Friday, December 28, 2012

Searching for a Leader...

In regards to the looming 'fiscal cliff,' where is a leader who can get either side to come together? It is plainly obvious neither party wishes to concede much of anything. I might remind those in office that you only have 50% of the support of the citizens as illustrated during the election. That doesn't mean you have the support to only push your agenda. Either side - Grow up and lead this country.

Politics wins again over common sense.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Made in the USA

A list of some great Made in the USA companies to consider for the new year. Please be conscious of where your gear comes from!
The Beebe Company
Hand crafted accessories for urban riders...
Excellent work in leather and canvas...
Premier boot maker for the outdoors...
Timeless appeal in bags and accessories...
Maybe not for everyone, unless you're a prepper... :)
Vintage styling with high function...
Unique and detailed craftsmanship for the mobile ones...
the highest grade outdoor gear, period...

Monday, December 3, 2012

I hate to say "I told you so..."

Well, back to the old grind in Congress and the White House. Arguing of partisan separation and a genuine lack of respect for the common citizen. We'll see if anything happens prior to Jan.1, but my suspicion is that they'll play games and polarize it till the end, forcing the taxpayer to compromise more than anyone, and making themselves appear to be the great saviour. If you're siding one way or the other, than they've succeeded in their attempt to fool us all, unfortunately.

I am disappointed that I'm so down on this mess, but the 'fiscal cliff' didn't just occur because of a change in the wind pattern or storm surge. It is a product of continuing partisanship that only hopes to advance their agenda, and theirs alone. We have to acknowledge that people have different opinions, and we must realize that we are a country of more than one ideology, so the routine attack back and forth is the definition of insanity - We should all know that one by now, right?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Appalachian Hammock

Hey, please check these guys out! Great young company moving ahead!
Original Appalachian Hammock

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Made in the USA

More and more companies are bringing their product for manufacture back to the US. Not in the droves we might hope for, but a start none the less. Every week we receive calls regarding a product someone might be looking to have sourced domestic, and while we do our best to find a solution, the reality is that sometimes it is just not possible. Why, you ask?

After decades of attrition and decline in the textile markets, the infrastructure and labor have been whittled to a fraction of what it once was. This being said, we are all desperately finding methods to train, build, and develop the infrastructure so long removed. This is a long process, wrought with difficult tasks and sometimes no solution. every effort is made to find the raw materials and equipment to build some of these great products, but too often we are forced to source overseas to find the the ingredient we need. While this is changing, slowly, we can hope that the country as a whole finds it in their heart to pay a bit more for goods made here, and develops a pride associated with an American made product. Made in the USA - it still sounds good...

Next time you have an idea for a product, think twice about the overseas solutions. You might find the value is often not in the price tag, but in the story behind your product, and what it took to get it on the shelf.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dear President Obama...

I am not happy with politics as is. I do not apologize for my disdain for campaigns, politicos, etc., and I do feel as though I need to spew some of my own soap box speak on occasion just to vent some frustration. I feel as though I am a third party voter with no party - no candidate but a hypothetical ghost haunting my travels in search of a tangible body to possess. It is unfortunate to feel this way and I suspect it will subside as time goes by - or at least until the next election...

Dear President Obama,

The last few days were a whirlwind, and I sincerely hope you have had a moment to take it all in. I congratulate you in winning the presidency once again, and hope the disillusioned voter that I have become can somehow be restored to faith in the leaders of our country by action, and not canned rhetoric, or toxic partisanship.

My letter today is a request for honesty, and sincerity, in politics, on both sides. I know, that's ridiculous, right?! My request is that we can get back to actually making a difference in the public sector, and not just the politics as usual that were so clearly represented during the campaign. I watched, as millions did, the bending of truths on both sides, the blatant disregard for the intelligence of us, the citizens, and the inability for either candidate to honestly, truly, and sincerely reach across the oft-shifting proverbial aisle that separates so many of the nation today. There were insults, ridiculous and negative campaign ads, and utterly malicious attacks thrown by both of the two bigs. When we can't show respect for the opinions of others, when we cannot logically and carefully craft solutions to real issues that take ALL interests in mind, and when we stop playing marionette to the corporate and special interests (some might call this part 'money'), there is little left to be desired in the arena with which you and Mr. Romney travel. While I honor the effort you and he made to serve in the public sector, it is not lost on me that your own, and his own, special interests somehow have a hand on the wheel, and a conveniently placed chicken brake on the passenger side floor.

