The Keys to Fabrication Shop Leadership
The Keys to Fabrication Shop Leadership
Today, our guest talked about real world fabrication shop leadership.
In this week’s The Faces of Business episode, our guest speaker was Jenny Steffensmeier. Jenny is the Owner of Steffensmeier Welding & Manufacturing since 2005. Her company works in manufacturing, welding, and machine work. Jenny undertook sole ownership and management of her company in 2015 after her husband fell ill and passed.
The conversation of the episode started with Damon introducing Jenny to the show. She said that she grew up in a small town in Iowa and married her partner at the same place. This is when they started this business together.
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Moving on, Jenny mentioned how she studied along with raising her children and her job. However, she had to look over the business when her husband passed away. Considering this, at this point, Jenny actually learned about fabrication shop leadership and how to work in this field.
Moreover, she also said that when she started working in her husband’s shop, she had no idea what she was doing initially. However, after a few years, she finally figured out how to work on it and is now handling it herself.
After this, Jenny talked about all the fabrication shop leadership issues that she faced during this whole process. She said that there was so much to learn in terms of materials, equipment, and processes as well. Moreover, she said that doing things with the same processes is easy. However, when it comes to a custom process of things, it becomes very difficult for her to learn all this on her own.
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Therefore, this took her quite some time however she learned all of it eventually. Jenny also mentioned that she is still in the process of learning and needs to acquire more knowledge about fabrication shop leadership.
Further, into the conversation, Jenny talked about her children and how they are working alongside her. She said that her daughter Rachel worked a few jobs after college and then Jenny asked her to come to the company. However, Rachel wanted to work on her own. But after a few years, she one day came up with the idea of manufacturing something of her own for their company.
This is when Rachel and Jenny decided to launch their own line of weights and dumbbells. Furthermore, Jenny also explained that now Rachel also handles all the Instagram and social media of the company. Moreover, her other son also works at the company and her youngest son works at the Marine Corps but he will join the company after his training.
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The conversation then ended with Damon thanking Jenny for her time.
people, business, ben, manufacturing, rachel, fabrication, struggling, company, competitors, work, carla, employees, jenny, workforce, welding, products, happening, iowa, years, super
Damon Pistulka, Jenny Steffensmeier
Damon Pistulka 00:04
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And with me today, I’ve got a very special guest. It’s Jenny Stephens Meyer, from I forgot the name of the company today. I should have it.
Jenny Steffensmeier 00:23
Yes. Stephens firewalling statements firewall login manufacturing.
Damon Pistulka 00:27
Why did I not know that? I guess right on my notes over there if I want to turn my head like that, which I did there, but it was great because we Jenny never have a conversation we met Backman. COVID has stuck in the in the room and all this other good stuff. And I’m thankful for it. Because Jenny, I just your story is cool. I think originally, I didn’t know how cool the story was. I just looked at your business one day and I thought, a welding shop in Iowa. That’s primarily powered by solar panels. That’s just cool. That’s, I think what it was, and then we met each other and and and it’s been it’s been fun since so, Jenny, I’m glad to have you here today.
Jenny Steffensmeier 01:12
Well, I’m super happy to be here. Dan. forward to it.
Damon Pistulka 01:16
Yeah. Because it’s, it’s, it’s cool. To be able to talk with you and it’s you you’ve had some some challenges in your past. There’s no doubt we were talking about that a little bit before. And you You now know a fair amount and you know, probably some of the keys to fabrication shop management, which we’re going to talk about today a little bit more. But kind of tell us your background a little bit and and really how you how you got into the fabrication business?
Jenny Steffensmeier 01:49
Oh, golly, Well, geez, I grew up in a small town in southeast Iowa. Went to the small Catholic High School fell in love with a kid that went to the public school. However, he was about eight years older than I so we meet. You know, in the school gymnasium, we met at a full disclosure, a beer party here in southeast Iowa. Yeah, literally kissed by the big old oak tree. And the rest is history.
We have five kids and then have this welding business. And I seriously when I was in high school, when we started dating, and he, you know, had had this thriving business, and I was off to do something, oh, let’s go to X ray school. So I went to X ray technology school. And that’s what I did. While we you know, made babies and raised. Super, unfortunately then fell ill with something called frontal temporal dementia. And it was a long insidious disease. And yeah, it was it was super tough. But um yeah. Hey, Oh, yeah. I think Ben would be really proud of what we’re doing today.
Yeah, I just inherited what Ben started. Yeah. The buildings, the people the equipment. Yeah. You know, essentially, none of it is the same as it was. The equipment, lots of lots of personnel change and all that good stuff. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s been, it’s been difficult. But the last couple years have been really, really fun. And I’m not struggling so much. You know, we visited a little before, like, he’s, like you mentioned, and mine has been a tremendous thing that I have been working on. And I’ve actually gained some traction, the last year or so and so good. makes all the difference.
