Credit Where Credit is Due

Regular followers of Mining the Store should be aware that for two and a half years I blogged at Mine Your Own Business, the Tacony Corporation blog.

My last post at MYOB was on December 24, 2008 which was also my last day (after twenty-nine years) at Tacony. That blog continues with new authors and is well worth a look.

Unfortunately, due to a glitch in the Typepad software, when my name was taken off the Tacony blog, the byline for all 680+ posts that I wrote was changed to someone else’s name. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a simple fix although I’ve been assured that it’s being worked on.

In the mean time, until the situation at Mine Your Own Business has been corrected, I have copied all the posts that I wrote there to this blog. For the most part, anything posted on this blog written up to and including December 24, 2008  originally appeared at MYOB although there are some that originally appeared here.   To put it another way, anything that appears on the other blog up to and including December 24, 2008 was written by yours truly, regardless what the byline says.  Hopefully this is only a temporary solution.

I’ll keep you informed.

You Can’t Keep a Good Factory Down Redux

It was exactly two years ago today that a tornado ripped through Tacony Corporation’s St. James manufacturing plant. I thought it would be appropriate to repeat a MYOB post on the plant’s rapid recovery on this anniversary date.  Here it is:

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Missouri weather can be very unpredictable.  If you don’t believe it, ask Major League Baseball.  On Friday afternoon, September 22, at about 3:20 in the afternoon, a tornado touched down in St. James, MO.  Tacony Manufacturing was right in its path.  It was one month, to the day, since the one millionth vacuum cleaner had rolled of the production line.  (See "That’s a Lot of Vacuum Cleaners" for more on the St. James plant.)

Thankfully, the plant works on a schedule of four ten hour days, Monday through Thursday so theSt_james_6
number of people working that afternoon was small and no one was injured.  The building wasn’t so fortunate.  When the storm had passed, those who were working that day found a 30′ X 70′ hole in the roof.  Several doors had been blown out.  Water was pouring in from the still-falling rain and from the plumbing for the sprinkler system, which ruptured when the roof blew off.  There was a 35′ X 16′ hole in one wall.

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The sprinklers were quickly turned off and most of the raw materials and material handling equipment was saved.  Employees living nearby soon arrived to help, dodging tree limbs, power lines and other assorted debris.  By early evening, a recovery plan was in place and materials had been ordered.

To make a long story short, in spite of the severe damage, the factory was up and running Tuesday morning, the 26th.  We missed one day of production. 

Tacony Manufacturing works on a lean production system, meaning that we don’t keep a lot of finished product on hand.  Merchandise is produced as it’s needed to supply our customers.  Had we been shut down for any length of time, it would have been a big problem for a lot of dealers.  The quick work of Jim Fleming, our plant manager, and all of our associates in St. James not only ensured that our business would continue with little interruption, it also ensured that our dealers’ business would not be disrupted.

We were very fortunate, especially that no one was hurt.  It just shows that you can be celebrating a milestone one day and repairing major damage the next.  If you haven’t reviewed your own disaster plan recently, now would be a good time to do it.

Jim has prepared a more complete report of the events of that weekend and you can read it here.  Click on any of the small pictures below to see them in larger size.

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Tacony Corporation to Acquire Sewing Center Supply Co., Inc. of Portland, Oregon

Tacony Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri and SCS, Sewing Center Supply Co., Inc. of Portland, Oregon have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for Tacony to acquire the assets of SCS on September 30, 2008. 

Under the agreement, Tacony will become the exclusive importer in North America and direct all the distribution of the varied SCS brands and products, including Madeira Thread, Klasse needles, Hemline luggage and notions, and Suzy’s bags and baskets. Tacony will also control and direct the design, manufacturing and worldwide distribution of the premier line of Koala Sewing and Craft furniture and studios.

Read the complete press release here.

One Reason Why Tacony Corporation Makes the World’s Best Vacuums

As you know, Tacony Corporation makes the best vacuum cleaners in the world right here in the Missouri Ozarks in St. James.  What you may not know is that stage 5 of the Tour of Missouri begins today in St. James. The Tour of Missouri is like the Tour de France, only with lots of trees instead of castles.  And, it’s quite a bit shorter. The riders will travel 100 hilly miles to Jefferson City, the state’s capital, most likely in a driving rain.  (Never depend on Missouri weather.)

What’s bicycle racing have to do with making vacuums?  Nothing really.  But the city of St. James, like all host cities, has put together a promotional video.  It’s a nice presentation that gives you a feel for the area and I thought you might like to see it.  Just click on the picture below.  [Note: I have made a minor adjustment to the city’s logo.  I hope they don’t mind.]  I think you’ll agree that it would be hard to live in a place like St. James and not have the traditional American, small town work ethic.  Our people work hard and when they’re done, they have a great place to spend their free time. 

I might point out that His Honor the Mayor doesn’t mention Tacony, one of the region’s largest employers, but St. James Winery is right across the highway from us.  If you’re ever in the neighborhood, it’s a great place to visit. 

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Happy Birthday, Ken Tacony

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Question: How do you surprise a CEO who’s as involved in the everyday operation of the company as Ken Tacony?

Answer:  It ain’t easy.

But this morning the associates at the Tacony Corporation Corporate Centre in Fenton pulled it off.  Expecting to conduct an associate meeting in the showroom, Ken was greeted by dozens of us dressed in white tee shirts with the inscription "We Heart Ken".  Judging by his expression, he really was surprised.

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Company president Bill Hinderer spoke for the group praising Ken for his dedication to the industries we serve, our customers, and our associates.  He cited the company mission statement which you see at the left, especially the part that says we "Strive to build long-lasting relationships that are based on trust and feel like family."

To commemorate the occasion, Ken was presented with a picture frame which will hang in our board room surrounding a portrait of Ken.  It will hang beside the portrait of his father, Nick Tacony, who founded the company in 1946.  Associates are also being encouraged to make contributions to the American Heart Association which will be presented in Ken’s name.

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More on Baby Lock Tech

From Starbucks in downtown St. Louis: 

This is a brief post because I’m headed to a 2:00 class but I just wanted to reiterate my impressions from yesterday.  In a soft economy the optimism of our dealers is something!  As I mentioned, we have introduced some top-of-the-line products this week and our dealers are confident they will sell at retail; confident enough to place some substantial orders.

I’ve had some interesting conversations today which will be posted here later in the week.   

Are You a Vac Head?

Today’s post is very unusual for MYOB.  While we primarily focus on information that we think will be of value to Tacony Corporation’s dealers, this is an open forum.  Anyone is welcome to participate.   Our topic today is one that is directed primarily at vacuum cleaner and sewing machine dealers.  It’s not limited to our customers, but it is limited to readers in those two specific industries.

Today we are launching a new service to the vacuum and sewing industries called "VacHeads".  VacHeads is a forum for dealers to discuss specific issues that affect their day-to-day operations.  It’s also open to manufacturers– not just Tacony Corporation, but to all manufacturers who wonder what dealers are talking about, or who want to talk to dealers.  As you can tell by the name, the forum is focused more on vacuums than sewing machines, but strong participation by sewing dealers could potentially lead to a spin-off sewing forum.

Like this blog, we are offering the VacHeads forum as a service to the industries we serve (at least to two of them).  There’s no charge to belong and the only requirement for membership is that you be a qualified retailer of vacuums and/or sewing machines.  We encourage ALL qualified retailers to join.  We also encourage our competitors to join.  Our goal is to see a continuing dialogue among dealers and manufacturers which will benefit everybody.