I could not fathom a vote for either of the two bigs. I could not, in good conscience, deliberately vote for a lesser of two evils as is so commonly suggested. I could not sacrifice the resentment I felt for the way this campaign was once again handled by both parties, nor could I realistically believe either candidate's promises based on their histories and resumes to date. Many of your supporters, and Mr. Romney's, actively pursued my vote with campaign rhetoric and soundbite-worthy tidbits that did little to sway my opinion that there was far more persuasive influence behind the curtain than met the eye. All elections appear dirty, some more than others, but our increasingly sour campaigns of hate speech (remember when that wasn't allowed anymore?) and truth-bending take the front line yet again, stabbing their way like bayonets through the masses. Way to unite us. I don't see that moving 'forward' at all.

Now, get off your butt and get to work for the people of this country. Literally nothing has been done for weeks but campaigning. You two just spent over $1.5 billion on lawn signs and campaign ads that leave absolutely NO real legacy behind, except at the landfill. Imagine if that money was put to use lending to small business, or assisting homeless programs, or feeding those that are hungry, or our veterans in need. Now, that would have made a difference! Remember, we pay your salary, and you are only a man. You should be humble, respectful, courteous, and most of all, deliberate and balanced in the varied interests of our slice of humanity. We should not only respect the various views that folks have of HOW our country be run, but also cognitive of the fact that one man, one party, and one view only serve the few. As the numbers suggest, either one of you being elected barely represented half of the voting public. I wouldn't exactly call that impressive, or endearing.

I still have a smoldering hope and faith that one day, somehow, we will overcome the political process and the mess of lines drawn that it has become. Until then, I will remain hopeful of real change, and not that spoken of on a $.99 bumper sticker, because truly, that's about what it is worth.


W. Macia

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Don't Think...

...either party can acknowledge they are failing us. But both say they have a great plan, whatever that is...

...Oreos with red filling are 'holiday' at all. Not sure who thought of that.

...pushing hard thought will regrow my hair. dog realizes his anxiety creates some of mine. wife gets enough credit for being the glue around our house.

...I appreciate all the little things sometimes.

...I need another technology piece. Ever.

...Yellowstone will erupt this week.

...Charlie Sheen will join the scientologists.

...CeeLo's bird has any idea what she's gotten herself into.

...I'll watch the election results until tomorrow...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Election

Hurricane Sandy punched the east coast square in the jaw, knocking its lights out and disabling the region for a brief geologic moment. We are all confident in the resolve of those on the east coast, and for those who are suffering, we wish you the best in recovery and quick return to life as you remember it. We are all pulling for you.

The election, covered by media far more and with greater anticipation than even hurricane Sandy, rolls through the US disabling our minds and destroying the impressions of candidates promising to represent you and deliver on promises. After election Tuesday we will all wrangle with the voting hangover and the pundits will be hard at work drawing advertisers to the networks to listen to the Monday morning QB's claim they had it pegged. One thing is for sure, those of us with resolve will accept the consequences of our candidate losing, or bask in the illusion of promise if our candidate wins. Either way, we all have to just realize that we will all fall back into normalcy after a few months, politics will continue to roll, and the next disaster or human-triggered event will occupy our lives.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


As disturbing as this election is, it is still important to vote. I encourage everyone to vote based on your true ideals!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Approaches!

Frighttown rolled into PDX this week, with a macabre contingent of characters dripping from the mouth and dragging limp legs along behind them. These life-like zombies are only actors, however, they still give a slight chill when they saunter by inside the haunted house.

