Bret Keisling is joined by Jesse Tyler who discusses the Owner to Owner podcast's "Women in Manufacturing" series and celebrates both Sarah Limoges of AdMix and Tech Etch on being honored by TEA's New England Chapter.
... or watch it on video below.
Mini-cast 178 Transcript
[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I am so happy to be joined on the Mini-cast by my friend and fellow ESOP podcast host Jesse Tyler of the Owner to Owner podcast.
[00:00:28] Jesse, welcome back to the Mini-cast!
[00:00:30] Jesse Tyler: It's great to be with you again. Appreciate it.
[00:00:32] Bret Keisling: Dude. I love the work you're doing on the Owner to Owner podcast. You have a great series in March, "Women in Manufacturing," that we've actually been dropping them as bonus episodes on our feed here, and just mad respect. Are you enjoying hosting the podcast?
[00:00:45] Jesse Tyler: Having a lot of fun, having a lot of fun. This all grew out of you reaching out in the LinkedIn community, looking for folks to raise their hands that are interested in owners talking to owners, and we'd met a few years ago and had some fun interactions and this has just taken off. This has been an absolute delight, the most enjoyable project I've ever worked on.
[00:01:03] You know, some of the podcasts, people really use it as, you know, their podium and have their great following and audience. And I just found it really interesting to ask open questions and try to stay out of the way, maybe guide the conversation. I think that's more your style as well.
[00:01:18] And so, it's just been incredibly insightful, rewarding, enjoyable to talk to the rank and file. The frontliners the essentials, the makers and the doers. That's been the largest priority of my work so far with Owner to Owner, bringing those voices you don't usually hear.
[00:01:34] And it's remarkable, if you put them at ease and ask them open questions, what, how eloquent they can be, how insightful they can be, how inspiring they can be. So, it's just, just so much fun to do this. I really enjoy it and I mean that.
[00:01:49] Bret Keisling: Well, Jesse, I appreciate your involvement. It's such a pleasure for me to be working with you. And I think it's safe to say that we've become friends in the last year since we started talking.
[00:01:59] And I want to give you a lot of credit and I appreciate your kind words. And yeah, I reached out and, you know, my concept is, you know, just to me struck as a commonsense idea. I wanted an actual employee owner to talk to other employee owners on podcasts. I've had the pleasure, as you know, of doing 360 some episodes and we're at about 105,000 total downloads, which thrills me, but I'm not an employee owner, although I was for a couple of years at the start of my career in ESOPs. So, you as an actual employee owner, first of all, you're speaking on their vibe. But it's the issues that are important to them.
[00:02:36] And what I'm really proud of, Jesse, proud of you for putting together -- and the product of the Owner to Owner podcast is all you. I mean, I'll take ownership that I had an idea of I'd like an owner to talk to an owner, but this is you doing what you do at Hypertherm. And folks will learn about that, you know, through your podcast, but you have these conversations and they're across job descriptions. They are across shifts. During the "Women in Manufacturing" series one of the episodes, included two women and a machine operator and a frontline supervisor third shift talking not just about women in manufacturing, but the challenges and benefits of third shift work. So, that's just very cool.
[00:03:16] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, it was great that Christine and Jean shared their insights, you know, and they're single women and there's, as they say, there's no one else to do the work. And they shared, their adventure, their appreciation for the wealth building power of a successful ESOP, the camaraderie, the community.
[00:03:32] And I think, you know, third shift in my view, because I spend a lot of time working across the shifts, supporting the different associates in different groups. Third shift is a unique work experience. And if you haven't spent time hanging out with them, you don't have that insight. So, for anybody that has any third shift workers as part of their community, I'd strongly encourage you to go hang out because they have got camaraderie and communication down.
[00:03:59] I've joked with them that you got to come to first shift and teach us. And they're like, no, that's HR's job. We've got this just fine. But it really is an absolute, total respect for the intensity of that and, the different experiences. So, to just get out of their way and have them tell it.
[00:04:18] I guess, I haven't shared this with you before, but I try to go into the conversations with the owners and the frontliners is, I like the kind of a combination of the Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs" where he has some fun, but he tends to get out of the way. A little bit of Anthony Bourdain when he just lets anybody be, eloquent and anyone have the floor. A little bit of Jerry Seinfeld "Comedians in Cars having Coffee" and sort of that vein of go to where people are, take them as they are, and ask them questions and let them be, let them shine. And it's just delightful to hear that some of those stories. And a little bit of Studs Terkel, for those that are fans of Studs Terkel, that was sort of my original inspiration when you gave me the opportunity, so...
