Friday, July 29, 2011

V2.15 - Now, back to our roots

Last week I let you in on the undercover work I’m doing for the Delta Power Equipment Corp. out of Anderson, SC. These were the folks who bought the Delta brand back from Stanley-Black & Decker-DeWalt, et al… I really hope they succeed at reviving the brand and I’ll do whatever I can to help them. Right now, my role is as a consultant for knowledge on old machines and helping provide folks with copies of my personal owner’s manuals and parts lists.
A few weeks ago, I got a referred email from a Pastor in Texas who had found a 6” jointer for 50$. That’s a pretty good bargain because it was one of the ‘old school’ jointers like those that used to be in the school shops all around the USA. No aluminum fence, non-adjustable outfeed table, lightweight machine here- no sir. He really did find a good deal…but-it-didn’t-run. However, this guy was savvy enough to be able to get her running…but there were other issues.
First off, it wouldn’t run with the drive belt on. If he took the belt off AND rolled the motor shaft by hand- while it was powered up- the motor would start running and get up to speed. It just couldn’t do it like it should be able to.
When a single-phase motor acts that way, there really are only a couple of things to look at. First is the centrifugal start switch. Make sure it is not stuck in the open position. If it is, this has to be corrected or the start windings inside the motor cannot do their job of ‘kick-starting’ the motor. Second, if the start capacitor has gone bad, you’d see the same results. A simple capacitor check will reveal that. I had Mr. Pastor check both of those items and the next report I got was, ’yes, the capacitor had gone bad. I replaced it and the motor runs fine now…BUT...(here it comes)…it will plane down a 1” board just fine, but anything wider causes it to just bogg right down’. ’
Ah, now we get to the second part of his problem. My reply to him was just this: “There's no way 'anything wider than 1 inch ' should bogg a 6" jointer.
How could one ever do a 6" board, if it did?... Something's still a bit hinky...You might want to verify that the motor is actually wired for the voltage you are inputting. You're describing what happens when a motor is wired for 220v and is only getting 115v put in.”
So, Mr. Pastor re-checked the wiring of the motor and guess what? Yep, it was wired to use 220v. He changed the wiring and at last report he was ‘blowing thru 5 inch boards like butter and thanking God for his 50$ deal.’

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Column V2.14 - Murfreesboro, How do you do?

Winding down our tragic tale of woe, 2004 was a year to go in the record books. February was when NO-CS decided to move me to the South Campus and remove me from Tech Service. After 23 years of employment at Delta, it was also when I decided to put out some feelers about working for someone else. In the grand scope of things, there is only so much one can take before it’s time to move on. We had seen our company disintegrated and our brand taken over by people who just did not have what it took to manage it properly. It was pretty traumatic for those of us who actually gave a flip. Then came the huge hammer. In October, it was announced that Black & Decker had bought Porter-Cable/Delta from Pentair. This was for sure one of those Good News-Bad News kind of deals. Good News in that B&D had way more $$$ to spend on the brands; Bad News in that a purchase like this usually results in a round of layoffs… and there I sat, in a ‘Training manager’ position…more often than not, one of the first to be shown the door when the beancounters look for heads to cut.
What to do, what to do?…well, what I did was land another position over in Middle Tennessee with Porter-Cable/Delta’s main competitor. I could not have written a better fit than this was. It was doing just what I had been doing for 23 years. This move is what brought us to Murfreesboro. Unfortunately, in the long run, it did not work out, but we are still here. The area has become our home and until God changes that, here we will remain.
Obviously, much happened after I left Delta. Sorry to say, the product line was trimmed, cut and almost disappeared. For instance, in 1967, Delta (then Rockwell) invented the first Motorized Miter Box. At the time of the purchase by Black & Decker in 2004, Delta had about 10-15 miter saws in their offering. By 2011, when Black & Decker sold the Delta brand (which was the catalyst for this series of articles in the first place), there were NO miter saws in Delta’s catalog. Can you believe it? - not one.
As I said, B&D sold the Delta brand and a new group has a chance to restore a once market-leading brand to its proper place. I wish them all the best. In fact, I am doing some consulting work for them already. It seems that I have a better set of Historical files than they do, so customers looking for information on their older tools are being sent my way… Only God knows where this could lead. Maybe somewhere…maybe nowhere. He’s the Boss.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Column V2.13 - Mr. Tech Service no more

