Does Anyone Care?

Is it just me, or are fewer people interested in doing a good job in whatever they do? At a time when high unemployment is all the talk on the news, why is it that those with jobs care so little?

This summer was a time of a number of projects and my wife and I were amazed at how many issues we had with workers who seemed not to care about their work. Things were done wrong, others not done or forgotten, and in all cases, got around to it when it happened to work for them. Other examples include short cuts taken, cover ups, haphazard efforts, wrong parts received and including even food orders. On and on. You see it too, both in your personal and professional life. Every day.

Maybe this is a continuation of the deterioration of pride in one’s work that I have watched over the years. Still amazes me. I was raised by a perfectionist, my dad, and while he was a bit over the top, by golly, what he did was right, period. And he demanded it of me and those who worked for him. Quite frankly, perhaps that is why Par Aide saw success all through the years in spite of being, for the most part, on automatic pilot. Had the ball washer not been built so well, with little to no problems, who knows where we would be today – probably not a leader in the industry! I truly attribute the success of Par Aide to him and he is owed our continuation of same.

To this day, our employees take pride in what they do, and no one ever leaves us. Yes it is part of our management style but perhaps more importantly, they like being a part of an organization that values quality and their work to provide it. It is certainly easier to work a job where your work is valued and you can take pride in the results of that labor. I have occasionally stopped at a work station and inspected a product set aside as defective and I was unable to see the flaw until pointed out.

This attitude is treasured in all aspects of our business. Our people want to be known as the best regardless of their function in the Company and we are quick to pass on compliments received. When a mistake is made, there is not a fear of losing one’s job, rather a sincere regret for the error and a renewed dedication to learn from it.

In conclusion, while most of our customers give little thought to the ball washers and other Par Aide items, perhaps that is because they have learned they don’t need to. That’s a good thing. We care.

Employee Event, Summer 2013

It has been a tradition at Par Aide to hold a summer event for all employees. We originally played golf each year, but as the company grew it became harder and harder to supply clubs and balls. So, we started looking for alternative options.

Over the years, we have tailgated prior to a minor league baseball game, taken a river cruise around our cities on the Mississippi, indoor go-cart racing, pig roast, bowling and most recently for the second time, actual stock car racing. We have always tried to mix it up and provide experiences that most of us either have never done or would not be likely to ever do. The stock car racing remains the best of them all.

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The first time we went, as management, we were quite surprised that we were even being allowed to do this. We literally were put in groups of 5, told to follow pace car and when it pulled off track – race! Of course, the number one question was, “what if we crash?” The answer? – “Don’t try to.” Perfect. As it turned out no one did and, as a result of a great save by the fellow, Andy Anderson, who was the eventual winner, no one did this time either.

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What a blast driving a 1985 or so stock car, stripped down completely and fitted with a 350 Chevy engine and automatic transmission. We wore a helmet and proceeded to give it our best over the 1/4 mile oval. The fastest drivers, generally the younger ones, could hit close to 55 mph in the very short straight-aways. It was the corners that slowed down some of us old guys.

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My purpose in talking about this at all is that having a unique event for employees or customers, enhances the way they will think about you. And, as employers or vendors, we are uniquely able to provide an experience not generally available to people, and/or would they even think about doing it.

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Next year, we are considering trap shooting!

Company Outings

Hopefully, through these blogs you have come to realize that at Par Aide we truly value our staff, all of them.  As part of our appreciation for jobs well done, we like to have both impromptu BBQs and annual summer/winter parties.  I am looking for ideas.

In the past, the summer party is more of an event where the winter party is more of a holiday meal.  Over the years, we have:

  • – Cruised the Mississippi River
  • – Golfing
  • – Go cart racing
  • – BBQ at minor league baseball game
  • – Bowling
  • – Lunch at local restaurant
  • – Drove actual race cars on actual race track

And most recently, and one of best liked parties, we again had a pig roast at our shop.  It’s casual, food is good and we generally have a drawing for assorted prizes as well as frozen packages of pork for everyone.

As I mentioned, this is a self-serving blog.  Have you ever organized or been invited to a unique company outing that was memorable?  I would like to hear from you.

Paint ball really sounds like a good time but a couple of us kind of worry about real feelings boiling to surface!

Bought a Pig

I did.  Well I didn’t physically go and pick it out but through an auction with a friend bidding, I bought a pig. And, it’s an award winner to boot!

