For those of you that may have never had the opportunity, NARSA events have a way of rejuvenating a stale shop owner and refreshing the entrepreneurial drive that has led our facilities to where they are today. For the last decade, I have been the one refreshed following each NARSA event with a newfound understanding of where we are and where we should go and constantly rambling on about a simple idea that can magically make our lives easier. But after the last NARSA International Tour, I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a flurry of new ideas from my mother and father, along with an enthusiastic drive that I had not witnessed from the passenger’s seat. During my tenure on the NARSA board, I’ve been a regular in attendance. And during this time, I’ve returned from each specialty showcase to our radiator shop tucked away in Eastern North Carolina, with a heightened inspiration to grow our business and institute new findings.
As a new father, I opted to stay back from the trip to Jordan and Dubai to help out with a 6-week-old around the house, for the thought of waving goodbye to my wife holding a newborn with a toddler pulling at her shirt haunted me for weeks prior. In my stead was my father and past President (Chuck Braswell) accompanied with his trusty sidekick or more aptly defined, tour guide, my mother (Tammy), to lead their way across the globe. I was quickly inundated with pictures of foreign foods, culture, and the occasional camel, with each photo showing smiles across every face in attendance. I quickly realized that this event was one for the record books, as each night, there were text messages loaded on my phone of innovative ideas and solutions to problems we faced for years on end. The excitement and eagerness to learn and grow from strangers across the country wasn’t a feeling I was accustomed to feeling on the receiving end as I have made a habit of unloading buckets of new information on the two of them after any event. But each day after our morning phone call, I was filled with a bustling of ideas and process enhancements, and I was certainly reminded of one of the biggest rewards of NARSA: its ability to connect and rejuvenate shop owners; sometimes a fresh look is all we need to tackle new tasks.
Each of our manufacturers from the International Tour highlights different product types, methodologies, and procedures for building heat exchangers, and many of these nuances of manufacturing get lost on the average radiator shop. But many of the basics and understandings of running a company revolving around radiators can be scaled down to any size business. These lessons provide ideas that help repair facilities like ours grow to become more than your standard run-of-the-mill shop. The insight and experience that Dolphin Group, Siyam Radiator, and Serck provided during the International Tour helped a shop like ours instantly, such as documenting extra components (like fittings, sight glasses and the occasional sensor) that arrive on many units or creating a procedure to verify their safe return after the completion of the repair. Seeing another business’ procedures in action inspired my parents to call home and talk through implementing a new procedure from 7,000 miles away. Other ideas, like upgrading your paint booth, may take more time to strategize a plan, but both ideas were sparked by witnessing one of these first-class operations from one of our gracious hosts. After witnessing these processes in action and seeing the immediate results it is easy to return to your business with the courage and drive to tackle the lingering project that has been on your mind for years.
Sometimes at NARSA outings, we walk away with all the answers and solutions to issues we’ve fought for years; other times, we walk away excited about catching up with old friends we’ve made through the industry. But every time you return home from a NARSA event, you are filled with a renewed sense of passion and energy to take your business to the next level. I’ve been fortunate enough to be the one energized after leaving many of these shops over the last several years, but this time I was able to witness the spark within other members of our company, my parents, who have recently taken a back seat for me to learn all there is to know about this industry. At the end of the day, NARSA exists to create ONE idea, ONE opportunity, or ONE connection for your business, and sometimes attending an event is just the spark you need.
This editorial was originally published in the March/April issue of The Cooling Journal.