So, while the obsoleted-parts fiasco was transpiring, NO-CS was hard at work disrupting our tried and true methods of Technical Service. I get called into his office in early 2004 and get told (Note: not asked; not ‘do you think this is a good idea?’…) that I am being moved out of Technical Service and into a full-time training role. At the same time, my office will be relocating to the South Campus so that I could be segregated from the day-to-day Technical Operations.
Several things came to mind when I was told this was happening. Not really in order, but: 1] I turned down the Call Center Manager job because it would have removed me from Technical Service; 2] I was NOT a “Training Manager”. Yes, I could DO it, but it was not where my strengths lay; 3] Customers still needed the Service that only I could provide-I would still get the harder calls whether that was NO-CS’ idea or not; 4] the new office location meant doubling my commute distance each way. (the “South Campus” was the DeVilbiss manufacturing plant- about 15 miles from my home in Oakfield. The Jackson PC/Delta plant-AKA: “North Campus”-was 7 miles from my home); 5] Yes, NO-CS is the Boss and he has the Authority to do with me what he will. Was this a good idea? Not in my opinion; 6] I did NOT want to be forced into a “Training Manager” role. Mainly because I had seen first-hand what happens to ‘Training Managers’ when the company belt gets tightened up…they are usually among the first out the door.
OK, so being the trooper I am, I gave it my best shot. My first project was to serve as the Technical Advisor on a repair video for portable planers. It took about 3 days to shoot and 3 weeks to edit and organize, but the final result was a good thing. We sent it out to all of the Service Branches. My second project was to design a Flat-rate manual for woodworking machines. If you know anything about servicing cars, there exists a ‘flat rate manual’ that tells the mechanic how long each job should take. Dealerships use this manual for their job estimates. Up till this point in time-2004-no such manual existed for woodworking machines. That can’t be said any more. I designed it, wrote it, used my 23+ years of working on these machines and created one from scratch. On its face, it might have been a good idea, but NO-CS intended to use it has a hammer over the heads of our Service Branches and Authorized Service Stations. When they happened to send a claim in that was longer than what I had assigned, he was going to reduce the reimbursement rate.

Next week, same time, same place…

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Column V2.12 - Oops, they did it again

As we return to our tale of incompetence… we were talking about how we used to send John the parts that were headed for the trash bin… When Black & Decker bought the Pentair Tools Group, they had all of their parts handled by a third-party parts warehouse in the Northeast. I suppose they should remain nameless, but they were the ones who required the ultimate purge of parts. Their criterion for keeping something in stock was unrealistic to say the least. While I don’t recall the exact numbers, their decision resulted in about 8- 40foot trailer loads of parts being scrapped and sent to John. Needless to say that John was overwhelmed. What started out as a sideline to supplement his income suddenly became a full-time gig. Just trying to keep up with the inventory and identifying each part was way beyond what he had signed up for.
But John was good. He set up his own website and was posting photos and prices - a real professional operation… and then comes the “unintended consequences” of the ignorance of that ‘third-party parts warehouse’ and Black & Decker. Calls started coming in that sounded like this; Customer: “I need to order part number, 907869” – B&D: “I’m sorry, that part has been discontinued” – Customer: “WHAT? I just bought this tool 4 weeks ago and I need this part to get it working again”. Sounds like fun, huh? Yes, some parts for brand new tools got dumped onto John simply because no one had ordered one of them in the past 6 months…well no wonder- they were NEW parts for NEW tools. Now B&D was left in a pickle…the parts had been deleted from their inventory and sent to John. So, they finally did what any rational person would do when the realization hit that they had mightily messed up…they called John and asked if he could send the customer their part. Maybe ONE part would not have been so bad, but it was hundreds of parts on an ongoing basis. In other words, they wanted John to act as their source for the same parts they had just scrapped. I recall that John called me when the realization of what they wanted finally hit him. He said that he was not prepared to act as their supplier/shipper. Me being the gracious guy that I am, I told him, ‘John, you’re in the catbird’s seat. If I were you, I would make a list of all of the parts they want you to ship out- use the price list that we gave you when we started this deal and triple the prices. Then sell them back to B&D and when you have their money, ship them right back to them. THEY can then pack and ship to their customers. If they come up with more, and I am sure they will, sell them back at a 300% profit for you.’

I really don’t know how that worked out- I’ll see if I can track it down and let you know.