Some years ago my brother-in-law began a yearly ritual haunted house. Year 1 began with a black tent in the front of the house with some minor animations and grotesque monster-like beasts, a walk-by attraction, and some scared trick-or-treat kids. Year two expanded a bit, and the horror was expanded. By year three, B-I-L recruited myself and one or two others to enlist in the monster squad. Year over year the event became more detailed, more elaborate, and far more interesting. News crews began showing up. Donation to food banks soared. From the humble beginnings of the street side display to the nearly football field long maze that it eventually became, Halloween was always a huge work effort and an enormous challenge to create something better than the year before.

Halloween has become a monster of rituals. Massive stores dedicated to dressing your kids (and adults) as a pimp or hippie are like fast food restaurants - one on every corner. Admission to organized haunted houses top $20 a head, and the merchants and retailers thrive for about 3 weeks on cheap plastic decorations and themed candy. I don't remember when Halloween became this enormous an event, but I am overwhelmed by the shear size of it.

Only a handful of days left to get in the mix. Grab the kids and paint a face, walk the streets and run from zombies. If you see a clown, run fast. If you see a hippie, well, run faster.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Post Debate Hangover

I carefully sat back and listened to the nincompoops talk at each other last night, thinking the entire time that so little was actually said. Immediately following the debate, there was a rush of pundits claiming victory and other nonsense for both candidates. I didn't see a winner (other than the networks) on this one at all! In fact, I saw 300+ million Americans as the losers. 45 minutes of barely scratching the surface and having to make a rush to judgement? Not for me...

I have an idea - Take the $1.2 billion (reported) campaign contributions and put those dollars to an actual productive use! I know it isn't a lot, but I'd bet it all it could make a dent somewhere... Like offering a fund to loan for small business development, or creating a co-op for health care for lower income families, or feeding the 15% that live in poverty. Let's strip campaign ads off the TV and radio (sorry FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, etc.), get the landfill-destined lawn signs removed, stop the non-earth-friendly campaign postcards, and the overall waste of crap that gets thrown out after the election that has no legacy of benefit to nearly anyone.

And while we're at it, let's actually pass a budget. Do you think we could at least compromise on both sides a bit more to at least show a token of respect for the taxpayer? Quit the blame game, other than shame on both of you, and get to work. We don't pay you to sit in fancy chairs for nothing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Been reluctant to post lately... too many things to discuss, but not enough to say I suppose.

random thoughts...

Steve Sabol died today. I grew up watching NFL Films and will miss his recognizable voice for the future. He and his father were pioneers. Rest in peace.

Our cat is 19 years old and has recently decided to grow dreadlocks. Perhaps the fact that he can no longer stretch to clean himself has something to do with it. Either that, or he found my stash of Steel Pulse CD's.

I no longer believe that either party has my best interests in mind. I will not vote for the 'lesser' of two evils, nor will I fall into the 'you're giving away your vote' argument. Sorry, but your FB posts didn't sway me one bit. But keep on believing if you wish.

Our health care rates rose 13% this year (an average of 11% per year the last 3 years) and our out-of-pocket % rose 50%. This means that if I owed $100 last year for a procedure, I will now pay $150. At what point does the insurance we pay for just not become that beneficial? When is this becoming affordable?

Sequestration is getting no play before the HELLection. Seems the media is more focused on derailing either candidate's polished image... Do you think a 3rd party candidate will be invited to a debate? I think not...

As you might notice, my patience is short with the politicos.

I have been spending some time in the woods lately. Curious what people think is cool about leaving their trash in the woods?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Leopard Gecko

My son brought home a beloved leopard gecko today. The gecko's name is Loku. Apparently, I am now a grandparent to a lizard.

I am proud of my son for buying the serpent on his own, tending to it, and learning about it. His obsession with such a creature has been long, and from the knowledge of this creature he expresses I am confident he will take good care of it.

