Business partners make home furnishings using wood and metal


Stimpson table by Railside Creationsworktable bench by Railside Creations

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Alan Maslar, co-owner, Railside Creations)

Railside Creations, opened in early 2016 by friends Alan Maslar and Chuck Schilling, makes unique furniture pieces and home accessories using wood and metal. Their inspiration comes from classic and modern designs, as well as the natural beauty in wood itself. Maslar had previously been a woodworker for local custom shops where he made a wide variety of furniture, cabinets, and millwork for luxury residences. Exotic woods, veneers, and radius work are some of his specialties. Schilling was employed by the City of Mentor to make exhibits and displays for fairs and Mentor CityFest, while building musical instruments as a hobby on the side. The lack of their individual creativity in their previous jobs motivated them to move and start on their own.

Their vision and approach leads the duo to brainstorming sessions and some design-on-the-fly situations. Many of their pieces are created utilizing re-purposed equipment from HGR Industrial Surplus. Newer technologies, such as AutoCAD and CNC machining also are used by Railside. For several years, their thought process has naturally been aligned with those individuals who have been a part of the Makers Movement, whether Alan and Chuck knew it or not. Using parts and processes different than their intent definitely drives both of these guys in a lot of what they do. In addition to their in-house designed pieces, they also work with customers to help bring their visions to reality.

Maslar and Schilling make sure a trip to HGR is at minimum a monthly excursion. The items they purchase are not usually what you would expect from a couple of woodworkers. “The stock is constantly changing and some pieces just jump out at you as great platforms to build ideas around. We bought an old riveting machine and components from it were the foundation for several pieces of furniture we’ve made. The vast rotating inventory and low prices keep us coming back.” HGR is a great place to outfit most any manufacturing facility; the guys at Railside see it as a place for materials and inspiration.

To view and purchase items made by Railside Creations, visit, or visit them on Facebook.

Riveter purchased at HGR Industrial Surplus
Riveter purchased at HGR


HGR open May 28

Memorial Day poppy

Although we are closed on Memorial Day to remember those who died while serving in our armed forces, we will be open on Saturday, May 28 during our normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Please have a safe Memorial Day Weekend.

Top 3 reasons manufacturers should use inbound marketing to drive leads


Man and woman working at computer station

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Jennifer Ristic, vice president, content, Point To Point)

Industrial manufacturers often discuss the need to use marketing to help increase sales, yet most never pull the trigger.

Gone are the days of winning business strictly through personal relationships or using traditional marketing tactics like high-priced advertisements in trade publications to capture the attention of prospective customers. Today, buyers are in control more than ever, which requires manufacturers to engage with them on the buyers’ terms.

As a B2B marketing agency focused on industrial manufacturing, we’ve found that taking an inbound marketing approach is the most effective ways for a manufacturer to generate qualified sales leads.

According to HubSpot, inbound marketing “focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close and delight over time.”

It’s all about ensuring your business can be found easily online, which is accomplished through a blend of content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and marketing automation. These efforts, when used in the right way, will turn website traffic into leads and qualified leads into customers.

Here are the top three reasons manufacturers should use inbound marketing:

  1. Your prospective customers already are online researching solutions for their business problems every day. If you’re not there, your competitors are.
  2. There’s no better way to build your credibility and thought leadership than by showcasing what you know. Doing so will earn your audience’s trust while naturally positioning your company’s products as best-in-class.
  3. Qualified leads coming from your website have a higher likelihood to close and become new customers than having your sales team “smile and dial” down a list of purchased contacts.

Because inbound marketing is about attracting – not interrupting – your target market, the more valuable the content, the more engaged your audience will be and the more they will share their information. Building great content, disseminating it via the right mix of marketing communications vehicles and measuring the impact via marketing automation tools will drive real business results for manufacturers who understand the power of marketing.

