Technology Today

“Hey guys, what year did the Civil War end?”

A slight breeze rustled the Kathy Ireland poster on my friend Chris’ bedroom wall.  It was a cool evening in the fall of 1993 and we had gathered to play Hold‘em on a ramshackle card table.

“Any ideas?” Chris asked again.

 I shook my head and folded, “No idea. Sometime in the 1860s…”

“It was 1867,” Adam suggested with confidence.

“No chance… It had to before that, right?” Brandon offered as he pushed his chips all in.  “Wait, what year was Abe assassinated?”

We all reasoned and tried desperately to put the tattered strings of our half-remembered middle school knowledge into a guess.  At the end of the game, we simply shrugged our shoulders in defeat and agreed: “I guess we just don’t know for sure.”

Think about that!  We just didn’t know – How absurd?!  There was a time in history, not too long ago I might add, where we didn’t have immediate access to simple questions like “What year did the Civil War end?” or another common query at our table: “Who drew the first issue of Spider-Man?”

Today, I can tap a few buttons on the phone in my pocket (or simply talk to the nice Siri lady) and I know, infallibly without a doubt, that the Civil War ended in 1865 and The Amazing Spider-Man #1 was drawn by Steve Ditko*.   End of discussion!

We now live in an age where the answer “I don’t know” is a laughable response usually followed with “yet”.  This is true with the fun questions that come up around a card table but it’s doubly true with the questions that come up at work.

“What day did order XYZ ship?”

“Which cap screws did we need for this bumper assembly?”

“How many Slider50s did we ship last quarter?”

Now, I’ll admit, some of these questions still take a little digging to answer.  However, as we become more proficient with tools like Epicor and FileMaker, and we continue to take advantage of amazing new tech such as tablets and smart phones, finding our answers will only become faster and easier.

We truly live in an amazing age – I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

*Alright, I didn’t even have to look this one up, but you get the point!

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! http://www.sciencechannel.com/schedule/

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 ScienceChannel.com, facebook.com/Science Channel and twitter.com/Science 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 www.discoverycommunications.com.

Spring is in the Air!

Take a deep breath of that fresh air. Spring is here at Stellar! Just as the grass starts to turn green, the trees bud and the tulips peek out of the ground, so is the new beginning of a fresh selling season that is full of opportunities and new products.
Last week we returned from the National Truck Equipment Association Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Indiana where we had an opportunity to meet with our distribution and kick off the 2015 spring selling season. We introduced a new line of hydraulic cranes called the TC Series. These cranes offer a combination of compact European design with an American approach to sensible crane control. We saw a need in the American marketplace for a telescopic crane that offers versatile mounting options, and we are meeting that need with the TC Series.
This style of crane is a tall mast telescopic crane commonly referred to as a “T-Boom” crane. This design offers ultimate compactness to take up minimal bed space, yet some models offers up to 18.6 feet of hydraulic reach to maximize the load radius of the larger models.
While this style of crane has historically operated with a manual control valve requiring the operator to be near or under a suspended load, Stellar has stepped it up a notch and incorporated the use of its proprietary Stellar® CDT™ crane control system which operates with a handheld proportional radio remote transmitter. This allows the operators to position themselves in a safe and ideal location around the load and work area to be most effective and efficient. In addition to the remote operation, another new feature to this line is the operator feedback system that our Stellar CDT system offers. The Stellar CDT crane control system alerts the operator of the percentage of load the crane is currently lifting using a series of lights and vibrating pulses in the handled unit.
The introduction of these cranes was a bit of a surprise to our distribution, however it was a very pleasant surprise. Everyone was very receptive to this new offering and is anxious to take it to the marketplace and start placing orders.
The excitement of Spring is in the air… here and throughout our distribution. We are looking forward to all that this wonderful season has in store for us.

Being More Efficient and Setting Goals

Being more efficient is a broad phrase, so let me break it down. I am talking about me being more efficient with my daily, monthly tasks and creating goals.

Efficiency in daily and monthly tasks are important to help the company operate as smoothly as possible. An example of this would be how we started using a service that allows you to create forms, collect form data and export directly into an excel or pdf format. Before using a service that did this, we’d have to create a form that takes roughly 10x times longer to build, then we’d have to copy and paste the data into an excel file, so by using third party software we’re able to improve this process by nearly 10x leaving room to take on more projects.

By being more efficient within the marketing department, therefore helping Stellar as a whole become more efficient. We’re gearing up to attain our goal we’ve set for ourself. You can bet it’s not an easy goal to attain because what’s a goal if it doesn’t push yourself or the company in the right direction?

As a company whole, we’ve been focusing as well on setting goals that will help push us in the right direction of company growth. If you don’t have something to work towards how do you expect to improve your skills?

These are just a few examples how we are continuing to be Stellar at what we do.

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 www.givemore.com. 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?