top of page

Mini-cast 193: Hypertherm's Internal Trade Show

Bret Keisling is joined by Jesse Tyler to discuss Hypertherm Associates' recent Internal Trade Show designed to educate team members and build camaraderie. Held on 2 days over 3 shifts, it allowed employee owners who don't normally attend trade shows to experience its products and meet in person with benefits and other admin groups.

They also discuss the Owner to Owner podcast hosted by Jesse, which begins season 2 in September 2022.

...or watch it on video here.


Mini-cast 193 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 very happy to be joined once again by my friend and the host of the Owner to Owner podcast Jesse Tyler.

[00:00:22] Jesse, thanks for coming on the Mini-cast.

[00:00:24] Jesse Tyler: Hey, thanks for having me. Good to see you.

[00:00:26] Bret Keisling: Dude you're on Episode 23 or 24 as we're dropping this. You have done a great job. People can check them out at They're authentic conversations with real employee owners. You're doing a great job.

[00:00:39] You're actually here today to talk about a really cool program at Hypertherm Associates, where it's actually your full-time job.

[00:00:46] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, I do the onboarding and participatory decision making forums, things of the like, sort of a culture ambassador and advocate for our associates.

[00:00:56] And as the Owner to Owner podcast may have given away, I'm very passionate about ownership. I've been honored to speak at The ESOP Association and NCEO conference; I'll be speaking again at the fall NCEO conference. And when it comes to ownership, sometimes you got to during a pandemic, you got to start with just reconnecting.

[00:01:14] And so, the idea came about to do an internal trade show because we have about 600 associates in our operations that don't go to trade shows, so they don't get to see that. So, we tried one last year with our new Powermax SYNC product, which is kind of a game changer for the plasma market, and it was a huge hit.

[00:01:30] So, we expanded it this time. We ran it across three shifts for two days and two different weeks to work around vacations and meetings and production demands. And it was a lot of fun. Over the two days we had about 220 people come. They got to cut with the hand plasma, the Powermax that we're known for. They got to see their first waterjet cutting table demos. They got to see our heavy industrial plasma on the big, fancy cutting machine. They got to talk to benefits, insights and innovations, Hypertherm Ventures, which is a whole different branch of the company. And so, a lot of people who hadn't seen each other since COVID started, got to see, and a lot of people who've come into the company, got to finally sort of get that experience of being part of something bigger.

[00:02:15] So, it was super fun.

[00:02:16] Bret Keisling: It sounds great. And it's really cool that you could do it over a couple of days and over three shifts. Equality among the shifts is very, very important at Hypertherm and trying to treat all the shifts equally. And so, this is several hundred employee owners who came in and got to see some really cool stuff.

[00:02:32] Your equipment is very technical, but in the broader sense, you guys are doing some really cool work in your field.

[00:02:36] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, thanks. Yeah, it was a fun mix because some people just wanted to see the waterjet. That's something newer to Hypertherm, you know, in the last, you know, seven years or so. It's a huge growth opportunity. It's exciting part of, different part of the market. But a lot of people here hadn't been able to see one. And so, my friend, Guy Best, he ran demos across the shifts and they got to see it. And so, some people came to see the products and sort of, okay, this is what I make. If they make part of the consumables that goes in the torch. Now they got to see the torch that goes on the leads that goes in the system that goes on the table that cuts the parts for John Deere or the Space Center or whatever else that is used. So, it helped them connect them to something bigger.

[00:03:14] But what was also fun, was just getting where they wanted to learn more about the company and they got to talk to the benefits team. So yes, there was definitely learning, but I'm telling you, there was an awful lot of laughing and connecting that I think was the biggest win.

[00:03:28] Bret Keisling: I love the analogy to an actual trade show doing an internal trade show and having everybody come in and talk about the benefits, if you will, Jesse broader and employee ownership, the kind of conversations you have on the Owner to Owner podcast.

[00:03:40] It is the team building. It is the camaraderie. It's the rebuilding of relationships that altered so much during the pandemic, as you referenced. Can you just talk a little bit about why it'd be so important for other companies to be doing this as well?