Point To Point is a premier B2B digital marketing agency focused on accelerating growth through more intelligent customer interactions driven by deep customer insights and data. As a trusted advisor to clients, the company’s cross-functional team brings a unique combination of strategic guidance, creative brilliance, technology innovation and delivery excellence to manage the change and resources to achieve success. For more information, visit

What do Elvis, Jimmy Stewart, John Lennon and Fred Astaire have in common?

Elvis Presley accordionJimmy Stewart AccordionJohn LennonFred Astaire accordion






They all played the accordion! And, so do many folks in Cleveland. What style of music often comes to mind when you think of an accordion? Yep, polka. But, not everyone plays polka on the instrument. It can be used for folk music, classical, and even jazz and blues. We talked to Brian Slosarik of Valley City who not only plays the accordion but he is a collector and is well known for accordion repairs.

How did you get involved with accordions?

I work fulltime in HVAC, worked for a heating company for five years and was a builder prior to that for 10 years. My grandfather played the accordion, and I remember hearing him play when I was younger. I lived in California when I was growing up, and my parents pushed us kids into playing a musical instrument. I chose the accordion at the age of nine. I was taught using the Palmer-Hughes Accordion Course, Book 1-12, and additional sheet music, including classical and overtures. After one year of taking lessons I was entered into accordion competition. I did pretty well, collecting several small trophies and many ribbons during the next few years. I quit at 13 after my parents moved to Connecticut because I couldn’t find a teacher who I felt comfortable with in the area. In 2004, I had an accident working on my house. I was on a scaffold painting gutters, stepped off the side of the scaffold and took 15-foot fall. I broke my left foot and right wrist. Recovery was about four months. My hand was still a problem. I still had my original accordion that my dad bought me in 1960. I picked it up for therapy to be able to get my fingers working again, move my wrist and use my hand. That’s all it took. I got hooked again and started buying them. Most needed repairs; so, I took them all the way to the east side to get repaired. To save money and time, I started reading everything I could find on accordion repairs. With the help of a new accordion friend, I began repairing my own. People found out I could do this, and it snowballed. There are usually six to 10 accordions waiting to be repaired in my second-floor shop. I probably work on more than 100 per year. People drive from Michigan, Pennsylavania and southern Ohio to drop them off and send them via UPS from as far away as California. There aren’t many people in this country doing repairs. I am doing my part to try and keep the instruments going. Accordions really are very fragile and need someone to look after them. I do some traveling to accordion events around the country. My favorite is the Cotati accordion Festival in Cotati, California, in August. I enjoy repairing accordions and meeting all the passionate, nutty enthusiasts. It has become a very enjoyable hobby.

What is your favorite style of music to play?

In this area, most players love and play polkas, waltzes and dance I personally like and play jazz-type music from the 40s on my accordion. Friends in California got me involved in jazz. I was playing my old music when I restarted and got hooked up with Frank Marocco’s arrangements and bought up everything he had produced. His music was my influence, and I play some of his arrangements of French and Italian music jazzed up, blues and tangos.

SANOWhat is your favorite accordion? What makes it so special?

My favorite accordion that I play is a Sano double-tone chamber from the 1950s. The Sano brand was imported into the East Coast. The sound is what makes it special to me. The interior is all made from Mahogany wood. Mahogany has a lot to do with the appealing tonal quality. Jazz boxes are mellower with a deeper bassoon. They have a richer tone that is a bit quitter. Not everyone likes this; therefore, they prefer a brighter, livelier, louder accordion.

How are accordions and/or polka music an important part of Cleveland’s history?

Yankovic started here. The Detroit and Pittsburgh areas also have a big polka following, as does the whole Great Lakes area due to the Slavic people who settled this region.

What words of wisdom do you have for the next generation of aspiring musicians?

I know several younger people who love and play the accordion but who are exclusively playing polkas for entertainment. I encourage them to diversify if they want to continue to play because as their audience ages, they need to appeal to other audiences. Some students who visit me from Oberlin College are playing Irish and Scottish mixed with jazz. In Europe the accordion is very popular. You see people playing on street corners. It is a big part of their heritage. The accordion is showing up in popular bands like Bruce Springsteen’s. And with Paul McCartney, I remember from a few years ago seeing an accordion sitting in the corner of a stage during a New Year’s Eve celebration. The accordion is out there. I feel that as younger people discover it, the accordion will be made to do new and different things.

