Wiring Harness News NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012 1 INDUSTRIAL INFO-TAINMENT s i : • Rowe Electronics e h s T su re • Heroes Hired Manufacturing Is tu • Building Things to Last a • Anatomy of a Sale e F • Cirris Celebrates Employee Ownership • Wire Wisdom - American Wire Gauge NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2013 Heroes Hired Manufacturing By Fred Noer _________________________________ T o Todd Schaffer and Mal Forys, owners of Heroes Hired Manufacturing, building military veterans’ self-esteem is as impor- tant as building wiring harnesses, cable assemblies and control panels. The two men, both veterans, are build- ing their new company, located in Shelby Township, Mich., in the Detroit metro- politan area, on the following concept: “Our mission is to provide a positive difference in the lives of veterans with service-related disabilities. This will be achieved through training, education and employment based on their abili- ties. Heroes Hired Manufacturing is com- mitted to providing its customers with unsurpassed quality workmanship. It will create self-esteem, responsibility, prosperity and a rewarding new life for our disabled heroes.” Schaffer, 45, hit on the idea for Heroes Hired Manufacturing (HHM) when he was photographing the wedding of a dis- abled veteran in his mid-20s in Novem- ber 2012. Schaffer, who has been inter- ested in photography more than 25 years, had a part-time photography busi- ness until going full time in January 2009. With the start of HHM, he has dis- continued the profession. Rowe Electronics From Contract Manufacturer to Proprietary Product By Joe Tito Wiring Harness News _________________________________ I ’ve been wanting to write this article for a long time, but I was waiting for the main ingredient to come my way. I've worked with many contract manufacturers, both in the wire harness industry, and other disciplines. Many of the same grumblings can be heard about hills and valleys, and the customers’ increasingly stringent requests. It can be a juggling act manag- ing varying pressures on pricing, packag- ing, terms, etc. These conversations often end with some version of the following statement: “I sure wish we had a prod- uct line to fall back on.” Recently, I found a company who did just that, and their story was compelling. I scheduled a chat with Steve Rowe, CEO, Blake Costello, Key Accounts Man- ager, and Larry Penner, Business Manag- er, of Rowe Electronics in Norwalk, Iowa. We discussed their genesis as a har- ness manufacturer, and how they devel- oped the PDM60 Power Distribution Module. Humble Beginnings Steve Rowe began his career in the agriculture business. Equipment efficien- cy and safety concerns led him to seek remote control solutions. “I couldn’t find anything on the market that fit the budg- et,” he noted, “so I sought the help of an electronics tech to help me build my own using a commercial garage door opener, and some supporting compo- nents.” Steve didn’t have much time to react when others in the industry began to enquire, but when his business part- ner sold his half of their business, Steve heard the call. Looking for another career path in 1997, Steve decided to Crazy Diamond Performance (CDP) builds hot rods and custom engines. Above is the front view of an engine harness that HHM made for one of CDP’s hot rods. Concerned about the groom’s future and other veterans’ plights, Schaffer talked to Forys, 65, about starting HHM, and it was founded a month later. In Jan- uary a 2,500-square-foot space in an industrial park was leased, and by mid- July the firm opened for business. When the groom completes rehabilitation of his severe war-related injuries, he will become an HHM employee. “Our ultimate goal is to branch out and have facilities in different states,” Schaffer said. “Then we can hire not just from the Michigan vets pool but vets from all over.” The unique business model, perhaps like no other company in the wiring har- ness industry, fits with Schaffer’s and Forys’ backgrounds. Schaffer spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps after grad- uating from high school. He suffered a disability while in the Marines. ________________Continued on page 28 Cirris Celebrates Employee Ownership “ We’re Connected” reads the ban- ner in the foyer of the Cirris headquarters. Covered in bright- ly colored handprints of Cirris employ- ees, one might mistake it for a grade school project. However, their banner holds a lot of symbolism. During September, Cirris officially became 100% employee-owned. Cirris held a party at the Cirris Headquarters to celebrate their ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) status. The employees all dipped their hands in paint and stamped their handprints on the banner, ________________Continued on page 16 ________________Continued on page 19 Cirris employees all dipped their hands in paint and stamped their hand- prints on the banner, signifying that they are connected in their work togeth- er, they each hold ownership in the company, and they are giving a big high five to acknowledge it!