wow! I'm home for the whole weekend. Of course it wasn't without some scouting stuff going on. The boys and I went and staked out the Family Fare Store in Sparta to sell that world famous Boy Scout Popcorn. Those that have purchased from us, Thanks a ton! For those that haven't yet, there's still time.

Selling popcorn in the vestibule of a store in a small town in west Michigan was really an eye opener for me. I am certain that some of the people buying couldn't really afford to spend that right now. Not sure about every where else, but here in Michigan, we are 2 to 3 years into a good, old fashioned recession. In fact GM just closed a large stamping plant on the south side of Grand Rapids, ouch! But the people that believe in Boy Scouts, they just don't seem to care that times are tough. I stood and talked with a retiree, on a fixed income, and he had just bought some $18 carmel corn and we talked about his adventures in the Boundry Waters area while he was a scout. They didn't sell popcorn, but they did sell stuff to finance the trip. He was really a cool guy. I wished the boys had talked more with him. But they didn't, they were busy.

How could they be too busy to talk with a customer? They were solicitating everyone that came into or out of the store and so I guess they figured once they got the customer to me, I could be the "Closer". The boys were great! They were both very polite and even if the potential customer didn't acknoldge them, they would say "Thanks anyway and have a great day!" I never saw them get down or rude. I was kind of stunned, Ian did ask the time a couple of times, but on the whole, they were there and knew the goal. It was awesome!

Later we did our chores. It's been so long I kind of forgot what my chores were. So I cleaned out the garage and put the bike up for the winter. As the photo shows, I am now able to park in the garage and shouldn't have to scrape in the morning any more. Yay!

Have a great day!

October 24, 2008

Photo of the day, Friday, 10/24/08

Happy Friday! We are really getting busy with a development project and it's really taking it's toll. Everyone was a bit edgy as we tried to complete a part of the build this afternoon. But we got done what we could, handed the parts to the customer and headed out, well after 6 on a Friday. Not my idea of a good day.

I met with a potential supplier and had a factory tour at their site. Really cool place, I had never been to a factory that made springs before, it's pretty cool. They were highly automated and the springs would just drop into tote under the machine. I have always loved watching machines make parts and watching these was truly mesmerizing. You can check them out at: Apex Springs.

Holly has recently taken a "How to make soup" class at one of the local restaurants, Reds on the River. The secret is... Oh, yeah, that's right, I don't know the secret, she took the class. Anyway, we had some fresh homemade soup today and it was awesome, a bit spicy, but awesome. The boys kind of struggled with it, but I loved it, and my lips are still burning.

Here's a shot from our shooting day a few weeks ago. Obviously the boys did more that shoot. Pictured are two of Ian's buddies that have recently joined our troop.

Have a great day!

October 23, 2008

Photo of the day, Thursday, 10/23/08

Greetings and Salutations! I have had an awesome day today with getting some tools ordered, driving to the lake shore to visit with a potential business partner and then the icing on the cake. I get a call from a customer asking for a quote on one of the parts that we make. The annual volume was predicted to be 6000 parts a year over the next 4 years. Awesome volume for this kind of part. The reason that this is icing on the cake is a bit of a story, do you have time? If so read on, if not, make sure to leave a comment for my Sister and Brother-In-Law, Maureen and Tom who just celebrated their 25th anniversary. That is so awesome! I have a shot of each that I really do like. If you look, you can see that my sister has the killer good looks, just like all of us Youngs, and that brother-in-law of mine, well, I have always enjoyed that man's sense of humor. You two rock, Happy Anniversary!

Now, back to the story...
3 years ago we were working on a new product for our open line. That means that anyone can buy the product, so we control the design and only gently listen to the customer. At one point I was too forceful and informed the customer that we were going to go with our design and would be happy to modify a bit to meet their needs, but we really felt that we had a winner.

Right after I put my foot down to stop them from trying to change our design I was informed that they were no longer interested in working with us and they would be working with our competitor. Boy, oh boy, was the boss mad at me. I lost the new business. RATS!

We both launched our products at the same time and since ours was an open line product it took off slowly at first but was soon picked up by a few big players and ta da! We had a hit. Theirs had only one channel for sales and wasn't so well received and had a harder time getting any traction.

Fast forward one year. At our big show in Chicago we could display ours in many showrooms, not so much for the original customer.

Fast forward another year. Our product is a hit, not so much for the original customer.

