Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trade Shows

a-fabco, inc. exhibits at a few but very specific trade shows to highlight our radiation shielding protection products.  In the last, almost, two years I have been to five and organized four of them.  We have committed to the FHEA show is in September and I really would like to do something different since this will be my third time at this particular show.  We did get an absolutely fabulous booth location! 

We have a great booth and a product information dvd on a constant loop that can be seen easily on a 46” monitor.  Last year I had some lead glass, lead brick and lead drywall samples made up so interested attendees could handle the different products.   

Lead Brick Sample

With money tight and show attendance down I am trying to come up with ideas to freshen things up.  One thought was a game of “How much does the lead brick weigh?”   It doesn’t look heavy but it is!  Not sure of prizes but something small and useful.

I am trying to convince my male co-workers to have some pink polo shirts made with our navy blue afab logo on it.  They don’t like that suggestion but a bright shirt gets attention especially at a trade show where navy and black are the norm. 

At the ASHE show in March Milliken Carpets had these great pins made up with lots of fun sayings in bright colors. The colors represented their product choices for hospitals.  I loved the idea but it wouldn’t work for afab’s products.

I am hoping inspiration will strike between now and September with enough time to implement. Of course if you have any suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let’s Blog Off – What is my favorite color? Well...

Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic.  This week LetsBlogOff asks the question what is your favorite color?  Not surprisingly, since I was born under the first sun sign, it's all about red.

Red food taste so good it was hard to narrow down the selection ....


Red is so striking in the garden



A redhead paved the way for women

Everyone knows this red is a symbol of help

A red leather chair will look good in my library someday

And lastly because there is no place like home

Please take a moment to read the other participants in LetsBlogOff

Monday, May 23, 2011

Do we laugh enough?

I just returned from seeing the movie Bridemaids with three dear girlfriends.  I laughed, I cried and I laughed some more. I mean belly aching laughter where my face hurts.   We continued laughing over dinner at The Yummy House.  So many lines from the movie will become part of our conversations for years to come.  A party was even mentioned for next year to watch the movie again, it was that funny.

Being single, even living with two pretty funny dogs, laughter typically happens at my own expense.  Now it doesn’t mean it isn’t funny but there is an irony in the mix too.  I don’t often get the opportunity to laugh until tears are streaming down my face, mascara burning my eyes and my stomach muscles sore. Thankfully I have some great girlfriends and when we get together the world drops away for a few hours.

In the stress of this new normal that we all are experiencing at work and home, laughter is the only way I know that helps us all get through it.  Be it laughing with co-workers, husbands, wives, children, siblings, or friends.  It is the only way I know to get a brief respite from thinking about bills, chores, and work.  Even what my next blog post is going to be aboutJ

I am so grateful for my friends and know that a smile will hover tomorrow at work thinking about tonight.  I also will never think about chassis the same way again!

If you haven’t seen Bridemaids yet – go now!  http://youtu.be/nsUEd2cUIqo

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Doors take me places

I am very lucky that a part of my customer base is end users.  This allows me to go to some unique businesses to measure doors.

The first time I went to our local zoo http://www.lowryparkzoo.com/ to measure a door I met the tigers.  I was measuring the back of the house door into their habitat.  I always visit the zoo early in the morning before it opens for business and all the animals are still in their night areas and very secure.  The tigers were beautiful.  They were very calm watching me go about my business.  Magnificent!   On another trip I met the tapir, beautiful in its own unique way.  The creativity, care and design that go into each animal’s habitat are truly amazing. 

From the zoo to a prison, not quite as fun.  Interestingly enough walking through the men’s section seemed safer than the women’s.   The male prisoners got out of our way and kept their heads down.  The women deliberately stood in our paths with their arms crossed. I always felt I needed to protect the male guards who were escorting me.  Not the gentler sex in a jail! 

Another time I was at a large facility near the roof in a room that had one of the largest fans I have ever seen.  They wanted to replace the door near the fan.  It was the only time I refused to measure a door.  The door would barely open due to the pressure and on the other side was a large drop.  When the maintenance guy let go of the door it slammed shut from the force. 

When walking through the maze of underground at hospitals I always send up a quick prayer that the maintenance person guiding me won’t suffer harm.  I would not know how to call for help and there is never cell service!

Tonight it was a morgue.  I never saw anything that made me the least bit uncomfortable.  The company was very professional and any guest they had was in his/her resting place.

