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Mini-cast 211: Metal Artist Rae Ripple Looks at EO

The EsOp Mini-cast: Metal Artist Rae Ripple Looks at EO

Bret Keisling shares an excerpt from the Owner to Owner podcast with Jesse Tyler. Guest Rae Ripple, a metal artist, fabricator, children's book author, and contestant on Netflix's Metal Shop Masters shares her thoughts on visiting employee owned Hypertherm and how the vibe is different from non-EO companies.

You can find Jesse's full conversation with Rae Ripple on Episode 30 of the Owner to Owner podcast here.


Mini-cast 211 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. If you're an employee-owned company, how do outsiders view your business, your workplace, and your employee owners?

[00:00:25] This week we dropped a special episode of the Owner to Owner podcast. Host Jesse Tyler has a conversation with Rae Ripple, who is a talented metal artist, stunt rider, children's book author, and mother. They have a wide-ranging conversation about employee ownership and about life in general. Rae has a powerful life story, which included homelessness at fourteen and, among other accomplishments, she was a contestant on Metal Shop Masters on Netflix in 2021.

[00:00:54] I hope you'll check out the full episode with Jesse Tyler and Rae Ripple. We'll include a link to it in our show notes, and I hope you'll enjoy this excerpt where Rae talks about her site visit to Hypertherm, an employee-owned company.

[00:01:06] Enjoy.


[00:01:07] Rae Ripple: My name is Rae Ripple. I do a little bit of everything, of course, but my main title would be mom, metal artist, stunt rider, author, all of the above. So many different splashes in there!

[00:01:20] Jesse Tyler: So, you've been working on representing Hypertherm on social media and kind of amplifying what we do here, our products. And today was different because you actually got to come and visit...

[00:01:31] Rae Ripple: Mm-hmm.

[00:01:32] Jesse Tyler: ...and you were very clear when you were going to come to visit that you wanted to meet the people...

[00:01:35] Rae Ripple: I do.

[00:01:36] Jesse Tyler: ...that made the machines. So...

[00:01:37] Rae Ripple: Mm-hmm.

[00:01:38] Jesse Tyler: ... was this your first visit to an employee-owned company or factory?

[00:01:41] Rae Ripple: Yes. Well, this is my second visit to a factory, but it is way different than the first factory I got into, which was definitely run like a factory...

[00:01:52] Jesse Tyler: Yeah.

[00:01:52] Rae Ripple: ...and this one is definitely not run like a factory!

[00:01:55] Jesse Tyler: So, I'd be interested in getting towards is what were, what are some of the things that felt different? So, how it looked? How the people sounded?

[00:02:04] So, what I'm going for with this podcast is to bring some insight into employee ownership culture. Because people hear about employee ownership and some start to realize that the structure of an ESOP is really a retirement plan, so people earn it over time. So, it's not real super fun and sexy to talk about a retirement plan. What we love to take a look at, and what I've been focused on for fifteen years, is what does that sort of, what does it feel like? What feels different, if it feels different? What feels good? What feels special?

[00:02:36] So, thinking about, I think you've met together, I took pictures of you with probably over a hundred people today.

[00:02:41] Rae Ripple: Mm-hmm.

[00:02:41] Jesse Tyler: One on one pictures. So, you met probably 150, maybe 200 people today?

[00:02:45] Rae Ripple: Oh yeah.

[00:02:46] Jesse Tyler: So, what feels different? What seemed different for you coming into an employee-owned company? Is there anything that you got a sort of a vibe and energy, the way people felt, the way they seemed? Were there some things today that you've been thinking about that, like, there's something different here?

[00:03:03] Rae Ripple: Well, I think initially, as soon as you walk into the door, I think you immediately get hit with the fact that you just walked into your momma's house on a Sunday after church type thing. [Laughter.] You know, like, the employees and just the comradery and the hospitality that this place has, especially even just for each other, not just me coming in as being an outsider, but how they interact with each other, which was so cool.

[00:03:26] But not just also that, like how home-grown this place is. Like, there's so much home-grown-ness in the product that you make and like every single thing that comes out of here, even down to an electrode, has love and, and everything made into it. You know, it's like you're all just shoving out pies and cakes, but really, they're just electrodes and plasma cutters! [Laughter.]

[00:03:51] Jesse Tyler: That's great. That's great.

[00:03:52] So, for our listeners, if you're not familiar, Hypertherm is the world leader in plasma cutting and growing rapidly in software and waterjet as well. So, it's always, it's interesting to have hosted hundreds of tours and people have sort of an impression of what it would be like to be here and are often very surprised.

[00:04:09] And so being curious, like some of the surprises you mentioned, space and cleanliness and things and share...

[00:04:14] Rae Ripple: Well and stiff like... you go to, like, a corporate owned factory, it's very like very, very stiff. It is not stiff here. There's no stiffness about this place whatsoever, which I absolutely love. And it also makes me love your company a whole lot more.

[00:04:30] So, now that I know, like, I know these people now that are making these machines that I, you know, that have changed my whole entire life. And it's so cool to see how well everything's made also.

[00:04:43] And, but not necessarily even the size of the operation, too. Like you think, like you would think this place would be massive, right? Like massive with massive everything. And it's not, it's not! But y'all create such massive amount of something in such a small home-grown operation. I love it. It's like it's still in the, in the garage.

[00:05:03] Jesse Tyler: That's awesome! Yeah, Hypertherm was started in a two-car garage, basically 55 years ago. Very, very humble route.


[00:05:10] Bret Keisling: Please check out the full episode of the Owner to Owner podcast featuring Rae Ripple. It's Episode 30, and we'll include a link in our show notes.

[00:05:17] With that, we'll wrap up today's episode of the Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.

[00:05:25] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter at EO Podcast Network. 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.


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