Wiring Harness News May-Jun 2022 - Page 6

By Paul Hogendoorn ___________________________

It ’ s tough starting a business . Its not for the faint of heart . The first challenge is the biggest – getting it started – but then keeping it going , and then growing it , becomes an ongoing , relentless challenge that only occasionally lets up for momentary reprieves before new challenges present themselves .

Outdoor season is upon us once again , after a long-drawn-out winter made even more dreary by the restrictions and persistent messages of worry and concern . But with the nicer weather , comes outdoor times , recreation , adventures , and campfires . The first campfire of the season brings new life to my soul .
It got me thinking about the many small businesses I ’ ve visited over my career , most of them manufacturers , and in the last 10 years , most of them were small companies - sometimes a one plant , one shift operation , sometimes a multi-plant , multi-shift operation . Some are family owned , some were family owned and are now owned by investors , and some have been owned by founding families for generations . Almost all of them though were started by an individual with an idea to do something different , or to do it in a different way , or to do it for themselves . These , in my



Rubbing Two Sticks Together to Make a Fire

mind , are the campfire starters , the people that collect a little bit of dry kindling , squat on their haunches and patiently and persistently rub two sticks together until they make fire . The fire warms not just them , but many people , offering protection for them , and a heat source for the preparation of their food . The small companies that the founders started , mostly armed only with and an idea , a belief in their ability , and an unquenchable desire to see it done , end up benefiting many families , sometimes for generations . These are the campfire builders of our society , the true entrepreneurs - people that create something from nothing for the economic benefit of many .
Sometimes the entrepreneur is an individual , but in most cases , the entrepreneur had early help ; someone to fetch more twigs , people to chop down trees and split wood , and someone to find and lay stones around the early flames . Such was the case in my case ; I had the privilege of starting a couple companies with people eager to see what we could build together and willing to do whatever was needed to be done to get those fires started . And once started , they grew nicely – warming , protecting , and feeding many , many people , creating an estimated 2500 years of employment and $ 125M of salaries and wages , plus about a quarter of a billion dollars in commerce . Not bad for a few folks rubbing two sticks together hoping to make fire ! Over that span of 40 years , a lot of homes were purchased and college kid ’ s tuitions paid for , and hopefully a few more campfire builders setting out to pursue their dreams and see what they can start .
Springtime is also the beginning of tradeshow season – a time when industry comes out of their winter shell . One of my favourites has always been the EWPTE event in Milwaukee in May . That show , and indeed the whole industry , is filled with many companies that were started the same way and continue in one form or another to this day . They were not only started by people with passion , commitment , and pride , they continue to be operated by similarly minded people that understand the importance of what they are doing and the impact their organizations make in people ’ s lives . Sure , they make great products , and sure , they make money for their owners , but they ’ ve done far more than that - they ’ ve built an industry , and they helped people look after themselves , their families , and others . I loved exhibiting at the show and being able to talk with people outside of their individual plants . Yes , they were there to look at new technologies and ideas , but they were also there to meet others in their industry
Paul Hogendoorn
that they have so much in common with . They all seem to be familiar with their company ’ s roots , and at this show , for 2 or 3 days , they revel in it , celebrate it , share it , and seem to motivate each other to ensure it continues for the next generation to benefit from .
When I look at all the great companies in this industry ( some are customers , some are ‘ not yet customers ’, and some are even competitors ), its easy for me to see that a few small campfires can go a long way ! And in this industry , indeed they have .
Celebrate your campfire builders , and if you ’ re not one of the people actually rubbing two sticks together to try to make a fire , be one of the people that collects twigs , chops and splits wood , and helps build it .
Enjoy the season folks - and enjoy this year ’ s EWPTE !
Paul Hogendoorn can be reached at Hogendoorn . paul @ gmail . com or linkedin . com / in / paulhogendoorn /

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