Capacity Podcast Ep. 2: Rodd Blessey from Aldine Metal Products

Rodd Blessey joins Sunny Han, shares about his journey to being the 3rd generation president of Aldine Metal Products

Aldine Metal Products is a custom precision fabrication shop with 35 pieces of equipment, including fiber laser and turret/laser with automation, press brakes, PEM insertion machines, and welders.

Rodd Blessey is the third generation business owner, inheriting an 85-year legacy and all of the stories that come with it. Rodd shares his philosophy on serving others and working hard to make things happen, believing that working as a team and serving his customers as partners rather than just sales relationships is the right way to run a business. Listen in to hear how Rodd went from growing up above a manufacturing shop to becoming a successful DJ to leading the family business that no one expected him to take on.

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— Transcription — 

Heads up, this transcription is ai-generated so it may have some minor errors.

Sunny: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Fulcrum Podcast. Today we're here with Rod Blessey from Aldine Metal Products, whose slogan is Quality people. Quality parts. They're in Connecticut and serve a variety of industries. Rod is a third generation business owner. and is here to talk about his experience as welcome, rod. Yeah, thanks.

Glad to be here. So you were once known

Rodd: as DJ Steel DJ Steele. That's who I am. That's who I was.

Sunny: And that's what you did instead of working right away at the shop?

Rodd: Well, I did that while I was working at the shop, but I started in college. . So DJ Steel was born in college. You know, you need a DJ name, everybody does.

And, and, and my father, grandfather, they start, you know, they have a, a sheet metal business. So you what are your what Am I gonna be DJ stainless? No, I went with DJ Steel because it just sounded cooler. I mean, DJ stainless isn't bad. It's not bad, but I mean, I mean, at the time, like if I was forward thinking, I probably would've been like, you know, stain.

But then if I was thinking at [00:01:00] the time, I would've been like, you know, I could make a lot of money being a dj. Like I should probably just keep doing this . Because those few, those guys that are out there and guys and girls that are out there, DJing make a lot of money. Mm-hmm. . I wouldn't wanna

Sunny: travel though.

Uh uh Rumor has it that used to carry $20,000 in cash on you at times. That's

Rodd: just a rumor. Oh yeah. I don't know where you heard that, but I don't either. No, I never knew . There was a lot of. There was a lot of fun times with with money as a dj. Okay. But I never had that cash cause I don't know what you're talking about.

Sunny: Okay, so cash or no cash. W w. Walk us back to what it was like. How did you see. , your dad and your grandfather's business when you were a kid?

Rodd: You know, my, I I didn't really know much a about how my grandfather had started the business. You know, when I was a kid, we, we, we grew up above the shop, so my father would go downstairs in the morning and go to work [00:02:00] and he'd work all day, maybe come up for dinner.

You know, kiss us goodnight and go back down and start working again. You weren't allowed down there. We were down there. I mean, you know, we're kids, so we're playing out in the yard, running around, but it, you know, you don't want 'em, us playing around the shop too much. So watched what people did, you know, but I didn't really understand what was going on.

It was more of just the way it was. Um, It was interesting to me to see, you know, the family aspect of it, you know, so my grandmother would come in, you know, my grandfather's there, and then my mother and my father, and it was like, it was just what it was. It was just like going to work with your, your family every day.

You know, I didn't work, but it was just nice to see everybody together. . Mm-hmm. . So it was that, my me, my memories really of, of growing up over the shop are not as detailed. You know, as my brother, he was a little bit older when we were over there. Um, but there, there were always good

Sunny: memories. Was there an [00:03:00] expectation that the two of you would take over the business?

Rodd: I think there was definitely an expectation that my brother would, um, my brother is amazingly smart and talented, and he's. I think he just was the guy, you know, like he was always in the shop when he was younger. I wasn't, you know, I was out on the baseball field or doing whatever I was doing, and he was, you know, working in the shop and learning and, and doing things and, and so I think my, the expectation of me was no, I was never, never gonna be around, around the business and had.

um, you know, decided to go out and do some amazing things with like blacksmithing and, you know, making these cool, amazing designs and, and having his own business. I think that, uh, you know, he would've been the person that that was there. What was that like

Sunny: when he made that decision?

Rodd: Um, I think they're, you know, a family business is tough.

you know, there's [00:04:00] always some turmoil and there's always like, I think you get that expectation of you're gonna be the guy, you know, like you're gonna be the one that takes over. And like, there's a lot of pressure on you in that, in that moment of like, well, you know, he wants to do things his way and my father wants to do things his way and my grandfather did things his way.

Like I think every family business has that sort of tension of people want to do things differently and, um, , it was, I, I would say it was, it was challenging, you know, to watch him leave because the expectation was that he would, you know, kind of be there forever, you know, and it, and for me, looking up to my brother and how talented he is, um, and saying like, wow, this is like a big loss for us.

Like, you know, like I'm not that guy. Like I were these like family

Sunny: discussions.

Rodd: I think it was more like, yeah, we had discussions about it, but I mean he, it was his choice, you know, it was what he wanted to do. And I'm sure there was a lot that went into it. You know, like there's a lot of [00:05:00] background and I'm not putting together all of the different stories that went into why he left, or you know, why he decided to go out on his own and do his own thing.

But for me, uh, I just look at, at it from a standpoint of wow, like, okay, he's gone. Like that option has sailed. And um, I think it was, it was, it was good and bad, you know, like I looked it, I mean obviously when he left I was older, but if, when I was younger, when I was just driving the truck or whatever, like, you know, I couldn't have imagined him not being there, you know, because obviously I looked up to him and the way he did things and.

You know, but we're too, we're so different. Like if you, if he was standing here, like if we were talking like, we're two totally different people like you, you couldn't even imagine. And uh, so I think it was, it was just different ways, different things and different time. You know, it progressed and he's super successful now and like, that's awesome.