What kind of tools do you use to repair your accordion?

Small files for tuning, custom-made tools for getting in tight places for adjustments, screwdrivers of all sizes, power tools, a table saw, belt sanders, acetones for celluloid work, sanders, polishers, X-Acto knives, glues. Being a former builder, remodeler and cabinet maker, I’ve always been into tools. Many of my tools show their age from many years of use.

What are some of the problems accordions have that cause them to need repair?

From accidents, bass buttons collapse just from knocking it over on the floor. The more you play, the bellows wear out and need to be replaced or retaped. Scratches and dings. Straps wear out, keyboards get out of adjustment and start getting too much play. Humidity and temperature are terrible on accordions. If they are stored on the floor in a basement they can mold inside. Attics with humidity and heat disintegrate the wax causing the reeds to fall out. Accordions like the same atmosphere and living conditions that people like: 70-75 degrees F. As with most things, accordions can just wear out. If it is a good brand, something special or sentimental, an accordion can be rebuilt to like-new condition. I have restored several during the past 10 years, including some for myself.

How long does it take to repair one? How costly is the repair?

I have repaired as many as five in one weekend if they require minor repairs like a stuck or broken reed or a key is hooked and bent. It can take up to 50 hours of work for a major restoration I find most repairs are in the $100-500 range.

How much do accordions cost, and where do people buy them?

A new, small, Chinese accordion runs $500-600 up to $12,000-15,000 for a top-of-the-line Italian accordion. A new full-sized, standard accordion runs $3,000-5,000, and you can get a good used one for $1,000. There are a few stores on the East and West Coasts and in Michigan that sell new ones. There’s nothing in Ohio that I know of. I can order them new through my connections, and I have almost 200 used accordions in my shop with 30-40 ready to sell at any time. I have four in my personal collection: my grandfather’s last accordion, the one from my childhood, my Sano, and one that is believed to have been owned by Myron Floren from the Lawrence Welk Show. I think picking an accordion is very personal. Everyone has different preferences and taste in how it should feel and sound.

How do you tune an accordion?

There are hundreds of reeds inside, and each reed has two reed tongues. When you pull out and push in the bellows the reed should make the same sound. To change the pitch on a reed you scratch or file the tongue in specific places to raise or lower the pitch. I use, in combination, a computer tuning program and Peterson strobe tuner. It can take up to 12 hours to tune a full-sized accordion; therefore, it is expensive — $500 or more. It is difficult to tune an accordion right to get a proper sound when you are done. It’s an art. What makes it more interesting is the different types of tunings there are: dry or concert tuning, polka, Irish, French, Italian and many more. Without proper training and experience a set of reeds can be ruined real fast in the wrong hands. Most accordions only need to be tuned about every five years if they are played regularly. Your better accordions tend to have better quality reeds. The higher quality reeds will hold a tune longer.

ECS state-of-the-schools address highlights value of bond issue

Euclid City Schools Assistant Superintendent Charlie Smialek

At the Wednesday, May 18, state-of-the-schools address and luncheon at Euclid High School, Euclid City Schools’ Assistant Superintendent Charlie Smialek introduced two Euclid High School juniors who sang “Glory” by John Legend. Both have GPAs of 3.6 or higher and are part of the College Credit Plus (CCP) program. Through CCP, they each have already earned 15-20 hours of credits toward college.