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Column V2.11 - Riverside IS racin… 7/2/11

I know we were supposed to continue our story of scrapping parts and such, but I feel one of those infamous ‘detours’ coming on. Actually, we did something last Saturday that makes this a tale worth telling. First a little background. Back in 1988, I built a race car to race at Riverside Speedway in West Memphis, AR. My dad had raced there from 1958-1960 and as a little kid, I got bit by the ‘racing bug’. Heck, I used to eat some of the mud that came off his car. Yea, I know…but you probably ate some Play-Doh or Elmers glue, now didn’t you? Anyway, it was a lifelong dream of mine to race at Riverside. So, being single and back in Frayser in 1988, I built one and raced there for the next 6 years. But this isn’t about me.
My grandkids, as far as I know, had never been to an actual car race. Since my dad’s birthday was the 30th, we decided to make a Memphis run, celebrate his BD, go to the races that Saturday night (6-25) AND take the kids. Turned out their parents decided to go with us and that was good, too.
Anyway, we got there and I had taken my camera in case a ‘kodak moment’ happened. We’re sitting in the stands and I see an old friend of mine on the track. Bud Ward is still racing and winning. So, during a break in the action, I went down and talked to Bud and after we caught up on the past a bit- we hadn’t seen each other since 1994 - I asked if he would mind if I brought the kids down and let them sit in his car and took some pictures. He gave me a big ‘ol “heck no - man, bring ‘em on”. So I went up and let everyone know what was going to happen after the races and the kids then cheered for Bud to win his feature race. As I expected, Bud ran away with the race and led flag to flag. There was one close call when a lapped car got completely sideways in front of Bud, but he dodged it and won going away.

After the races, we went to Bud’s pit area and proceeded to take some pictures. At first the 5yr old boy-kid wasn’t sure he wanted to get in the car, then his 7yr old sister showed him it was a breeze and she got her pictures taken first. She looked like a natural behind the wheel...she might need a racing kart to drive before too long. Well, then the boy gets behind the wheel and he might need watching also. His expression looked like a driver who was about to put Kyle Busch into the 3rd turn wall (which is fine with his grand-dad).

Needless to say, it was a very memorable night and it won’t be the last one.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Column V2.10 - Scrapping parts; Left & Right 6/30/11

So we mentioned the continuing slide… some things just made no sense and some things were simply a difference in corporate philosophies.
For instance; pre-‘merger’ Delta used to hang on to service parts for E-V-E-R. In fact, in over 19 years in Memphis, I can never remember a wholesale reduction in parts inventory of the type that we immediately got exposed to in Jackson. Actually, the first one I remember was after the ‘merger’ was announced and I suppose someone at PC told them to purge some stock. We were filling up tubs with parts that I could personally ID as being from 1970 bench-top tools. We probably scrapped (a business term meaning- throwed in the trash bin) 6 or 7, 3x4x3size tubs of parts. Would we have ever sold them? Who knows, but it’s a good example of Delta’s concern for those tool buyers who love their older units and wanted to keep them running. On the opposite side of the coin, Porter-Cable had no qualms at all about tossing every service part that they had not sold a certain amount of during the year. It was almost funny. We got to Jackson and one of the first projects we had to do was go thru our parts sales record and see what we sold and quite literally, if we had not sold 5 of that part in the past year, we had to scrap them and discontinue offering it… and here we (Delta guys) thought we had done such a great job getting rid of old parts before we came to Jackson… oh, well…so, we did that…and 5, 18-wheeler trailers later…yes, FIVE… we had a mess of parts that were going to the scrap yard.
Fortunately, I had a boss who would listen to me at the time and I told him this was ‘cutting our nose off to spite our face’…but what to do? Well, the timing was good in that I had just met a fellow in Richmond, IN and he was a stay-at-home-dad looking for something to do. We discussed it and he created his own business selling discontinued Delta parts, from what we GAVE him. Yep, those 5 trailer loads of parts. I don’t recall who paid the freight, but I think it was PC-Delta. Anyway, John had a nice racket for a while. When we discontinued a part, we shipped the remaining inventory to him and he sold them to whoever sent him some money.
This went along well until Black& Decker took over. They narrowed their criteria down to having sold 10 or 15 of that part during the year, so they ‘purged’ 8 more trailer loads and thankfully, they were sent right to John, per our agreement.