Earlier, on FB, I asked about a remedy for fruit flies. This wasn't really what I had in mind...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Product Idea 101

The theory that great ideas sell themselves is tragically flawed. Far too often we place more value in the merit of an idea, and little to the value of the execution thereafter. We have all seen relatively low value ideas turn into huge successes, all because the execution in marketing and branding made it larger than life, something everyone had to have, at least for a short time anyway... Take the Snuggie - A flimsy fleece poncho stylized by some grandparents in recliners trying to look like Obi Wan Kenobe sold millions. The Slap Chop - Funny, quirky spokesman guy (on meth, as well) humors us into submission and a debit on the card. Not the greatest products overall, but boy, did they execute.

Many folks visit LUSB with the same question - 'What do you think of my idea?' I cannot in good conscious opine on the matter anymore because I have been proven wrong by such uber-necessary items such as Silly Bands and Crocs. It is not for me to decide, it is for the inventor to decide that he or she truly wishes it to succeed. Then, and only then, will they execute properly and deliver a success story. Persistence is key, execution is critical, and in the end, determination will make the difference.

On the other side of the story, there are many great ideas that folks have brought along to us or others that never saw the light of day. Either a lack of follow through, a diversion at the first complication, or a general laziness and misdirection can drive some great ideas into oblivion, never to be seen by the market.

If there is some advice we can give - Get sound advice from those that have been there before, partner with strong manufacturers and developers, and drive your sales and marketing as hard as possible to land where you want in the market. There will always be many that will tell you of the possible failures, and how you won't make it, or what a stupid idea you have. Don't take it to heart, let it fuel your fire to make the next great widget nobody really needs to live without....

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Surf Dreams

We visited the beach this weekend, a departure from our normal weekends of work and college course studies. It was welcome relief, and the kids were thrilled to get into some surf and sand. I was able to revisit something I hadn't for over 20 years.

Surfing was something I tried when I was about 17. I did it once or twice, maybe three times - something like that. I can only remember that I did get up, and rode out pathetic little waves about the size of my pinkie finger, bent in half, maybe. Couple of those and I remembered thinking I had surfed. I do remember having a ton of fun with it, but never really going back to explore it further. As my sons and I banged into waist high waves this weekend I remembered how much fun it could be, and I realized I wanted to try again. So, anyone got a 9'+ board they could let me borrow for a few? Just want to get back out and try it again, and this time let my kids give it a go as well. Oregon coast, look out!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Politics Will Be Driving This Home!

If the momentum can hold, would be good for us all. Now all we have to do is retrain the average consumer to be a bit more judicious at Walmart, if that's possible!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

UFO's, and other Cryptids

The UK decided to offer us minions a few documents that may suggest alien life exists. Now, I haven't read any of them, but my bet is that there's nothing to admit there are, or aren't, such life forms abducting us humanoids, slaughtering our cows, or artistically transmitting secret encoded messages to us through a corn field crop circle. I sincerely love to watch those conspiracy shows. I like the guy with the shadowed profile and the computer altered voice. He, himself, sounds like just such an alien. Isn't that ironic?! Nothing says secret government cover up like the blurry guy with a tracheotomy.

While we're at it, where the heck is Bigfoot? He's got his own crew of fruitcakes walking around looking for him. He's got a TV show, beef jerky, fan clubs, laws protecting him, and even bumper stickers. I can't wait to read his x-files when they get released. Hopefully we'll get another far-away, granular, softened image of him walking through the woods. As Mitch Hedburg said, 'maybe Bigfoot really is blurry.'

I guess I'll be a skeptic until I see one in the flesh. Of course, if I do, I'll run like a Chupacabra after breakfast, so I won't be much good at retelling the story. Unless, of course, my alien abduction is captured on my GoPro.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Well, Congress has some soul searching to do. Cut the defense budget and face a sizable layoff, or move to bypass the legislation and keep defense dollars where they reside. So the balancing act plays out Jan 2, but the calling card is delivered on Nov 2 when private companies in the contracting world must announce potential layoffs. If that occurs, will it sway the election? I think we all know that the move will be politically motivated more than principled in a desire to reduce spending. Neither the incumbent can afford to face a major layoff 4 days prior to election, nor can the challenger face his constituents should pink slips be distributed. Once again, compromising the tax payer will be the result for political gain. Hence, the frustration among many in this country with our elected leaders.