Sunny: you [00:06:00] immediately think, oh, well now I gotta do it?

Rodd: Um, I actually was excited. I, I, I. I, I love business. Like I actually love going to work every day. Like it is. I, I, you know, people say, oh my gosh, you're crazy. Like you're, oh, you're a workaholic or whatever. Like, no, I'm not, not a workaholic. Like I love what I do.

You know, I always hear people say, like, find something you love to do. Well, I didn't plan on finding something I love to do in, you know, fabricating or in the sheet metal fabricating business, but, I did, I got lucky. And, uh, you know, being able to work with my dad every day, Ugh. It's so great. Like, you know, I personally, that's one of the things I look forward to is the fact that my family is there.

Like, I'm spoiled. I get to see my fa my father every single day, and it's exciting to me. Awesome. Sorry, I need some water. Sorry. [00:07:00] Um, I'm not choking up, I swear. I mean, I'm excited about my dad, but,

Sunny: so what was that transition like? How long did it take, what was it intentional? Were, were the plans set out?

What, what did that look like? Yeah,

Rodd: we had a plan. Um, you know, there was, there was definitely we, we, we are lucky enough to have, um, a CFO that, that is married to my father's cousin. and he's got amazing experience in business and he kind of changed our business. He came in and was like, you know, you asked him to come in and

Sunny: help, or he

Rodd: offered nice.

He was like, Hey, you know, I'll do this for free. Like I'll just come in like, let me, let me look at what you guys are doing, what's your sales are, you know, let me see your books, see what's going on. And uh, he came back, got involved and it was like, there's a lot of things that we can do. You know, like, hey, everybody should have a job description.

Like, you know, you're running a business, you know, like, Hey, you know, we should have a budget every year. [00:08:00] We should have a five year plan. Like all of those things that as a family business we weren't even thinking about. Were just like, you know, like, what's next? What's the next thing down the road? You know, who can we grow?

Let's look at sales. Let's look at our team. Let's look at all these things and. Then we got really intentional about it and I started to really get attracted to the fact that I like love planning. I love looking at the future. I love having goals. I like, you know, I like the team to have goals. I like all of us to, to see like, you know, if, if we put in the effort here, this is what we can achieve, you know, and we all.

you know, at that point. And so, um, his, his addition to the business changed everything. So when he came in and he was a part of that transition from when my, my brother left, um, and then we got really intentional about the team that we needed, you know, who do we need in certain key technical. Places in the business and who can support, you know, that loss of talent.

Good news is he came up with this plan of [00:09:00] like, Hey, you know, let's, let's offer your, you know, your brother to, to stay on as a technical advisor. You know, like if we need him, let's, you know, we can call on him and he can be on call and he can still. So we had a, a long transition period of him still being involved in the business.

Um, so it, it transitioned really well. And there's still like, I mean, if I really need something. I could call him, but the team now is really capable cuz you know, people, some of the team learned under him, you know, and they learned how to do things and, and some, some of those things stay with us. Um, obviously some of the things changed, um, but the transition went well, I would say.

I would say it was good all around.

Sunny: Was there any reluctance or. Uh, difficulty letting go from your dad. It sounds like there's a lot of transition. It's him to you. It's a less formal, more fluid to a more structured, uh, intentional design plan type of a business. Uh, was [00:10:00] that, was that pretty smooth

Rodd: in the beginning?

It was a little bit difficult because I was looking at things like, you know, like, I wanna upgrade all of our computers. , I want to do more machinery like, uh, you know, I want to upgrade everything. And he was always pretty much latest and greatest. He's put his neck out and bought the first laser for our shop, which, you know, my brother was a part of that purchase also.

And, and it was like huge for us. It was life changing, you know, cuz we had a laser before many people had lasers and um, so he was very forward thinking, but, Wanted to move things much further. Like it's one of the reasons that I, you know, I, I, I speak to you about how I'm looking at like, okay, I'm looking at other entrepreneurs and people that are, that are trying to take manufacturing to the next level and sort of see that, that big growth thing of like, how do we, how does all of this stuff get connected and how do I make sure that I'm connected within this big global [00:11:00] manufacturing world and.

Am successful because I have the right tools to make sure that I'm connected and I can be successful so that, you know, my customers see that and, and I'm, I'm forward thinking enough to make those. I, I would take those risks. I mean, some of it is risk, so I think there's where the, the kind of, you know, my father and I might have not seen eye to eye, um, on some of those decisions, but we were always in agreement with what we ended up doing.

So we would always have those behind closed doors. Discussions. We have board meeting meetings every quarter and we discuss everything that's going on and what our plans on, what we plan on buying all of the different successes and challenges and, and hash 'em all. In, in a great way. And then once we make a decision, we are unified in our decision and the way we move forward.

So it wasn't like an open transition, you know, it was more like a planned, detailed way that we wanted to move forward and we're all on board. [00:12:00] Awesome.

Sunny: So you told me about this book. It's a little notebook that showed all the times that your grandfather, your father, didn't take a wage to make sure people were.

Um, obviously that was really meaningful. Tell me more about that and about the cultural elements that you kept from him and from your grandfather and then the new things that you've introduced yourself.

Rodd: Yeah, so, um, That was one thing where, you know, you look at this old book and, and, and you see like, you know, where my, where my father, you know, you see the people that got paid the money and then you see a zero next to my, my dad and a zero next to my grandfather.

And you knew that. They were just making sure that their people were taken care of before themselves. Um, and that was, that's something that always stuck with me. My team has to be first I ho oh, I, I have to serve my team so that they can do their jobs. But every one of those people and every family and you know, every member of that family, I feel a [00:13:00] responsibility to serve, to continue to grow the business so that they can be more successful.