I would enjoy hearing your most interesting jobsite visit in the comments section below.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Waiting for me

Tines up

A few weeks back in my LetsBlogOff  Post Things that make me go hmmmm post I mentioned a moment while unloading my dishwasher that made me pause.  I know you all have been waiting with baited breath what that could have possibly have been. 

Tines down

While unloading my plates from the bottom rack of the dishwasher one seemed stuck.  This is one of the robotic chores so I wasn’t paying much attention.  I pulled and it became unstuck and I put the plate away.  Turning back to the dishwasher I thought I broke the tines that hold the plates in place because they were all flat.  Looking more closely I saw what looked like hinges so I started moving the section back and forth.  Hey look at that after 8 years of owning this dishwasher I learned that the sections can fold flat for large pots or bowls.  Wow did I feel stupid. 

Later in the day as I was logging on to the internet I automatically clicked no to the same message that has been popping up for the last 9 months.  No I do not want to learn more about Explorer 8 at this time but I will later.  Later…9 months…how much longer can I keep hitting the no button?

Those two incidents happening within a few hours apart made me realize I am not very good learning about new items that I purchase.  I learn just enough to let me do what I need to and then I stop.  Why do I do that?  I pay a lot of money for these items why don’t I learn the full potential of what they can do for me?

Part of the reason is because I really dislike that all tutorials and instructions are now online.  I like to thoroughly look through a manual and typically I jump back and forth between sections to understand a direction.  Online instructions make that more difficult.  Also I don’t have an iPad and lugging my laptop around can be a pain whereas a manual, depending on its size, is relatively easy to carry.   Time is another reason but it is an issue everyone has.

I am not sure quite how to solve this issue as I look around my home and office and realize all the items that I know just a smidgeon about but at least I learned something new about the dishwasher.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Can you have it both ways?

An old closer

I have read a lot of finish hardware specifications and written a fair amount of finish hardware schedules in my 16 years in this industry.  I have always been curious why some spec writers use the word closure and some closer.  Personally I have always used closer probably since that is the term the manufacturers call their devices and that is what I sell.   Recently I came across a spec that used closure and decided to do a bit of investigating.

To the dictionary…..

  Closure..noun…1.  the act of closing  2. The state of being closed  3.  Something that closes shut.

  Closer …noun    1.  A person or thing that closes.

Based on those definitions I interpret that the actual device is a closer but the physical action is closure.  But wouldn’t that make closure a verb? Based on my interpretation I would assume (yes I used the word) that if the specification was written in the long format using closure would be appropriate but if listing out each individual hardware item closer should be used.

Now this is Friday and my brain is a little fried from the week and let’s face it grammar isn’t my strong suit, so please feel free to correct me in the comments.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chime in

Yesterday morning about 10 minutes into driving to work I thought I heard a chime coming from my car.  After a few minutes I thought it must have come from the radio because when I turned the sound down the chiming stopped.  Last night the same thing happened.  I listen to NPR and sometimes they replay the same report so I chalked it up to that.

This morning the chime sounded again so obviously it must be coming from my car but why.  I started checking my gauges and lights all normal and green.  My head is spinning with thoughts like should I still be driving it, how much is this going to cost me, will I have to rent a car while it is in the shop, etc etc.  Out of the corner of my eye I see a flash of green.  My odometer is flashing a message at me: low wash. 

My first reaction was one of relief…low wash I can handle that.   My second reaction was how bizarre.  My car is wired to chime at me to get my attention and then flash a message through my odometer.  I have heard of this happening in the new cars but mine is a 2002 Jeep Liberty, hardly new.  Personally I don’t think the odometer is the best choice for sending me a message.  I only look at it when I think about oil changes and if I am using my personal car for work to track mileage.   And let’s face it the message wasn’t all that important.

This brings me to the realization that there is a new basic.  I can no longer buy what I would consider a basic model TV, radio, car, or any appliance really.  When I went shopping for a new TV 10 years ago I wanted a basic model.  I don’t have kids so gaming is not important.  I don’t watch 2 channels at the same time.  What the salesperson considered basic and I considered basic were very different.  Now I look at my very large TV and think gosh I would love a flat screen TV if only because they take up so little room.  Then I think of the hours of research that I would do to try and make sure I bought the best model and that stop in my tracks.  No time and no need, my current TV works fine thank you.
A friend’s husband recently bought a new car that allows for better gas mileage.  The basic model included electric locks which “back in my day” used to be considered a grand luxury.  

