What type of employer is HGR? Buyer Spotlight with Jason Olariu

When did you start with HGR, and why?

April 2018. I’ve known Rick Affrica, HGR’s chief purchasing officer, for a number of years and have done business with HGR during that time. I’ve always admired the company from the first time I learned the process, and I jumped at the opportunity to join the team.

What is your territory, and what do you do on a daily basis?

I don’t really have a territory since my focus is to call on corporate-level contacts at multi-site companies throughout North America. I manage our efforts in supporting the resale needs of our large corporate customers, which can be summed up daily as “shaking hands and kissing babies.”

What do you like most about your job?

I love meeting new people and developing relationships. The broad reach of my role allows for me to create new connections on an almost daily basis, which is a huge motivator for me, both personally and professionally.

What’s your greatest challenge?

Coming from an automotive-manufacturing-focused sales background, I find “turning it off” after hours a challenge. Supporting the Big Three to avoid downtime for the better part of a decade has left me feeling the need to keep my phone near at all times, including at night, during family time – even on vacation!

What’s your most interesting moment at HGR?

Meeting the other buyers for the first time– quite a group of characters, and all good guys. Put them all in one house and give them a reality TV show.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

Spending time with my family is my true joy – and thankfully, we all enjoy a lot of the same things. Other things that bring me joy are reading (science fiction and old pulp detective novels), film, and spending hours flipping through albums in old, out-of-the-way record stores.

Who is your hero or greatest influence/inspiration, and why?

Without sounding cliché, my father, Paul, has been the greatest inspiration in my life. He taught me that life is about the endless pursuit of knowledge, that you should never let those in your life feel as though they are not the most important person in the world to you, and that it’s okay to laugh at yourself. From as far back as I can remember, he told me he hoped that I grew up to be a better man than he was, though I doubt I will ever be.

Anything I missed that you want folks to know?

Getting to know the great team and strong culture within HGR reinforces my feeling that I’m where I need to be, and I’m proud to be part of it!

Local manufacturer eliminates noise and moisture issues for the construction industry

Keene noise reduction Quiet Qurl sound control mat
Quiet Qurl® 55/025 MC sound control mat designed to limit impact noise between floors

 

Jim Keene Keene Building Products

How did Keene Building Products get its start?

Keene was started in 2002 as an importer but quickly began development of its production line. Although educated as an accountant, Jim Keene, the founder, became involved in the engineering of the system to produce the materials — a unique plastic extrusion process. Sales were simple since he was involved with many of the customers in the market.

Why was the decision made to locate in Euclid?

Jim’s home town is Richmond Heights, up the hill, but his father and mother went to Euclid High School. Euclid is a great place to manufacture, and Jim wanted to be a manufacturer.

How are the products that you manufacture used?

Keene Building Products is a manufacturer of three-dimensional filament products for the construction industry. Its noise products are designed for construction projects, such as multi-family apartments and condominiums to stop impact and airborne noise, while its building-envelope products can be utilized in wall, masonry, roofing, and foundation applications to eliminate moisture issues.

Starting as a plastic manufacturing company in 2002, Keene has innovated new construction tools in an effort to improve product performance for the market. At first, it only manufactured entangled net products in applications that had coatings and concrete all around them. Today, its capabilities include blending powders and creating chemicals. In addition to plastics extrusion, the company has expanded its expertise to floor-preparation products, below-grade systems, roofing, plastic fabricating and 3D filament.

How many employees work in the facility in Euclid?

30 employees but it will be increasing to 50 in the near future.

Tell us about your building expansion. How many square feet and why?Keene Building Products expansion

25,000 square feet for warehouse purposes that will allow us more room for manufacturing.

Are there ways that the company participates in the community?

Not yet!! We will soon.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that manufacturing currently faces?

Skilled labor

What does the future of manufacturing, especially in Northeast Ohio, look like?

The future is very bright here but we need to educate our young people better. Our schools are not up to par, and our workforce doesn’t graduate ready for the positions we need to fill.

What inspires you?

Helping the people in our organization realize their career and financial goals.

Are there any interesting facts about Keene Building that most people don’t know?

  • Weatherhead 100 four years running
  • Two businesses in the award
  • Holder of 20 patents either issued or pending
  • Family business with other family members as part of the team
  • More likely to sell product on one of the coasts, with full North American coverage and sales in every state
Keene building envelope
Driwall™ Rainscreen 020-1, a drainage mat for exterior wall systems

HGR hosts MAGNET’s annual State of Manufacturing event

MAGNET State of Manufacturing at HGR

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Dale Kiefer, freelance journalist)

On Nov. 10, HGR welcomed members of the public to its headquarters to gain insights about important trends that are likely to affect Northeast Ohio manufacturers in the coming year. The third-annual State of Manufacturing event was organized by MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network whose mission is to help area companies grow and thereby contribute to the manufacturing renaissance in Northeast Ohio.