Politics is like a river. The people stand on the bank, watching the flow pass by. The politically ambitious get close to the water, toe in, checking the temp, then a push from the crowd and they are swimming. What is apparent however, is that they are more a product of the current of the stream, and less about their ability to change its direction. Dig deep Congress, maybe you will prove me wrong this time...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Run Like The Wind Bullseye

I hate running. I started this crap about 10 years ago when faced with the fact that I no longer had a Bally's near me. Somehow I was able to escape their 'contract of death' and found myself free from the confines of foot fungus saturation. I was liberated. Then I thought, 'heck, you should try running.' Great idea. Something I could only do upon hearing the ice cream truck or having a bully chase me was now going to be my daily exercise routine? Nice. When I run, I look like a fire hydrant with hose falling off of it. An ergonomically incorrect torso with whacky, flailing arms like those inflatable guys you see in front of the pizza place. I have been sent letters from Kenya begging me not to ever visit. I once walked onto a high school yard and the track got up and ran away. Running and I, well, we haven't always been friendly. The first day was brutal. I left the house at about 6AM, walking the first 1/2 mile. I began a jog. I'm pretty sure I went about another 1/2 mile or so before the pain in my chest overtook my ambition to keep running. I slowed to a walk, convinced I would never make it beyond the 1/2 mile mark. I left on about the 4th day with a better feeling about this running stuff. I was now able to run about .6 of a mile, far better than the original outing. This kept up for about a week. Then it clicked. Somewhere in my pea-sized cranial activity I must have blocked the agony because I ran 1 whole mile. Now, understand that I was measuring my distance using landmarks and gut feel. I think the third tree on the left behind the school next to the pink house was close to a mile, right? Anyway, my finite calculations assured me I had made some progress. By the end of the third week I could run 1 mile consistently. Wow. Fast forward a few months. I am officially a runner at this point, except I don't have a stride, pace, or form. I am clay in the hands of the running gods. I look like a turd attempting to escape some bowels. It ain't pretty. But I am a runner, and I will run. At this point I made it almost 2 miles. So thrilled with my accomplishment I buy a new pair of running shoes. I even had my pronation checked. Fortunately, that does not involve a probe in an orifice. By the first year, I could run 6 miles. Then I would lie down for 6 hours, and proceed to complain for 6 days about my pain. My joints hurt. I read 'The Chi of Running.' Thanks for the help. This is progress, however, and I am on fire. Nobody mistakes me for a marathoner, but my thoughts are drifting there... Add in a dog. this is always a treat. Just about the time you hit your stride, he's going poop. Great, break in the action, I'm stalled and have to carry a bag of turd for a 1/2 mile. Hope the recycled plastic holds. Then we proceed to interfere with each other's gallop. I trip, step on his paw, he squeals, I fall. Repeat. I'll bring him next time, too. I haven't ever run competitively. Well, we did the Shamrock Run in Portland a few times. That's fun. I took my sons last year. They could have beat me, but they hung around in a fit of sympathy. They're 13 & 11, swim 6k miles a week, and look like bean poles. Must have been the milkman, because I don't a see a fire hydrant in any of them. I still run. 3.5 miles last night. 8:30 pace. Not fast, not terribly slow, but enough to keep the gut in check and the muscles semi-firm, edging towards flabby. I love to run.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Post Giveaway

Comment on this post by writing your pet's name. If you do this you win a prize.

New Offices!