Technology allows each generation to have it a little easier, quicker, and more comfortable.  I try to keep up, really, but today I was forced to admit that perhaps technology has surpassed me. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Let’s Blog Off – Truth vs. Fact

Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic.  This week LetsBlogOff asks the question what is the difference between truth and fact?

It amazes me that my brother and I grew up in the same household.  Our stories are so utterly different about the same events.  For a long time I thought there was something wrong with my memory because it seemed like every time I told a story to one of my nephews about those childhood days my brother corrected me.  As I have gotten older I realize we have different perceptions of the same event. He mind is a logical one and mine is based more on emotion.  There is also an 8 year difference in age.  Neither is right or wrong.  Ok sometimes I am wrong but I am the younger one.

Truth, to me, is ever evolving as I continue learn facts.  My truth tomorrow will be different than today as long as I continue to learn.

Sadly it seems facts are harder to come by these days.  In this 30 second sound bite news age and rush to be live at all times we seem to leave the facts behind.   People are busy, they don’t take the time to try and sort through the sensationalism and therefore a lot of the facts that are “out there” may not be the truth.

To borrow a few lines from a couple of favorite TV shows “The Truth is Out There” you just have to be willing to ask for “Just the facts Ma’am”.

Please read the other participants in LetsBlogOff


Monday, May 9, 2011

A family company that became family to me.

It all started because I knew 3 hinges went on a door.  I was living in New Hampshire and had worked for an architectural millwork company.  I was the all purpose general office person.  My duties included typing Hardware Schedules. After a time I knew to check for a closer if the opening was fire  rated and if the door height was 8’0” 4 hinges should be scheduled.  The very basics.

I found myself out of a job just when the electronic industry crashed. Luckily one of my former co-workers knew a door & hardware company that might need a salesperson.  He made a phone call and I had an interview.  I was so scared because really I wasn’t a salesperson!  I met with Jim Tartre, then the Regional Manager for hci/craftsmen in Nashua, NH and amazingly I was hired.   The company took the time and energy to train me in the ways of doors and hardware.  I was stunned. No company had ever taken such an interest in me.

After about 8 months “the big four” out of corporate came to visit.   Corporate was Pleasants Hardware Company who had purchased hci/Craftsmen several months before I was hired. The main branch was located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  The big four consisted of the President, Ed Pleasants, the CEO, Chuck Hummel, CFO Sam Smoak and the HR Director, Ginny Cole.  Again I was stunned.  I had never worked for a company where the top four executives visited each branch once a year to share how both the branch and overall company fared for the previous year. Also discussed were the goals for the upcoming year.  This seemed like a really nice company. 

This meeting is where I also realized, for the first time, that there were several branches up and down the east coast.  I immediately looked to what was the southernmost branch and it was in Tampa, FL.  Florida!  My family all lived in Florida and after a divorce and the passing of my mother-in-law there was nothing left for me in New Hampshire.  Maybe I could go home.  I reached out to Ginny Cole after the meeting and basically just said if, sometime in the future, there was ever an opening in the Florida office I would appreciate being considered. 

It was a few months later when I received a call from Chuck Hummel asking if I would be interested in flying down to Tampa to talk to the Branch Manager, Pat Wright and by the way Pleasants would pay for airfare, hotel and car rental.  Would I!  Yes! My heart was racing!  The deal was in order to get a better airfare Pleasants flew me down on Thursday evening to meet with Pat on Friday but I wouldn’t return to NH until Sunday.   So I flew down and checked into my hotel.  I made sure my suit was crisp – no wrinkles.  Friday morning I dressed carefully and went to the Pleasants Tampa office around 11:30.  I walked in and immediately felt overdressed because everyone was in jeans and they were having a pizza party.  After introducing me to some folks Pat and I went into his office.  It was immediately clear to me that Chuck had forced this interview and Pat really didn’t feel he needed me.  He asked me a lot of questions and had me do a quick take off from a blue print.  That was it.  He shook my hand and I left.

Needless to say I was in tears.  I knew I had somehow blown it and I wasn’t going to get the job.  I called some friends who lived in Naples and they insisted I drive down to stay with them.  Sunday I flew back home to New Hampshire and settled back into my not so happy life.  It was a long 3 months when finally, in December, Chuck Hummel contacted me again and asked me how soon I could be ready to move to FLORIDA!   The hardest thing I had to do was tell Jim Tartre I was transferring.  He had become a mentor and I was going to miss him and the whole Nashua gang.  I had only been there a short time but these were important people in my life.

