Breaking the Wheel as a Leader

Companies, both big and small, get caught up in the routine. This routine is often referred to, symbolically, as a wheel.  An object that keeps rolling over and over, never to stop. That being said, this wheel is a double edged sword. In one hand it may bring continued success for a company who has built a strong wheel and aimed it in the right direction. On the other hand, it could be a detriment if set rolling in the wrong direction because changing courses is quite difficult. This, in my opinion, is the hardest part of being a leader. So why should a leader consider Breaking the Wheel?

Where is the Wheel Taking you?

If the wheel (or routine) is taking you in the right direction, go with it. There is no sense in breaking the wheel if its methods are working. However, if that wheel is leading you in the direction of any of the following, you should definitely consider breaking it before it does more bad than good. ‘

1. Disunity

Often, a poorly directed wheel will run your team straight into disunity. And this outcome will be the main reason your company is not as successful as it should be. Or possibly unsuccessful all together. Often, I see teams broken because the ‘wheel’ is rolling in favor of one worker over the rest. Maybe because of title, or special favor to the owner or administrators or maybe they contribute more to the success of the company as a whole. In whatever case, bias towards one party will inevitably create division among the rest. So make sure that disunity is worth it.

2. Confusion

There is nothing more confusing than working for a company who claims one vision, but allows the wheel to continue down an antithetical or contrary path. For example, a company who tells their employees that ‘the customer should always come first’ and then disciplines an employee who didn’t get a task done because they were assisting those customers. Or, treading on toes here, a company who says, ‘You have unlimited Paid Time Off’, but shames or disciplines employees who are still completing their jobs but taking time off.

3. Aggravation

Often the result of a wheel running headlong into the realm of ‘task completion’ over ‘common sense.’ I remember working in retail and being responsible for the layout of a shelf that came with a diagram on how the company wanted said shelf to look. I set it and it looked awful. So I changed it. The District Manager came in and said, ‘Oh my. That looks AMAZING… but it’s not to diagram’. I was baffled. Asking why we should do it the other way when that looked bad; the DM replied, ‘It looks ugly, and your way is better, but we go by the diagram because that’s the policy.’ And I understand that idea, but when the wheel travels for the sake of traveling, I think everyone feels aggravated by it.

What are the Cons to Breaking the Wheel?

Con Number One:

Weighing PROS and CONS is a vital part of any good Leader’s role. Very few things in life are cut and dry. So seeing the CONS is necessary to make the best decision possible. So what are the CONS to breaking the wheel? Well, to start with, though living in the groove and going where the wheel takes you may be bad, it is also comfortable. A CON for breaking out of that routine is NO ONE likes change. It is moving from the known to the unknown. Breaking the wheel requires flexibility and critical thinking skills. It needs good communication and attention to detail. Though people want change, they hate it, no matter what form it takes.

Con Number Two:

Another big CON to breaking the wheel is how much time it consumes to build a new one. As you know, the process isn’t wrong in and of itself. It only becomes a problem when it keeps us from heading in the right direction. From getting us to where we need to go. When it no longer serves the purpose it was designed for… it has to go. But building a new system to help guide the company in the right direction is time consuming with numerous moving parts that need to be tended. A new process means new training and techniques. It makes the day to day tasks wobbly as workers compensate for the lack of direction until those new processes are put into place.

Con Number Three:

The last great CON for breaking the wheel is disunity based on the feeling of ‘unfairness.’ People have a hard time with change, as I mentioned. But when mass change, like this, happens, the ‘me-my’ culture and concept come roaring in. People forget that a new wheel being built is a work in progress and immediately allow the stress that comes from change to overwhelm them. They start saying things like, “We should have just kept the old system.” Or “Probably shouldn’t have changed without working out all of the kinks first.” Even though, many of the conflicts are impossible to predict.

Why is Breaking the Wheel so Scary?

The scariest thing in the universe is the unknown. This fear is ‘Xenophobia’, though the word is now much more narrow that its original intent. Believed to be the fear that fuels all other fears. Arachnaphobia, the fear of Spiders, is from not knowing. Not knowing where it ran or where it came from. Not knowing if it’s going to jump or if it even can jump. Thanatophobia is the fear of death or dying. Rooted in our fear of what comes after life, if anything. It finds its foothold in the human mind because death’s elusive nature and unpredictability. I could go on.

Fear of the Unknown is the reason we don’t break the wheel more quickly and decisively. Terrified of what might happen to all of the affected variables. From employees who might quit if we rattle the status quo to the possibility that the new wheel won’t work or might be the company’s downfall. What if it throws us off track and we lose money or customers don’t like the changes.

Those fears, as all fears do, paralyze us so that we don’t act. They keep us in these stagnant waters until we finally stand up and break free. Until we climb from the waters that keep us captive and from the hamster wheel that saps our resources and energies with nothing to show for it.

So just, pull the bandage off. Smash the wheel and rebuild. This we must do if we have any hope of finding ourselves in a brighter tomorrow.


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Simply Management

Management is simply the act of coordinating people to accomplish desired goals efficiently and effectively. We discussed in last week’s blog, ‘The Hierarchy of Leadership‘, about what Leadership looks like. Synonymously, leadership at it’s core (and highest level) is management. So, when we discuss management in this blog, I hope you’ll understand that I mean it at the highest level, Leadership based on Character.

How does a good leader, manage? They already maintain the respect and followership because they are compassionate and care for their employees. They are good hearted, high energy and bolster a positive atmosphere in the office. But is that enough? the answer is no. The highest level of leadership is only the beginning. So what’s the next step?