I’ll let you know how that worked out next week.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Column V2.9 - Thanks, 007 6/23/11

Our long sordid tale is winding down…we’ve finally gotten to the point of NO-CS asking me, point blank, if I was Delta007, and I told him yes. I really did not know what to expect, but I guess I should have. What I got was ‘This is an unmoderated forum and you’re not authorized to be helping Delta customers on there. You need to stop.’ I didn’t even try to argue. By this time, we had seen enough of NO-CS that I knew he couldn’t be reasoned with - no use to try.
Looking back over the years and having dealt with many different personalities and managers, being faced with this sort of a short-sighted control-freak was probably the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ and started me to seriously consider that my time with Delta was over. I had never been faced with such disdain for customers in my life. Making me cease helping them went against everything that I had spent more than23 years doing…I was not happy…. and neither were our customers. Here’s a few direct quotes: “There used to be a member from Delta that helped us on his own and Delta made him stop. Delta007, IIRC. Great guy, great Idea, Dumb Delta move. He defused many a complaint.” One of Woodnet’s members sent this message to the Co. President: “I feel obligated to drop you a note to express my appreciation for your employees. I am an avid woodworker and a member of the Woodnet forum. Several of your employees frequent this forum sometimes providing information and assistance. In my opinion these people are your best public relations tool. Due to their input, my last few tool purchases have gone to Delta. With all things being equal, the decision to go with Delta tools is swayed by the genuine interest of these individuals….While they have never claimed to represent Delta tools, they have not disguised the fact they are employed by Delta…As a corporation you should be proud of these individuals and encourage their efforts….Please take the time to recognize these people for all the good will efforts they put forth.” THAT was the way a decent manager should have responded to my involvement with those forums…but not NO-CS. No Way.
We used to get compliments all over the place for just doing very simple things for those folks… check out some of these comments… “Delta007 has gone above and beyond and I appreciate it.”… “That was a classy assist, 007! Nice to see that” …“Now that's customer service, my friends. This is why my shop is mostly grey. Nice job 007.”
As you can see, we did a LOT of good for Delta and a pathetic manager came along and destroyed it. That was just one of the reasons that, within the year, Porter-Cable / Delta was purchased by Black & Decker… and it continued to slide down the hill from there…

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Column V2.8 - WoodNet is a nice place 6/11/11

Ok, back to our tale of the trials and tribulations of seeing a once great company sink to the bottom, mainly due to the lack of knowledge/experience of those who got put ‘in charge’. When we spoke last I mentioned that I was involved with an effort that should have resulted in some HUGE brownie points for me and I sincerely believe that if NO-CS had not been so territorial and controlling, he would have seen the good I was doing and given me a raise for my dedication and ingenuity.
Here’s the story: think back to 2001, the internet was nowhere near as huge as it has become. There were a few forums, but again nothing like it is now. Well, a company call August Home created a woodworking forum called WoodNet and lots of woodworkers started hanging out there. I found out about it thru one of the engineers at Delta and he thought it would be a good idea for me to get on there and participate because many folks were Delta users. I was hesitant to put my name out there because that might open me up to direct emails and I really didn’t have time for that. BUT, I could see where I might become a ‘friendly face’ to those loyal Delta customers and that seemed to be a good thing to me. So, I created a ‘secret identity’ as Delta007. Yea, maybe not so secret, except that only one other person knew who I really was- that being my engineering buddy-I just felt it was better to stay un-ID’d. I started replying to posts a little at a time, mostly simple stuff like “Does anyone know how old this Delta machine is?” and they’d post a serial number. Well, I’d run the number and reply back with the model number and the year it was built. Boy, were these folks impressed! A few times someone would post a complaint that, if left alone would have really given Delta a black eye. How so, you ask? Because the ‘net was growing and a posted-complaint is like a signal for everyone to pile on and dog out the manufacturer. It’s not a pretty sight.
Anyway, this went along for a couple of years. I never made a big deal of my participation, I was always entirely Professional in my postings and VERY conscious that my words would be around forever. I became good friends with many of the members and they knew that they could count on me to be fair, candid and above all helpful. There is literally no telling how many Delta machines were bought simply because I was a member. People knew it and were highly appreciative. Well, that is, most people were… One day in 2004, I got called into NO-CS’s office and was asked, point-blank “Are you Delta007 on WoodNet?” Naturally, being the honest person that I am, I said “yes”… and the game was on…

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Column V2.7 - Who IS this guy?… 6/4/11