You know, I just, uh, I just went out, we went out for our Christmas party and. We were, we, we have a good tight group, and they were all like, you know, hey, let's, we're gonna go get, get a drink afterwards. And I don't really drink, but I showed up and I, I walked over there and they were all talking about, you know, the different places that they were, you know, different countries that they were from, and there are different experiences.

And I said, you know what, I'm gonna put up a flag in our shop from every country where someone is came from that. . Like if you came from that country, if you were born in that country, your flag goes up. So next morning I ordered all the flags and we put 'em up two weeks ago and uh Wow. Like a little thing, like spending a few dollars on a flag, but they're like, you know what?

There's my flag. Obviously American flag's higher than everybody else's flag, but still, you know, [00:14:00] it's like little things like that of like people first, You know, that means something to them and it means something to me because it's my responsibility for them. So to see, kind of connect it back to where my grandfather and, and, and father knew that the people were the most important thing.

I've sort of taken that really to heart to where like, . Yeah. They are the most important. And if, if I can just figure out a way to support them, you know, and try and make sure I make good decisions and, and I'm thoughtful about my decisions that, that affect them, then I think we all can succeed. Succeed.

And it. It's the culture. You know, if they know, I'm willing to, you know, come into the break room and have a conversation with them and listen to them say, Hey, you know, it would be really cool if we had X, Y, or Z. And then go and do it. Like, I think that's important. It's, it's listening [00:15:00] and if there's ever gonna be.

a time when we struggle, they're gonna be the ones that get supported first. Um, and that's, you know, that was really, you know, COVID was, was kind of a, a big thing where like, you know, everybody got hit with that thing. And as business owners we had to look like. What can we do any way that we can do it to make sure that our team is taken care of?

You know, we worked through the whole thing, but there were def people that got sick and, you know, didn't have time. And like we had to make sure that we spent those hours putting in, doing the paperwork for the different, you know, uh, Programs that could support the, the team members to make sure they got paid and make sure that the company was, was moving forward and successful and people were healthy and the cleaning and all those things.

Like, that's my job. That's our job as leaders to do that for them. And not that they expect it, but if we do it well, it, it makes it a better work environment and makes it a better place for them to be. . I think that the whole thing about culture is [00:16:00] what I learned by looking at those times. You know, and, and my father told me a story once.

Uh, it, I, I don't have it exactly right, but I'll tell the best that I remember of when they lost, uh, they were doing a lot of government work. It was our, our business was basically formed doing a lot of Navy stuff. And, uh, my, they, they didn't have work, so they. Some of the employees, they, they had a friend who had a business and, and they got them jobs to work, you know, while they didn't have any work to go over there while they were out working for work.

And my father and my grandfather went to New York to try to find jobs, any jobs that they could. And, uh, he said they both went into this one place to interview for jobs. And my father got interviewed for the job and there was guys lined up all over the place looking for jobs. And then he came out and he was like, well, you know, my, my.

Needs a job too. And they're like, oh no, we don't need anybody. You know, like that age. And he was [00:17:00] like, this is like insane. Like he's. Why, because he's older. Like, you know, it's not gonna, you know, get work. And, and it always was like, wow. Like they were scrapping so much that they literally were going out there looking for anything just to make ends meet.

But made sure that the team had places to work before they had places to work and they were willing to go do that. And then obviously, you know, My dad hit the streets and started selling commercial work instead of the military stuff, while that was slow. And, and that's where the business really took off.

So I think it was, I always have this appreciation of I should never expect anything. Like I have to work really hard to make sure that things happen, but it's not all about me either. Um, it's just, it's about, it's about the team, but it, I just, uh, it's a, it's a passion. Of people, and it's a passion to serve.

I really, I really enjoy serving and I make [00:18:00] mistakes like everybody else. Like I've, I've screwed up, I've had conversations, you know, on the shop floor that I should had in my office, and I, and I do things that I, you know, learned from. It makes me a, a better leader and a better person for the future, but, I've come to a place right now where I've, I really feel like with the team we have in, in the future, we have built with some younger team members and cross-training and, you know, making sure that they're taken care of and that they can grow their family and they can do the things that they need to do, that we're in a pretty, pretty good place to be able to, to grow.

And, and I'm excited about that. I'm excited for

Sunny: you. Thanks. Uh, this philosophy of, of service, it seems to extend. To your customers, the people you do business with. You talk a lot about how you treat those relationships as partnerships more than just mm-hmm. , um, you know, sales relationships. Was that something that you got from your, your grandfather and your father, or how did that come about and and how has that served you in, in the business?

Rodd: Yeah, no, [00:19:00] that, that, that was really something that, that I remember, I listened, you know, to the way that people were, were talking. It used to be when I, when I was first going out for sales, like it used to be, you know, you were looking for that sale, you were looking for that contract, you know, just gimme something to bid, right?

And I was like, do I really want to do that? Like, I don't want to just keep going out there and trying to get the next bid and like try to be 5 cents cheaper than the next guy. Like, that's not gonna get a long-term relationship with somebody. Like, I want someone who's gonna see me as a partner and.

Clicked. I said a partner. I was like, I need to have partnerships with my, like I need to have business relationships where I say, listen, I'm your partner. Like I'm gonna give you the best price I can, but I'm gonna give you really, really good service. And my team is always open to you. But if I'm not doing what you need me to do, you tell me.

And I'll adjust to it. And if I see things that you're doing that [00:20:00] I think you could be more successful If you change things, you know, maybe you make a part differently or you do something differently in the way that you ship a part or whatever it is, like, we're gonna say it too, because we're partners and if we, we go into that relationship knowing that there's going to be some positives and negatives throughout the relationship as a partner and there's some give and take, then we both win.

Because my goal is only to. My customer's successful. You know, if I'm trying to like, do some, make a lot of money with something and they're not competitive, well, number one, they're gonna find somebody else. But number two, I'm just, I'm just making a terrible long-term decision because I wanna want them to grow, I want them to make more.