Woohoo! that's all I can say! We are so thrilled to be in a decent office space we can hardly contain ourselves. While the old location served us well for a while, we have a true location now that can serve our clients and our staff in a much more productive way. The new offices are located just about 2 miles east of the old, at 10906 NE 39th Street, just west of 112th. We'll have a little shindig soon to open the space for everyone to see.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Good News for Tuesday

After losing our dear friend Joe last year to cancer, we were given another scare last week when another good buddy, Dave, was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately for Dave, the docs believe today's surgery resolved the problem entirely, but the reality of it is that it scares the crap out of all of us, especially those diagnosed. It's a terrible disease, and seems as we get older it haunts us that much more. Here's to a speedy recovery Dave, and I look forward to backpacking with you again soon...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Question of the day!

What is the purpose of the guy in the B-52's? Is it just me or is he like a wart on nose of a swimsuit model?

New Digs

Wow, we have two weeks until our new offices and manufacturing plant open. Amazing... Are we ready? Well, not quite. A very special 'thanks' to Comcast for delaying our phone service intallation. You can always count on Excremity to deliver, can't you?!!! Anyway, We're almost done with the new offices and will have most of the equipment in there this next week. I am totally jacked to get that rolling. Should be a good, albeit quite smaller, location for the offices and R&D. Big Kudos to Jordan Breeding this week for putting in the extra hours to help out. I am very thankful! I look forward to a bunch of long days ahead, however, as we move into the final stretch. Looking to find some new sewers soon as well for Hemlock. If you like a beautiful natural setting, elk in the front yard, and a view to die for, well then send your resume!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Junior Seau

Difficult to understand suicide. I am seriously sorry for anyone who has been affected by such tragedy. Reminds us all that underneath there sometimes lies a deeper hurt. Rough.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Change for the Better

Sometimes hard decisions are needed to make things better in the long run. Often we challenge ourselves with some tough choices, but not as often do we make the decision to act on those choices. Today was a day of choices, and tough decisions.

the company, as a whole, will be stronger in the future, but we have to endure the painful, but necessary choices that arise.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Amazing Week - Thanks!

I am seldom overwhelmed by a week's work, however, this week was one that potentially might. I say potentially because I still have to work through the weekend. We're moving, busy with projects, high profile clients abound, and the stress is evident for all, however I feel like we always work better when the pressure rises. The key to that is keeping it up.

This week I have to congratulate some stellar employee work:

1. Cheryl Moore - Cheryl's a rock star in our plant and this week she delivered a proto that just blew me away. I was so proud that we turned out such good work, and she mad e it all happen! Good work Cheryl, and thank you!

2. Charlie - Charlie has only been with us a few months, but he is quickly becoming someone I trust and can count on. Thanks for hanging in there in an unfamiliar environment and pressing through.

3. Bruce - Our GM in Stevenson went above and beyond with his delivery on some metal work this week. I can't tell you what a resource he is and how much he means to us! Thank you Bruce!

4. Ricardo Alcides Tupayachi Marmanillo - That is a mouthful... But Ricky hammered out so much cutting this week I have to give a big hearty pat on the back to my Peruvian brother. Thanks Ricky!

5. Last, but never least, Michele - Once again we hit targets that we thought might be difficult! Thanks Michele for killing it!

All in all it was a great week. Must be thankful to all for helping and pushing through the usual chaos! Thank you all!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Spring rallied last week with 3 bright sunny days and a 64 degree afternoon. Just when the tulips thought they had their chance, BAM! - It snowed. The northwest is definitely unpredictable at times, but I love the fact that one day we have mild, balmy weather and the next you are layering fleece and pounding cocoa.

The awful seasonal reminder did come last week as well - It's allergy season. The dreaded hay fever, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and sneeze-o-rama ensued just when mother nature relaxed. Bummer, will have to endure the next few months with sprays and eye drops...

Hey, I heard the recession is over? But then I read that a local company just laid off 36 folks due to declining sales. A local medical device manufacturer has dropped revenues in the millions - according to them they can no longer bill insurance for their products under the health care reform legislation. I guess we are seeing some of the negative aspects of that. However, I did speak to some local ladies who just started a B2B services company that got $1.3M in funding... They'll be hiring I am sure... Not sure what to make of the inconsistency overall. It is still a struggle for a lot of companies, ourselves included. Whatever you do, don't quit. Some people want you to quit. They want you to lay down and whimper so they can say 'I told you so.' I don't play that game. Pull your hair back and let them have it...