MAGNET State of Manufacturing breakfast at HGRThe morning event began with a networking breakfast that gave attendees a chance to connect with other industry professionals, including HGR associates and expert consultants from MAGNET. Ethan Karp, president and CEO of MAGNET, launched the formal part of the program with opening remarks. This was followed by an expression of thanks to HGR and all of the participants from Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail.

The first presenter was Joseph N. Gross, an OSBA certified specialist in labor and employment law who is also a partner at Benesch Attorneys at Law. He spoke about changes at OSHA and what manufacturers can expect when dealing with the agency in the coming year.

He was followed by Mark Wolk, the central region manager for Bank of America Leasing & Capital, who gave an overview of the equipment finance market. This included a lease versus loan benefit comparison for capital equipment.MAGNET State of Manufacturing guest speaker at HGR

The third and final speaker for the morning was Dr. Ned Hill who teaches economic development policy, public policy, and public finance at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. The focus of his presentation was Manufacturing 5.0, or the Fifth Industrial Revolution, which describes the most recent major shift in the economy’s structure. Under Manufacturing 5.0, all aspects of enterprises will see full digital integration. In this new economy, soft skills will be just as valuable and essential among the workforce as harder technical skills.

Following the presentations, the speakers opened the floor to questions. Thereafter, attendees were given a chance to take guided tours of HGR’s facility and learn more about the history of the company and the value that HGR itself provides to manufacturers. More than 40 attendees toured HGR’s 500,000-square-foot showroom and newly renovated offices.

The State of Manufacturing 2017 event was sponsored by MAGNET, The Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Benesch Attorneys at Law, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

 

What trends can Northeast Ohio manufacturers expect to see in the next year?

MAGNET State of Manufacturing 2017 held at HGR Industrial Surplus

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

Will the manufacturing industry keep growing at a healthy pace in 2018? How will government regulations and new legislation affect the industry? How will Northeast Ohio manufacturers take advantage of opportunities and face challenges in the new year? 

Find out at MAGNET’s 2017 State of Manufacturing event on Nov. 10!

Held at HGR Industrial Surplus in Euclid, this event will highlight successes in local manufacturing and address the sector’s fiscal and technological future. Following a networking breakfast, the morning will be full of insights on valuable manufacturing topics, including OSHA regulations, Industry 5.0, capital equipment, and more.

Following the event, HGR representatives will offer tours of their 500,000-square-foot showroom and newly renovated offices filled with furniture made by their customers, some of the area’s premier furniture designers.

Stay ahead of the competition by joining us at the third-annual State of Manufacturing event, and uncover economic trends that will affect your business in 2018.

Details and registration here: http://bit.ly/stateofmfg2018

For more information, contact MAGNET’s Linda Barita at 216.391.7766 or shoot us an email. Alternatively, keep up with the latest MAGNET news by following us on Twitter.

 

Q&A with Ian Charnas, manager of CWRU’s think[box]

 

How and when did think[box] come about? Where did the idea start, and who spearheaded it?

In March 2012, think[box] opened in a temporary 2,500-square-foot space on Case Western Reserve University’s campus thanks to a generous gift by CWRU alum and wonderful human being Barry Romich. The facility really took off and before long was receiving thousands of visits a month. University Trustee Larry Sears along with other major supporters led the efforts to procure a new and larger facility, which led us to opening think[box] in a 50,000-square-foot space in October 2015.

Most people don’t know what an open-access innovation center is. How would you describe it? What is its purpose? 50,000 square feet of what?

We describe think[box] as an innovation-focused makerspace. Now, “makerspace” is still a new term for many people, but think of a metal shop and a wood shop combined with all that new-fangled stuff. 3D printing, laser cutting, electronics, textiles, media, you get the idea. We have floors dedicated to prototyping and fabrication, as well as offices of support for entrepreneurship for projects that have the potential to turn into businesses and create jobs.

How has it succeeded, so far?

Innovation at think[box] is alive and well. More than 64 companies and startups have used the facility to raise more than $6.2 million in funding.

What types of things do people make there?

We see everything and everyone, from students working on academic coursework and research projects to startup companies and even folks working on hobbies and crafts. Startups and projects include medical devices, clean energy solutions, consumer electronics, aviation, robotics, as well as art and fashion, and much more.

How many visitors each month?

Currently think[box] receives on average more than 5,000 visits each month. On campus, only the gym and the library receive more visits, according to the provost’s data.

Of these, how many are CWRU students, how many faculty, how many alumni and how many from the community?

Around 80 percent of our visits are CWRU persons (students, staff, and faculty) while 15 percent are from the neighboring Cleveland Institute of Art. We’re very happy about that, of course, because when you get those designers and artists together with our scientists and engineers, and then you add law students and business students, now you have a real-world team that can take a project much further than any one of them could on their own. So that gets us to 95 percent, and the remaining 5 percent are general community members, including folks off the street, alumni, local entrepreneurs, and more.