You know, so that's where the, the partnership came and I, and I, I will discuss this with potential customer. Day one meeting, I really believe I have to be upfront. Like I'll simply say like, I'm not looking for you to [00:21:00] come in here and give me an opportunity. Like I, if you wanna have a relationship, I will go all in for you.

Everybody here is willing to go all in for you. All we're asking for is communication and, and obviously as we're building that relationship, if we're competi. Great. If we're close, great. We know we're gonna have the quality. We know we're gonna have the service. We know we can do those things really well.

But if we fit into your model, then. , let's go for the partnership. You know, let's, let's have our teams meet each other. Let us come to your place and see your place. You know, bring all your team to my place. Like, let's make sure we make that effort so that people know each other and they put faces to, to not just a, a person on the email or a person on a Zoom or whatever.

And, and, and like, Get together. I think that changes a lot and I think it's really important. I love the, [00:22:00] I love the fact that we can do things, you know, in the cloud, and I love the fact that we can work anywhere and do all of that thing, but I, I do believe in relationships and I think it's important that you build those relationships in person, like just coming here to meet you.

Like it's really important to meet your team. Like it's, I, you know, like the team that we're working with all the time, like, It's fantastic. You know, is it, is it absolutely necessary? No, but there's a lot of value there that you see and that I see, and that's the reason you do it right, is like you make that effort because there's a tremendous amount of value to having relationships, partnerships, because that's where like you're gonna have a back and forth that allows.

Groups or both companies to be successful. So that philosophy was more of like, it came from me just learning. You know, I was out there as I was listening to things and then being bold enough to say, without this [00:23:00] partnership, I'm not really interested. And that's tough to do. Mm-hmm. , you know, because you're, you're saying like, And, and it's okay.

Like that's your business model. You don't, you don't want a long-term partnership with someone. That's fine. You, you know, you can just keep pricing people, you can send it out online and you'll get a thousand quotes. Go ahead. That just doesn't work for me because I, I'm not that guy, or we are not that company.

I shouldn't say I'm not that guy, but we're not that company. Yeah.

Sunny: It, it's a philosophy that your, your team seems to just absorb. Mm-hmm. , like there doesn't seem to be any sort of, you know, calamity. . Everybody seems to get

Rodd: it. Yeah, it was. We're all on the same page. I mean, we, we talk about it a lot, you know, have discussions, you know, like when you follow up with a, with a quote or when you follow up with 'em on a project, you know, like talk about the project.

Like, it's really good to know what they're building, why they're building it, you know, what's the goal? You know, those things, those things are, are, [00:24:00] and, and everybody wants to know, right? Like, just like when I go back, everybody's gonna wanna know, you know, what was the experience? You know, you know what, what is fulcrum?

Like, you know, what was it like chatting with Sonny? Like, you know, and, and, and when can I listen to the podcast? Like, you know, I got like 15 of those texts this morning. Like, I can't wait. And because we're in it together, you know, we care about, you know, what's going on in each other's lives, and of course what's going on with, with business.

And I think, man, I, I keep going back to it, but it's relationship based. I mean, everything's about a relationship. . I just can't see myself looking at the one sale like the. . The one moment where I make like one project, like I can't see that. You know, and, and again, that, that, that's something you have to learn and you have to feel comfortable with.

Ev there's a lot of people that are really, really successful at working that way. I just can't do it because I, I kind of like feel like I'm left out. Like, if I did one sale [00:25:00] for you and then like, I didn't hear from you for a while, I'd be like, oh my gosh. Like I failed. Mm-hmm. . But that just might be their business model.

I just didn't. So,

Sunny: I mean this, this is like a very counterintuitive feeling, right? You're the way you're describing it, most people don't, don't understand that they, they, they want every sale that they can. Is this the most counterintuitive thing that you've learned? Is there any other secrets where if you go back in time and you think of yourself as as much younger person, something that you believe that completely changed since you've been working the business?

Rodd: Well, I used to, I think I used. Get intimidated by discussions about business and, and what I mean by intimidated was I felt like that customer that I'm trying to have a relationship with, like. , I'm just this little guy that they control and, and, and they have all the power and, and [00:26:00] I don't, I'm not bringing anything to the table.

Like I'm just a guy that, that, that needs them to be able to sell stuff to them to be successful. And then I learned, no. We need each other. Like I'm bringing something to the table here, like we are good at what we do and we can be successful together. And I think that sort of change for me was that we need each other, you know, they may not choose me, but we do need each other.

Led me to, to have more confidence and not be intimidated and, and start, you know, talking to people as equals. You know, feeling like, you know, I could, I could bring stuff to the table and I could share with them, and sure they're gonna teach me things, but like, we're, we're gonna work together and learn from each other as opposed to me just being the, the salesperson that's just gotta wait for them to choose me.

Um, so

Sunny: when did that change,

Rodd: or how did that change? I would say that was probably like, I don't know, between [00:27:00] 15, 18 years ago in, in my head. Um, and that was more like, you know, I, I, so I, I was driving the truck for a long time and, and then I, you know, started getting into some sales and, you know, as you're driving the truck you kind of see people that, you know, you meet that are purchasing people or whatever.

And so I started building relationships and then I was like, you know, my dad's like, Hey, you know, you should, you're pretty good at this thing. Like, why don't you go out and start knocking on doors and like, see what you can do. And. Again, being that truck driver mentality of like, I'll do whatever you want.

Like, how can I help? Like I'll move whatever. Like I was that, you know, like again, the person who was saying, being intimidated to as I, as I developed relationships and, and listened to these people and found out like, no. They're like, okay, you know what? We can work together. And so that change happened early and then it was me learning by.

Process of like, okay, you know, you people used to ever knock on everybody's doors. Right. You know, and [00:28:00] then it was like, well, maybe I can make phone calls, you know, maybe I can send emails and start, you know, communicating that way and like, build relationships before I knock on the door. And like, so I started doing a lot of that and, and, and just working.

and just, just like, you know, how, how do you talk to someone who's 20, 30 years older than you? You know about why I think I'm good at what I do and that, you know, that's challenging, you know? So I think growth, you know, and, and getting older and learning and, and, and learning from both my team and my successes and my failures, um, transitioned me.

But I, it, it really, it really happened pretty quick for me because I, I. To them, just a people person. And you know, I'm not, but I also was never willing to sell my soul for anything. Like I, I was a guy, like, I'm never gonna give you something to get a job. I'm never gonna give you something just to get work from you.

Like, if you want [00:29:00] that, then I'm out. . Like, I, I just never was gonna be that guy. So, and you

Sunny: have a good sense of reading people if they're that

Rodd: kind of person. Oh yeah. You knew, and you always, you know, people talk about it. People always knew, like there was those people that like, you know, oh, they got a kickback on the side or somebody was taking them out to do whatever or whatever.

And I was like, well then that's not us. Let's go the next guy. Like next person like this. Yeah. That was never gonna be me. I was ne that was just not gonna happen. And. To the, to our detriment, you know, like there's, there's some opportunities I lost because I wasn't willing to do it. I just said, it's not me.

Sunny: Nothing. The, the lack of regret is, is worth it or not having to regretted it is worth it a hundred

Rodd: percent. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I think that, , you have to have integrity. And you know, one of the other things that my father and my grandfather, you know, that I, I [00:30:00] take more from my father than my grandfather.

Cuz like, you know, I, I didn't have major conversations with him, but your word is very important. And your handshake deal is a handshake deal. And you know, it may not, you know, you may have to get something on paper, but if you say you're gonna do it, do it. Whatever you gotta do to make it happen. If you said you were gonna make it happen, then, then you gotta go all in.

Mm-hmm. .

Sunny: So you, you're the third generation. Yep. And we're in a, an era right now where few, it's the fewest number of family businesses that have a successor or will have a, the next generation take over the business in manufacturing. Mm-hmm. And in America there's a, a rich heritage of multi-generational manufacturing businesses.

Um, why do you think that is? Is it a problem? That businesses aren't going to the next generation, do you think we should be encouraging more of that? Is there something we should be doing as a, as a whole community to, to change that? Or what are your thoughts on that?

Rodd: Okay, [00:31:00] so you're talking to a guy who didn't think he was ever gonna be in the business and, and found out that he loved it.

And so my perspective on it is that I don't necessarily think from my family that it would work if you. Force or or, or try to pre-plan your children to be a part of the business. Because if you don't love it and if you don't have a passion for it, then you probably shouldn't do it. And I think more.

Business owners are coming to the realization that like, you know, if my kids really got a passion for, you know, doing something else in their life, I want them to do that. And I know they're gonna be successful in life and maybe they won't, you know, be super successful in, in a, in having their own business.

But they love that. And, and as a father, I would much rather have my children choose something they love than feel like [00:32:00] they're trapped in something that they, and I think. Something that, not that they hate, but something that they have to do. And, and that's, that's, I think culturally it changed, you know, like before it would be like, no, like, I don't care what you love.

I don't care if you love doing that. Like, no, get over here and, and get to work. Like, you know, you're working here because I, we need this to go and I need employees and I need you and I need the rest of the team. And then you're gonna, this is gonna be yours one day period. The end. We've evolved and we've changed to.

No, if you don't want to do it, I'm okay with that. And I think that's come with, you know, some. with some level of, you know, success, but also because we, we work so hard and we love our family and we, we look at them and we just want the best for them. Um, so I think it's changing a little bit because people see a way out.

I think you, you didn't really see it, like there wasn't as much opportunity. For younger kids to make choices in a lot of different places. Like right now, there's a [00:33:00] lot of jobs out there. You know, especially in manufacturing, there's a ton of jobs and if I could get my kids to come in and, and work in manufacturing and love it, I would do it.

But I would much rather them choose it. So I'm not gonna force that. I'm gonna encourage. , um, and, and let them know that being a business owner is challenging, but it's also rewarding and it also has a lot of benefits. And, you know, there there's things that I can do that, that, you know, you can't do as an employee that's gotta show up and be there every day and, and spend those hours.

But if you don't want that, then that's okay. , go somewhere else. You know, do something else. Find something you love, find something you love, and go for it. You're young. Make mistakes. Like choose something that you're gonna do. Go be a dj. Go be a DJ, man. Like, you know how many people you're gonna meet being a dj, like, yeah, I, and, and yes.

So I hope, hopefully that answered your question, but I, I, I think it's, it's more of a cultural [00:34:00] shift in owners. wanting what's best for their kids and knowing that it's okay for them to walk away for something that's been generational, um, and maybe sell it or sell it off or whatever, and just let them be happy and do their own thing.

So you said that you

Sunny: love to plan. How do you plan for something like this? A big unknown about the future of the continuity of the

Rodd: business? I think you, uh, I, I mean from, from my perspective, you plan on. What my life is gonna look like. Like I want to be in this business for as long as I can be in this business.

And when I start to get to a point where, you know, I'm older, you know, maybe 20 years from now, that's when I would start to think about it. You know, is there someone that's shown interest or is there someone that might, you know, want to come in and, and that I know is gonna have the same. way of thinking.

You know, maybe someone that's been in the company for, you know, [00:35:00] 20 or 30 years and, and they're ready to take a challenge on themselves. You know, I would love for one of my team members, you know, to be an owner of the business and carry on the tradition. Doesn't have to be one of my kids. You know, what, what can, what can they do?

And, and I think that's, there's, there's.

there's a challenge in when you, when you look at the future of why would somebody want to do it and, and would it be better for them if they started on their own, you know, and they, and they, they didn't just have an opportunity, but. If I can be around while there's a transition, let's say to someone who's not family, I think, I think I would like it.