Smialek then presented what he calls, “a story of inspiration and bonding together as a community to ensure that we continue to remain a viable educational choice.”
Phase I of that program includes:
• Fiscal responsibility (closing Forest Park to consolidate three schools into two due to structural issues and declining enrollment)
• Student achievement
• Credibility in the community (partnerships with organizations such as Lincoln Electric for a welding lab and HGR Industrial Surplus for a robotics program and scholarship)

He mentioned that a career tech program will be added in 2017 to address the three-million manufacturing jobs that will be open in the next 10 years. It is anticipated that 2 million of those will go unfilled. With the creation of the program, the school hopes to meet the needs of its students, their families and employers looking for a skilled workforce. According to a statistic in his presentation, there’s a 92-percent graduation rate for students who participate in career tech programs versus the 70-percent current Euclid High School graduation rate. The school also plans to work with HGR on its STEM learning lab since half of all STEM jobs do not require a degree and pay an average salary of $53,000.

Phase II revolves around campus achievement, which depends upon an 8-mill, $96.3-million bond issue to create a secondary campus housing grades 6-8 and 9-12 on one site, turn the Forest Park site into an Early Learning Village for ages 3-4 and grade K, make stadium improvements, move the culinary arts program to the secondary campus, and repurpose the Central site as a metropark. If passed, potentially on the November 2016 ballot, this work would take place 2017-2019.

What does it take to become a thought leader in my industry?

Chess pawns for thought leadership

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Liz Fox, marketing associate, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network)

In the world of manufacturing, the term “thought leadership” is an ever-present buzzword that transcends industry. People perceived as thought leaders often speak at conferences, maintain blogs, and write extensively on topics pertinent to their audience. More importantly, thought leaders engage in the sharing and discussion of ideas that influence the thoughts of others and help people achieve success.

But what does it really take to transform yourself into a thought leader? While you might not become the next Seth Godin or Jim Tompkins, it’s definitely possible to drive conversation and influence key people in your industry. The following characteristics can help you not only be perceived as a thought leader, but engage with others on multiple levels that can propel your ideas forward.

Enhanced Storytelling: Stories are the first step to connecting with your audience on a personal level. Begin with a hook, then dive into details to which you feel they’ll respond. Anecdotes from your own life often serve as great backdrops, descriptors, and metaphors for the larger message you may be trying to convey.

Quality Curating: Thought leaders know great content when they see it, and many have the impulse to share it with others. Think about what topics are important to you, then research different aspects of them. Determine which publications and sources are the most relevant or credible, then put them out there for the world to see – it will only add to your credibility.

Leveraged Networks: While your expertise alone may be important in some areas, becoming a thought leader is also about who you know. It’s crucial to stay connected to key figures inside (and outside) of your industry, as there are some who can help you tell your story and share your ideas in a meaningful way. After all, this is why LinkedIn and other social media platforms have been so successful for existing thought leaders!

Individualism and Credibility: The value of a unique and trusted voice cannot be understated in the world of thought leadership. No matter your audience, location, or enterprise, conveying your competence plays a vital role in growing your support base. Tone also matters; so, it is recommended that you find a balance between being relatable and being an expert with all the answers.

Developing these qualities requires a huge commitment and may not come easily to some; however, turning yourself into a thought leader in your industry can empower you and ultimately take your company to new heights of success. For example, MAGNET’s intimate event series, [M]anufacturing Matters, is a new part of our strategy that has driven leads and kept manufacturers informed of present and future trends. Our passion for the region is reflected in our eagerness to share important information with others, and such a trait is crucial in training yourself to become an expert in thought leadership.

Want to know how MAGNET can help your business? Call Linda Barita at 216.600.1022 or email

HGR announces 2016 recipient of $2,000 STEM scholarship

Tiffany Moore HGR Industrial Surplus 2016 STEM Manufacturing Scholarship Recipient

On. Thursday, May 12, at Senior Awards Night at the Euclid High School auditorium, HGR Industrial Surplus’ Human Resources Manager Tina Dick presented a $2,000 scholarship to Tiffany Moore for her scholastic and personal achievements, as well as for her interest in pursuing her education in a STEM-related field, which encompasses science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The requirements for this year’s scholarship included:

  • active or interested in STEM
  • in good academic standing
  • enrolled as a senior at Euclid High School
  • applied to an institution of higher education or a trade or technical school for the next academic year
  • demonstrated financial need

In addition to the application, students provided an autobiographical essay, a need statement and one to three letters of reference.