Do local grade school and high school classes visit for STEM education?

Currently think[box] can host tours of K-12 students; however, the facility isn’t set up to host entire classes working on projects. Individual K-12 students can attend with their parents and a signed waiver. Full details on our K-12 policies are available on our website.

How do you get the word out to the community?

Because of our focus on entrepreneurship, our primary outreach is to the local entrepreneur ecosystem — groups like JumpStart, LaunchPad, FlashStarts, BizDom, and other accelerators and incubators. These groups have each sent startups over to think[box] to take advantage of the facilities here, and, in turn, CWRU has sent student startups to incubate with each of those groups.

I see the list of equipment online. Where did it come from?

The equipment at think[box] was selected by staff after careful consideration of features and after visiting several dozen high-profile makerspaces and shops around the nation, including visits to MIT, Stanford, and other highly regarded institutions.

What is your role there?

As the manager, my role involves fundraising, communications and promoting national visibility, overseeing selection of large equipment, recruiting and training staff, managing strategic projects, and organizational partnership development.

Is training available?

Yes, training is available on all of our machines. Users are expected to do their own design work (we do not offer design help) but staff are here to help show you how to safely operate the equipment.

How can think[box] help manufacturers, and what is its role in contributing to a skilled workforce?

The role of think[box] is to give free, open access to millions of dollars of high-tech prototyping equipment. When it’s time to go to manufacture, we help link entrepreneurs with (ideally local) manufacturers so they can grow their business.

laser cutting area at think[box]fab shop at think[box]computer lab at think[box]3D printing area at think[box]electronics area at think[box]

Top 10 questions about HGR Industrial Surplus

HGR Industrial Surplus Showroom Aisle-way

We get questions all the time about what we do, and people are curious about what we sell. So, we put together this Top 10 list of interesting tidbits, trivia and fun facts about HGR for your enjoyment.

What do you do?

HGR Industrial Surplus buys new and used machinery, equipment, furniture, supplies, fixtures, shelving and more. You name it, we’ve sold it. Yes, even rugs, leather, wine glasses, printer ink cartridges, pottery molds, sinks, tile and more.

What’s the heaviest item that you’ve ever sold?

A large press that weighed 150,000 pounds!

What’s the most expensive item that you’ve ever sold?

A press for $89,999

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever bought?

15,000 hammers

What do you sell the most of?

Electrical items

Who are your customers?

Makers, machinists, hobbyists, welders, manufacturers, engineers, maintenance employees, DIYers, woodworkers, contractors, store and business owners

Why did you locate in Euclid, Ohio?

Euclid had the building that would work for us. We were able to commit to the space we needed at the time, while also having options to grow. It was perfect for our short- and long-term plans.

Edwin Merced HGR Employee of the MonthWho was your most recent employee of the month?

Edwin Merced, showroom operator, was nominated and voted April’s Employee of the Month by his coworkers at HGR. He was nominated for “supporting everyone with openness, honesty, trust and respect while working as a team to achieve our common goals. He creates exceptional customer relationships by enhancing awareness and expectations of outstanding service with every interaction. Edwin does all of this with a smile on his face.”

Who’s the employee who’s been there the longest?

There are 11 employees who have been here since the beginning, 19 years ago: Founder Paul Betori, Buyer Jeff Crowl, Partner Rick Affrica, Buyer Jim Ray, Partner Brian Krueger, Showroom Floor Supervisor Rich Lash, Sales Rep Steve Fischer, Receiving Supervisor Chuck Leonard, Partner Ron Tiedman, Sales Admin Libby Dixon, and retired Buyer Doug Kopp.

Brian and Ron started in sales and now are part owners, while Rick started as a buyer and now is a part owner. Chuck and Rich started as forklift operators and are now supervisors. Jim, Jeff and Steve have retained and expanded our clientele with their wisdom and mentor our buy and sales staff. Libby has consistently been our dependable sales admin and customer greeter.

HGR employee Chuck Leonard
Chuck
Andrew Ciecerko HGR employee
Andrew

Who’s the employee who drives the furthest?

We have employees who drive in from all over, including Cuyahoga, Medina, Summit and Stark counties, the far eastern suburbs, as well as Pennsylvania.

Chuck Leonard, receiving supervisor, lives in Erie, Pa., and drives 93 miles to work on Monday morning and 93 miles home on Friday night. The rest of the week, he stays 40 miles away in Geneva at his mom’s house. He’s done this for 19 years! That’s dedication.

Andrew Ciecerko, inventory clerk, lives in Williamsfield, Ohio, near the Pa. line. He drives 70 miles each way every day.

HGR aerial view

Thanks for reading! Do you have other questions about HGR that you would like answered?