(Courtesy of Guest Bloggers Alyson Scott, president, and Roger Sustar, CEO, Fredon Corporation)
Oftentimes, when describing the youth manufacturing programs we at Fredon and the Alliance for Working Together (AWT) Foundation are involved with, we are faced with the same question: “How much is this going to cost?”
Well, fellow manufacturers, if you are asking that question, you have completely missed the purpose of being involved in promoting manufacturing to our young people. The question you should be asking is, “How much is it going to cost me if I don’t get involved?” It will cost you the successful integration of the next generation of machinists, engineers, welders, inspectors, etc. You will be faced with the harsh reality that is the dreaded “skills gap.”
Do we have a litany of statistics and reports to support this allegation? No. Do we have signs lining the street that say, “Machinists Wanted?” No. Fredon Corporation has never been at risk of a skills gap. Why? Because more than 20 years ago we saw the value of offering youth manufacturing programs in our facility. We have put countless hours of our time – our top machinists’ time – and too many dollars to worry about into promoting careers in manufacturing. From the birth of our Cannons of Fredon program in 1992 to creating, organizing, facilitating and promoting our AWT RoboBots program (since 2010), we have talked the talk and walked the walk.
We recognize that not every young person we work with will become a machinist (or other manufacturing-centric career seeker) and that’s okay with us! What many business owners don’t consider is this: The future growth of our industry is inarguably dependent on having a highly skilled workforce. Inarguably. But aren’t we also dependent on a well-educated consumer who knows the value behind the phrase “Made in America?”
Every dollar and every hour that is offered up to support the education and cultivation of our future employees is priceless. Do we see the return on our investment on our balance sheet? No. Do we see it in our bottom line? Absolutely!
The reward for our efforts is an amazing group of 100 employees – skilled machinists who produce precision machined products for our customers in the aerospace, defense, locomotive, nuclear energy and transportation industries. We are generationally diverse; we are made up of an equal amount of “Millennials” and “Baby Boomers.” More than 38 percent of our employees are ages 40 and under. Skills gap? Not at Fredon.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Bob Torrelli, Science Department Chair and Robotics Team Coach, Euclid High School)
As we have been getting closer the competition date, all of our energy has been devoted to the robot. This is a picture of the current robot’s status in preparation for the AWT RoboBots Competition on Apr. 30 at Lakeland Community College. Last weekend, we worked to assemble the robot and get it running. It was a very exciting weekend for the kids.
Most of the students who were interested in the Robotics Club have signed up for our new Lego™ robotics class that is going to be offered next year. Thanks to HGR for getting us the kits! A counselor told me that the students seemed sparked by the Robotics Club to enroll in the class, and word has spread throughout the school; so our combined efforts are already making a difference in the lives of our students and providing them with an opportunity that would not have been available otherwise. This model partnership that we share is allowing us to shape/hone students’ skills for the 21st century. We are thankful for everything that HGR has done for us, and if we could increase the number of partnerships between community and school, then the sky would be the limit.
The weapon is moving so fast, it’s a blur. We wouldn’t want this thing to get near our ankles! Click the “EHS Battle Bot weapon video” link below to see and hear this battle robot. Depending on your computer’s settings and browser, the video may play in a viewer box or download to your task bar. The Euclid High School Robotics Team is installing the armor this week then taking the bot out for practice in preparation for the Alliance for Working Together’s RoboBots Competition on Apr. 30 at Lakeland Community College. HGR Industrial Surplus supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in order to cultivate a skilled workforce for manufacturing careers.
The Lake Erie Monsters, along with their NHL affiliate, the Columbus Blue Jackets, signed Robert Gibson, son of HGR employee Chris Gibson, to a one-day contract on Mar. 18 to fulfill Robert’s wish through the A Special Wish Foundation.
He was born via emergency C-section that resulted in irreversible damage to his kidneys and the death of his twin brother, Michael Charles. On the fourth day of his life, he underwent the first of 14 surgeries to date. After an unsuccessful kidney transplant and additional complications stemming from a rare form of pneumonia, he spent seven months in and out of the hospital. To this day, his immune system is challenged, and he must be monitored to ensure his day-to-day renal function.