[00:03:52] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, we tried this as, kind of, as a pilot and it was definitely successful; got some really positive feedback. I guess I was joking around during it, and this would be my advice for other companies ESOP or the like, is those of us that have been coming in every day for the last two and a half plus years have really probably seen the same dozen people repeatedly. And those, that can be a wonderful dozen people. But if we can all consider our role as businesses for community building, maybe pause and mix and mingle those dozens that you have, or smaller companies, batches of three or four. Try to consider doing something intentional to get folks the opportunity to learn. And at the worst, they're going to laugh, connect, reconnect in your company and the day in your community can be a little bit better.

[00:04:37] So, I think there's a need to connect. And so, I'd encourage other companies. We tried it at work. We hope other companies do it and make it better and teach us.

[00:04:45] Bret Keisling: Jesse, I like that. And you referenced it from your perspective, understandably, so that you've seen the same 12, 20, you know, faces, et cetera, et cetera, throughout the pandemic. But it occurred to me for those who have worked remotely at a company, and I'm talking about any company now, where you really haven't gotten from your perspective as a remote worker, what a great opportunity for in person face time. A, to see the products, see what the company's doing, or the services, whatever your business model is, talk to the different professionals, but just connect on that basis. I think that is one of the hallmarks of what we try to do in employee ownership.

[00:05:19] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, absolutely. We actually, an example of a win with that is we had an employee and an intern that have only been remote their first time on campus. They planned a trip from Massachusetts up to New Hampshire, a couple hour drive each way.

[00:05:33] And so, their first time on campus, they walked into the busiest moment in the trade show. And it was, it was almost like a party more atmosphere than, than anything too serious. And I don't think they'll ever forget it! So, there's room to include remotes. We had links, Teams links, and I did video tours with an old friend, a teammate from Japan, two from New York, and Washington.

[00:05:55] So, there's always room if you can, if you can focus on connecting. It can have a disproportionate return on the small investment. So, we encourage that of others. And it's always good to have fun at work.

[00:06:05] Bret Keisling: Jesse, we're about six weeks away from starting season two of the Owner to Owner podcast. Did you, what do you think when you hear the words season two of the Owner to Owner podcast?

[00:06:15] Jesse Tyler: Oh, I'm just uh, listeners probably hear me laughing. I just, I love it. It's just so interesting to just ask open questions and hear people's story. Hear their experiences. I ask a pretty similar set of questions intentionally every episode, so that if people enjoy it, they can come back and hear a similar insight from a tiny ESOP to a big ESOP to different industries.

[00:06:36] And I'm lining up guests for the second season. Just, just a lot of fun. We're going to work on having some sales folks and also some companies where their owners are alone in a truck all day, a service truck. How do you bring ownership to a service truck? How do you bring it to a distant salesperson and a bunch of different companies?

[00:06:54] So yeah, some fun stuff coming, but the project is just, just a joy. I just love hearing their stories and helping them be at ease and share what they have to tell for their story. It's wonderful.

[00:07:04] Bret Keisling: We're so proud and fortunate to have you, you know, working with us at the EO Podcast Network.

[00:07:10] So, Jesse, you are doing a great job. I want to congratulate you and the team who worked on the internal trade show for Hypertherm. Jesse, it sounds like it was a wonderful program. And as we do on both of our podcasts, we encourage other companies to look at, you know, that if it's fits into what they're doing.

[00:07:26] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, I appreciate it. I think a total of over two dozen people helped pull off the trade show. So, it's you got to keep working and then you got to think how to make it better. And then you got to stick your neck out and try again. So, culture is a lot of work. It's also why many of us love coming to our employee-owned companies and a bad day in the ownership world is a lot better day than a lot of us experienced in publicly traded or other situations.

[00:07:50] So, culture takes work. You can also get away with some fun leaning in, too.

[00:07:53] Bret Keisling: That's perfect. All right, folks, I hope you will check out Jesse Tyler host of the Owner to Owner podcast, he really does a great job. And keep an eye on Hypertherm Associates. They can inspire you for your own culture and employee ownership activities.

[00:08:06] Jesse, thank you so much for coming on.

[00:08:08] Jesse Tyler: Thanks, Bret. Appreciate it.

[00:08:09] Bret Keisling: With that we'll wrap up today's episode of the ESOP Mini-cast. Thanks to Jesse Tyler. And thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:08:17] 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, 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.


bottom of page