When To Ask An Expert

With the Springtime comes many outdoor activities in our house. Sometimes they are new, such as archery which just came about in our house in the last couple of weeks.  The other item that it is time for is our family garden. While we have not started any plants from seed this year, and the opportunity to get to a garden center to purchase plants may not happen, we still want to be prepared.  To do that, we prepared the same plot we have used in years past and laid down some landscaping fabric to try and kill off any unwanted weeds that have already started to sprout up through the dirt.

The next activity was to get the tiller out and perform a tune-up/maintenance on it. Sure enough, first, pull and the cord on the trusty engine lets go. The cord didn’t merely break, it looked like something from the Three Stooges as I almost fell backward from my pulling momentum and very nearly punched myself in the face. I proceeded to disassemble the pull-cord cage and found myself in unfamiliar territory.

Pull-Cord Assembly aka Punch-self-in-face-maker

Had this been another part of the engine, the carburetor, electrical kill switch, engine internals, or even the final drive to the tines, I would have been okay. Oddly enough, I have never had to replace one of these recoilers or the rope that comes on them. When you go to YouTube and search for a topic like this you will find a rather large amount of ways to perform a task like this.

Rather than doing that, I enlisted the help of a close friend who has worked for a lawn care/landscaping company for over a decade. He maintains every piece of equipment the company owns and uses. Needless to say, he has replaced quite a few pull ropes in his time.  When I called, due to social distancing we couldn’t meet in person, he, of course, asked several questions about the tiller and in the end helped me to make sure I had the correct replacement rope.

We then set off to walk through the process and the entire thing took less than 15 minutes.  When it was said and done the pull-start felt better than it had ever since I owned the piece of equipment and after sitting since last year still started on the second pull. Thank God for ethanol-free fuel that is still available at certain locations.

All repaired and ready to till!

The point of this story is, what is received and viewed as a simple task for one can be a monumental task for someone else. While my mechanical aptitude was sufficient, I lacked the training and understanding as to why you would perform this process in a given order. My friend, the expert, did not lack that at this point in time. This process was something that was second nature to him.

This is very similar to point-of-use compressed air applications and the EXAIR team. Our team has experience from a multitude of industries and we all focus on utilizing compressed air efficiently and effectively. If we don’t know the process (which is rare) we are willing to learn and ask questions until we understand enough about your application that we can make an educated recommendation for an optimal EXAIR product. We are all here to help each other and to help our customers achieve their goals, so contact us when you need an expert.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Teamwork, Leadership, Problem Solving, and History

A few weeks ago I participated in a series of three events that spanned the course of three days.  Each of these events was through a company called GORUCK which manufactures American made gear and conducts endurance events led by Special Forces Cadre that use some of the training methods they have experienced throughout their career in the armed forces. GORUCK also works alongside service projects that help to better and empower veterans as well as their communities. I believe this tag from their page says it best. “So, yes we build gear. Yes, we lead events, build teams, and strengthen communities. But only because if we didn’t, we’d have to find some other way to change the world, one day at a time.” (GORUCK,2020)

 

The events that weekend were to commemorate and tell the story of a battle from Vietnam, specifically the battles for A Shau Valley.  This is where the battle that became known as Hamburger Hill took place.  The valley was an unforgiving place that came with many disadvantages to try and overtake. For example, the elevation goes from 2,000 feet above sea level in the valley to 5,000 ft and anywhere in between thanks to the surrounding mountain ridges.

The valley is also a triple canopy jungle making air support and recon extremely difficult.  This valley was a supply chain during the war and there is still turmoil as to whether the battles were necessary as there were many lives lost and several other options that would have achieved a similar supply chain disruption.  In the end, there were 17 Americans involved in a battle with a constantly changing number of support forces.  100% of the soldiers became casualties, 5 paid the ultimate sacrifice during the battle and there were 2 Congressional Medals of Honor given due to actions during the battle for Hamburger Hill.

Taking roll call and getting the lay of the land for the event.

