Moving forward, a E.C. Kitzel story

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Moving forward, a E.C. Kitzel story

In 1927 Edward Carl Kitzel incorporated. He was a master tool maker. Over the years, The Kitzel name has become synonymous with quality abrasive tools worldwide. Tom Schumann started his first chapter with the company in 1984. In December of 2015, Tom completed the sale of the business and started the next chapter.

I tell you this for a few reasons. First, it’s a familiar story in the manufacturing world. The manufacturing world holds a vast amount of legacies, father to son to grandson, long time employee makes it to the top. It seems a ripe ole story in the Ohio manufacturing community, and this one is no different. Inside these stories are even more. You see, every son, daughter, employee taking over the business seems to want to put their own stamp on things. And rightly so. They try to keep traditions, don’t mess with things that work and make changes where needed. It’s the way it should be. Progress.

Which brings me to my second reason. Sometimes you must move on. Tom Schumann felt it was time for the company to move on. So, after 44 years in the building he started his career with Kitzel in, he decided that if the company was going to continue growing, it needed a bigger space.

As some business owners know, this is not an easy decision to make. There are a lot of moving parts, and it can have a devastating effect on a multitude of aspects to your business. Can you afford it, are the employees on board, how do you keep up with current sales, the list goes on and on. Once you decide, that’s when the fun begins.

Now anyone that would describe Tom would probably use words like, analytical, cerebral, process driven, list maker, and even funny. However, when I asked Tom to meet with me to share his story on the move, he first, jumped at the opportunity, and then broke out his 3-inch-thick organizer. I am not kidding. I tell you this because everyone misses something. Everyone. There is an enormous amount of material to go over when moving a company. Sure, there is the easy stuff like change of address, and turning on the lights. Then there is the stuff you don’t think about until you are neck deep into the move. This is where things can get sticky, and this is the reason for this article.

Everything can be a learning experience. Did Tom miss a few things, sure. But Tom is a generous man. And he took notes. His notes are now your learning experience.

Make lists. Lots of lists.  (I remind you Tom has a 3-inch Binder full of notes from the move) You can only try to be prepared. There will be untold numbers of moving parts and people doing a great many tasks. Checking things off your list will help to make sure that things don’t get missed (which will happen). But minimizing that list of failures is going to be important to your timeline and budget. I would like to add, have others make lists as well. Collaborate, have the shop manager office manager, grounds manager all make lists in their respective areas. Refine these lists. 

Ask questions. Tom involved all his resources. He asked vendors, friends, employees. He asked his employees where to put the machines. This is important to note, and worth repeating. He asked his employees where to put the machines. The guys and girls on the shop floor who use the equipment daily, who have worked the shop for in some cases 20 years, where to put things. Incredible.

For Tom, his machines take Riggers to move. These are big machines. And fragile, they needed to be properly secured during the move. (something Tom had not counted on and needed the manufacture of the machine to come in unscheduled and secure the machine before the riggers could do their part.

Time lines. I shake my head at this one. Even the best laid plans… you try and stick to them but there will always be something that mucks up the works. Have a back up plan.  Not all vendors are going to be able to meet your timelines, plan for this and schedule early. Its real hard on everyone if you do something last minute and it holds up critical portions of the project. For example, have you ever tried to communicate with your cable/internet provider for scheduling “we will be there between 8am and 4 pm”. I bring this up because, some things seem like a do it yourself area. This is a trick, moving a desk is not the same as moving expensive equipment in the back of your car. Sure, its not heavy, but it is critical for business and there is a special process to move a server, printer, workstation. For our part, my company (gratuitous plug BITS) had the task of designing, building and moving Tom’s computer network. This included scheduling the internet provider and phone company, so the company can do business while the move was taking place.  Running new cables to machines, and workstations and printers at the new facility. Reconnecting everything from the old building to the new without disruption. (nailed it).  Look for the trick areas and let the pros handle it. You might save a few dollars, or you might cost yourself more aggravation than it’s worth. Tom utilized professionals in many different roles for several reasons. But when talking with Tom, the recurring theme came up, have the professionals do the heavy lifting and only when needed become involved. Tom told many stories of how the process happened. He played the part of conductor on purpose, mindfully watching and directing traffic

Communication. Can’t say it enough. As a business you have all sorts of contacts you need to operate. Make sure they know what is going on. Keeping them informed will help when things go south. Invoices might get missed in the chaos, orders to be shipped late, orders to be filled can be backed up. Talking with your vendors, suppliers, and customers will keep you out of trouble.

Preventative maintenance and upgrades made the list for Tom as he moved into the new building. He wanted to make sure that he put his best foot forward from the start. Everything was checked, from the roof to the HVAC. Men’s and Women’s locker rooms where either upgraded or built (technically are still being built).  The thought process was simple, do it now while we have a opening and it wont get shuffled to the back of the line like so many things do as time goes by. These cost a bit extra upfront but can save a bunch of time and money down the line.

Resources. Tom utilized his network to the fullest. He turned to The Arkinetics team, Metis Construction, American Industrial Rigging for the rigging, BITS for all IT needs and a ton of others that he had previous relationships with and knew he could count on. (this is no time to wing it) Your previous trusted relationships will be invaluable during this stressful time. Lean on them, let them help and thank them.

I truly hope some of these thoughts and ideas can help someone considering a move. Again, Tom has a 3-inch binder of notes from this move, He is more than generous with his time and knowledge. He has already been asked by a few friends for his perspective on their moves. I hear he is a scotch man, maybe that might help when you ask.


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