Moore is an honors student and has taken college courses since the eighth grade. She applied to seven universities with the intent to major in computer networking. During her time at EHS, she has participated in the girls’ varsity soccer, basketball and track teams and was selected to participate in the school’s “Stand Up” ambassador’s committee, a group of students who demonstrate leadership skills and are willing to encourage others to do the same. The group meets to discuss ways to mediate the violence in schools and travelled to the elementary schools in the district to model ways to stand up to bullying. She also is enrolled in the school’s Cisco Academy where she obtained her Microsoft certifications.

Outside of school, she is heavily involved with her community. She volunteers at a nursing home, provides meals to families at the Ronald McDonald House, supplies young mothers with the items they need to take care of their newborns through Stork’s Nest and walks in the March for Babies and Relay for Life. In the future, her goal is to own her own electronic media company and increase the number of women working in the technology field. To that end, has participated in and created a website for IndeedWeCode, a program for African-American women interested in information technology.

Congratulations, Tiffany! HGR Industrial Surplus is proud of you and of the other talented applicants. You and your classmates will make a significant impact on science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields and the manufacturing industry. Good luck and keep us posted on how you do.

Market research turns up the strangest things

Can of WD-40

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Odell Coleman, partner at ColemanWick, a Northeast Ohio research and analytics firm)

You probably know that many of the world’s most famous and widely used brands became successful by accident. Slinky, Silly Putty, potato chips, penicillin, microwave ovens — the list goes on and on. These items were all either by-products of efforts to make something else, or were simply attempts to solve one problem, yet turned out to solve everyday problems around the world.

WD-40 was supposed to just be a solvent for the aerospace industry. It’s now in about four out of five American households. The most amazing thing is its multitude of uses — making bird feeder poles too slippery for squirrels, for example.

Which proves that you never know all the ways a product might be useful beyond its intended purpose.

As a research firm, ColemanWick is in a unique position to observe and become learned across a variety of businesses and industries. Over the years, one of the most interesting things we’ve learned is that there are re-uses for machines and parts beyond sending them to scrap. You might be surprised at how often pieces of equipment, large and small, can be valued by other operations within and without a particular industry.

For instance, we were hired by a nuts and bolts manufacturer to survey its customers and markets in order to help the company gain a better understanding of its B2B buyers. Lo and behold, our work revealed a B2C market that the manufacturer had no idea existed. I don’t have to tell you how thrilled they were to find a new revenue stream.

This case represents good news for anyone with the problem of outdated or irrelevant equipment and the challenge of asset recovery: invest some research bucks to find out who else might put it to good use.

The lesson learned by the nuts and bolts company was that it benefitted from a perspective outside of its own. Companies tend to focus so much on their own operation that they’re blind to opportunities all around them.

In truth, there are many successful companies that recognize that adhering to best practices includes having a dedicated budget for annual research. They know that research experts are bound to uncover surprising data that benefits their enterprise.

A few examples include:

  • Spotting budding industry trends
  • Making informed decisions on markets
  • Understanding your competition

Unlike WD-40, this blog has only one use – to help you understand how, with market research, you can take advantage of other markets, implement new product lines, understand your competition or use existing resources in different ways. These are just some of the many ways research uncovers data that pays for itself many times over.

For more information, contact Odell at or 216.991.4504.

A-Tech wins AWT RoboBots Competition

On Apr. 30, 28 high school teams from Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Summit counties competed at Lakeland Community College’s Athletic and Fitness Center. The sixth-annual regional robotics combat robotics competition was presented by the Alliance for Working Together Foundation and sanctioned by the National Robotics League.

Sparks and metal flew as the bots’ weapons collided in a Lexan cage during three-minute, double-elimination rounds until the last bot standing belonged to “Atech Machinists” from Ashtabula County Technical and Career Center with last year’s champs “Dreadnaught” from Madison High School in second place and “Beaumonsters” from Beaumont School in third place.