[00:05:00] Bret Keisling: I love that Jesse and first of all, you're at, I think, 14 or 15 episodes now, and there's something in it for all of them. But one of the things that I like about the conversation as you've learned, hosting the podcast, sometimes these conversations go where they go, and we don't plan on it. And this part of it is one of them.
[00:05:15] Here's one of the things that I learned about third shift that I thought was very interesting to me. Certainly, my perception of third shift and it's accurate and it's true for a lot of people is that third shift is often the entryway into a company to get to a first or second shift. And there was nothing wrong with that. And Hypertherm, and so many companies need folks on the third shift and that needs to happen and if it's a steppingstone, that's great.
[00:05:38] But both of these women are in third shift because it fits their lifestyle. It fits how they're raising. I believe single mothers if I recall correctly.
[00:05:46] And so for me, the cool thing about having the third shift workers speaking their truths and their lives was, hey, for us, this isn't a steppingstone. This is our spot. This is where we should have to be. And those are the conversations that I haven't heard a lot of, you know, that you're bringing out from people.
[00:06:02] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, and I think it was Christine who brought it up, was that some of very young parents choose a third shift. And so, what doesn't get talked about enough, and you look into rank-and-file workers' lives, if you don't ask it's easy to miss, like childcare. And exorbitant cost of childcare and childcare came up in several of the episodes that we recorded. And being pregnant at work came up at a, in a manufacturing environment came up.
[00:06:25] But, back to a third shift, you know, some brand-new parents are choosing third and working opposite shifts because they can't get childcare that they feel is at a reasonable, affordable cost that they feel safe with. And that's incredible vulnerability to decide to work opposite lives. There's the, I forgot the name of the fable where the night and the day and they meet at just that moment at dusk and dawn. That's kind of intense! And so, these, you know, some of these folks are going home and jumping into parent mode and being up and diapers and shopping and all of that having already worked eight hours. Then you add the commute and then they sleep for a few hours and go and do it again. And so, that is an intensity of an existence that is abundant with stories, but you can just got to slow down and ask and they'll share it.
[00:07:16] Bret Keisling: And I love the personality, and just a final example, because we have a couple of other things to get to -, but one of your guests on that episode also spoke of their lives are completely different clockwise than the rest of us.
[00:07:26] So, like many of us she'll get home from work, and she'll put on her pajamas, and she'll pop open a can of beer because she is just finished up a shift of work. And there are like delivery people, you know, knocking on the door at 8:00 AM, and she is answering in the pajamas with the can of beer. And that's just the embracing, I love the humor in that. So, there's a lot of great humanity.
[00:07:45] So, Jesse, you've pointed out to me that one of the things that is inescapable in your podcasts, that you've learned, is that it's very difficult to separate employee ownership from continuous improvement. Am I right?
[00:07:58] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, absolutely. And listeners can probably hear me smiling in response. It's become kind of a friendly throwdown when talking about ownership, and I've been weaving it into the Owner to Owner podcast more. Can you talk about ownership mindset and ownership behaviors, and not talk about continuous improvement as a way of working?
[00:08:14] And so far, no one has untangled that. And so, it's not the rhetorical question, it's the playful question. Because if you really look at ownership, behavior, ownership mindset with a very practical, trainable, repeatable lens you very quickly get to continuous improvement practices.
[00:08:32] And so, I had a lot of fun this week. I was on a panel at the New England conference chapter. The New England chapter just did a great job with our one-day conference in Burlington, Massachusetts. So, I had the pleasure of supporting Jon Sweigart's panel, Jon from Praxis does a great job as a moderator, and we have Tom Delis from the Web Industries, Peter Joyal from Tech Etch, and Aaron Moberger from Harpoon, and David Sunderland from Carris Reels. So, it was a great crew and all in different levels and maturity of continuous improvement. And we had a packed room of great questions, great engagement. So, it was a lot of fun to see, and we're actually going to do a follow-up, we're going to get the band back together at the Fall Conference, because there was so much interest and see what we can do to help with sort of almost, you know, not a starter, we haven't figured this out yet, but sort of what are those early meaningful steps that we can help share some guidance to some of the other employee owned companies that are looking to make a meaningful step into continuous improvement.
[00:09:33] So, a lot of fun to see the interest. And again, it was hearing some of the answers I'm like, are they talking about continuous improvement? Are they talking about ownership? And it's hard to tell sometimes. It's, they're so intertwined.
[00:09:45] Bret Keisling: Well, Jesse, I, as you're aware and they haven't aired yet, but I've recorded several episodes with folks at the Praxis Consulting Group and have a couple of more scheduled. And I'm kind of hoping that I can get you and Jon Sweigart to come on this podcast and talk about continuous improvement, because it certainly is a topic that is worth exploring. So, very cool to everybody that you presented with.