To learn all of this we started out Friday evening at 2100 hr. in a park here in Cincinnati, on a basketball court.  There were 23 of us total participating in the event as well as Cadre Steve our leader and then a great friend of mine who shadowed and photographed a great portion of the events. After some administration, we did a quick warmup where we quickly learned what it meant to be in sync and to move as a team.  When doing physical exercises, in the dark, with 23 people from all walks of life and varying physical ability it can get interesting. With a team leader assigned by the Cadre, we made around a 1-mile movement as a group carrying with us an American Flag, GORUCK flag, six empty sandbags, and a team weight that weighed in at 25 lbs.

The movement was to a public sand volleyball court where the sandbags quickly went from empty to filled.  Thus adding around 650 lbs of extra weight to the team.  Each movement, from the point we stepped off to filling the bags became a task as we had to stay within a certain distance of each other, everyone wanted to go different speeds and the urban terrain was an added obstacle. Adding in the weight and suddenly the team will quickly realize how important communication as well as cooperative work and supporting one another is.

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We then moved to a small secluded area where the Cadre had done some excellent recon to locate a downed communication device that needed relocation. This was a downed telephone pole that we are estimating weighed in at well over 300 lbs and was around 20′ long.  6 people were assigned from the team to carry that and continued our movement to another park within the city limits that had no easy way to reach other than up and over several of the hills our great city offers.  Around 5 miles later and 5 hours later we reached our destination to get some more history on the events that took place during the war.

Along the way, our tactics for the weight continued to vary and we eventually placed 9 people tripping over each other on the heavy communication device, then an additional six on the sandbags, two people on flags, one on the team weight, and the rest just falling in line. By the time we got to the park, everyone on the team had become exhausted, some believed they were carrying more of the load than others, people carrying sandbags would want to not carry weight and have to go under the log then back to a sandbag all because communications were breaking down and the team was beginning to fray at the seams.

At some point it is human nature to look outside rather than inside and begin to focus on what others aren’t doing rather than what you can personally do in order to improve the situation of everyone. The rhythm that the team had been keeping broke down with mental and physical fatigue.  Once we had received some more knowledge on the battles the Cadre asked how we were doing and what could be done better. We gave the team leader at each of these sessions three items they did well and three items to improve on then they are removed from their position and another is placed before the next movement.  This also helps those that were leaders to understand their importance when placed in a support role.

At this stop, we were able to pay out through exercises leaving the communications pole at a safe location and have a better understanding of how to better move as a team and be congruent even in the middle of the night.  We were able to move faster and get to the last stopping point for more education then off to where we started everything at to finish out the event.  From this point on we had constant communication, we were working fluidly as a team and everyone from the front to the back of the pack was in the know of what our goal was, our time, and what was needed to get there.

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During these events, every single person gets to fight their own minds and questions whether or not they are being an asset to the team or being a liability.  It is when you are feeling weak, have pain, see others not struggling, or just get tired that this simple question can become devastating.  That’s when everyone has to be willing to communicate and expose their weakness to their team in order for their team to support and help them overcome these internal hurdles.  Not everyone gets there and not everyone can overcome.  The team as a whole will grow closer and become far more effective if the members all experience this.

Experiencing this throughout the course of the night and seeing the kinds of opportunities that the team here at EXAIR has made possible for me to grow goes hand in hand.  When someone here has not experienced an application, or we are weak within a certain area of knowledge or ability, the rest of the team will support, strengthen and ensure everyone makes it through.  This is one reason that communication will always be one of the most important traits I can find in a team member.  It is also one reason EXAIR continues to progress and continue forward even through trying times.

We communicate from the front all the way to the back of the building fluently and concisely.  When something doesn’t happen then we know there is a problem and rather than focusing on blame or what went wrong the teams here all focus on the solution and then we can debrief once the issue is resolved.  This leads to on-time and shipping accuracy percentages that continue to improve over the past decade.  We place our team’s focus on being able to take care of our customers, give them a safe and efficient way to utilize compressed air and be easy to do business with throughout the entire process.