Each team was paired with a local manufacturing sponsor that provided financial support and technical advice to its team. And, for the first time, 27 middle-school teams competed in the 1.5-minute, single-elimination Junior Bots Competition with mini robot kits that they assembled and drove. “Team Bombers” from Kenston Middle School took first place.

Congrats to all the teams, especially HGR’s “Untouchables” from Euclid High School! Euclid High’s team, coached by Jason Coleman and Bob Torrelli, included students Alex Bowman, Ethan Clark, Eddie Conger, Corbin Gray, Dan Hercik, Connor Hoffman, Luke Johnson, Peter Powell, Joshua Ritchey and Dayna Shirer.

Here are our tweets — and one from AWT Robobots — sharing the Untouchables’ progress.

Spoiler alert: Video recap of HGR’s 18th anniversary, robots included

On Apr. 28, HGR held an anniversary sale that included a complimentary lunch from The Nosh Box, a demo by Euclid High School’s “The Untouchables” Robotics Team of its competition battle robot and a demo by Tim Willis of his 15-foot-tall transformer and robotic dog. During the course of the day, about 150 customers visited the showroom, and more than 1,220 items were sold.



Editor of Fresh Water Magazine sees poetry in machines

(image courtesy of Bob Perkoski Photography)

Erin O’Brien was deep in her career as a project engineer with BP America. She says it was a lucrative and great career, but all of that changed when her brother, Novelist John O’Brien, known for Leaving Las Vegas, committed suicide. This caused Erin to re-evaluate her life. BP was leaning staff and offered a buyout. Erin says “I didn’t want to sit in an office looking at designs for panel boards for the rest of my life.” In 1995, an author was born.

With no formal training, she tried her hand at fiction and nonfiction but found her calling by working as a journalist. She advises young writers: “Sit in a room and write and write and write.” For her, this philosophy resulted in her first published clip in 2000. She was paid $5 by Ohio Writer Magazine for a 900-word book review. She went on to freelance, including writing features for Fresh Water since its second or third issue in 2010. During that time, she covered brick-and-mortar news and penned profiles for other area magazines on many area manufacturing companies, including Vitamix, OsteoSymbionics, Excelas, Nestle, Ohio Awning and Manufacturing, and Quasar Energy Group. As she talks about how her technical background has helped her as a writer, she relates her experience writing about an anaerobic ingestor that turns organic waste into compressed natural gas, “We have to be a translator and distill technical information into readable, engaging prose. These people work hard and want to tell their stories.”

With an ongoing interest in manufacturing and industry, in 2013, O’Brien visited HGR Industrial Surplus’ showroom where she was profoundly moved because her dad, who died in 2002, was a machinist. In response, she wrote a blog post about HGR that came to the attention of Tina Dick, HGR’s human resources manager. Dick hired O’Brien to put together a timeline of the company’s historical site for its dedication ceremony. O’Brien also included HGR in a story about upcycling resources for local industrial artists. And, she covered HGR’s dedication ceremony for Fresh Water. She says, “HGR is one of my favorite places in Northeast Ohio. It houses machines that represent the Rust Belt. It’s just poetry.”

After working as a feature writer and development news writer with Fresh Water, she recently was promoted to managing editor and has put her freelance activities on hold to focus on the weekly e-magazine. She shares that the magazine’s perspective “is about what’s fresh and new in Cleveland that The Plain Dealer or are not covering, or about covering those stories from a new angle.” The magazine’s focus is on arts and culture, innovation, human-interest stories. Her vision is “to re-energize the magazine as we travel through 2016, with a keen awareness of the elephants headed this way and that all eyes will be on us this summer. Let’s look gorgeous while everyone is looking at Cleveland, Ohio, and showcase its diversity,” she states.

She sums up with her thoughts on Cleveland’s manufacturing future: “One sector that can’t be denied in Northeast Ohio is the medical sector. We also have housing stock that is affordable. There is a Renaissance that has resulted in low vacancy rates downtown. A lot is percolating. We may not be the blue-collar town that we once were, but I’m excited to see what Cleveland will look like in the next 10 years.”