Saturday, August 27, 2005

Building solutions

I really like guys that build race cars. I don't get to spend enough time with them.

What I like about them, in addition to all the damn laughter, is the biz model they often represent.

If you don't like cars and racing, close your eyes and picture yourself in this model doing something YOU enjoy. That's what I'm trying to get you to do anyway.

These folks start by living a life infused with their passion. They continue to want to get better at it. They do this by building their capacity to execute solutions they need. Soon they learn they can execute custom solutions quickly. One machine tool becomes several, then maybe a handful, then maybe a roomful, then who knows where this can lead.

With an emerging production capacity, they begin to use their knowledge and skills to build an outside market for their work. The best of them look for problems they can fix. They take in production work, paying for the machines, while running their own work as needed.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time hanging out in a great machine shop in Freeport, IL recently, Rogers Precision Machining. It's run by Jim and Larry Rogers. No BS, do-it-right guys. Couldn't be funnier or nicer. Their genetic roots are in racing, but they have developed a great regional business in production machining. They are among an honored subset of people I refer to as artists with machine tools.

What I think is most cool, and informative for everyone reading, is the next step Jim and Larry have taken, along Jim's brother Jon who runs his own forging operation nearby.

More machine tools? Cooler racing stuff?

Nope. Intellectual property. Patent applications. Good on you guys!

After emerging from their love of racing into a production maching enterprise, they saw, as happens in every enterprise and every industry and every market, the limits of mud wrestling with poor competitors on a job by job basis.

Don't get me wrong. They'll probably still do it when needed. I still do it, and you probably will too in your enterprise. However, mud wrestling with mopes, especially working on commodity type products, only gets you dirty and tired.

Rogers Machining looked at that route and decided to build their own solutions. They designed their own product. One that solved a key need in their own racing lives and those of their friends and customers. Suddenly, they controlled their jobs, at least these parts of it. They get to work with something they're passionate about. If they have problems, they are of their own making. They are not problems rooted up by mud wrestlers.

Jim, his brother Jon, and dad Larry Rogers have figured that out, as have many smart enterprises. Faced with a biz challenge, look to change the challenge to your advantage. Design your way out of it. You can do it. Almost nothing works the first time so don't get discouraged.

The Rogers' didn't. The result, a killer product for racers and a cool new market for their excellent machining shop.

Not just that, but the new product now has its own "Patent Pending" protection. Very cool. Very smart. Building your own intellectual property protection for your ideas is not hard. Don't know the route they took, but regular people do it themselves all the time. I'll post soon about do-it-yourself IP.

The Rogers would probably make some kind of humor out of their success, but it really needs to be respected. I think they represent a terrific model for where many of us can take our lives.

Starting your own enterprise or infusing your emerging enterprise with the right goals can help you build your job and build your life. It's time you got started.

Build on what you love. Build on all the opportunity everywhere around you. But always remember this my friend, your main job in this world of enterprise is to continuously build solutions.

Out-Pace Racing Products. Great job everyone! Jim, Larry, Jon and of course, mom Dorothy Rogers.

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