If you would like to discuss any compressed air application you may have or if you would like to discuss an interaction that you have had with us and share anything good or bad, please feel free to contact me directly.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer / GRT
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Kentucky Family Racing In Mexico

This year marks the second year in a row that one of our EXAIR team members will be racing in the SCORE-International Baja 1000.   While I am extremely envious (not to mention mad at myself for not going), we all wish we could be there to support him and his family as they try to complete the torturous event.  The Longshore Racing team has made nothing but improvements over last year when they completed over 600 miles of the event but ultimately were brought down by part failures.

2014 Baja 1000 UTV 1943
2014 Baja 1000 UTV 1943

Since then, they have completely rebuilt the vehicle and learned a tremendous amount about what they need and implemented it all for this year’s event.  The team is a family affair for one of our Design Engineers, Ryan Longshore, his father, brother, and mother all play a significant role.

Longshore Racing's Favorite Taco Stand
Longshore Racing’s Favorite Taco Stand

 

The group definitely knows that when you want to achieve and excel, you have to work hard. I wish them the best of luck in this year’s race.   Here’s a picture of the team launching from the start line.

The 2015 Longshore Racing Baja 1000 Starting Launch
The 2015 Longshore Racing Baja 1000 Starting Launch

Ryan and his team managed to make it past halfway this year, before snapping frame welds that could not be overcome. He came back with another year’s worth of experience and knowledge, while still maintaining his resolve to someday conquer the course.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

EXAIR & Tough Mudder Ohio 2015

Several months ago, maybe even last year, a group of EXAIR employees started joking and talking about trying to get a team together to do the Tough Mudder in 2015.  After several months of joking, things got serious and 4 of us signed up to do the event at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.   You may have seen a few of my blogs that involve Mid Ohio but they normally also involve a motorcycle.    The event was held on Saturday, May 9th, and was my first official “race” at Mid Ohio.   Prior to a few months ago, if you asked if I would ever “run” (I use the term run very loosely here.) a 10 mile race, I would have laughed in your face and said no way.   Let alone a 10 mile race with a whole slew of obstacles. Never underestimate the power of co-worker’s friendly chastising aimed at one’s toughness…

This was after the first wall during the pre race pump up speech / comedy show.
This was after the first wall during the pre race pump up speech / comedy show.

For the team, an Application Engineer (me), our CFO, and two from Shipping & Receiving.  As soon as we hit the first obstacle, which was a 6′ wall you had to clear in order to get to the starting line, our EXAIR mind-set kicked in.   There was no discussions on who would go first, who is going to take what position, or who is going to be the weak link.   It was simply teamwork.   We each helped where we knew our strengths were, anytime we needed a solid ballast, or good step off point, I was the man.   If we needed upper body strength, it was obvious that the handling of heavy freight found in shipping and receiving provided the necessary muscle – most definitely not me.

Needless to say, we made it through the entire course in less than three and a half hours which was absolutely shocking.   Not as shocking as the last obstacle, where we got shocked with 10kV before the finish line (see below).

Electroshock Therapy 2.0 - 10kV wires that will make any man scream.
Electroshock Therapy 2.0 – 10kV wires that will make anyone scream.

The fact of the matter is, we went there as a team, we conquered each obstacle and didn’t only worry about ourselves, but helped many others clear the same obstacles, and each one of us faced and conquered a personal fear.   For me, it was being able to complete a 10 mile run, and a slight fear of heights.  (You can see here that we had to jump out and grab onto a pendulum then swing and hit a bell, after which you would fall 12-15 feet into a pool of 15′ deep water. )

Didn't even come close to that bell, but I did remember to let go of the swing at least.
Didn’t even come close to that bell, but I did remember to let go of the swing at least.

The fact that people from three different departments in EXAIR worked so well together on something only one person on the team had ever done before speaks volumes to the environment and the way we conduct our day-to-day business here.

From the front offices, to the shipping dock, EXAIR is here to help you tackle any obstacle and face any fear you might have (involving your compressed air system that is).

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
TOUGH MUDDER FINISHER
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF