How How It’s Made is Made!

It was an exciting week for us here at Stellar. We finally got to watch the premiere episode of the How It’s Made program on the Science Channel that featured our Telescopic Cranes. Getting to last night’s episode didn’t just happen overnight though. So I’ll share with you a synopsis of how How It’s Made is made.

It was well over a year ago when we had an email come in from the Association of Business and Industry Iowa chapter regarding the opportunity to submit our name and product pitch into the producers of the show – they were trying to feature Iowa based companies and had reached out to the ABI. ABI reached out to its member companies for ideas for the show. I contacted the research manager at the production company, pitched him several of our products, and it was go time from there.

We quickly decided which product to feature, our telescopic cranes – they had never done an episode on them before. From there we had to draft up a step-by-step process of how materials flow through our facility and detail each step of the process. I couldn’t have done all of that without lots of internal help of course, which in usual “Stellar” style, everyone was more than willing to help out. Once that was nailed down, we scheduled a time for the crew to come to Garner. Within weeks, I was escorting a 4-person film crew thru the manufacturing area of Stellar.

It started at 7:30 in the morning on a beautiful May day. Our operations manager, Steve, took the crew on a quick walk through and showed them the steps of the process. They unloaded their van, set up their equipment, and got to work. I should probably mention that this program is produced in Quebec, Canada… so the crew spoke French Canadian! However, they also spoke English very well, so we didn’t have any issues. We spent the remainder of the day moving from step to step, filming each process from various angles. All the employees that were involved bent over backwards to help the crew make the shot perfect. It was very interesting to spend the day watching them work, and to see behind the scenes of what it takes to produce that 4 minute segment. We wrapped up the day just before 5:00 with a final shot of the telescopic crane operating on a mechanics truck. They loaded up their truck and were off. They had another location to be at to film another How It’s Made episode the very next day.

So then the wait began. Finally mid-summer I got to see the script for the voiceover. I gathered a team to review it, we made some tweaks to the script and got that finalized and approved. And then I waited some more. Finally in late September I got to see a rough draft of the footage. I got the team back together, reviewed it, finalized and approved it, and waited once again, until finally, in early March, I was given the airdate. Eleven months after the crew was in Garner we finally got to see the final product! The Premiere was on Thursday night, April 30th, and is sure to be on plenty of reruns in the future. Log-on to the Science Channel website and see if you can catch it!

If you didn’t catch the premiere, I hope you have the opportunity to see our Stellar® Telescopic Cranes on this very popular TV Show on an upcoming rerun. It was fun and very interesting to be a part of the project and I’m very proud to work for a company that makes such an outstanding product. I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I enjoyed this entire process.



And so I make sure credit is given properly, I’ll share with you the Science Channel’s Boilerplate they provided me.

About Science Channel

Science Channel, a division of Discovery Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), is home for the thought provocateur, the individual who is unafraid to ask the killer questions of “how” and “why not.” The network is a playground for those with audacious intellects and features programming willing to go beyond imagination to explore the unknown. Guided by curiosity, Science Channel looks for innovation in mysterious new worlds as well as in its own backyard. Science Channel and the Science Channel HD simulcast reach more than 75 million U.S. households. The network also features high-traffic online and social media destinations, including, Channel and Channel.

About Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s #1 pay-TV programmer reaching nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in more than 220 countries and territories. For 30 years Discovery has been dedicated to satisfying curiosity and entertaining viewers with high-quality content through its global television brands, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery and Science, as well as U.S. joint venture network OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Discovery controls Eurosport, the leading pan-regional sports entertainment destination across Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools, including an award-winning series of K-12 digital textbooks, through Discovery Education, and a digital leader with a diversified online portfolio, including Discovery Digital Networks. For more information, please visit

Setting Yourself Apart

Early this week I had the opportunity to sit in on a seminar lead by Marcus Sheridan. Marcus is a fantastic speaker with some exciting philosophies. One of the biggest ideas that I took away from the seminar is how to set oneself apart from the competition. His philosophy is that in order to set yourself apart from the competition, you first have to get close to them. I invite you to use the search engine of your choice to read into him and his philosophies or visit him at

Marcus noticed that the questions that his prospective customers were frequently asking didn’t have conveniently found answers. So he started answering the questions. What he found was that as a part of answering these questions it was putting his company in a direct, side-by-side comparison to his competitors. It is sometime difficult to put yourself in this position, because sometimes your competitors have a better widget here and a better option there – and that isn’t always something you’re comfortable putting out there for all to see.