Ok, so I decided to take another detour this week and to top it off, it’s all about my own self-interest. Hey, when you’ve got a bully-pulpit, sometimes ya just gotta use it.
Seriously tho, I am currently working in Shelbyville for a company that’s been around for over 35 years. It’s a nice place – took a little getting used to the looser dress code, and I’m excellent at what I do for them- but it’s not a career (Well, not MY career anyway) AND it’s 37 miles from my house. With gas prices the way they have been, it is really dragging down the ROI of making the trip every day. So I just thought that this week I would put out some information about what I am looking for and what I can do, in the hopes that someone in the Murfreesboro area might have a lead or two on a position that’s closer to home. One of the best resources that job seekers have nowadays is LinkedIn and my profile can be found here: . Here is my LinkedIn Summary: “I have over 25 solid years of service experience within both military settings and industrial organizations which required strong supervisory, technical and organizational skills. I'm a team player with a personal commitment to high ethical standards and a proven track record of recognizing needs, developing solutions and implementing them. My passion is in 'Wowing' my customers by molding a team of experienced electro-mechanical machinery professionals into a cohesive unit that specializes in correct answers, exceeding the customer’s expectations and going the 'extra mile'. I am very analytical, detailed and committed to excellence and I have above average written communication skills. My past Specialties include: Maximum Customer focus; Call center management; Machinery troubleshooting and problem diagnosis; engineering liaison; OSHA, NEC, ANSI requirements for machinery; editing and publishing service newsletters; writing Technical manuals; creating a Brand presence on internet forums; Technical Training classes; emergency response teams; safety consultant & engineering liaison.
As you can see, I’ve worn many different hats during my career. I’ve been a Technical Service (as in woodworking machines, not IT) Specialist that was on the front line; a Technical Support Manager that took care of the department and the Service Center network; a Technical Training instructor; a Quality Assurance Inspector; a newsletter writer/editor and a Training manual creator- just to name a few.
Once upon a time, I had a boss who told me that I ‘shouldn’t be answering direct customer calls because I was the manager’ and I thought ‘Hot Dawg- not more whiney customers to talk to’. Well, years down the road, I have discovered that talking to customers was what made the jobs variable and interesting. I actually enjoy it.
If you have some leads, please send me some contact information and let’s talk.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Column V2.6 - This is NOT Service… 5/27/11

So, when we left last week, we were discussing Mr. NO-CS – the new Director of Customer Service for the Tool Group. I’m sure I sounded pretty harsh when I said he had no business being over customer service, but let me give you a couple of examples. First off, in the very first meeting that NO-CS had with my team of Tech Guys, one of the fellows said something like “..but our customers love us…” and that’s all it took for NO-CS to raise the roof: ‘How do you know?.. you can’t quantify that…and besides that’s just their opinion’ Well yes, it was. Get this, right outside that very room, we had a wall with 3, 4foot by 8foot bulletin boards that were just covered with thank you letters from customers. Yes, that was their OPINION. I tell you, when NO-CS popped out with that, we all kind of looked at each other and finally realized what a dire mess we were going to be in. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it. Shortly thereafter, No-CS decided to “make the phone system more efficient”. How, you might ask? By setting up a phone tree that routed the incoming calls “to where they belong”... A call would come in and the caller would be asked if they were a Dealer? Punch no, and you get sent to the call center. Punch yes and you get routed to the call center’s back door. Same place, same people. Then you get asked if you want to order parts or need Tech Service. It is a well-proven fact that most people, whether they need it or not, will opt for the Tech Guys over the ‘normal’ service folks. As a result, we’d have callers come to Tech Service when they might only need a part number for a v-belt. THIS was why, for over 15 years, we trained the call center people to handle the routine questions and held the Tech Guys back behind the scenes. NO-CS didn’t see it that way. He wanted the Tech group to act as a call center group. So, in his phone tree, if you wanted Tech Service; weren’t a Dealer & didn’t know your part number, your call got disconnected. Yep. Cut off. After all, it was YOUR fault that you punched the wrong button. That was the philosophy of the new Customer Service Director. Never mind that we had a 15 year track record of giving the best service in the industry. Nope, all that went out the window…and quickly.
Sadly, that wasn’t the end of the Customer Service deterioration. I was involved with an effort that should have resulted in some HUGE brownie points for me, but not in NO-CS’s world…not on your life. We’ll ‘go there’ next time.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Column V2.5 - Friends in High Places… 5/21/11