While Gibson’s medical challenges have been profound and numerous, they are not what defines him. He is an energetic, excitable four-year-old with a passion for life. He is compassionate, loving and kind, and he loves the Lake Erie Monsters and playing and watching hockey. His wish was to become a “Lake Erie Monsters Player for a Day.” The Monsters and Blue Jackets, in conjunction with the A Special Wish Foundation, made Robert’s wish come true.
“We are so grateful and proud to be working with the Lake Erie Monsters. When they heard about Rob’s wish to be a ‘Monster,’ the entire organization really stepped up and took his wish to an entire new level,” says Jason Beudert, co-founder of the Cleveland Chapter of the A Special Wish Foundation.
Robert’s exciting weekend began on Mar. 16 when Gibson and his family met Monsters Captain Ryan Craig at 3:30 p.m. at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Crocker Park to get geared up for the big day. Craig helped outfit Gibson with new skates, equipment and a stick to make sure he was all set for his pro-hockey adventure.
Friday morning, Gibson arrived at Quicken Loans Arena at 10 a.m. for morning skate with the team and suited up for practice where he fired some shots on goal.
“Robert is as brave a kid as there is, and the determination and heart he’s shown to battle through the obstacles he’s faced is inspiring to me and to our team,” says Monsters Head Coach Jared Bednar.
After morning skate, Gibson’s signing was formally announced to local media during his 11:15 a.m. press conference with Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Bill Zito, where he signed his one-day NHL contract. This exciting moment was streamed live on the Monsters’ Facebook page.
“We’re extremely excited to welcome Robert to our team,” says Columbus Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Bill Zito. “He’s a courageous young man who has displayed great determination and strength, and those attributes help make him a great addition to our organization.”
When Gibson returned to The Q for Friday’s game, he entered the Lake Erie dressing room as an official Monsters player. He suited up in his own stall in the team’s locker room and prepared alongside his teammates to take the ice for player introductions and the in-arena announcement of the team’s starting lineup. Gibson then watched the game with his family.
“We are so grateful to A Special Wish and the Lake Erie Monsters for making our son smile bigger than we could have ever hoped for,” says Beth Gibson, Robert’s mother. “While he has been through a lot in his short life, we know this experience will be something he will treasure forever. We can’t say “thank you” enough, and I don’t think we will ever be able to truly articulate what this means to us and him. For him to feel this special is a parent’s dream come true.”
As a kid, Tim Willis, 57, rode dirt bikes then entered motocross events. This interest quickly evolved from competing with dirt bikes into motorcycles, cars, demolition derbies and trucks. He started taking home parts from a junkyard more than 36 years ago and building a car in his living room because he didn’t have a garage. This set Willis on a trajectory that led to making monster trucks then into robots because he says, “Trucks were trendy. I wanted to work on something that gets better over time with no expiration date, something no one else is doing. Robots are high-tech, and I want to get a jumpstart on technology that can go anywhere.” His friend Pete had made a Transformer out of wood. Willis told him they should make one out of metal. He watched “The Transformers” and “Real Steel” then bought a toy Transformer at Toys “R” Us in order to visualize it. He gave the toy to a kid and began making his first robot. He works organically, only making a “kiddy sketch” for proportion then starts building.
He built a 16-foot-tall, 4,000-pound Transformer robot that can walk down the street and a 12-foot-tall robotic dog. He currently is working on a two-headed dragon that is on wheels and can be towed behind a truck. It has a 20-foot wingspan (made from rack shelving bought at HGR Industrial Surplus), a body 28-feet long and a 12-foot tail. Each robot costs about $120,000 in materials plus the labor and takes six months to build. He works on them from October through March for 18 hours per day, seven days per week.
For his livelihood, he has worked in a machine shop and owned Tim’s Wild Creations, a high-tech handyman company that would put together things that a customer bought and dreamed of building. For 23 years, he freestyled as the “clown” at Monster Truck shows to keep the crowd revved up. He did 43-44 shows per six-month season in the 1980s. He was paid $5,000 per show, and that’s where his capital came from. In addition, up until four years ago, he would enter his monster trucks into races where all competitors would put in a $500 entry fee, and the winner takes all. He says, “People spend money before they’ve got it. I put money away, don’t go out, live simply and don’t waste a thing.”