Step One Involves Vision:

Vision is the question of Where is your company trying to go? This should be answered in many different departments and areas. Your vision should include, Company Policies and Standards as well as Company and Personal Goals. As mentioned in an earlier blog on ‘Vision’, this should be decided by and enacted by the highest positions in the company. The owner, C-suites, Board and Administrators.

If you were using this blog as a template for management, I would give you three lines to write out your company ‘Mission Statement’ and/or ‘Vision Statement’. Then smaller lines to bullet point three to five standards, policies and goals. Be concise. No one wants to read a dissertation. Just get to the point, minimize your directive. You don’t need three hundred laws, ten is better… and two that culminate all of them is even better.

Step Two Involves Directive:

Directives involve the management or guidance of operations. This is the answer to the question of What? It isn’t enough to know where you’re going as a company. You must set up directives, an action plan, on how to get there. This isn’t something I, nor anyone disassociated with your company, can do for you accurately. Ideas and a rough skeleton. maybe. But the end process needs to come from the Leader/s. And as Leaders, they should have the know how and skills to determine appropriate directive to accomplish and guide others to those set goals. As an example.



Company: Nike

Mission: To Bring Inspiration and Innovation to Every Athlete in the World

Nike is one of the largest companies in the world, and they understand this process of management. A simple mission phrase that is easy to remember and simple to live by. If I were the Leader of Nike and had to develop a process based only on this ideology, I would start first with a breakdown. They already answered the questions What (Bring Inspiration and Innovation), Who (Every Athlete) and Where (in the World). Now I need to give this phrase some directive by asking ‘How’.  Disclaimer: I have never worked for nor studied Nike’s brand or management concept. These are simply the thoughts of  a managerial mind based solely on what I, as a consumer, have experienced. 

How can Nike be Inspirational?

Well, if you’ve ever watched any of their commercials, that’s the first and easiest place to inspire the masses. But as a Leader, I would want our company to inspire, not only on a large scale, but also one-on-one. So, I would continue to encourage the Marketing Team to inspire, while working closely with them to filter down inspirations for our crew members and retail sales people.

I might have a weekly “Word of Encouragement” for our employees to read and know and live by. I would want to create a culture of inspiring our customers, not only to buy our product but to live by these same inspiring principles that we filter down through our staff. And lastly, if I were at the top tier, I would partner or form an organization that could help inspire young and impoverished athletes with worthwhile opportunities to become the best athletes they can be.

How can Nike be Innovative?

Innovation is all about being cutting edge and is one of the quickest ways a company fails. They become stagnant resting on their old, soon outdated, products to carry them forward. So, for Nike to be innovative, I would put our research dollars (which Nike is probably already doing) into the two needs of any athletic shoe, comfort and support. And as the trickle down for innovation, I would want to institute new methods for selling shoes as well.

Perhaps a kiosk where customers can design their own shoes and have them shipped directly to them or to the store. Perhaps a trade in program used like a discount within the store on any given Thursday (or whatever day is slowest). The donations of the old shoes could be used as tax write-offs if donated to a consignment store.

Innovation can also be precipitated by statistics and questionnaires. It has been said that Henry Ford’s great invention was spurred by asking the question, “What do you need?” The people said faster and more efficient horses. And of course, he didn’t become a geneticist to make faster horses… to solve their transportation dilemma, he created the automobile. I would ask my customers, “what do you want to see?” Sure, you’d get some silly answers, but the real answers would be in there too. And that’s worth all the trouble.

How can Nike reach Every Athlete?

I think this would be the most exciting part of the Job for the Leader of Nike. Today’s word is so divided and so many groups feel so alone and secluded from the masses. And the saddest part is that, it isn’t one group or another. If I were the Leader of Nike, I would use this opportunity to help dowse the flames of inequality by attacking those inequalities as a company and as individuals. Being that they are publicly traded, this sort of stance would require the Board’s approval, but I would doubt that they would disagree.

Ads, commercials and in-store promotions that show a strong stance for the empowerment of the black community, the gay community, the trans community, women and the impoverished. Gather a team to find out in what ways we can impact these and other groups, and then work to do so while maintaining profitability and innovation.

How can Nike reach the whole World?

In over 170 countries already, I would just stay the course for this one and let it be the natural progression that comes from managing a great company.


Step Three Involves Presence:

This is the most overlooked job of the Leader, whether by themselves or by others. An invisible leader can’t lead! Now, the adverse is also true, the ever present leader cannot lead either. The balance of presence is essential to growth and culture. Think of it like a mother overseeing a child playing. While the diligent mother watches, the child will almost always act right. But when the mother steps away, the actions of the child are the true test of leadership. A good leader should be able to ‘walk away’ to forge those good behaviors when they aren’t around. But they should also come back to encourage those good behaviors and to reinvigorate the staff and culture.

A leader’s presence is also the only way to connect with the staff in a manner that articulates that highest level of leadership. It is quite difficult to be personable and compassionate on an intimate level if a leader is not present. Even by using a proxy, it is difficult to attain.

For some very skilled leaders, however, this type of trickle down care and compassion IS possible. Dolly Parton is a great example of this. She isn’t feet to the ground in Dollywood, working. But, she does come to the park on occasion to see and interact with the staff. She also employs managers as her proxy to identify needs within her workforce that she might be able to assist with. In talking with some of the workers at Dollywood, from attendees up to management, I found that the magnitude of respect they have for Dolly was unparalleled. And all of them also had stories of the first time they actually met Dolly and how kind and considerate she was.


Management is simply this. The act of coordinating people to accomplish desired goals efficiently and effectively.


Are you the leader? Are you making strives to be a better leader? Take these words to heart because they will change your Level of Leadership on the hierarchy ladder. Be kind to your subordinates because they are more than your most precious asset. They’re humans. Do this, and you will be the catalyst who thrusts us forward into a Brighter Tomorrow.