Talk soon, Will

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Failure to plan is a plan to fail.

I have heard that a lot recently. Most importantly, I have listened to the words and their meaning, and have taken action to avoid this common pitfall. It is very easy to ignore the obvious and fail miserably. No doubt I have, and will, fail again at something. It is inevitable. the difference is how you react to that failure, and how you plan differently to avoid the same mistakes.

1. Know what you are trying to accomplish.

For me, knowing what I want as the end result is the first part of the plan. Some may think this is contradictory, or leaping ahead, but it is really the first step in devising your plan. For example, when you are going to buy a car, do you buy a car because of a sleek ad that shiny stuff on it? Or do you think about what the car needs to achieve as a result of your purchase? If you bought based on the former, then you might end up with a Ferrari in lipstick red that goes 722 miles per hour in .06 seconds, but costs you your life savings, marriage, and you can't afford the insurance. Eventually you lost the car because you couldn't afford it and now you're walking to work. Instead, you need to buy a fuel conscious small SUV to take the kids to games and use on the snowy roads around your home. The plan should have been to write down all of your needs (YOUR NEEDS ASSESSMENT) and then target the cars that fit those needs.

2. Thoroughly develop the plan

Spend time with it, and ask others that have insight about what they might consider. Don't try and do it all alone as others have already made the mistakes that you might overlook, and that can be an enormous gain. Don't rush to a conclusion, rather, let it simmer for a while so that you can adequately gauge its performance, and that it is achievable. (PLAN INCUBATION) research is key, so spend time performing it!

3. Make your plan achievable

Too often we all shoot for the stars. I think the moon might be far enough to call it a success! Is the end game a reality, or far out of reach? An important question to ask, and an even tougher one to answer sometimes. If you have ever read Malcolm Gladwell's 'BLINK', you know that your gut might tell you what is right or wrong most of the time. Not that this is a scientific process, this gut check, but it is often a very ominous way of making a decision, and often times accurate. If you develop a plan that is so complex, so unmanageable, you will most likely fail. TOO MUCH PLAN, NOT ENOUGH ACTION)

4. Stick to the plan, man

That shiny vehicle just drove by again, and guess what, you're distracted. You lost sight of the original goal, and the plan became derailed. Now you're driving down the wrong side of the street, banking on luck and karma to bail you out. Good luck with that. Sticking to it can be difficult, and opinions are like noses - everybody's got one. Stick to what is working and move ahead. Minor tweaks are normal, but switching course midstream often ends up with a capsized boat.

5. Accept little failure, understand successes

You will make mistakes in your planning stages. When I write a 5 year plan, often times the assumptions I make are off, and you have to accept that. If I could go to Trina the crystal ball reader and know the future, well then I would be doing something else right now, and you wouldn't be half asleep reading this, because I would have known all the answers. When things work in the plan, give praise and be thankful, and when things are off, realize that you are human and can't win them all. Just make the adjustment, learn from your mistakes, and move forward.

All in all, a simplified plan always works best for us. We try not to complicate things, we make sure that every goal is attainable, but not necessarily easy, and we follow through with the plans and review against them to measure success. If you follow some basic principles like I have suggested, I am sure you will find some success, however big or small. Overall, without it, you do set yourself up for failure and disappointment.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bluebirds and Manufacturing

I will get to my planning blog by EOW...

Do you ever get back to something you hadn't done in, say, 20 years? You realize how quickly the body, and mind, remembers the activity without pause. While there is a slight readjustment period, overall you fall right back into a groove and move forward. Like anything, repetition builds skill and familiarity that eventually makes you competent and proficient.