Now, he only woks on robots and is demonstrates his “hobby that went wild,” at many area events, including educational seminars, MOCA Cleveland’s Everything All at Once exhibition, St. Patrick’s Day parades, the Puerto Rican Festival, the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy, the Cuyahoga County Fair, IngenuityFest and even a demonstration in front of St. Adalbert on E. 83rd St. to keep the parish open.
Willis considers himself a self-taught mechanical engineer and a fulltime showman. He works out of a fix-it shop on wheels that he takes to his shows and a shop in his garage. He shares that he is a vegetarian, does not eat sweets, smoke, drink or gamble. He says, “Life is about constant self-discipline for total control over my mind. Everything I do, I give it my all.” To that end, he is focused to the exclusion of all else on gaining more knowledge. He explains that he will work on a robot or truck and have a problem to fix that he can’t solve; so, he will go jogging or work on something else until the solution presents itself.
To date, he has invested more than $4 million in his hobby and passion and has made 28 monster trucks and robots. He still has 19 of them. For parts, he goes to auctions and HGR Industrial Surplus. He found HGR when a friend brought him to the showroom 15 years ago. Willis was so captivated that when his friend wanted to leave, he said to go ahead that he’d find a ride home. Willis says, “I love HGR. You can get everything there. I save here. A lot of times they have new stuff that you can get for ¼ the price.” He has bought the ramps to load his robots onto the trailer and all of the electrical circuit breakers and boxes for his shop from HGR.
If you meet Willis, his happiness is infectious. He has learned through hard lessons to do what he loves. His father, two sisters and brother died at young ages from a rare heart condition attributed to Marfan Syndrome. His step father was killed in a street shooting. That’s where the name of his monster truck team came from: The Homicide Team. But, he is sensitive to the message he puts out to youth. He clarifies that The Homicide Team is mechanical science in motion and that it was named in 1994 in honor of the Cleveland Police Homicide Unit for their thorough investigations and devotion to solving his step-father’s case and to inspire students to get a good education and become business- and career-oriented so they won’t be tempted to step into the streets. He quotes Albert Einstein, “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” And, because he worries about the message he puts out in the world, he got rid of the homicide reference on his trucks. He also spent $10,000 repainting them from their trademark yellow, orange and red shades of dripping blood to shades of green for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, he has two robots, the Transformer and the dog, and two trucks in the parade.
2016 HGR Industrial Surplus STEM Scholarship
Scholarship guidelines are as follows:
1. The applicant must be active or interested in any facet of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math).
2. The applicant must be in good academic standing at his or her high school.
3. The applicant should be a senior at Euclid High School.
4. The applicant must have applied to an institution of higher education or a trade or technical school for the next academic year.
5. Financial need will be considered.
Those applying for the HGR Industrial Surplus scholarship should submit the following materials when applying:
1. A completed scholarship application.
2. A 350-word autobiography (tell us about yourself, your activities, what you like, etc.).
3. A 350-word statement explaining why this scholarship is important to you, including your financial need.
4. A minimum of one letter of reference. Up to three letters of reference will be accepted. Letters of reference should be from non-family-members, such as teachers, counselors, employers, mentors, etc.
5. Scholarship Submission Deadline: All materials should be submitted online via the HGR website no later than April 15, 2016 by 11:59 EST.
To apply for the scholarship, gather your materials and then use this form to submit your application.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Alan Green, adjunct professor at Cuyahoga Community College)
I’ve been a customer of HGR for several years. I‘ve bought several pieces of equipment for my wood shop. Your outlet is one of my favorite places to go to for outfitting my shop. I used to own a handyman business for several years. For the past several years, I’ve been teaching humanities at Tri-C. Woodworking is now a hobby for me. I repair my own house and build objects for my house and for my family when we need something.