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The Hierarchy of Leadership

A Hierarchy of Leadership is the concept of how much a person can lead from any given ‘level’ of the ladder. The lowest level would be the least likely to inspire others to follow. The highest tier is most likely to inspire others to join in to the new culture that the company is creating. They will also be the most likely to assist in creating that culture.

Level One: Leaders by Claim

This first level of the Hierarchy of Leadership is the lowest level, but also the most common form of leadership. It happens when the highest levels or decision makers, feel the need to fill a role with the easy choice. Sometimes they lose the former leader and have to pull up the next in line. That person isn’t always ready, and so they have to claim or seize their authority.

Listen for phrases like, ‘Because I said so’ or ‘I don’t need to explain myself’. The person or people who use these phrases are typically on this level of leadership. They often struggle to explain their decisions and feel ‘attacked’ if people question anything, even inquisitively. Leaders who have to claim their authority, aren’t much of a leader, after all.

“Any man who must say, I am the King, is no true King.” Tywin Lannister of Game of Thrones

Level Two: Leaders by Contribution

Give a person a title and they will do one of two things. They will either lord it over others, or they will respect the title themselves. They will either demand to be served, or they will choose to serve because of it. This is often the potential of a hard worker being promoted. We hope that they will translate that hard work into service instead of servitude. Level two leaders, serve.

This principle is best seen in the image here. The ‘Boss’ is Level one Leadership. The ‘Leader’ is Level two Leadership. And they may both get the mission accomplished, but the ‘Boss’ will do it while screaming and pulling out their hair. Their subordinates will finish the work, angry and frustrated and ready to quit.

The ‘Leader’ will complete the task with a team who is excited and ready to take on the next mission! They will follow because they see a leader who is willing to get their hands dirty doing the work. A leader who is there to direct them as well as take on some of the load when it is too much for the team to handle alone.

It is important to realize that this level of leadership should be level two and level one combined. Their leadership capabilities come from level two, but they should also have the title to go along with it. This isn’t always the case as there are extenuating circumstances.

Level Three: Leaders by Coaching

In this Hierarchy of Leadership, Level three is a Leader who Coaches. This tier should be, again, someone who also has Levels one and two in their repertoire. It isn’t a necessity, but without the title and the service attitude, they will not be fully equipped to Coach the team forward.

That being said, a ‘Coach’ is one who leads with encouragement and good advice. The reason this is a level three form is because people don’t care about what you say if they don’t see what you do. Tell your employees everyday how important it is to follow the Standard Operating Procedures, but if you don’t follow them, why should they? (If you say ‘because I said so’ or ‘those don’t apply to me’ you might want to check yourself.)

I think back on my Football Coaches. They wanted to win, but they also understood each of our limits as it pertained to the sport. Here are some Football Coaching Points I received that translate nicely to the workplace.

  1.  Know your ‘players’. That is, know the things about your employees that will help you to help them be successful. Know the way they feel appreciated in the workplace. (See the blog APPRECIATION FOR A JOB WELL DONE) Know their strengths for the position they hold and their weakness.
  2. Put the right ‘players’ in the right positions. Knowing your ‘players’ is only half the battle. Once you know their strengths and weaknesses and desires for the future, it’s time to put them in the right spot. TRUST ME, when employees hold the wrong positions, it will wear them down and burn them out. People being in the wrong positions is bad for them and bad for the company.
  3. Seek out new ‘players’ when necessary. My senior year we lost our kicker to an injury, and in 4A Football in North Carolina that was a major setback. So our coaches tried out players that we already had and no one was able to do the job well. So, they sought out a soccer player to join the team. It shouldn’t be a slap to the face when you gently tell an employee they just don’t have what it takes to be the leader. And your company WILL SUFFER if you put the wrong person in the wrong position just because you didn’t want to ruffle feathers or hurt their feelings. It hurts them and the team when you settle.
  4. The Coach didn’t tackle the runner from the sideline. The coaches job was to teach, train, encourage and empower. Then they had to let go and let the players play. What I mean by this is, the coach needs to train players to become ‘coaches’ themselves. The best teams have a head coach and a captain who also maintains this level of leadership. Create more leaders… My coaches were all about making us better men, even beyond becoming better Football Players.

Level Four: Leaders by Character

Lastly, in this Hierarchy of Leadership comes the Alpha Level of Leadership. This level gains followers because of the personal character of the leader themselves. Sure, they probably have a title and a service attitude. And, yeah, they are probably the best for coaching. But no one even thinks about those things because this leader is respected. Why? Because of who they are and what they mean to those who follow them. They embody things like kindness, goodness, encouragement and positivity. They have characteristics that form who they are at their core. Attributes that we look to emulate like compassion, vision, strategy and wisdom. People look up to and strive to be like this person. They follow them because they know this type of leader cares, and so they care about this leader.

Without falling down a rabbit hole, I will say that this is the type of leadership that changes the world.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was one such leader, followed, not because of his words, but because of his character. He changed the world because of the man he was in his heart and the actions that followed.
  • Winston Churchill prided himself on building the morale of the people.  He sought to be motivational with a singular sense of identity for the masses. Unity was essential to his success.
  • Walt Disney who during his most formative years adopted a leadership style that valued the input of team members and peers. He took the time to know his team and their personal and occupational needs. And when he could, he met those needs.
  • Arianna Huffington speaks for herself. “Both my own leadership style, and that of the other leaders at HuffPost, is very much like being in the middle of the circle, rather than at the top of the mountain shouting down.” She also said, “Treat people like family and they will be loyal and give their all.”