I think I would like that challenge because they're gonna take a risk themselves, you know? Um, how all that looks and how all that works and how the money works and all that kind of stuff. I have no idea cuz I, I like to plan, but I'm not planning 25 years from [00:36:00] now. Sure. Um, but I just don't, I just don't.

Some, one of my kids could surprise me and really like the business, and if they don't then I'll figure out something else. I mean, maybe one day you sell the business, maybe you, maybe you go into another business that they like, you know, maybe I'm able to sell this business and get into something that they're doing and support them.

I don't know.

Sunny: And in planning your own life and looking at your job as a leader of the business, you said just now, , you wanna work in the business for as long as you can, as long as you're useful. What, what are the things that, that you've really done that have meaningfully added to your ability to lead and, and that you are excited to continue to grow into?

Rodd: Uh, I'll tell you one thing that, that's, that's is organizational structure has been the most important, important thing that we've done. [00:37:00] you come from. I came from a history of top-down, you know, management, here's the decision we made, here's the way we're doing it. Go do it. And now I'm to the point where I have really talented people.

Let them do their jobs, let them make decisions, let them fail, let them figure things out, let them succeed. And that's the biggest change I've had. Stepping away from the things I don't need to be involved in. And when I can do that and let them do their, their, what they need to do together and learn from each other and learn from those things that, that, you know, maybe I've learned from, and I could jump in and I could tell 'em how to do it really easily.

You know, cuz that's the way I, uh, I, I'll do it this way. I gotta, I, I had had to fight myself to not do it. Let them figure it. Let them talk to each other, let them do it. And, and so the, the less [00:38:00] people that are coming to you directly, the better they become as leaders for their teams and for their departments.

Um, and as a company grows, I think that's, you can't have growth if you, if you don't know how to, to. Let go of responsibilities and delegate to your team, um, and make sure that you don't have any up upward delegation back to you . And, and if you can do that successfully and then support your team, that, that to me has changed everything.

And that's, uh, I think that's, it's made me love things more. How did it change

Sunny: them? How have you seen it change the. .

Rodd: Oh, I see them, them really going for it. Like they, like, it was like a period of time where like, you know, cuz, cuz you're a family business, right? So some people have been around for 20, 30 years and they know how things were.

So you have to change that culture. You have to change that feeling of like, you don't have to ask me, don't ask me, go do it. Like, you know better. [00:39:00] Just go do it. And you know better than I do. You do this, this is your lane. It's not my lane. And. , it took, took some time, but once they got it, I'm seeing like amazing things happen.

I'm seeing them do things. They're like, I, I would never even thought of, nor would I have even, you know, I'm like, wow, that's amazing. Like, look what you did with that. Like this is a holy cow. Like you guys came together and did like, oh, that's awesome. Like, and, and I enjoy that. I enjoy seeing things that are done that I never would've thought of, and the way that I never would've, you know, done.

but are super successful and the team is responding positively to those, those, you know, directors and, and having, you know, I only have five director reports now. Like a year ago, I probably, two years ago I would've add 11. It's insane, right? But now those five people are, you know, they got their, their direct reports and they're working it, it's beautiful.

I'm really excited about, I, I didn't understand that. [00:40:00] I didn't understand the, the, the amazing amount of time you get to look at the bigger picture and, and really look at, you know, how you run the business and the plans and the things that you need to do. You did it, you just do it. You do it with hours before, right?

Because you just work more hours. But now you just work smarter because you let people do what they're spo what they're capable of doing. That's a hard transition

Sunny: for manufacturers who are all about control and precision and accuracy to let go of controlled, let that happen. Right?

Rodd: Yeah. And I know this, this is not a, uh, not a a, a Fulcrum podcast.

And you, you, you know that like we're gonna focus on that. But I, but I will say that that. The Fulcrum Pro platform had a lot to do with the change because people are allowed to work within their lane with a lot of information at their fingertips all the time, and. [00:41:00] I'm able to work in my lane, seeing the whole thing in real time all the time.

So information makes your job easier. And so when I started getting like, like real time stuff and like I, I could see things, I could communicate to my team, this is what you need to look for. You need to look for if these things are going on here, you might need to attack. That, that problem, but, but teach them how, what to look for within the system so they could do it themselves.

And then I could sit back and look at the whole thing and quarterback, you know, and it, it's, uh, it's pretty amazing. You know, I know, you know, in the future, you know, when you got all the machines connected and like they're telling you if they're running or not running and like, you know, I know there's some of that technology out there now, but when all of that stuff happening, it's all information, right?

That like, Let you make better decisions, information's the key. And [00:42:00] that's why you want to be able to give your customers the most information that they can have. They want to know in real time, like, what's happening with this part? You know, are you on time? Are you know, did you have a struggle? Like, has there been anything, like, has anything stuck on pause or like, you know, where, where it hasn't moved to the process And, and so information in this platform has been.

For me, something that has changed everything and the ease of use. I mean, it's so fast. Like we're in a fast paced business, right? You gotta be able to move, like I feel like I can move very fast. Like I don't, I don't have to go out to the guy that's on the laser to let him know that this job is the hottest job in the shop and needs to be run next.

I just have to sit at my computer and change it to high priority and it's gonna go to the top of his list and I know that it's gonna go to the top of everybody else's list and it's done. It literally flies through. I don't even have to get outta my chair. I like getting outta my chair and I like going to talk about it, but I'm just saying like the, that's something that as a, as a [00:43:00] business owner, you want to be able to have that control, but it, it's me.

Maybe quarterbacking, but they're just doing what they do. I didn't come out there and go get this job done. This is the hottest thing we need to do. I just, , let the system tell them, this is the hottest thing we need to do. I don't need to get excited about it. I don't need to, you know, have everybody together and have a big meeting about it.

