History Lesson

By Tim Ard

Forest Applications Training


During the past several years I have learned a very valuable lesson in business history. I have watched people who have literally given their families, personal security and even their health and life for the power equipment industry. These dedicated individuals worked so many hours they lost their family lives to divorce. They moved all the way across the nation, sometimes more than once to fill a need for the company to survive. They worked so hard, disregarding their health and financial security they stressed themselves into an early grave.


Corporations today are doing business in a way that would send the forefathers of business’ in America back to church to pray for deliverance. The majority of management today – it doesn’t even cause them to blink an eye or consider the human element of their personnel who were part of building their history and profits…


Is it just my thought process or is there a declining spiral taking place in business today regarding history. One day management is promoting the history and age of a company and the next they are promoting the meaningful advantages of change. Companies tell and advertise the history of the company and their products and in the next breath forget how they got there. Business has always been a “who you know” sport but it seems today everyone has a short memory.


Not too many years ago in America employees and managers grew business and worked in a company until they retired when they were ready or reached a successful age. Often times even after retirement they were retained and offered their advice on the board until they physically passed away. They were admired and respected for the work they had done and most of all they were remembered. They were a valued part of company history.


Today people are hired with little experience, put in a position immediately to make decisions and then get rid of the experienced personnel and products because people (stock holders) want change. (I am not referring to those hired with experience from other realms of the industry). They are hired because they were let go because of performance or other issues from their previous employer or because of short term financial failures and all of a sudden they are deemed the fix it all savior of the "new company direction". Do they, the stock holders, really want direction change? Don't get me wrong I don't want to stifle ideas or innovations by any means, but not at such a rapid rate driven by an inexperienced manager.


In recent years I have met new hired managers and the first words from their mouth say, “The Company has been managed wrong for years. Until management is changed this company will never do what we did at so and so company. I plan to be president and when I get there you will see things are much better and a lot more profitable.”


Directions are changed monthly because new consultants are not unaware of the history nor do they even look at history.  They try to remold the future with information they collected from another rapid growth (failing) companies. They expect sales to increase in the spring because of potential instead of reality. They expect to displace the leading brand with price instead of quality and proper application. They rush product to the field and test it in sales dollars instead of technical success. It takes the business team three to four years to get the product working then management discontinues it for something new and virtually again untested.


I think today’s smaller companies and manufacturing need to learn from the "go for the gold" business plans of this past decade. Concentrate on products that work and proficient training of the customer.


Look at the DIY stores of today. When the concept began they had a good selection at a reasonable price and then they promoted that "you can do it." They made sure information was passed along and the buyers. Customers were trained with enough information to successfully complete the task. Today the service and training has been tabled and price has become the basis of business. What has driven this? I think a great deal by the manufacturers trying to cheapen products to meet a price point. To get a little business toe into these stores. Then they take re-nig and abandon service and training after the initial few months of sales. They turned a quick buck.... Then it all recycles as the next manufacturer makes promises and offers a new deal for the next few months. During this time, management of the manufacturer could have changed three times or more.


What is the answer? I am neither a magician nor a highly skilled businessman but I think it goes back to the training experience. Not just training and not just experience but a balanced mix of the two.


In the past 18 years of association with a major manufacturer, Forest Applications reported to 11 different managers that “directed” our relationship. Each time I was met by the question “what is it you do? How are you an asset to our company?” Weekly I come in contact with users of equipment across the country and they say they have heard of me or Forest Applications or one of the programs I initiated over the years. We can carry on a conversation about power equipment they use. If I call one industry manufacturers management today they would say “who are you? What do you do?”  And sadly I can't even start a product conversation with them because they don't know much about the subject and how it applies to the field applications. They don’t know what their customers do with the type of equipment they manufacture.


There are corporations today profitable (?) because of business/manufacturer acquisitions and volume but, constant downsizing is necessary to pay bills or excite investors and not really doing it profitably and considering customers.  They are only extending the inevitable.  The process is hurting who? The customer! Scenario – A New product is introduced, two years later it’s obsolete and parts are not even available. Basically this happened because the change didn't work and by the way the manager who had that idea -- he or she is gone. This corrects the issue? Sadly they most likely left to another manufacturer...


Humorous isn't it.  This is the reason Forest Applications is on to a new connection approach. Smart power equipment businessmen have used this for years. They concentrate on a few items their customers need to accomplish the work. They test it and put their names behind it. Paul Harvey was successful at this for years and years. Yes, I am learning from experience....


We have to rebuild our business and profits by first working with people that like us and understand us and second tried and tested products that we need, use and invest time and financial resources in to get our job task completed. Products don't make products people do!


Just so it’s documented for upcoming historians that don’t know what I do and have done, here are some accomplishments I am proud to have been part of in just the past decade or so....













A new decade will bring even more positive accomplishments from Forest Applications Training, Inc. for power equipment operators. Our direction continues, as it has since FAT began, making sure operators are trained in all power equipment user markets.


Training Experience for Future History-- We will make History Change…!


I invite your thoughts and comments. Email to  timard@forestapps.com