Religious leaders had many of these same qualities. Many of them even spoke of these qualities and tiers. And, I don’t know of any leaders who would disagree with any of these four levels. Maybe they would add to them, but at the core, I believe this is the ladder we should strive to climb.

So let us climb it ourselves, as high as we need to. And then, let us lead by example, coaching others to climb the ladder also. Be willing to reach down and help them. And for those who might be hanging out at Level one… it’s time to move up the ladder, or step down completely. Forward motion is necessary as we move forward to a brighter tomorrow!


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Time to Level Up

Has your company become Stagnant? Does it feel like you’re just going through the motions? Then it’s time for you and your team to LEVEL UP!

“Anything less than perfection is the enemy of perfection.”

People say nothing is ever truly perfect, and they’re probably right. But I can’t help but believe that when we settle for the idea that because it can’t be perfect, we don’t need to strive for perfection, we are actually failing. The truth is, we become stagnant because we believe that being ‘good’ at what we do is good enough. Jim Collins, the Author of the book ‘Good to Great’, said, “Good is the enemy of Great.” he even made it the first chapter.

In life and at work, when we settle for things being ‘good enough’, we have told ourselves that we do not need to strive any harder or push to go any further. We convince our bodies and minds that progress is unnecessary. But life doesn’t teach that. The Law of Decay says “Any system without the addition of added energy, is decaying.” We are no different. Our Companies are no different. If there is not added energy on a regular basis, our companies will decline and decay until they ultimately die.

Leveling Up Begins with Leadership

Some Owners and Administrators like to pull away from the office and judge the office’s general health from afar. The problem with that is that a company’s growth and general health come DIRECTLY from its leadership. In the subsequent blogs that will follow each week through the end of May, we are going to explore this further. For now, just know that leadership can not escape the blame of a failing or stagnant work culture because you have allowed it to exist. A company cannot progress forward if the Leader of the Company is not present and actively revitalizing the Team. This is a fact.

As an owner or Administrator, if you say, well, I’m not able to be there or equipped to energize my team. Then, with all due respect, you need to step aside and let someone else do it. And after that, don’t go getting in there way. The only thing worse than an owner/administrator who isn’t a good leader? An owner/administrator who micromanages the one who is.

So Who is the Leader?

Again, we will touch on the Hierarchy of Leadership in the next blog, but for the purpose of this blog. How do you locate the ‘Leader’ of your company? Ask these questions about each employee:

  1. How well do they do their job?
  2. How often do they go over and beyond that job?
  3. How do their coworkers view them?
  4. How do their subordinates view them?
  5. How much energy do they offer?
  6. Do they want to be a Leader?

If you can say they are hard workers who go over and beyond, are viewed positively and have charisma. I believe they will make a great leader, granted the answer to question six is ‘Yes’.

Leveling Up Requires Desire

Question six is the one I use most often as an Administrator. A person’s desires create and form their attitude for the company and for their job. Too often, teachers get burned out and lose that light that makes them ‘want’ to teach. Police officers who stop caring. Lawyers who lose the drive towards justice. Administrators who get fed up with teaching and guiding. When we lose the desire to go further and to strive towards perfection, we lose the energy to grow. Time to level up and move forward!

That Leader can feel this change before it gets out of hand by keeping their finger on the pulse of the company’s health. And a good leader will do just that. When I saw that shift happen in someone, I went to them and asked, “How are you feeling?” After they told me they were feeling fine and life was good, I would follow up with, “Awesome, but are you happy here doing what you do?”

If the answer was anything but, “Ye, so happy,” I would dig deeper. “What is it that makes you not want to come in to work? Is there another position you would prefer to be in? Did something happen between you and another employee? Is it me?

The point of these questions is to gather information to process. For example:

What is it that makes you not want to come in to work?

“It’s just the same thing over and over.” This is so common and so easy to fix. This employee isn’t saying the job is boring. They are saying they aren’t being challenged, and a good leader would see that! So we find a way once or twice a week to give them a project that can challenge and grow them. This is good for the company! You need a Leader who will see it and be wise on how to fix it.

“Non-growth, or plateauing, is decaying…”

Is there another position you would prefer to be in?

This is another, generally, informative question. But remember, any time you deal with people, it’s not about what they say, but what they are trying to convey. If your employee mentions management and leadership, get them on your Company’s Leadership Curriculum or Training Program. If they mention ‘sales’, many times they want or need more human interaction. If they mention an office setting, perhaps less human interaction. Think about their schedule and ask questions to deduce the reason they might prefer this new position.

Time to Level Up Your Culture

Lastly, for this blog, I want to mention the importance of your company’s culture. Culture is the Values, Beliefs, Behaviors and Material Objects that together form a people’s way of life. In life and in the workplace, this is true.

The Leader who believes it is time to level up the company, needs to build an understanding of what the company feels about each of these things. (Values, Beliefs, Behaviors and Material Objects) By doing so, they can then live them.

Living this culture and then directing others to live this culture is how a company goes from decay to decadence. From failure to fruition. From ebb to excellence.

And that leader will know how to move your company forward, into a Brighter Tomorrow!



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Small Businesses Unite

Custom Equipment Company isn’t a fortune 500 Company, and I would guess those of you reading this aren’t either. And most of us never will be. But, together, small businesses can certainly make an impact like that of the fortune 500’s, but only if we unite.

Why should Small Businesses Unite?

The question of ‘why’ is always at the top of the list for any small business group. When someone says, “We need this product.” The correct response is and should always be, “Why?” but more politely, like, “Could you explain what we need that for?” Often, the question ‘why’ is met with hostility as though you don’t trust an opinion or thought. When people question my motive behind asking ‘why’, I always say, “Convincing me is easy, but I have to convince others and they won’t be swayed without details backed by facts.”