However, Marcus’ strategy proved to work well for his business, as he now publicly speaks about this and other philosophies. By being honest with the people that were interested in his product, he was able to bring them to his company, build their trust in him, which let to them buying his product.

What I learned was that we should be willing to honestly put ourselves up against our competitors, and to accept what we are not doing as well as them and address that with the ones asking the questions. In being honest and forthright we will learn more about ourselves and what others expect from us, we will build trust, and deliver a delightful customer experience.

Cross The LIne

Twice every year our sales and marketing team get together for 3 days for a sales meeting. This was the week we held our winter session. This was the week that a line was drawn…. And we have been challenged to cross it.

If you’ve never heard of Sam Parker, I’m going to give him an unsolicited plug right now. He’s a motivational speaker and writer and is co-founder of Give More Media. You can find him at In a nutshell, Sam and his team have created several programs to help individuals and organizations focus, build better relationships, seek new opportunities, get excited and be successful. In the past, we’ve used his programs as a portion of our sales meetings, including Sales Tough and 212˚. This week, we had the opportunity to be challenged by his Cross the Line program.

The Cross the Line program has a short video that basically challenges you to make a commitment, to focus, and go beyond mediocrity in everything you do. You have a choice. Do you cross the line where there is a greater chance to experience greater things (results, relationships, opportunities), or do you stay where you’re at, in your comfort zone, and have less of a chance? With this message also come the challenges you face in crossing that line. Obstacles, other people…. Yourself. Ohhhhhh….. there’s a tough one to swallow! Here’s where the real challenge came about for our group. Look in the mirror. Are YOU your own obstacle? That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s hard to turn that finger and point at yourself as an obstacle.

To circle back a moment, last summer at our summer sales meeting session we started setting some sales goals and where we thought as a sales and marketing team we could be in the next five years with sales volume at Stellar. Now, because this is an open blog with customers, employees and competition reading this, I’m not going to divulge what that beautiful and challenging goal is, but it’s a challenging one, nonetheless. It is also definitely obtainable, if we are willing to cross the line.

Of course our five-year goal was brought up in discussion this week, and specifically as we were working thru this program. How are we going to get there? How are WE going to cross the line? Here’s where it got “fun”. Obstacles. Other people. Oh, those were easy peasy to point out. But those aren’t the real challenge. It was time for self-reflection. What about me? What am I going to do to change and cross the line to make that goal? That’s when it got challenging. It’s not always easy to look inward to find the things each of us need to change or do in order to commit, focus and cross the line. You have to ask yourself, how do I overcome those challenges that I can identify within myself? Do I stay late? Get there early? Take extra time and focus to do it right the first time? You bet! Will I make mistakes? You bet! But I must be willing to commit, focus, dust myself off, learn from my mistakes and trudge on. It’s that commitment, the focus, and the hard work ethic that I know I have, and that each of us has inside us, that will take us to that beautiful five-year goal.

At the very end of our meeting this week, one of our newest co-workers gave us an “outsider looking in” perspective. He told us that we have it in us. We are on our way to that goal and it is very much within our reach. We work hard, we’re innovative, and we have the best quality product with the best customer service out there. And the one thing he said that really hit it for me was he said, “We care.” Perhaps that is just one of those benefits of being an ESOP company, we all have a vested interest in the success of Stellar, but it’s one that we should build upon. The majority of our group that was gathered this week has a lot of years under our belts. Experience is a great thing, but sometimes we get in a routine and a rut. I think it’s time we hit the reset button. It’s time we make a choice. It’s time to [re]focus. It’s time to [re]commit. It’s time to work hard. It’s time to be resilient. It’s time to cross the line!

