Seven With Evan: Volume 8

  1. Black Bros. is expanding with a new 18,000 square-foot addition. This is a good thing, of course! What’s the most exciting part?
    (The upside) for our people and our production capabilities, first and foremost. That Roll Department is such a key core of our business. The added benefits — the climate control and the seal-tight environment we’re going to have in there to let that rubber breath and become adjusted — really excited for that. Also excited to expand in Mendota and get the industry in Mendota up a little bit. New buildings are always a good thing, we know that in our business. And, I think it’s just very exciting for our town to see something new and big happening on that scale right in the middle of town. To not only establish ourselves, but help establish our community moving forward.
  2. Incredible way to look at it. The last time Black Bros. expanded you were just a kid. How was it to be part of the planning process?
    Phalen Steel and Tim Phalen have been great to work with. It’s been a lot of questions. Everything from our electricity to the pneumatics. Where does this panel go? Where should that fan go? Should this crane run this way, and how do you want it to operate? Just all the work that goes into a building. So, it’s been a lot of fun to be part of the design process with guys that have a bunch of experience in my dad (current CEO Matt Carroll) and Jeff (Simonton, COO). I’ve definitely taken a lot away from it and have a lot of appreciation for what it takes to do a big project like this. Eighteen-thousand square feet is no joke, a third of a football field essentially.
  3. Backing up a tad, and going back to helping the community. Black Bros. and the Carroll family recently donated $10,000 to Reimagine Mendota to boost their efforts in revitalizing downtown. What kind of projects or services would you most like to see?
    One of the biggest benefits of living in a small town is that community pride you have with everyone. … So, really, that community aspect is something I want to see accelerated and growing even more. Whether it’s a public space like a park or a hangout for a concert in the summer. Somewhere people can socialize and feel like they are all part of one thing and can be proud of what we’ve done together. That’s really high on my list. When they polled the community, it was awesome to see the No. 1 thing from all the people polled ages 25-75 was more activities for our kids. So, to see them value activities or services not for themselves, but for our youth, is really encouraging and something I would like to see just as well. Anything we can provide for (our youth) provides an incentive of why you’d want to live in a small town. We can help our community grow and flourish by providing the activities for our kids.
  4. I couldn’t agree more! The Safety Committee at Black Bros. recently implemented the “Near Miss Program.” Describe the premise.
    When Pat Cassidy was hired in October, he brought it to our attention. We were all ears. The way he set it up and formatted it — both he and Heath (Davis) — I thought they did a great job. … Near Miss Program is taking that proactive safety approach a little bit further to really get everyone involved. If you see a problem that could arise in the future, it’s about nipping it now and making sure we are getting rid of the obstacle or hazard that might become a safety incident or accident later down the road. But, it also brings about the discussion of why it’s important that person brought it up and how we appreciate that the person brought it up. And, how it will help us avoid issues like that down the road because we made the proactive decision to get it out of the way now instead of letting it linger.
  5. How’s it going up in Engineering? What you been up to as you settle into your new role?
    It’s been going great. It’s a great team to work with and learn from. They’ve been nothing but super helpful in answering new questions, recurring questions, and the ins-and-outs of the department and the software and procedures. For the most part, I’ve been detailing a lot of our drawings. I’ve done a little work in Inventor and 3D Modeling as well. Nothing too crazy for me right now that our other guys would be able to take on and attack with no problem. Still trying to work up that way, trying to absorb as much as I can.
  6. A recent LinkedIn trend says “treating employees like family” is an unrealistic approach. Instead, it says, focus on viewing your associates as you would a sports team. As a family-business owner and basketball coach, you know a little about both. Which is true?
    We do try to keep the family aspect here. Where, I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine. Times get tough, I’m here to help you out. There’s not a question we’re not going to answer and work through together. I think that can hold very true on a sports team as well. You want to hold each other to the highest standard possible because you know the potential you have if you’re all working together and buzzing on the same page. All chasing the common goal to the best of your ability.
  7. So, both can be true! … It’s an IWF year. What’s the approach for Black Bros. in 2024?
    It’s the biggest woodworking show in the world besides LIGNA in Hanover, Germany. So, it’s (important for Black Bros.). Especially for our domestic market being it’s on U.S. soil in Atlanta. We’ll be there to represent the great company we are, live demonstrating our equipment and the processes we can do. Showcasing that we can help out any prospective customer or reconnect with returning customers to improve their processes that much more. Were looking to sell a ton of machines, but almost at the forefront is keeping our name out there, showing the health of our company, and having a booth full of eager and helpful people.
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