But ultimately, the question ‘why’ shouldn’t be offensive because it means you’re giving someone the chance to convince you. So, why should we unite? Because we are stronger together. Check these facts…

  • In 2019, the Small Business Administration said there are nearly 31 million small businesses in the U.S.!!  This accounts for 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses! That means when Big Business, that .01%, are in control, the other 99.9% has to just be quiet and fall into line…
  • When pulled together, Small Businesses make up almost 50% of the local and national workforce.
  • Small Business Administration said small businesses generate 44% of the United States’ economic activity as polled from 1998 to 2014
  • In 2000, 15% to 20% of small companies became medium or large companies every year. Today, that number is now closer to 6%

Big businesses can do so much on their own. Small businesses don’t have that luxury. That’s why we form Small Business Associations and Coalitions. We need to join together so that we can have the same sway as a large company without being large ourselves.


How does this look?

This could take form in numerous ways, including those I just mentioned. But one of the best ways for something like this to form is with partnerships.

I think the best representation of this is what a healthy friendship looks like. The ‘I rub your back, you rub mine,” approach. And in a business model, that can be tough, but it works out better for all of us as long as we are all in it for the whole. For example, Custom Equipment Company is always looking for new partners over new customers. A customer is just someone we sell to, but a partner is someone we serve and are, in return, served by.  Like one of our local manufacturers who we team with on a regular basis. Sure, the prices may be 6-8% higher than the price we can get from a larger company out of state. But this local company is also able to cut lead times and have face to face meetings (when Covid isn’t stalling that). They are also a part of the community. like we are, and together, we cover a wider area so when they get leads, they send them to us and in turn we keep our business with them.

It’s all about funneling that money through as many small businesses as possible and only using the larger manufacturers when we absolutely need to.  This is true with Insurance Companies,  Vendors, Marketing Teams and beyond. We are stronger together, so start building those relationships and see how wide the road opens for small businesses when they unite!


What are the Setbacks?

I would be dishonest if I pretended that there were no setbacks to joining with other small businesses in partnership with one another. These are wide ranging and could be mild or self-deprecating. But as long as someone is watching for the signs, they should be easily avoided.

  1. You have to be able to trust your partners.
  2. Your partners, in turn, have to be able to trust you

Trust in any partnership is the key to success. If one side or the other hurts or hinders that trust, both sides suffer. To be united means we focus on each others’ needs and work together towards a brighter tomorrow for all of us!


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Material Handling is…

Material Handling is the movement, protection, storage and control of materials and products throughout manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption and disposal. That is a mouthful. But, as many of you know by learning this industry and trying to teach it, there could be volumes upon volumes of literature to try to encompass it. (And there is already.) So can we simplify it for new comers to the industry? Is it possible to create an adequate shortcut to make it easier for new employees and sales people to navigate these waters without becoming instantly ‘grounded’.

I don’t have that answer, but maybe this short blog (by a guy who just started in this industry as well) can help.

Material Handling Defined

When moving materials and products from one location to another, whether inside a warehouse or onto a truck to be shipped, this is what we define as “Material Handling” (or MH). Our people and our product are our livelihood. So we need to make sure that we are moving safely and under control, while seeking to do so as efficiently as possible. The quicker we move product, the more product moves. And the more product moves, the more profit we enjoy. However, we need to balance that efficiency with the safety of our employees because without them, the whole production comes crashing down.

So How Does this Industry Provide for these Basic Needs?


The moving process is sometimes labeled as Logistics, though this term can also be used in reference to the actual shipping process. It can also refer to the whole process of moving, storing and supplying or redistributing product. Whatever you choose to call it, however, moving product and materials is vital to the MH Industry. Some of the equipment and products we might use to efficiently ‘move’ our products include:

Forklifts, Conveyors, Machine Bases and Tables, Cranes and Hoists

But also include newer and more advanced products like Auto-Storage Retrieval Units (Like turning your warehouse into a vending machine) or Automated Guided Vehicles (AVGs).

Safety and Protection

Keeping your employees and staff safe is ESSENTIAL to any good business. And Keeping your product safe is important too. MH Industry leaders across the board, agree. And so, nearly all of them dedicate multiple pages on their websites to products that promote and maintain important safety practices! In 2019, companies reported t5,333 deaths in warehouse, work-related incidents. And there were 79 recorded forklift-related deaths in the work place in the United States.

Safety is hugely important. Some products we sell to keep our products, and more importantly our employees safe include:

Guard Rails and Barrier Systems, Safety Tape for Floors, Spill Containment

But also include some of the most state of the art equipment. Outfit your entire Warehouse with warning lighting for when a forklift or pedestrian are passing between aisles or crossways. Checkout our Warning Lights & Dock Door Monitors or our Height Awareness Sensors to keep from clipping a low hanging opening.

Protect your people because a safety system costs less than one of their lives!

Storage and Packaging

Typically, two separate categories, together they make up a huge portion of this industry. And everything in the industry seems to relate closely if not directly with them. These include the bulk of our products including Pallets, Containers, Dunnage (which is the stuff used to keep product in position while inside any given container), Cabinets and Shelving.

Outside of these, and something that sets some of us apart from the rest, is the fact that we do Custom Products. for example, a customer needs a pallet that is larger than average to fit a specific product on it. Let’s say a 50″ X 50″. And the product is too heavy for a conventional pallet, so it needs to be made stronger than conventional means. Our team comes together and creates the product that company needs. We have done this for fortune five hundred companies, international companies and even some large but local companies.  Reach out and see how we can help you by building something custom for your needs!