January 3rd found me driving to Florida, by myself, with a dog and cat in the car.  My belongings were being packed and shipped down courtesy of Pleasants.  Again I had never been treated so well.  Pat Wright took the time to call me before I left to welcome me to the branch.  He spent time driving over to the apartment I had rented sight unseen to make sure it was in a good area.  Never did I see any indication that I wasn’t a valued member of the Tampa team and we laughed about the job interview many times over the years. 

What I didn’t know was that as I was driving down to Florida my future BFF was driving from Pleasants Tampa to be trained at corporate for a few months.  That definitely is a story for another time.  Let me just say when she called to see how her co-workers were doing she always asked about “that girl” that was sitting at her desk. Me! 

Pat ended up being a mentor to me too.  I learned so much from him and the whole branch.  We were good too.  In an area that was (and still is) saturated with distributors we met our goals and had fun doing it.  We became a family.  In fact so much so after the sad day when Pat Wright left to manage a branch in Vermont we still continued to hit our goals, without a branch manager.  In fact we didn’t have one again for several years.

The whole Pleasants Hardware Company family was such a class act.  I use the values and skills I learned working for them every single day.  Ed Pleasants sold the company and I stayed through the 4th or 5th turnover.  One day I looked up and realized most of the people I respected had left so it was time I did too.  I am still in touch with many of the former Pleasants gang and we talk about the good ol days.   We had no idea how good we had it.

To read my BFF, Amanda Wilson's introduction to Pleasants Hardware please follow this link: http://www.wilsonbuildingsolutions.com/

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Quote A Day

One of the things that impressed me when I interviewed with my boss was how long employees had worked with him, several for over 10 years.   For me that is a good sign.  I am not one to jump from job to job and this is only my third in 16 years.  The tougher part of that is joining and fitting in with a small company that’s employees are very entrenched with one another.

I wanted a way of to break the ice with my new co-workers and have them feel comfortable coming to talk to me in my office. Thus my quote board was born.  I hung a white board directly across from my desk and each day I write a new quote on it.  Some days the quotes are meaningful, other days the quotes where funny.  At times I write a quote that is especially poignant to how I am feeling that day or what I need.  It has been almost two years and I haven’t repeated a quote yet. 

My boss asked me after about 6 months if I had a book of quotes….I told him yes, it’s called the internetJ  Twitter has also been a great source of quotes.

When the Tampa Bay Rays were in the baseball playoffs last year a quote I wrote on the board was “A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.”   During a particularly tough week I found “Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions, they’re more easily handled than dumb mistakes.” by William Wister Haines.

The fun part has been watching the reactions and getting into discussions based on the quote of the day.  Many times the reaction is totally off base to what I thought would be.  I love that!  Now my co-workers are bringing my quotes that they find outside of work.  Today’s quote by Theodore Roosevelt was brought to me by my GM.

What is your favorite quote?

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Day Seared into Memory

If it hadn't been for Twitter I would have already been in bed at 10:30 last night.  As it was I was wrapping up the nightly duties when across the Twitter stream I saw the President of the United States would be addressing the Nation at 10:30 pm.  On a Sunday!  Oh this can't be good news was my first thought.  Libya also came to mind.  Osama bin Laden did not. 10:30 came can went and no Presidential Address.  A little anxiously I found myself refreshing Twitter every few minutes.  Then all of the sudden a tweet stated the breaking news was Osama bin Laden confirmed dead.  I didn’t believe it to be honest; it has been almost 10 years after all.  Gradually the news station tweets began releasing the same news.  Could it be?  Well before The President’s address at 11:30 pm the information had been confirmed, this very evil man was dead.   

My emotions are so very mixed.  I hope this gives all the victims and their families of the 1st World Trade Center, the Cole and of course Sept. 11 attacks closure of some sort.  I also hope it gives all the Armed Services personnel who have so bravely fought and in many cases died the boost that this mission has truly been accomplished.

Seeing people in the streets of New York City and outside the White House celebrating gave me goosebumps.  I hope this feeling of being united sticks around for a while

My mind constantly walks a tightrope between feeling we, as citizens of the world, have an obligation to ensure everyone has the opportunity to live free of tyranny and not wanting America to become the world police.

What I hope the most is that this news will bring our Troops home quicker.