Continuing with our tale… the President of DeVilbiss, when DeVilbiss was purchased by Pentair, was let go after the purchase. I wasn’t privy as to why, but looking over the chain of command, there didn’t really seem to be a place for him at the time. So, he went and started his own business in the Jackson area. Here we are a couple of years down the road when the ‘new guy’ and the HR-VP were let go. Pentair decided to re-hire the ex-DeVilbiss President and gave him custody of the Tool Group as “acting President”. I suppose, with consideration as to the sort of results they had NOT achieved, the ex-DeVilbiss guy was as good as any, except that he made one of the most bone-headed decisions we could have ever imagined and we couldn’t see it coming.
In my opinion, a good Manager needs to know his people AND he needs to be able to tell the difference between his ‘friends’ and the person who might best fit a particular position. Mr. X-DP (my shorter name for the ex-DeVilbiss President) had this friend who had worked for him at DeVilbiss for a few years and instantly, this friend (let’s call him ‘NO-CS’) became the Director of Customer Service. He was placed over the Call Center and the Service Branch network. One of his first decisions was to hire HIS friend to manage the Call Center and Tech Service. See a pattern emerging here? These people weren’t getting those positions because of their ability to do the job – only because they were friends. Sad part was, the friend that NO-CS put over the Call Center and Tech Service was the same person who was over the Customer Dept in Feb 2000. This person was removed from that job and transferred elsewhere because, from what I understand, they could not interact with customers and employees in a Professional Manner. Yet, now they are back again, and with even more Authority. Dumb.
So, NO-CS is now over the Product Service Division of the Tool Group because he was friends with X-DP. Nice job. I have a reason for calling him NO-CS, Simply put, it was because he didn’t really seem to care about the Customer. Us Delta and Porter-Cable folks had made our reputation on taking care of our customers – sometimes even to the point of absurdity- we once had a fellow bring a Craftsman Bench Grinder to our Distribution Center in Memphis, in the hopes that we could help him fix it. We didn’t fix it, but he walked out of there with a brand new Delta Bench Grinder in hand. Crazy? Maybe… ‘out of the box’? For sure. But I can assure you, the next time he thought about buying a tool, what brand do you think he looked at first?

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Column V2.4 - Now, Back to the Story 5/14/11

Alright, time to get back to the Porter-Cable/Delta story…no matter how sad it is. If I recall correctly, before the Great Computer Crash of 2011 we had just re-established the 1-800-223-7278 hotline center and its manager was the ex-Delta hotline Manager from Memphis. What a coup! She had her act together and getting her was the best hope for the success of this department.
As it turned out, things were not quite so rosy further up the food chain. The original Porter-Cable President – the one who had the responsibility to make this new “merger” work, and didn’t- lost his job around the end of 2001- I think. (dates do get blurred after a few years) Anyway, once he was gone, the search for another President got underway. After a period of searching, a fellow was selected that seemed to have all the answers. He was a motivator. He talked about how our recovery was going to be one that “books would be written about”. It sounded great. Our new call center was up and rolling and for a while, it looked like we might get the ship headed in the right direction.
That lasted a few months, maybe a little over a year and then the ‘new guy’ and our original VP of Human Resources were both cut loose. The “Word on the Street” was that Pentair (who owned the Tool Group) had discovered that the ‘new guy’ and the HR-VP were very fond of golf. Which in itself is not a bad thing at all- I enjoy it myself – However, when your company is still floundering around and not making the money that it’s owners and shareholders expect, it’s probably not too wise to take a golfing trip to Europe..and have the company pay for it. Again, “Street Word” was that there were more than one excursions of this nature and it cost both of them their jobs. So, here we are again…leaderless and floundering. It’s Déjà vu all over again and we’re searching for another President.
To backtrack a bit, Just before the “Merger” of 2000 Pentair ad purchased a Jackson Company called DeVilbiss. They make air compressors, portable generators and pressure washers. This purchase was intended to compliment Porter-Cable’s offerings of air-powered tools. Also, at the time of the purchase, the Y2K event had the sales of generators at an all-time high. Actually, it was the worst time ever to buy this company because their value was highly inflated due to all of the generator sales. Once Y2K fizzled out, we got thousands of generators back.. go figure..

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Column V2.3 - Truth IS important: 5/7/11