The Warehousing Facility

This is where you would need to look to outfit your warehouse with all of the essentials as far as the facility itself is concerned. Think about the huge concrete room with nothing in it. Before you add shelving for products, or products themselves, what do you need to do to get it ready? Well, this could be anything from Dock Equipment to Mezzanines for more storage space, Modular Offices, Industrial Stairways and Landings and even Air Curtains to keep bugs out and your air conditioning in!

These products help maintain safety as well as save money. They also come with peace of mind guaranteed when the Dock Master or Warehouse Manager doesn’t have to fight to solve an issue like a truck not being tall enough to reach the Platform. They can worry about the things that matter, like being sure orders going out and coming in are correct and documented.


Lastly, a part of Material Handling we don’t discuss quite often enough… the other services we provide. This is another piece of a company that may differ among the industry, but it is one that helps us to connect to and enhance the needs of customers and clients.

These could include Container Modifications and Repairs, Cleaning used Dunnage, Pallets and Containers, Installation Services and much much more.

When you truly help a customer, they will want to help you. Customers are most loyal to the ones who loyally care.


In a nut shell, this is what the Material Handling Industry is… what we are. It isn’t an exhaustive blog because the industry is never exhausted. Let’s continue to grow WITH the industry and never against it – As we look forward to a brighter tomorrow!!


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Spring for the Office

Spring comes to your office THIS WEEK! Can you believe it? What an exciting time. Not only are we finally seeing some light at the end of the dark tunnel of this global pandemic. We are also seeing the rise of newness and rejuvenation and life. In nature, Spring is when the flowers bloom and the trees become plentiful again. In life, Spring represents cleaning out the old and getting outdoors again! In some of the major religions, Spring represents a spiritual renewal and call to newness of spirit.

And in our workplaces, Spring should represent much of the same. Here are some helpful tips you can do to take your office from dreary old winter to Spring Time!

Spring Cleaning

My favorite thing about Spring is… Spring Cleaning. I hate clutter and the winter just feels like the season where everyone wants to clutter up the office. Old, unused books and equipment get thrown in corners or left to take up shelves. On your desks, trash fills your pen cups. Your chair still has cracker crumbs in the crevice. Filing needs to be done and books need to be closed. It’s time for a fresh start, so clean up. No sense in taking the trash into the next quarter with you. And definitely not into the next fiscal year.

Maybe this is a time to digitize everything. Make digital copies and get rid of the catalogs and paper copies you no longer need. Clean out those filing cabinets and toss out the useless paperwork.

And for the sake of all that is good, CLEAN UP THE DRIVE! If you have files that haven’t been opened in five years, chances are they either need updated or deleted. Pick one. Consolidate files because there is such thing as too much clutter in organization. Get rid of useless materials and links and update your Manuals and Training Modules.

When your offices and filing cabinets and Drive are all cleaned up, you will work more efficiently as an individual and as a team!

Festive Office Attire

I know not everyone gets to dress fun for work. Some people have actual uniforms to wear, but for those of you who don’t… change it up! Toss those hoodies and big, baggy coats back in the closet until next year. Pull out your florals and pastels and bright vibrant shirts (or at least ties). And you can do it without looking unprofessional. Here are some ways.

Ties come in all Shapes and Designs

For men, the tie is the easiest way to liven up your outfit without going overboard. Go get some bright ties with fun patterns and designs. If you see customers during the day, they will LOVE it (I promise). And if you only see your coworkers every day, they will love it too! You could also change up your look by switching to a bowtie. This is my FAVORITE spring look because it is simple, cute and never too gaudy. I always get compliments when I’m in a bow tie. And these changes are good for you and for those around you. Try it out as we step into a brighter tomorrow, with brighter ties!

Jewelry is every Lady’s Favorite Accessory

That title may or may not be true, but it is every woman’s secret weapon for changing her look. I remember seeing my mom throughout the year and she ALWAYS saved her favorite jewelry for the Springtime. Flowered earrings to match a nice sundress. Rainbows with any solid colored outfit. And of course, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Change up your bracelets and your watch bands and your phone case if you want. Make all the changes at once and come into work looking and (more important) feeling like a brand new woman! Bring Spring to the Office everyday!

A New Haircut or Hair Style

This is always a scary one for people. We have done it the same way for so long… what if I hate it? I can’t go back to it. It’s ok. Just own it. You are beautiful no matter how your hair looks. So own that beauty, inside and out. Try to go a little shorter or lighten it a little. Maybe darken it up a smidge. I always love a fresh haircut to shorten my length for the warmer days and of course a beard trim and straight razor cut to bring it all together. Fresh and New makes everyone feel better!


Strive to brighten up your life so that we can brighten up the lives around us. Choose to be light and a ray of sunshine, every day! As we choose to BECOME a Brighter Tomorrow!

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Company Mission as an Application

Compass pointing to MissionA Mission Statement is the application of a Vision Statement. It declares the purpose of an organization and how they serve their customers. This sometimes includes a description of the company, what it does, and its objectives. Typically this statement provides perfect clarity behind the ‘what’, ‘who’ and ‘why’ of your company. The best mission statements are guidelines a company operates by. Everything a company does should work toward the mission.

What do I need to Write a Quality Mission Statement?

First things first, you shouldn’t read ‘Chapter 2’ until you’ve read ‘Chapter 1’. So head over to the blog Company Vision as a Concept to form a Vision Statement first. You can thank me later.

Start with your Vision (The ‘Why’ answer) and then ask…

  1. What do you do as a company? Be as general or specific as you’d like.
  2. Who (or What) does your company serve? Customers, The Packaging Industry, Low-Income Families in Charleston?
  3. Where do you serve? This is not essential as it could limit you, but if you know that you can only service South Carolina right now, you might say that so you don’t overextend.

