Sometimes these tips are of a very technical nature. Sometimes…well, not so much.
“My wife decided to help me out this winter by buying me a new jacket to wear during the cold weather. She purchased a new camouflaged-colored work jacket. The jacket is just fine, except when I take it off and lay it down someplace in the shop I can’t find it! My shop tip is to always purchase a brightly colored work jacket. Then when a customer pulls up and wants you to come outside and look at a set of heads or something he wants you to machine, you can easily find your jacket.”
McLain’s Automotive Machine Shop
Now, we’ve been working with the folks at Engine Pro and the Engine Parts Group for several years now to present tips from shop owners and industry professionals and, I’ll be honest – I haven’t laughed as hard about any suggestion as I did with this one.
You may recall that Jerry McLain, contributor and comedian, has written several columns and articles for Engine Builder in the past and I thank him for reminding us that, even though this is indeed serious business, it never hurts to have fun in this industry every once in a while.
In fact, Jerry’s submission couldn’t have come at a better time, because what’s more fun than making some extra money? This coming October will mark “Shop Solutions’” fifth anniversary and to help Engine Pro celebrate, we’re putting plans into place to have a “Top Five from the Past Five” contest where you’ll get to choose your favorite Shop Solution from the past five years. More details will be coming soon, so watch this magazine, our weekly newsletter and our website.
You don’t have to wait to win, however. As Jerry pointed out, everyone has a tip that can help to make the work day easier. Send yours in and you could receive a Visa gift card for $100 from Engine Pro. It really is that simple – and in this day and age, President Jackson (on the $20 bill) or President Grant (on the $50) would be a welcome addition to anyone’s “Friends” list.
And speaking of presidents (and friends, for that matter), I’d like to welcome Paul Hauglie to the helm of the Engine Builders Association (AERA). The new AERA president comes to his position following a 16-year career with Melling, during which time he held positions in customer service, parts pricing, forecasting, sales and product development.
Paul brings with him an infectious enthusiasm that will serve this association and its members well. If you don’t know him yet, you will soon.
“The executive committee didn’t hire me to be an office manager,” Hauglie explained to me recently. “We have the right people in place to run the office and handle the association’s day to day duties. They want me to be out putting a face to the association, so our members see a recognizable person working on their behalf.”
Hauglie says his goal, and that of the AERA leadership, is to be out in the industry, working to rebuild a membership base that, frankly, has eroded somewhat over the past several years.
“AERA has lost a number of members over the past few years,” Hauglie admits. “Obviously, part of this loss has been because businesses have closed but part has been because others have been trying to save costs and eliminating expenses – they’ve lost sight of what AERA does, what the benefits are. They simply don’t hear from us often enough.”
He says he’s looking forward to continuing to serve the needs of the seasoned veterans of this industry as well as to help the fresh young faces just getting started. But Hauglie also plans to focus on the folks in his (and, frankly, my) demographic – the ones who have been steadily working in this business for the past 10, 15 or 20 years or so, the ones who have established a business, weathered some lean and challenging times and have, hopefully, put necessary measures into place to keep moving forward.
“Quite honestly one of my other goals is to find ways to help AERA and PERA work more closely together,” says Hauglie. “The time is right to be a closer family. One of the things I want to stress is this: whatever happened between the two associations in the past is over – we both need to find ways to work together, side-by-side. I don’t believe any of the damage is irreparable, and I think the future is pretty exciting.”
We’ve long said in these pages that the business of building engines is extremely challenging. It’s certainly no secret that things continue to change and much of what passed for profitable practices in the past has been turned upside down. But relationships are still critical as well. And sometimes you have to work to maintain those most important to you.
As Jerry McLain discovered, sometimes seeing what’s right in front of you can be the most difficult thing of all. Often it just requires a new perspective and a sense of humor.