I just need to tell them using the system what I need done. So you're can erase that out if you want, but I'm just saying, I'm just saying that's a good, I appreciate, it's a good fulcrum plug. Its

Sunny: so, you're a man of stories. If yes, if I, if I imagine you writing an autobiography, I imagine the book, it's just filled with stories.

Mm-hmm. . So fast forward 20 years. Chapter one, what is the most incredible story that you're gonna start your own autobiography

Rodd: out with? So 20 years from now, um, I got to work at nine o'clock because I didn't have to be [00:44:00] there at six anymore, and my daughter and my son stopped in to bring me my grandkids to say hi for my birth.

And boy was it a great birthday. I had my grandkids there. I had my kids there, and I was in the place that I love, and my family was there and it was a glorious, glorious start to the day. I think it would always start with family. . And also my wife too. Did I say that? My wife. I said my wife was there and my grand, my kids were there, but my wife was there first.

Make sure you put that, you got that. Make sure you put that in. You said it. We don't, I said that right? You said you said it. I, yeah. When you edited, it's good. Okay,

Sunny: but 20 years from, you're still doing the 6:00 AM to two 30 thing. ?

Rodd: No, I got there at nine. Well, the, your, your shut up is, yeah, no, I just, my dad is there every day and he's not there at six o'clock, but he comes in every day.[00:45:00]

It is. I love it. I think you gotta keep going to work. You can't stop if you love something or if you, you know, you go, you go do that. Even if he, even if I just come in and I sit down on my desk and I check emails or I watch TV or like whatever I do like, I'm still a part of something like, you know, like, or, and then if I'm able, if, if we're successful enough where I can take off, you know, and travel with my wife and you know, do some things that would, that would be awesome.

Um, spend some time with my family. I think that would be awesome. But I'm not like trying to like take months and do that like, . I like being a part of everything, but if I don't have to be, that's cool too. You know, if everybody else is doing their thing and they're happy and successful too, then I'm, I'm fine with that.

But I think it would always start, like, you always gotta think about family. Cause I mean, that's, that's just me. Like I'm a fam like I, it's gotta be about family.

Sunny: So no pressure to take the business over, but definitely pressure to have grandchildren.

Rodd: Oh yeah, I want [00:46:00] grandkids. That would be awesome. I'm looking forward to that.

If, if they decide to do that, I, that would be, . Yeah. No pressure to take the business, but grandkids .

Sunny: So one little nugget. Y you guys work from 6:00 AM to two 30. Yep. And

Rodd: people love it. Yeah. It was their choice. And they came to you with it. Yeah. They, they actually came, I think they came to my, my brother with that.

Um, so the, it was summertime and they're like, you know, Well, why don't we come in earlier so we get, you know, the heat of the day. We don't have to work in the heat of the day. We'll just all come in earlier and, and we will get done at, you know, two 30 and, and it'll be done. So we're outta here. And, um, it just stuck like they were like, no, we don't wanna change this.

I don't care if it's winter, I don't care when it is, like six to two 30, I have the rest of my day. Like they can get their kids from school. They can go do things with their family. They can go home and, and do nothing. Work on the house, do whatever [00:47:00] they want to do because they have the rest of their day.

And it's something that became a benefit, you know, people being able to come in early and leave early and, and be done. Um, I think that was, uh, it was, it was a game changer for, for the shop and something that they chose and, you know, they chose it. So we're not gonna change it if they like it. That's great.

It's a, it's a good, it's been a good. selling point to potential. You know, team members is like, Hey man, six to two 30, or, Hey, you know, if you wanna be here six to two 30, you're outta here. I think at first it's like six. Like who wants to get up at six o'clock in the morning? Five. Well, yeah, you're getting up at five and then you're gonna work.

Yeah. Who wants to do that? But for people that, that fits their schedule, it's like, well, I have a, there's a lot of opportunity, you know, instead of me starting at seven or eight o'clock and getting home at four 30, you know, or, or five o'clock, then I have the rest of the time with my family. You know, [00:48:00] maybe someone likes to cook, you know, I wanna go home, cook fa.

The dinner for my, my family, like whatever it is, they have that option. And some people like to work other jobs, you know, like we want them, their job to be ours first, but some people just have to do it right. And they're, and they're go-getters and they wanna do it. So like, okay, go ahead. Like, as long, as long as you.

Can make it work or some people like to go to school. Like we have, you know, one of our, our, our guys actually is, is going to advanced manufacturing classes at night, you know, to learn more skills and, you know, be able to learn to do more things so he can, you know, get promoted faster. And, uh, it's exciting that they have that opportunity.

Sunny: I think that, you know, looking back. Through your, this transitionary period all the way through this, through line of, of how you've taken this business and grown it to where, where it is now. What are things that you are expecting to happen in the future? [00:49:00] You know, everybody, maybe not 25 years in the future, but 2, 3, 4, 5 years in your future.

How, how do you think manufacturing is changing? How do you think Aldine is changing? How do you. The, the team and the company's changing where you're, you're more of a gardener now. Mm-hmm. , what, what are you, what are you curating your

Rodd: business toward? Well, Aldine itself, I think, I think if, if you talk about Aldeen, I think we're gonna continue to grow.

We got really good people. Things are gonna continue to, to be very successful. Manufacturing, I think is, is really got an opportunity to do big things right now. Um, Yes, there's, there's reshoring. Um, so the way I look at it is I'm a smaller guy, but like when reshoring happens, like the bigger companies, they get like slammed with a lot of these large projects and some of the smaller projects kind of trickle down to other people who are gonna, you know, see them as bigger projects.

And so I think that's a good thing. Plus, you know, because of the [00:50:00] connectivity, because of the information sharing and, and ways that we're connected now, um, it's easier to do business with different people in different places all over the, you know, and so manufacturing is, is, is blossoming in that way. Um, I also think that, you know, US companies we've, we're really good at, at making sure we have the latest technology and making sure that we have good trained workforce.