Mission Application 1: Start with Leadership

As mentioned in the blog Company Vision as a Concept, it is vital that you start this process with your leadership. They know the company better than anyone, if they are doing things right. So use that knowledge to help formulate the answers to these questions. It could even be done as a questionnaire or interview.

Sign: Plan, Action, Success

  • What challenges does this company solve for others?
  • Who would you define as the ‘others’?
  • Why did you want to work for this company? Has that changed?
  • Who are our customers?
  • What do they value?
  • What kind of image do we want to convey as a company?
  • What’s our company’s purpose?
  • What differentiates this company from its competitors?

Not only does starting with leadership make sense to get the most accurate information, it makes sense on an ‘Ownership’ level as well. These leaders will take ownership of something they felt a part of as it was building. A leader who views a project or a company as their ‘baby’ will not complete the tasks half-heartedly nor quit so easily. They will fight for it. It will be something they will find passion in. And they will work to make it a success no matter what.

Mission Application 2: Write it Out

Now comes the fun part, compiling the data. You need to take everything you have heard and compile it into one concise (3-4 sentence) statement of what you are here on this planet to do. A Vision Statement tends to be simple, maybe one sentence or not even one sentence. A Mission Statement should take that concept one step further in its application. Imagine you compiled the data and pruned the answers down to these responses.

  • What challenges does this company solve for others? We provide visual aide in the form of glasses.
  • Who would you define as the ‘others’? Low-income families.
  • What do they value? Compassion. Real help. No Judgement.
  • Why did you want to work for this company? Has that changed? Because of its work to help others. I grew up here.
  • Who are our customers? Anyone with bad eye sight, but especially those within our direct neighborhood.
  • What kind of image do we want to convey as a company? Compassion. Helpful. Non-Judgmental.
  • What’s our company’s purpose? To provide visual aide in the form of glasses to Low-income families.
  • What differentiates this company from its competitors? Our Helpful Service. Non-Judgmental attitudes. Our genuine care for the people. 
I’ll bet just by reading those answers, you could have put together a Mission Statement like this one.

“2C & 2B Seen is here to provide visual aide in the form of glasses to Low-income families and all families within our neighborhood. We seek to do this by providing Helpful Service, utilizing our Genuine Care for the Community and serving with non-judgmental attitudes.”

This is a Mission Statement a company can thrive through, but also one that can mobilize every worker to corral around it. And trust me when I say, if they have a Mission Statement to draw from and managers to enforce these truths, the company will grow. Always!

Mission 3: Apply it to the Everyday

John Maxwell ladder of Leadership

This is the truly difficult part of bringing your Mission Statement into application. And it requires one thing above all of the rest, LEADERSHIP.

It requires a true leader, not just one that your company has given a leadership ‘title’ to. Someone who is given a title, but has not earned it, will be less effective. You need a leader that people actually view as a leader. (At this point, it might be good to reassess your Leadership Structure and find true leaders to put in the appropriate positions in your company.) See the John C. Maxwell ladder of Leadership attached here. And if you haven’t, read his book on this ladder.

Now that you’ve located your ‘true’ leaders, get them on board with the Mission. They will know how to inspire the rest of the Team to do the rest. These leaders are the ones who can inspire their coworkers without the need of corrective actions. They will be able to get everyone on the train towards living out this mission without dragging anyone along. And in the worst case scenario, when a team member chooses not to come along or get on board, they will be equipped to show them why they need to depart from the company with little to no backlash.


Now that you have an application tool for your Mission Statement, it’s time to enact it and get everyone on board the Success Train. All aboard as we chug-a-lug towards a Brighter Tomorrow!

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Company Vision as a Concept

Compass Pointing to Vision

A vision statement provides a concrete concept for people outside the Admin Team, especially employees. It is to understand the meaning and purpose of the business.  The vision statement describes the desired long-term results of the company’s efforts. As an example, an early Microsoft vision statement was “a computer on every desk and in every home.”

Forbes says that ‘employees who find their company’s vision meaningful have engagement levels of 68%.” And engaged employees are more productive, and they are more effective corporate ambassadors in the greater community. Given this impact that a vision statement can have on a company’s success, especially long-term, and even its bottom line, it is worth taking the time to craft a statement that synthesizes your ambition and mobilizes your staff. Before putting the statement together, however, you need to be able to concisely answer the following questions.

What do you do?

This question is either very simple or very complicated. If it is the former, you should have no problem answering the question and making it concise. If it is the latter, very complicated, then you will struggle through this, but it will be your most defining moment as a company. Pun intended.

We are going to take a COMPLETELY make believe company to work with.

Optometrist Office called  “2C & 2B Seen”. Optometry is the practice of examining the human eye for visual defects and then prescribing a corrective course of action. 2C & 2B Seen was founded by an elderly woman who started the office out of her home. In order to help the less fortunate in her neighborhood,  she made her appointments free and only made money when someone purchased glasses or contacts. What many of her clients didn’t know was that she was bullied in school because she wore glasses with cracked frames. Her family couldn’t afford to give her better.

So the question of Vision is two fold, What do you do? One is physically. 2C & 2B Seen examines people’s eyes and authorizes corrective actions. The none physical is that they hope to do so for less so that the less fortunate are always taken care of. So when 2C & 2B Seen realized that they needed a Vision of there own, they sat down and asked- What do we do? The aforementioned was their answer.

Where are you going?

This question requires an answer for the what and where you’ve been, but goes further. It asks, what are you planning to do with those answers. Your active Administrators and Department Heads should be involved in this portion of the process. You might want to move in a completely different direction, and that’s ok. You also may want to double down in the direction you are in, and that’s ok too!