It seems that I’m still not quite ready to get back to my tale of woe…that, and I’m still trying to get used to this new keyboard. For someone like me that does not type with all 10 fingers, (I got up to eight once…once) when the keys are not where they are supposed to be, it’s a bit unnerving/confusing. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the letters are all in the right place, but they have monkeyed with the delete key and the home, and page up & page down buttons. I keep hitting the wrong thing…
and the enter key is higher up… “shift” doesn’t quite do the same job.
Anyway, let’s talk. The news this week was that Osama bin Laden is now with the fish. While I do believe it is a well-deserved outcome, I would love to be able to say that I believe everything the President has told us about it. Unfortunately, I just can’t. I suppose it’s simply a result of the many times that the President has ‘put the spin on’ something, ‘mis-spoke’ or ‘mis-stated’ (which are all simply other names for lying). For me personally, once you’ve been caught in a lie, what reason do I have to believe anything you say - unless I have independent verification- from someone who has not lied to me? As I’ve heard back in the day, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining”. For example, the President says, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.” Only, now we find out the truth. There was no “firefight”. See what I mean?
I relate the same way to people in my personal life. If you lie to me, I will most likely confront you with it and hack you off in doing so. It’s rather interesting how easily liars get upset when they get caught. Once you and I both know you’re a liar, I’ll generally have nothing else to do with you. Life is far too short to deal with people who can’t be believed. I’m sure some of this comes from the fact that I used to be married to a liar. Thank God, I’m not anymore.
Ok, so OBL is dead…or is he? We don’t yet have any proof, other than the word of a liar. So here we are, stuck again..
Maybe next week we’ll get back to our history lesson about Delta. I think we left it around 2002. We got a new Porter-Cable/Delta President…but he didn’t last too long.

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Column V2-2 - In the Midst of Darkness: 4/30/11

Well, now that my system has returned to ‘close to normal’, we could get back to our ongoing saga of how the once great brands of Delta and Porter-Cable got decimated by arrogance & pride…but sometimes there are stories worth interrupting the bad news. I ran across one of those this week. My current position is as an Account Executive for National Pen Company in Shelbyville. One of our products is this decent-looking little flashlight with a key chain loop. It has 3 LED bulbs and puts out some good light for something that is only about 2.5 inches long. One of our methods for getting customers exposed to our product is to randomly send out samples so they can be touched and tested. Anyway, I got a call from a fellow and after listening to him, I had him send me his story.
“Tom, this is a note to let you know how helpful the free sample light key chain came in this past Monday April 25th 2011. That morning I received the light in the mail at my office in Lonsdale, AR. I thought it was a cool light so I put it in my pocket to show my wife when I got home from work that evening. That evening is when bad weather hit our area. We were watching the weather alerts on TV when a tornado stuck our property and damaged many homes in the Royal and Sunshine communities. My wife and I barely had time to reach a safe place in our home and no time to collect a flashlight or supplies. In the darkness and confusion I remembered the key chain light in my pocket. The light is not a toy and put out more than enough lumen's for us to evaluate our surroundings and safely find our way around the house. I am still using it now 5 days later. So, thanks for the sample that helped us more than you would have dreamed when you sent it. This experience also convinced me to make an order for us to use in our camp retreat center. The tornado destroyed or damaged many homes, hundreds of trees, and destroyed the power grid with hundreds of poles and lines down. Many families incurred severe damages to property, and mental and physical damage to their person. We were very blessed to have only property damage. It is encouraging to see the Churches and families come together to help the community. So Thanks Again and Blessings to You.”

A story like this helps you realize how the Lord can take care of His people in some truly interesting ways.

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Column # V2-1 - When stuff works, life is better: 4/25/11

You’ve possibly noticed that this column was missing in action for the past few weeks. There’s a reason for that. When one’s only computer decides to take a nose dive into the dirt…it causes a person to become dead in the water as far as writing columns, doing resumes, getting club newsletters finished...or…anything else that I used to do with the silly thing.
But you know, even in the midst of such a devastating event, one that I am quite sure our own Ken Ivey could use for a column idea (ie: “Have Enough Sense to BACK YOUR FILES UP”- actually I was last August, tho.), I have seen God’s Hand at work once again. A friend of mine that I have known for the past 39 years found out that I would be in Jackson, TN a few weeks ago and he was absolutely adamant about meeting with me. So, we met at the Old Country Store for breakfast and had a real good time. As we were finishing up, he said, ‘stick your hand out’, so I did… and he stuffed some folded up money into my palm. He said. “Here, God says to give this to you.” Of course, I was a bit confused and said so. So then he said
”Look, what you do with it is your business, all I know is that, as sure as I am sitting here talking to you, God spoke to me and told me to give this to you - and He even told me how much.” Well, I just put the money in my pocket and we finished our breakfast and went on. Later, on the way back to the ‘boro, I looked at what he had given me and it was 7 one hundred dollar bills. Unbelievable. Ok, so I get home and like any good husband (right fellers?) I tell my wife what happened. Our dilemma was, ‘yes, we have some things that we could use the money for… but what if God knows that something is coming and we will need this for that?’ So, we decided to just stick it back and see what developed. This was on April 2nd.
On Friday night, April 8th, I came home from work and got ready to do my Reader column…and…got the dreaded Microsoft blue screen of death. I kid you not…less than ONE WEEK after getting an unexpected financial blessing. After trying everything that I could to save the computer and try to recover the data…there was no alternative but to go buy a new one… and I will only say that the cost of the new one left me with about 40 dollars. Yes, my God is an Awesome God!