Fast forward yet another year. (This is the icing part) The original customer came back and wanted pricing for the product that my company developed. Now they have a customer that wants to standardize on our product, to the tune of 6000 a year for the next 4 years.

The guy that called me admitted that they may have missed the boat and asked for the best pricing that I could offer. I just laughed, I give every customer our best price and our best engineering power right behind it.

Here's our part.

Theirs is so ugly that it's not even on the web. Hah!

Have a great day,

October 22, 2008

Photo of the day, Wednesday, 10/22/08

Wow, Tuesdays are really busy days and I guess I just need to try and fit in a something, rather than the dead air, or, what ever you call it in this cyberspace era.

Tonight the boys are at youth group. Tonight is the first Wednesday night. Before the youth would meet on Sunday evening, but with new leadership comes new ideas. I agree with what Matthew is trying to accomplish, so I guess I can drive out of Rockford on Wednesday night to get them. Maybe Holly and I can turn this in to a light date night. Nah, that would just make sense.

I was going to attempt to relate some of the "Leave No Trace" training that I had last weekend, but I can't begin to cover this very well, so I leave it to the curious to seek it out on their own. One source of information is at BSA Leave No Trace

Since we're talking about the Scout Training here's a shot of the lake that we walked around during our nature hike portion of the training. This was taken at about 8:30 in the morning.

Have a great day!

October 20, 2008

Photo of the day, Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Ian! Today Ian turned 14. It was so funny to see how cranked up he was, I mean, he could barely sit still at dinner. Poor kid had to go to school on his birthday. He handled it pretty well and we had some fun. This morning we sent him out the door with very loud birthday song and a hug and a kiss. I am certain that he was glad that we did that inside the house, he'd have been mortified if his friends had seen him. Here he is, in a rare close up with a big smile.

We had scouts tonight and the boys had a new project laid out before them, to create a patrol flag. The material was donated by someone that works at Wolverine World Wide, they tan hides right here in town you know. It was pretty interesting wandering around and listening to the "artistic" process unfold. Can you say pandemonium? Once the designs were established the leather tools came out and they require hammers and pounding and much arguing about where the exact placement should be. Needless to say, I have a headache now.

Here's a shot of the boy with some of his "loot". Two new PSP games and a flame "skin" for that same PSP. That's PlayStation Personal to the uninitiated.

Have a great day and Happy Birthday Buddy!
Pat (Dad)

October 19, 2008

Photo of the day, Sunday, 10/19/08

Happy Sunday!

Wow, what a weekend. I was up at Camp Gerber for Boy Scout Outdoor Leader Training. It was pretty cool, on two levels. !st the training was fun and that always makes it go better and second, it was pretty chilly for outdoor sleeping.

The way it works is that you are assigned to a small patrol and you'll function just like the boys do, just for the weekend. So I was partnered up with 8 others. We elected a patrol leader and named our patrol. I was elected the patrol leader and our name was The Lightning Patrol. We got there and set up as it was getting dark. Once it was fully dark, it was time to start training. We sat through 2 hours of lecture on all the red tape associated with scouting; insurance, membership, fundraising...We got to bed by about 11.

Up at 6 in the morning, it was frosty, truly. 2 people had to go to the mess hall and get a box of food. Bring it back to camp and we had to prepare our meal, and we had 2 guests coming along for the ride. The guests arrived at 7, with plate and fork in hand.

After breakfast it was training all day, in fact, dinner was another training session, this time on cooking and especially on how to cook in a dutch oven. We finished at about 11 again. The training sessions were:

  1. Camp site selection, what to look for before you pitch that tent

  2. Plant and animal identification, what to look for on a hike

  3. Knot tying, the seven basic knots, square knot, clove hitch, 2 half hitches, sheet bend, bowline, taught line hitch, timber hitch

  4. Maps and compass, how to use in the field

  5. Wood tools, axe, hatchet, maul

  6. Leave no trace, so interesting I may post on this one

  7. First aid, light overview

  8. Dutch oven cooking, over 15 different meals were prepared we ate the exams for dinner

  9. Cooking equipment, stoves, ovens etc,

  10. Non-denominational services, how to do one

  11. Camping gear 101, how to outfit a scout for camping and hiking

Really a good session, but so busy it was crazy. Here is a photo of my patrol, we made the flag that first night too. We took this this morning after we broke camp. The distance is good to help with how rough we actually look.

Have a great day!