- Profit sharing: eligible after 90 days qualifying employees are eligible to share a portion of 5 percent of company profits put into a pool
- Medical, dental and vision: effective after 90 days and premiums paid 100% by the company for employees
- Paid time off
- Life insurance: $25,000 at no cost to the employee
- 401(k) retirement plan: eligible after one year
- Voluntary short-term and long-term disability coverage
- Uniforms provided
- Free lunch every Wednesday
- Holiday party, bonus, gift card and raffle
- Summer outing at Cedar Point, including four admission tickets per employee and lunch
Here’s what four new employees in the Marketing Department have to say about what it’s like to work at HGR:
Paula Maggio, public relations specialist, started June 2015 and says, “It’s the people who make HGR a great place to work. Everyone is valued and treated with respect. And, everyone cares about doing a great job in order to make things work well for four customers and for our coworkers. HGR’s management provides so many perks for its employees — from gift cards at Thanksgiving to a company picnic at Cedar Point. Those things let us know how much we are appreciated and ensure our loyalty.”
Joe Powell, graphic designer, started August 2015 and says, “I’m doing exactly what I want to do in my life. It’s nice to get a job doing what you love for great company. With my mechanical background I like to work in an industrial and manufacturing setting and have an understanding of the people in this field since I worked in a blue-collar role for the last 10 years.”
Beth Hietanen, email marketing data analyst, started August 2015 and says, “I like working here because I like the concept of what HGR’s doing. They’re taking something that’s old and bringing it back into life. People might throw these items out, but instead they’re being reused. Since I was a kid, I recycled things. I was always getting hand-me-downs because I was the youngest in my family. I am used to using what is used, and working for a company that sells these things makes sense to me.”
Gina Tabasso, marketing communications specialist, started September 2015 and says, “I couldn’t be more blessed than to work for HGR. I not only love what I do but I care deeply about the company and the people I work with and for. It’s a family. Everyone is quick to praise and support one another in an environment of mutual respect. It’s great to go to work and work hard but laugh, smile and be allowed to be human while you’re doing it.”
Next month, look for a post on our values and how they are embodied by our employees in service of our customers and community.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger David Spasic, co-owner of Superelectric LLC)
Most people know Superelectric Pinball Parlor, 6500 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, by our new storefront that opened in December in Gordon Square where we sell pinball machines, vintage games, and screen-printed apparel and merchandise. The roots of Superelectric, however, date back to 2003 when Ben Haehn, Nathaniel Murray, and I met in Bowling Green while studying art. Each of us had a different focus in college. Screen printing, digital art, and ceramics were our respective emphases; however, one common thread among us is our love for using recycled or found objects in our artwork.
We have been visiting HGR Industrial Surplus for years to find materials to use in our art and to generate inspiration for future pieces. Also, while working in the film industry we would often look to HGR for props and set decorations for movies and commercials. Having such a wonderful resource at your fingertips is amazing.
Last summer, when we began working on our storefront location, we would visit HGR regularly to find building materials and items that we could upcycle. On one visit I brought my uncle, a former machinist, and my father, the person who first told me about HGR. Together, we dug through the building looking for materials that could be repurposed into railing for our storefront. My uncle had never been to HGR and was in awe of the size and diversity of the goods available, as well as the low prices.
Eventually, my father stumbled on a pallet of aluminum frames. “What about these?” he called out. I came over to take a closer look and realized that it was a pallet of industrial screen printing frames. How perfect! Superelectric started as a screen printing company back in 2007 before pinball became our main focus. Reusing screen printing frames in our store would be a great homage to our roots. Explaining our purpose and limited budget, we were able to work with the staff at HGR to get a great price on the frames. After a night of playing with different orientations for the frames we landed on the current set up. The railing turned out great, and we have people ask about it all the time. It wouldn’t be possible without the friendly staff, huge selection of goods, and great prices at HGR. Thanks!
The National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame, 605 E. 222nd St., Euclid, Ohio, is housed in a beautiful, elegant, historic building that functioned as the former city hall. Within its walls are rooms full of polka memorabilia, including lifetime achievement awards and photos, interactive audio displays with historical information, and a video viewing area. The highlight of the collection is a room dedicated to vintage accordions, many inlaid, which were owned by famous polka kings. You can read about them on wall biographies then browse the gift shop that houses the country’s largest collection of polka CDs, recipe books, records and other souvenirs. If you are interested in live polka events and festivals, there is a rack of information that you can take with you to mark your calendars.