[00:10:08] Something else happened that is really, really cool at the New England chapter. And it's kind of funny, because it's just one of those little coincidences, Jesse, that doesn't mean that you're really brilliant at identifying talent, but it just kind of seems really cool.
[00:10:26] On December 2nd, we aired Episode 006 of the Owner to Owner podcast and you had three guests. You were joined by Betsy Combs of Gardener's Supply. You were joined by Jeff Chubb of Carris Reels. And the third guest was Sarah Limoges of Admix. And Sarah's name came up at the New England chapter this week. Why don't you tell us what happened?
[00:10:47] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, and Admix is doing a great job on LinkedIn celebrating Sarah. Sarah's an important voice of ownership. And it was just a delight for all of us to see her named as the 2022 Employee Owner of the Year for New England, and so she'll be in the running for the national.
[00:11:02] It was particularly sweet for me because I've gotten to know Sarah and it just thinks she's in, she's just going to be a big voice in ownership. She's here. She's just got here. She talked in our, in the December episode of the Owner to Owner that, you know, six months in she was running the ownership committee. So, at most ESOPs you're not a participant until a year or, you know, a thousand hours, you know. So, here she is trusted to do something culturally important, but not technically actually participating and benefiting, which I just thought was great.
[00:11:33] And I think it's a, Sarah is a great reminder that if you have a story to share and you have some really strong skills and drive and a great way of including people, that it doesn't matter if you just got here. This isn't a durability contest. We have some very eloquent folks at Web, at some of these other, Carris Reels has some long-time employees, like Jeff was very well-spoken. We have folks at Hypertherm, we have dozens of people that have been there 30 years and more. And that has its place in the voice. And that has its perspective that is absolutely honored.
[00:12:05] But I think as we work to grow ownership and really, as you know, silver tsunami is coming and there's more pressures on our economy and many of us believe ownership is going to be the difference for saving our country and saving quality jobs. If you can have somebody who just got here, like Sarah Limoges from Admix and I just, I just admire. I think you know, similar to a more experienced voice, maybe a traditional leader who I really admire, Kerry [Siggins] from StoneAge Tools, the CEO. I think Sarah gets the same size seat at the table when she talks about ownership.
[00:12:39] So, to be able to be there and have the room full to cheer her on was just totally awesome. Totally awesome.
[00:12:45] Bret Keisling: That is great. I'm glad that you could come on and we primarily wanted you to come on so that we could both congratulate Sarah. And I'm grateful that she came on your podcast and that we were able to share in this, but it's kind of interesting that you mentioned Kerry Siggins because there are, there are young folks that I've met in employee ownership and outside of employee ownership. And as I've gotten older, I just look at really successful people, women and men, and I'll meet someone in their twenties and say, I think this is what successful person must've been like in their twenties, you know? And just to see them on the start of the path. And one of the cool things, I know that was such a treat for you as the host and me and producing your podcast, which again was Episode 006 at the OwnertoOwnerPodcast.com, but one of the really cool things is she was new to employee ownership. Six months in, I think, when she did the episode, when you guys recorded, which was a couple of months before we had done that. But in many ways, the guests who had been in the other guests fed off of, of what she was saying, so infectious was her viewpoints.
[00:13:51] Jesse Tyler: Yeah. And a deeper layer of, you know, sort of fun for me to watch is, you know, I've shared with you before, when we do our onboarding intensive at Hypertherm, we build a 16-hour cultural immersion experience: mission, values, products, customers, ownership 101. Yeah, I built it around what does ownership mean to you, and how does your role in work impact our customers?
[00:14:11] We have people who occasionally because the scheduling have to be in that program their first week. Usually, it's about 30 days is where our sweet spot is. The industry best in class is 90 days, but people say, I want it sooner. I want it sooner, this really helped. And we have people in their first week that can write inspiring ownership culture statements.
[00:14:30] And so, when I see Sarah on a larger platform and, you know, probably around a year in now, right around there, with her tenure at Admix, why can't some of the new voices have the audience? It isn't tenure. Some of those new voices and some of those new insights can be, can be really amazing. So, it was a lot of fun.
[00:14:48] And I do want to give a shout out, sort of along those lines of the new can be powerful and amazing. Tech Etch was named the New England ESOP Company of the Year. And I'm pretty sure that they've only been an ESOP for about three or four years. They're fairly new to the ownership party. And so really, really cool company. If people want to check out a Tech Etch, I think they're going to be another, another force. New to the game, and they're going to be a force and a great resource for the rest of us.