Um, I don't think we have a good trained workforce in and, and as a whole, you know, the, the. In the United States, but I think we are good at training people to learn skill. Um, and so we take that upon ourselves, you know, to make sure those people get trained and they learn those skills as opposed to, you know, like you used to go to vocation school or, or whatever, and they would send people out and they would already have some skills.

You know, that, that, that's not as much anymore. We don't, we don't see that. We're starting to see a little bit of a comeback, um, but. [00:51:00] As much as it was, and it's definitely not enough to serve manufacturing as a whole. We have to do the training and we have to do what we need to do to make sure that we continue to be successful.

But technology's helping, right? So, . I, a lot of the younger people that come to work for us, they know computers much better than I do. They know how, you know, to use that technology better than I do. And they, and, and the machinery now is, you know, some of 'em got face IDs and some of 'em got, you know, the, the, they're, you can talk to 'em and tell 'em what you need it to do.

And when you're programming it, and some of them, you know, you, they, they. They're gonna type in and they're gonna draw pictures and they're gonna do all sorts of stuff super fast because they're used to working on that in that technology. And they can get things made faster cuz that's what we've led to.

It's a manufacturing has gotten smarter and faster and better. And so the jobs are still there cuz you need people to run those machines. You need people who understand how to make parts and do all of those things. [00:52:00] Um, so the jobs aren't going anywhere. It's just the, the, the knowledge that you need to, to do them is different.

Um, and so you still need some of that, that really good smart people to do some things. But the machines are going to, you know, help us, you know, that that technology is going to help us, you know, in the future. I think in manufacturing, I think it's good. You know, I think manufacturing is gonna continue to grow, you know, 2, 3, 4 years.

I think we're still sitting in a great place. Yeah.

Sunny: little message in the bottle. There's somebody else out there that's just like you when you were starting to fall in love with manufacturing. It's happening all over the place right now. Mm-hmm. , what message would you give to that person?

Rodd: I mean, I, same thing I started off with in this conversation, learn how to serve, learn how to serve your team and learn how to serve your customers. If you, if you do that and then you really work hard, I mean, every [00:53:00] single thing that I've said, It always is backed up with, you gotta work hard, you gotta put in the effort, you gotta do what needs to be done.

Nothing comes for free. Nothing is easy. Manufacturing is difficult. There's tough things. You gotta make decisions that could make or break your business. You have to, you know, put in time and effort and planning and you have to go, you have to go for it. But at the end of the day, you make those decisions, in my opinion.

You make those decision. Each day because you know that the responsibility of that team and the responsibility for your family and the responsibility for their families and growing that business is that's how, what's driving you because you're driven to be successful and yeah, you wanna make a lot of money and you want to go into manufacturing and be successful with, then work your butt off and go for it and serve the whole time that you're working your butt.

If you can do that. It's not easy. [00:54:00] It's not easy, it's just not. But I think if you're getting into manufacturing, you're doing it cuz you love it. And if you love it then you know you need to, to, to love the people. Be firm obviously, and may so that that leads to another thing. Like it's always like, well you love your team and you support your team and your team.

Your team. Your team, your team. What about the people that are. On the team, they gotta fit the culture of, of, you know, from the top down, you know, of like, we're all gonna work together and we're all trying to be successful. And you're gonna have people that don't and then you have to remember them when you have people that don't, or when you have people that are not willing to do, put in the effort the same way that the rest of your team, you.

firing them because you're, you think they suck or because you think that they're not good enough? You're saying? No, I, I'm looking out for everybody else. [00:55:00] Yeah. I'm always looking out for the rest of the team. Everybody else is putting in their effort and doing their thing, and if you're not willing to do the same thing, then sometimes those things have to go, don't.

I would just say don't wait too. You know, if you're in manufacturing, you find the right people that treat 'em great, and if you find the wrong one, don't say, well, they do a good job for me every day and I'll put up with it. I wouldn't, I learned that .

Sunny: It's great advice. And you know, there's service. I think we believe here that it's deeply needed, these things, these buildings, these trucks and cars and equip.

Doesn't make itself people like you make 'em, people that figure out how to bend metal and laser cut stuff and make it all fit together and work well. So, um, I think that there's a far bigger future for manufacturing just because we all need stuff to make our lives better.

Rodd: So I agree with you.

Manufacturing is, is. [00:56:00] I think it's, we're, we're looking at some good stuff. I think you, you can look at the stock market and you can look at, you know, what is the GDP and what's the growth of this? And you get into the weeds of all these things where people get pessimistic or, or some people get optimistic.

And I look at, for me, stay in your lane and work as hard as you possibly can. There's a lot of opportunity out. , you gotta find it or somebody else is gonna find it, but it's there and you if you want it, and it, and if you are, are, you know, a go-getter and, and you really want to get it manufacturing it, there's a lot of opportunity there.

So, I think it's a great time for manufacturing and, and, and also because that global look, right? That, that bigger picture that, you know, where you could sell all over the United States and you could sell all over the world and like everybody's connected and you can jump on and meet somebody, uh, [00:57:00] you know, on, on a screen and have meetings with each other and do all these collaborative things that you couldn't do before.

Like, yeah, I think it's, I think it's a great. Yeah.

Sunny: Well, rod, thanks for coming, sharing your story, and thanks for telling my team that they need to be more grateful about all the benefits that they have here. Yeah, no problem.

Rodd: I appreciate it. I, I appreciate you renaming. Uh, someone needy. Yeah. Well

Sunny: this deserved, so , thank you

Rodd: so much.

Yeah, thanks. Appreciate it.

The Capacity Podcast is where small, vitally important manufacturers finally tell their stories. Hear how small business owners, entrepreneurs, and operations leaders overcome challenges to build amazing manufacturing businesses. Hosted by Fulcrum CEO Sunny Han. Listen to every episode on your favorite platforms or watch on Youtube.

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