The Polka Hall of Fame was organized in 1986, the same year The Grammy Awards introduced an award for Best Polka Recording that went to the late Euclid resident Frankie Yankovic, and, coincidentally, the same year that Cleveland was selected as the location for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a big year for music in Cleveland!
What differentiates “Cleveland-style” polka from other kinds of polka music? According to Joseph Valencic, founding trustee, historian and museum director with the Polka Hall of Fame, Cleveland-style was developed about 100 years ago as an American style of dance music based on folk music brought by Slovenian immigrants. The music mainstreamed after World War II when people were looking for feel-good dance music. Its heyday was 1949-1960, but it is experiencing a new boom, as well as an accompanying accordion revival. Valencic attributes this to young musicians rediscovering the music of their grandparents.
The museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. There currently are 1,300-1,500 global members. Valencic shares that polka is a cult sound in the Netherlands, and the Dutch usually come for its annual Sausage Festival. Busses of Canadian tourists also have visited. As Valencic says, “It’s America’s good-time music, and we’re here to celebrate it.”
But, Cleveland-style polka music obviously has become the world’s good-time music. And, on March 10, it was the music for The Euclid Chamber of Commerce’s Coffee Conversations series. Each month, the chamber has an hour meet-and-greet at a different area business so that members of the chamber and of the community can network at a venue they might otherwise not have known about or had the opportunity to visit.
Take a listen to Yankovic playing Cleveland the Polka Town and have a good time polkaing around the room. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Kazimieras “Kazy” Urbonavicius)
To start, I began my military career in the U.S. Marine Corps on active duty. During my time, I guarded the president of the United States. I was stationed in Quantico, Virginia. After I got out, I began working at Home Depot, but I still had a desire to play military; so, I joined the U.S. Army Reserve and began my numerous travels.
My last deployment was 2011 to 2012. It was a fun roller coaster ride. I was shot once and blown up twice during that tour. I am currently going through my retirement process and will be retired from the military at the end of the month. I started building furniture as a coping means. I started off with building end tables and tables out of wood and pipe fittings. Then, I purchased a welder and taught myself how to weld from reading a few books and watching online tutorials. I began to make metal furniture. I have made a series of lamps and other odds and ends.
I found out about HGR through my friend Terry. We were out drinking and eating at Oaks and Embers Tavern in Chesterland, Ohio, with our mutual friend Mark when he told me about HGR. He let me know that he purchased a huge vice from them and that it was the best thing he has ever found in his many years of finding tools. I came in one day after work, and the rest is history. This is a brilliant-minds toy store.
I currently work on the railroad as a full-time job and build furniture on the side. Eventually, I hope that I can move into a warehouse and keep building my tool collection so that I can expand my capabilities of building more intricate furniture. My company is called Tortured Creations. I hope, in the future, that I can make a non-profit company where veterans can come and have a place where they can have the tools and supplies to build their own furniture. To be able to begin a project from raw material and create a piece of work has been one of the most fulfilling accomplishments on my road in dealing with PTSD.
Dan T. Moore, CEO and chairman of Dan T. Moore Co. that holds 19 companies, is an ageless entrepreneur and inventor who is full of ideas and vitality. He skis and motorcycles the world, which you can read about on his blog; starts successful business after business; holds about 30 patents; and currently is hobbling about on crutches and in a cast after having bones in his ankle fused from a ski accident. His plans? To ski again! And, to continue to innovate and create successful startup companies in Collinwood.
His Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center (CiiC) at 17000 St. Clair Avenue, a former airport used by Curtiss Wright of Wright Brothers’ fame, houses nine established and startup manufacturing companies that employ approximately 350 people: Team Wendy, Soundwich, CiiC, Gem Tool, Ecowise, Metal Matrix Innovations, Rooftop Green, NatGasCar and Petfiber. The property also has available tenant space that Moore markets to encourage minority business enterprises.
