Starting off a new calendar year gives us a chance to do some cleaning up, and for many businesses such as ours, it gives us a chance to reflect on what things went right and those which could stand improvement. With 2023 underway, we started to see a changing of the guard with supply chains slowly starting to recover, shipping and freight cost starting to come back to reality, as well as some semblance of a COVID-free work environment. If your business is anything like ours, then you have seen firsthand how resilient our industry is, and how many opportunities a repair facility has when times get tough. For two years, we have seen our radiator shop expand our services to be able to provide customers with solutions to problems. Whether it be an unorthodox repair to keep some equipment moving, a complete fabrication when the OEM is unavailable, or just the ability to supply an aftermarket solution to customers who may otherwise have never given us a call, we have taken these challenges as an opportunity to showcase what our company is capable of.
Stepping into a new year also gives us the chance to look back at these successes and add them to our ever-growing portfolio of services. It gives us a chance to thank those within our association that helped us thrive in a time where many industries have not. On countless occasions over the last year, I have called on members of our association for help, and each time I have called, they have answered. These calls have ranged from simple questions about certain chemicals to use or how to best handle an employee conflict. Each time I have been met with an outpour of help from each person I have reached out to. This is a true testament to how a tight knit organization can work together for the betterment of an industry.
NARSA/IDEA’s continuing goal is to create the ultimate network within the heat transfer and emissions industries where like minded business people can share ideas, solutions, and potential business successes. Personally, I think we have been able to use this network and its connections to provide our business with immediate results and solutions. A first-class example is the help provided by L & M Radiator (Mesabi) in a unique, specially designed cooling package for a Letourneau Log Stacker. This specific design has been problematic for our customer by attributing to multiple failures over the last several months. The standard approaches, such as recore options and repair reinforcements, have been unsuccessful resulting in premature failures due to the severe vibration of the machine. So, after several inspections and the need to find the true root of the problem, the call was made to evaluate the unit in the field. None other than David Sullender from L & M Radiator made the trip to Rocky Mount, North Carolina to see this radiator/charge air cooler combo in action to make the necessary recommendations for extending the service life of this important radiator. The benefits of going with the Mesabi unit were clear. Not only would a Mesabi unit be repairable in the field, but the rubber grommet design would help mitigate the severe vibrations that this log stacker undergoes. The solution was designed, the quote was given, and our customer provided the PO, none of this would be possible without the relationship garnered through NARSA/IDEA. This relationship between the manufacturers and service facilities within NARSA/IDEA supplies a sturdy foundation in which both parties are mutually benefited. Manufacturers can trust and rely on the physical touches that radiator repair shops take in the field, likewise, the repair facilities can rely on the manufacturer’s engineering expertise to ensure that new units are built to the correct specifications for a solution that lasts.
Another recent experience I had showcases the NARSA/IDEA community and truly highlights what my father and grandfather have preached about the NARSA organization for as long as I can remember: An organization will only give you what you yourself puts in. Over the past decade my dad, Chuck Braswell, has made mention of the fishing prowess of Wayne Feeleus of West End Radiators, and the previous NARSA president, Bobby Duran, has made it a point to elaborate on the type of company they run up in Winnipeg. For me personally, I have never had specific dealings with Wayne, but the words from people who know him led me to put my trust in him. We were in quite a predicament as our company was tasked with an urgent job that would require a specific core be made in less time than was available from most everywhere else. After a bit of phone tag, I was able to get a hold of Wayne Feeleus from West End Radiators in Canada to describe our situation and see if they were up for the challenge. After a quick back and forth, we were able to develop a solution that could get us out of a jam AND help give his team some experience in selling to the US market. Now, little did Wayne know that I already knew he would come to our aid, because as I said, his reputation for kindness and support far proceeds him. They were certainly able to help, we received an impeccable product in record time, as well as the strengthened and somewhat reignited business relationship from our friends in Canada. Nonetheless, this connection was built upon years of conversations, conventions, dialogues, and dinners during NARSA events, and it certainly displays what our industry stands for: a network for like-minded and supportive businesses in the heat transfer and emissions industry.
There is one message that I hope to remain consistent with each issue of this magazine, and it is the vision that NARSA/IDEA exists solely to help create One Idea, One Opportunity, and One Connection for your business. The above examples showcase what our association strives to carry out, and that is to create a network for the manufacturers and repair shops to help each other thrive in our ever-changing industry.
This editorial was originally published in the January/February issue of The Cooling Journal.