From a young age I’ve been exposed to my family’s manufacturing business, Hodges Badge Company, but it wasn’t until this summer that I got out of the office and into the manufacturing area that I really started to understand it.
I’ve spent the better part of every summer since I was about twelve working at the family business in one role or another, some summers were spent cutting the grass, others spent in sales and marketing, I even spent one summer working on product videos for the web – but this summer was different.
In November of last year we began a large project to develop a new building in Missouri. We’ve had manufacturing there for 25+ years but it always lagged behind our other facility in Portsmouth, RI – the one I’d grown up in. I hadn’t been to Missouri since I was five, and this summer was my first time living there.
The first thing you notice about the workplace in Missouri is just how hard everyone works. I managed to trick a friend of mine into coming along with me for the summer work experience – and one thing we found remarkable was the dedication and lack of complaints regarding extra-long work hours and the difficult tasks at hand. They worked harder than I’d ever seen someone work in California and I walked away impressed and a little ashamed that I could barely keep up with people twice my age.
The next thing you’ll notice is that most of the work in Washington, MO is manufacturing – either light or heavy manufacturing, the former being mostly assembly and modification, the latter being fabrication and heavy equipment. There’s an astounding number of machine and tool shops there where you can get anything you want fabricated at a very reasonable price.
The transformation of the workplace from two old 22,000 square foot building to a single new 80,000 square foot facility over the span of about 2 months required a staggering amount of work. You don’t truly realize how much stuff you have in a building until you’re tasked with moving all of it, then you start to think about how much easier it would be if you just threw half of it away… Alas, that wasn’t an option and I very quickly learned how to become a “tow-motor” (forklift for the rest of us) master.
There were a lot of things that I took away from this experience and while many of them are rather specific to me, as a Hodges family member, there are others worth sharing.
- Enterprise communication is difficult and can and should be simplified
- Meetings last far longer than they should