While it’s easy to focus on Team Wendy, his original company which manufactures military helmets that stop high-velocity bullets for militaries and special forces around the world and which got its start as a ski-helmet manufacturer in 1997 at the intersection of Coit Road and Kirby Avenue after the skiing death of Moore’s daughter Wendy due to a traumatic brain injury, Moore is passionate about his startups. He says, “We hire people skilled in chemistry, engineering and business. We determined that focusing on starting companies is more profitable than buying them. And, I like to tinker.” The question he always seeks to answer is, “Where is there an unmet need?”
His startups include Metal Matrix Innovations that makes disc brakes out of aluminum instead of cast iron. They are lighter and ride better. Moore says they are made from a silicon carbide sponge into which they shoot aluminum. Rooftop Green manufactures “a tray that holds earth like a coffee filter,” Moore explains. “When there is a heavy rain, the soil doesn’t roll out onto the roof, and it’s less expensive for customers to purchase than traditional trays. The trays are made from recycled materials and are recyclable. They also can be used residentially on patios.” NatGasCar converts automobiles from petroleum-based gasoline into natural gas engines. Petfiber recycles Coca Cola bottles, made from polyester terephthalate (PET). They are melted and spun like cotton candy into a fiber for use in the automotive industry. All of these companies are sustainable, and Moore says he intends to run them until someone else can do a better job then he will sell them. Of his process, he says, “We get an idea, patent it, find the right people who can do it and run it.”
With all these startups, Dan needs to outfit them with the proper equipment. When asked where he gets much of it, he says, “I shop at HGR Industrial Surplus’ showroom in Euclid at least once per month. HGR is great because if I need something quick, I can grab it and plug it in by the afternoon.” He has purchased cranes; machine tools; welders; milling machines; a variety of mixing, coating and extruding equipment; lathes; an ironworker; and other machine tools. Some of these purchases also are being used in a “makers space” called “FAB Lab” that the company has created for employees to use in their leisure time on their hobby and side projects. Moore truly is an advocate of innovation.
(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Paula Maggio, PR specialist with HGR Industrial Surplus)
News of Cleveland entrepreneurship has traveled to Vietnam. It has also spread to Namibia and Turkey and Greece – and to 186 other countries, too.
Michael Goldberg, assistant professor of design and innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management, brought that story back home to Cleveland at COSE’s annual meeting Feb. 24.
He told a full house at the Near West Theatre in the heart of Gordon Square how he taught students at the National Economics University in Hanoi about entrepreneurship in Cleveland. The students he met were eager for the lesson.
“The hunger for what we’re doing here in Cleveland is really strong,” he says, as he flipped through slides that pictured some of the students he met – either in person or remotely – in Vietnam. “People are hungry to learn what we are doing.”
Goldberg says two factors combined to make Cleveland fertile ground for entrepreneurship. Ohio’s Third Frontier Program, which promotes the growth of startup technology companies and became an international model, jumpstarted the effort. Next came recruiting donors to support the economic development that resulted.
Goldberg, a Fulbright fellow, turned the course into a massive open online course (MOOC) that has attracted more than 100,000 students from all over the world and is the top offering on Coursera in terms of video translations. The MOOC, which consists of nine, 12-minute videos, has been translated into 13 languages.
Before Goldberg’s keynote presentation at COSE’s annual meeting, the organization recognized outgoing Chair Rion Safier of Rion Safier Accounting and welcomed new Chair Mike Stanek of Hunt Imaging, LLC.
It also acknowledged outgoing board and executive committee members Darrin Feming, Stratavant; James Harmon, Dawson Companies; Lisa Logan, Logan Clutch Corp.; and Jim McSherry, McSherry & Co., LPA.
Toby Heintzelman of the Driftwood Restaurant Group won the volunteer service award. COSE staffer Adina Magda won the staff service award.
Giving career advice
During the networking portion of the event, COSE members had the chance to meet, mingle and share 30 seconds of advice that they would give to their younger selves if they were just now beginning a business career. Matt William, chief marketing officer at HGR, added his perspective.