I spent Saturday with my son, 13, on the slopes on Mt. Hood. Well, technically, not on the slopes of Hood but close enough. You get the picture. This event was his first skiing, and I remembered all too well how difficult the first day can be. The frustration, the anger, etc. all build until you either throw your skis down the hill and pay the $800 rental deposit to rid your life of this mess, or end up bombing a run and realizing 'huh, not so bad.' For him, it took about 3 hours of saying 'I don't think I can' to eventually skiing a full mile down a run with an occasional spill, but more often a controlled cruise into the lodge. I am not sure where the tipping point for him was, but I can confidently tell you that he's been bit by the bug. Season passes, here we come...

For me, it was like visiting an old friend. We had both gotten older, perhaps the skis had progressed and I had gone backwards, but none the less, I courted the old sport for about a half an hour before I remembered all the nuances of the sport I abandoned some time ago. It wasn't long before my skis were parallel and my turns smooth.

This is very similar to our manufacturing processes as well. When we first begin a project, the thorns are all evident and the production is somewhat impaired by unfamiliarity. Getting through that challenge, and reaching the tipping point, is critical. You have to push through it and learn what you can in the process as it will eventually be the root of your success. Similar to what my son experienced, the best laid plans do not mean immediate success, rather, they give you the foundation for success later on. Lessons behind him, he found success after only three hours, much less than I remember my first experience on skis. In the manufacturing world, we live a very similar event history. We begin with a plan and goal, and then begin the process of pushing the plan through the course. We will inevitably make alterations to that plan based on incorrect assumptions, etc., but overall the desire and need to get to the goal will override the issues we experience and get us to the promised land.

In addition, when we have run through production on a project and eventually ended that production, we have to reacquaint ourselves, our equipment, and our staff with the nuances of that project. Things we learned in the initial development are not always remembered, and our ability to recollect those details can sometimes be difficult or slow. This is why we build a strong plan during our initial run so we have our foundation when we need it. Just like my weekend skiing, it usually comes back to us quickly and without much uncertainty.

So, I'll begin the planning talk shortly...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Product Development

Every day the phone rings with an aspiring designer looking for a way to build his or her product. The first, and foremost, point I stress to them is to be prepared for a long haul. While a skilled team can, and will, deliver a proto and samples quickly, the reality of 'quick-to-market' is rarely successful for a number of reasons.

First, designs need refinement. Often times the best laid plans don't end up being the best laid plans. Not a bad thing, just that after using the item for a while the designer found some useful additions, and subtractions, from the original form. Maybe the design itself sounded great, but functioned poorly. Or maybe, it just needed to be tested for durability.

Second, launch dates are great motivators, but often times they enforce the old adage that 'haste makes waste.' I believe it is good to have a goal, but more often than not folks rush to the finish line prematurely. In our opinion, the product will be mature for the market after it it is properly developed.

Third, be prepared. Prepare your vendors for your upcoming plans. Prepare your family members for your mood swings. Take copious notes, and record conversations for future reference. It will help making life easier knowing what can and can't be done. Keep production time lines in order, and remember that when everything is an emergency, it usually turns into an actual emergency, and will need a doctor to fix it.

Next week I'll lay out some planning tips for developing products that should shed some light on why good planning makes for good companies.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A US Bag Maker

We are a US manufacturer of bags. We also have an office in China. Some people ask us, in fact more than some, if we are in conflict with ourselves and our clever name. Well, yes, and no, and sort of. You see, 'globalization' has created a world market for our raw materials, requiring us to seek those things that is still made overseas, in small factories and large alike, where the humidity is stifling and the hours are long. I want to bring bag makers back to the US. I want to see the US recover the market it shed and the jobs it lost. Textiles may be down, but we are not out. Until such time as we rebuild our infrastructure in the US, we struggle to find a balance between building stateside bags and importing others. I can tell you this - We employ about 20 folks. If we lost our import arm, we would reduce that number to half. If we continue to find some sort of balance, we can continue to grow and hopefully grow the company to 30 people. It makes more sense to continue the growth, contribute to the economy, and continue to be The Last US Bag Company.