Plenty of our blog readers have a connection to Stellar in some form, whether you are an employee in a different department, a family member to an employee, a distributor or customer or just a friend. I challenge you. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself… How can I help Stellar cross the line? Which side of the line will you choose?

Being thankful this holiday season

The holiday season, especially for me as a student, means a lighter workload. This gives us much more time to focus on what is most important, family and friends. Just getting finished with Thanksgiving break for me means having to go back to class after a wonderful week of enjoying my hometown and being with friends and family. It also means that I had plenty of time to reflect on what I am most thankful for.

On top of the long list of things I am most thankful for are the people in my life: family, friends, old teachers, new professors, classmates and coworkers, old and new. Not only has my life, values and paths been directly affected by all of these people, but also my life has been a lot easier because of them. Rarely have I found myself in a situation where I have needed help or guidance and have not been immediately able to find it, and for that I am extremely grateful.

A close second on my list of things I am most thankful for is having the opportunity to grow up where I did. Not only am I thankful to grow up in the Midwest United States, and not only am I thankful to grow up in a small town, but I am exceedingly thankful to grow up in Garner, Iowa. The opportunities that have come with growing up where I did were incredible. With speaking to other students at Iowa State University that have come from much larger high schools, the amount of activities I was involved in while attending Garner-Hayfield/Ventura high school is unheard of to them, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The large workload I put myself through in high school from the various sports, clubs, activities and musical groups thoroughly prepared me for the equally large workload in college, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

Thanksgiving is a time where you are often challenged to think about and appreciate all of the good in your life, and this Thanksgiving is no exception, especially with some of the terrible things going on in this world, some of which happening in our own country. I feel it is important to be thankful because it helps me realize how much people have done for me and to realize the debt I feel I have to all those people. To some extent I feel like I will never be able to replicate the wonderful things that people have done for me, but I feel it is my responsibility to try. Because of this I am challenged to be a better, kinder, more helpful person. If you haven’t yet, take some time out of your day to remember what you are thankful for! Happy Holidays!

Get Out and VOTE!

While it is not a Presidential election year, the voting that will be conducted across our nation tomorrow is just as important as electing a President. From the amount of candidate advertising flooding our television and radio stations, newspapers, and mail boxes, you know this is an important election year.

Here in Iowa we will be voting to elect a new Senator to represent us in Washington, DC as Senator Harkin is retiring. With Senators being elected every 6 years, this is our chance for a fresh start for Senate representation for Iowa. For years, our votes in the Senate have always cancelled each other out. This is our chance to change that. Joni Ernst would work well beside Senator Grassley, who has visited us here at Stellar Industries numerous times.

We also have a chance to vote on our Federal Representative for our area. Steve King currently represents our district in Iowa. Mr King visited Stellar a couple years ago. Being a former contractor, Mr. King was very impressed with the products we produce.

The Governor’s office is also up for election this year. Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds, who both visited Stellar Industries, Inc. this summer, are up for re-election.

On a more local basis, we have a relative of one of our co-workers running for public office. For State Representative, Terry Baxter is running for the open seat to represent Hancock and Wright Counties. Terry is the father of our Jonathan Baxter who has been part of the American Eagle production team for a number of years. I’m sure Jon would appreciate all our support for his father in tomorrow’s election!

Both political parties have put forth good candidates for the open seats. As voters, it is critical that we “do our homework” to determine which candidates will benefit us the most as ESOP owners of Stellar Industries, Inc. The Iowa Association of Business and Industry has once again sponsored a web resource that will assist voters in researching the candidate that deserves our vote. The Iowa Prosperity Project provides such a resource at .

Bottom line is it is important for us as American citizens to exercise our right to vote. The State of Iowa has made it very easy for us to exercise this right. Even if you have recently moved and have not yet re-registered to vote in your new precinct, Iowa allows same-day voter registration. This means you can cast a ballot tomorrow even if you haven’t yet registered. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Please get out there and VOTE!