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Column # 61 - Evidence of Sanity after all 3/31/11

You might notice agap between when I wrote these and when they now appear on my blog.
That's because my computer blew up in April and this blog has been far down the list of things to recreate. I was reminded that I actually do have an audience, so here we go, getting this thing caught back up... T

Now, let’s see, where were we...oh yea, the meeting with the VP…well, maybe this needs a bit of background. As I told you, the ‘powers that were’ got so tired of getting beat up by customers and dealers for shutting down the Delta Hotline that they finally decided to create a new one in Jackson.
Since I was from Memphis and used to work very closely with, and support the 800 group, I was heavily involved in passing on some knowledge about how to best set it up. Evidently the new VP was impressed and asked me if I wanted the job of managing the new call center. Early on, my response was “Well sure, I’ll manage that and Tech Service…” but he cut me off at the knees when he said “Oh no, that would be too much for one person to handle. If you take the call center, and I REALLY do want you to, you’d have to leave Tech Service.” After a couple of weeks, he finally cornered me and told me that he needed an answer the next day. Well, after over 20 years of being ‘Mr. Tech Service’…it was not an easy choice…THAT was why I was up all night. But I will testify to this, most of the night was spent praying and asking God, ‘what do I do?’
So dawn comes, as it always does…but during the night, the peace came and I knew what I needed to do. Here we go, meeting about 8:30. I went in and sat down and he asked for my decision and I laid it out on the table… “I just can’t do that…and here’s why. I AM Tech Service, I’ll manage the Tech group AND the call center, but I can’t leave Tech. Everyone who knows Delta, knows Tom and I don’t care if you hid me in a broom closet, if they needed some knowledge that I have, they would find me. So I’d have two jobs any way you look at it and you’d only be paying me for one…you just need to let me take them both’ Well, he didn’t go for that, but he did ask me who would I get to manage it and I told him that I had been talking to Delta’s former 800-line manager and she was interested in coming to talk to them. As time went on, that was exactly what happened. Delta’s former call center manager moved to Jackson and created a new department. I was tasked with getting them enough training that they could handle all but the most Technical calls. The beauty of this is that all I had to do was drag out my old Memphis training files and update them slightly. They were good to go.

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Column #60 - Where did the Knowledge go? 3/26/11

So, here sat the customer; calling a place they hadn’t done business with; talking to people who had no clue as to what they were needing; and not being able to get the same level of response from the new organization that they had been used to…is it any wonder they complained to high heaven and took their business elsewhere if they could? I could not blame them.
Now, lest it seems like I am dissing the service branch employees, allow me to explain. These were Porter-Cable service branches. These folks were PORTER-CABLE experts. They KNEW their PC stuff…but they were NOT Delta experts. Delta had always used PC as Authorized Service Centers for service and there were a few branches that had folks in them who really wanted to learn Delta stuff (the Chicago, Kansas City and Dallas branches come to mind). Consequently, those branches faired better when Delta business got dumped on them, than some of the others did. But most of the branch people looked on Delta as an albatross around their neck…and even if they didn’t, they simply did not have the Delta experience that the customer expected them to have.
We even went so far as to have some ‘Train The Trainer’ classes in Jackson (conducted by yours truly) that were designed to show them the machines, how to troubleshoot them, and give them a very good reference manual that contained much of that ‘obscure information’ that customers usually asked for...then they were to return to their branch and pass that knowledge on to the other folks. Again, some branches took to it like fish in water, and others took to it like a lead balloon in air.
On top of that, Delta Memphis had employees answering the 800 line that had been there for years and years. It was a great place to work and employee turnover was very minor. Over the years, this was one of our best assets. Stay somewhere long enough and you absorb knowledge that you just can’t get in a class.
So, the customers complained, the selling dealers complained, company Presidents complained and finally… those in charge listened. In the fall of 2000 the decision was made to re-staff the Delta 800 line and house it in Jackson. Finally, a good, logical decision in the middle of all of this hoopla… I was approached about heading up the call center, but it meant giving up my role as Technical Support Manager and after a sleepless night, I went into a meeting with the VP in charge of the effort… and next week, I’ll tell you how that went.

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