“The vision is about your goals for the future and how you will get there, whereas the mission is about where you are now and why you exist,” Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder of Mavens & Moguls said. It is a global strategic marketing and consulting firm. “The vision should motivate the team to make a difference and be part of something bigger than themselves.”

The most important thing is that you want this Vision Statement to fulfill your end goals or at least your hopes for your end goals. 2C & 2B Seen took their “What” question and determined to continue what the founder had originally pursued. To help those in need to see better and to improve the way they were seen. How lucky for them, it was in their name too.

SO the CEO and COO got together with their Department heads to brainstorm concepts. Eventually they settled in on was, “2 help those with visual needs and 2 show them that they have never been unseen.” A vision, a simple concept of where they want to go. This doesn’t have an ‘time frame’ but it is an ongoing concept of where they want to be going as a company and as individuals working with the company.

How do you quantify success?

In the case of Microsoft, “a computer on every desk and in every home,” was meant to continue until they either changed directions or until the vision was complete. Well, of course, most homes have a computer and counting phones, tablets, desktops and laptops, I would say Vision Accomplished. Their new and current corporate vision is “to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.” They saw the Vision to completion and then worked through this process again to determine ‘Next Steps’.

You need to make a firm decision on how you will gauge the success of your Vision Concept. 2C & 2B Seen decided to use, as their Vision Statement, “To improve our community’s ability to see, both outwardly and inwardly.” The administrators decided that the best way to quantify, or gauge, the success in this would be to look at the issue at hand. 50% of Adult Americans have worse than 20/20 Vision. Using this data, they made some assumptions that nearly 28,000 adults in their neighborhood had vision needs. Also, because 26% of their neighborhood lived below the poverty level, that left nearly 7,000 adults without the appropriate funds to secure the help they needed.

Therefore, 2C & 2B Seen decided that the fruition of their mission would be to service 50% of them, 3,500 new patients within the next 10 years.

Theoretical to Practical Application

Putting their Vision Concept into practice. 2C & 2B Seen started by forming a team of two Marketing students to reach out to shelters and non-profit assistance programs to find the people that needed their assistance. At first they were paying the Marketing team to spend three to four hours a week on the project. Within six months, the entire staff was doing volunteer hours each week to help make the project a success. Within the first year, 2C & 2B Seen had pulled in 1,800 new patients who were low income and couldn’t afford the help. They gave them checkups and often had the ability to offer them corrective resources.

By the end of year two, they had added another 1,800 new patients. A volunteer team of thirty-five people had formed to push the project along. Community based groups were coming together to offer their services and funds.  To keep the project moving, and some churches and shelters partnered with them to offer more than just glasses, but food boxes an clothing as well. Changed by a simple Vision concept.


Projects like these are the way businesses can truly give back to the American People. One person… one changed life at a time. Helping one another out as we turn our VISION to a brighter tomorrow.


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Charleston Engineers Joint Council Banquet 2021

CEJC Logo and CEC Logo

The Charleston Engineers Joint Council, also known as the CEJC, formed to inspire the youth of the Lowcountry. They seek, along with their partners, to be advocates of Charleston area STEM programs. CEJC seeks to be catalysts that create synergy between industry partners and leaders and educational institutions.

The CEJC hosts the Engineers Week Banquet each year. Here they award the Engineer of the year and the Technical Project Team of the Year, awards. They also give a minimum of two scholarships annually. In addition to providing multiple sponsorships to Lowcountry STEM programs and teams. In 2020, the CEJC awarded eight scholarships totaling $7,500. They also provided sixteen sponsorships for local STEM programs totaling more than $7,500.

What is the Charleston Engineers Joint Council Banquet?

Every year, the Charleston Engineers Joint Council hosts a banquet to honor and exalt high school students. Those select students got into an engineering or technology program for college. CEJC also supports two scholarships to a current student enrolled in a local university for engineering. In 2020 during the Engineering E-week Banquet, they provided four scholarships to four students from four different high schools.

Keynote Speaker: Mr. Bob Quinn

At the Banquet they typically invite the honorees to attend and they also bring on a Keynote speaker for the ceremonies. This year, they selected Mr. Bob Quinn, Executive Director of the South Carolina Research Authority. Moreover, he shared a riveting Address titled, “A Lifelong Career Path of Technology and Business Adventure”. The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) fuels our State’s economy by accelerating technology-enabled growth by supporting academia and entrepreneurship.

Quin, prior to joining SCRA, worked in various executive roles for over 25 years. He began his career with the federal government, holding management positions at the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. His current Board participation includes Charleston Regional Development Alliance and also the SCBIO. They also include Central SC Alliance, SC Council on Economic Education, and South Carolina Research Foundation.

Quinn holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a master’s degree from George Washington University. He also completed the Executive Management Program at Stanford School of Business. Bob and his wife, Cathy, have three grown children, and are also impatiently awaiting grandchildren. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Summerville.

Scholarships Awarded

SCSPE Lee M. Clippard Memorial Scholarship: Lillian Hendricks (Senior Mech. Eng Student, The Citadel)

Mercedes-Benz Vans STAR Engineer Scholarship: Michael Greco (Senior Evening Elec. Eng Student, The Citadel)

2021 CEJC/PMI Technical Project Team of the Year Award

2021 CEJC Engineer of the Year Award


It is such a privilege and an honor to take part in sponsoring this project and also these young people. Custom Equipment Company is proud to fight on behalf of our State and other industry leaders. We do this to offer a helping hand to individuals who have worked hard for this honor.  If you are a part of the engineering world in one form or fashion, seek out the Charleston Engineers Joint Council CEJC. In conclusion, we wish you would join in as we seek to take the young people of the Lowcountry into a Brighter Tomorrow!


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