[00:15:13] Well, and it would certainly be lovely if maybe someone from Tech Etch can find their way onto your podcast. And you know, Sarah is welcome back, I'm sure, for you and for me at any time.
[00:15:24] So, Jesse, anything else you'd like to give for the good of the order before we wrap up?
[00:15:27] No, it's just it's always refreshing to get together with other owners, talk about ownership and what's, what's forever going to be the fun part of the ride is how open employee-owned companies are. It's almost like an open book support with, oh, I can help you with that. Oh, I know somebody who could do that. And when you get to swim in those streams for a while, then you talk to friends and family that don't work in the ownership circles, it can be a real reminder. So, I'm very appreciative of the camaraderie and the care and the support the ownership community gives.
[00:15:58] And it's a lot of fun to do podcasts and just ask open questions and hear the stories unfold. So, I appreciate it.
[00:16:04] Bret Keisling: One of the features of the Owner to Owner podcasts that I love is you always give an opportunity for the owners to pitch why should someone come work at their companies? Because hiring is so important. So, we're not hiring at the podcast network, but let me do a switch on that Jesse and give you the opportunity. The reality is you'd love frontline essential workers to come on your podcast. So, why don't you tell us who you're looking for and how grateful you would be if they reached out to you and said, hey, can I be on the podcast?
[00:16:33] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, if you have folks at your company that are willing to share their story and have a little bit of fun together, just who are the voices that don't get heard? And those are often the same voices that get left out of the benefits of a strong economy. Who is the first one to get laid off? Who's the first one to have hours reduced, benefits cut, get in line at the office when you know you're going to lose your job? It's going to be the folks that make stuff, fix stuff, deliver things, move product. And so, the rank and file the folks, the feet on the street, they are most of my passion. Their benefit is incredibly, I'm from a very humble background with my parents and, you know, have some experience with, you know, financial and housing insecurity. And to think that, you know, if they had worked at an employee-owned company, it doesn't mean that it's economy proof, it doesn't mean as leadership proof or, you know, unknowns proof, but there's a much higher likelihood that they -- well, it's proven they would be happier, healthier, and wealthier. And have, if you can have a daily experience of ownership where, you can still have bad days, but you can have, feel that you matter. You can feel some job quality. You can ideally feel more security, especially if you're in the most fragile part of the economy. And their voices are great!
[00:17:45] Bret Keisling: You're not looking, Jesse, for anybody to come in with a set perspective, either "rah-rah" of employee ownership or it's no big deal. You'll take them wherever you find them. You know, the key ingredient is being an employee owner at a, employee-owned company. And you certainly give an opportunity, not that anybody's bashed, you know, quite frankly, the nature of your guests is they love what they're doing, they love employee ownership. But the conversation is often based on what is going well at those companies and there's an implication that there's always stuff that can be done better. But with your guests and one of the ways that you had explained it to me is we were just prepping to do the podcast is in terms of who are these workers? Coming out of the pandemic, it's also the workers who didn't have the option of working remotely, you know, as disruptive as that was, these are the ones who had to report to work, to run the equipment, or do whatever they did and got their hands dirty. And those are the voices that we want to bring out through the Owner and Owner podcast.
[00:18:46] Yeah, they have very interesting stories to share, and we've all gone through a lot, even, you know, remote coworkers that suddenly needed to leave the building so that we could have occupancy down and keep our plants running 24 hours a day. They have their own experiences that should be valued equally.
[00:19:02] I just find that having been onsite every day through the pandemic and some of the stories that are machine operators, our forklift folks, and everything else. Like you know, it's pretty neat to be, I have the opportunity to bring their voices. So, for other, for anybody at an employee-owned company that you want to have some people participate, many of them, many of the best guests start by I never thought I'd be on a podcast! That seems to be the signal that they're the perfect guest, because then it just try to ask them open questions and get out of their way and put them at ease. And I just love the stories and hearing the experiences and the insights. It's -- I'm excited to do more.
[00:19:38] Jesse, with that, we're going to wrap up this episode of the Mini-cast. Thanks for stopping by. I really hope people will check out the Owner to Owner podcast. You're just doing great work. Thank you so much for everything, my friend.
[00:19:48] Jesse Tyler: And thanks for the work you're doing to support the EO drive and spread the message and share the stories. I really appreciate the opportunity.
[00:19:56] Bret Keisling: You're a good man. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate it. So very, very much. This is Bret Keisling be well.
[00:20:04] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, production assistance by Victoria Huerta, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, and I'm Bitsy McCann.
Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.
A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The EsOp Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.