A few years ago, a good friend, Bob Frank, who is a rep for MTI (Toro dealer here in Twin Cities), told me that his daughter was raising a pig for show at the county fair.  Bob and his family live in Western Wisconsin and he is a remarkable guy.  Besides being a very successful salesperson, he also farms and raises animals.  His son Ellis and daughter Anne naturally got into raising animals. Anyway, Anne was raising a pig and named it Garske. Bob asked his young daughter why and she said I was the “richest” person she knew.  Smart girl, as she sucked me into bidding for Garske and so I did.  We followed with a Company cook out of half the pig and then distributed a package of frozen pork to each employee from the other half.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the day and so this year, I decided to buy her pig for a repeat Par Aide summer event.  As it turned out, I bought the Reserve Grand Champion, which in pig raising talk means it was the first runner-up to the Grand Champion.  Congratulations Anne! She also won a couple other ribbons as did her brother.

This is the plaque that came with my Pig

Next time, I am going to the auction myself as it wasn’t my brightest decision to have her dad do the bidding for me!  Instead of eating it, I should put it up for breeding!

Social Media:

So that no one thinks I am dissin’ them, I am not a member of any of the networking internet sites. I hope to never have to sign up with Plaxo or Linkedin or any other. This is partly because I don’t understand why I would want to be signed up.

Friends are always welcome to text, email or call me. And, I sort of look at it the same way. If you are my friend, I know how to reach you or at least can find a way.

I also don’t have a Facebook page nor do I understand Twitter or why I would want to know what someone was doing every second of the day. Unfortunately, I suppose these two will eventually take over communication if it isn’t an even more advanced method. I have suggested for years that we eventually will have an earpiece and microphone implanted in our bodies so we don’t even have to hold a phone.

However, I am not blind to the ever-changing landscape of personal and business communication.  As such, our marketing team has informed me that Par Aide we have joined the ranks of the Facebook universe!  So, we now have a blog, a Facebook page and a YouTube channel…I guess Twitter is next, but the jury is still out on how it could work for Par Aide!!  There is no doubt that Social Media is the hot trend right now in the business world, in fact, 80% of Fortune 100 businesses are using some sort of Social Media, so I guess we are in good company!!

Just give me a voice controlled television. Now that would be a valuable innovation!

Holiday Cards

It’s that time of year again when greeting cards are sent business to business and between friends.  I am not sure how this ever started but the cynical side of me would suggest a greeting card company.

Personally, I really like to receive them from friends both far and near. However, I have a couple of suggestions to those who send them. First, please don’t just send a card without a photo or letter or even just note. The worst are the ones with only pre-printed names inside, making me wonder why they even bothered. And, by the way, if you include a photo, please be sure that your face(s) is in it too, not just your kids or in some cases just your dog(s). Really. Here’s a rule of thumb: if you are local and we see you all the time, it is fun to see how your kids have grown, especially if they have been away at school or whatever. If we don’t see you very often, we really want to see how you have aged! So, easiest solution is to include all of you in photo. Don’t you enjoy the photos you receive?

Corporately, please do not bother. Many, many years ago, we at Par Aide decided to contribute what we were spending on cards to charity. If you are my supplier, I know you like us, much the same as I hope our customers know we appreciate and like them. Shame on us if it takes an impersonal greeting card to express that appreciation. Sending a pre-printed, non-personal, card just seems such a waste.  Is there any office that all gathers around to open and read the cards? My guess is that one person might open it and glance at the sender and then tape it to a column or wall. Only benefit is that it does add some color and cheer to office. I will gladly give that up if I know some charity will benefit instead.

Voicemail

Call my voice mail and you will get something like the following.  ‘This is Steve Garske and thank you for calling Par Aide. I am not in right now…..’  No problem except that in this day of cell phones and email, I tend to forget to check my voice mail.  So here is what I am thinking my next voice mail message will be:

‘You’ve called my voice mail and I seldom check it.  If you are a friend of mine, call my cell or email me for my cell number.  If this is a business call from a customer, please email me.  If you have a new product idea, please email me.

If you are trying to introduce your company to me, wanting me to carve out 20-30 minutes for a quick visit, have a solution to whatever problems you figure we have with any of the various aspects of our business, or are able to provide financial resources, please just hang up and move on to next number.  It may be pride that we do not accept your help or simply ignorance of how screwed up we actually are.  And no, we don’t want to save money.

Finally, if you do not want to sell me anything but just want me to follow one of your stock recommendations, and/or you are going to claim that I asked you to re-contact me regarding the stock I was asked to watch, and/or you are wondering if I have heard of your firm,  and/or you have a very obnoxious and pushy approach and will not take a breath, please feel free to leave as long a message as you wish in order to use up some time that could be used bothering someone else.’