Damon Pistulka 04:04
Yeah. Yeah. Well, and looking back on your website, there’s a little bit of a history on there. And you know, Ben started, it was 2011. He couldn’t work in the business anymore. In 2015. He passed from from that and then you, you were, like you said, you were an x ray technician or you were in a hospital with run an x ray machine or whatever it was. And you I mean, you weren’t managing a fabrication business. You probably came and visited him at the shop once in a while and maybe helped him out a little bit here and there, but what was your involvement prior to that?
Jenny Steffensmeier 04:39
Well, you’re right. And he you know, I was just making babies while he was making metal, but he would ask me over the years, could you would you want to come in and help get one secretary? And so eventually, like, you know, we’re not having any more babies. And so I came in and helped Carla You know, I literally have told this story in the last two days. Actually Ben’s brother, one of his brothers who worked here for 31 years.
He and I had a couple conversations. One this morning, and he he unfortunately left the company. During those trying times things were for hard for everybody, not just oh, yeah, yeah. So I so I would come in and help Carla and a bill, a desk was built for me because I’m not, you know, not going to go away. Again.
So. But, you know, I literally just said to Glenn this morning, when I was just listening to whatever Carla said, like, trying to remember what Carla was explaining and how to do this. And that, like, buy steel invoice customers gather, you know, employee times, and all of that stuff. So, thank goodness, I did have that background, and I had that involvement with the company, because otherwise, it would have really been, oh, I have absolutely no idea. So that’s, that’s how I that’s how I started.
Damon Pistulka 06:12
Yeah, yeah. So there you are in 2015. And 2016, you’re like, you went from that to now it’s yours. And you have to figure out how you’re going to keep keep things rolling forward. And so the bounce forward a little bit. And you know, you’ve got this fabrication shop, you got people running in there and things are things are happening. So what were some of the what were some of the things that you remember that were like, kept you up at night? Was it the fact that the the sales, was it running the facility? What were some of the things that you really what, wow, that was a big problem. And and, and I remember it really bugging me back then.
Jenny Steffensmeier 06:58
Okay, Damon, you and I talked about this a while back, and one of our conversations, I don’t know if you remember it, but operations has always been my, what keeps me up at night. Because the way the way Ben did the business, it worked. It worked them, you know, he had a couple brothers and some buddies, and they all just came to work and work their tails off. And, you know, there wasn’t all this profit margins. And, you know, let’s add up these times and see how we came out at the end of the day. And you know, it’s just like, I’m probably oversimplifying it, but But Ben did an amazing job of keeping business separate from home because he didn’t.
Well, he loved he loved what he did here. Yeah, there’s no question. So, but if so, what what kept me up was, What do you mean, you don’t know if we made our last money on that? Oh, my goodness. Are you not adding this up? Like, yeah. And David, I asked you, you know, how do you collect times and not make people feel like they’re micromanage? But it’s like you guys if you don’t turn your time, and then how do we know how much how much time is money and you know, in your life, forget all that.
Just at the end of the day, I paid this much out, and we took this much money in it’s that simple, like, you know, and oh, my goodness, I have not forgotten that. And so there’s a there’s a balance, and there’s a somewhere in between, you know, what I really needed to know, and I will, I will This is full confession. There was a load of my back Saturday when I had a conversation with this brother in law of mine who who no longer works for us, but oh my god, it was one I am so sorry. I just cannot. I can see why and how it all happened. You know, it was a perfect storm. I’m losing my best friend
Damon Pistulka 09:04
and lover and yeah, it’s
Jenny Steffensmeier 09:06
no is so like, I wasn’t listening to anybody. I’m including you. One. I just I wasn’t listening. I needed somebody to, you know, sit me down and shake me and say, Jenny, but you know, he told me he said you had so many people coming at you from every direction. And I yeah, I did. So it was total chaos.
And it so it was it was operations and it still is operations because operations means people that’s employees you know, and that’s that’s been the hardest part for me is the the leadership. You know, I wasn’t leading anybody or anything because I was not equipped to do so whatsoever. Absolutely equipped. I am I am today so You know, if I let my Temper Temper come out or Yeah, then shame on me because I, I know better now. Yeah, it’s the mindset thing, I’m in a different place and learn how to surround myself with people that, you know, will help and support and yeah,
Damon Pistulka 10:21
that’s awesome. That’s awesome because you know, it it’s, it’s, it is in, you know in an unfortunate situation that you’re thrust into but it’s really allowed you to grow in a different direction that you never thought you would. And even though the challenges are they’re super tough and just you know it, but it’s it’s pushed you in different directions.
And I mean, the the thing that she thinks that you’re doing now, I mean, you’re in the golden was at Goldman Sachs 10,000 or something like that you’re in a small business program with them and, and we’ll talk about some other stuff after that. But I mean, you’re speaking around in the region, inspiring other women to get involved in manufacturing kids to get into into manufacturing. I mean, they’re, it’s just, you know, it’s horrible situation. The the end result now, in spite of that is really something inspirational, though. Well, I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it is
Jenny Steffensmeier 11:24
no, it still doesn’t. Um, but I did. I didn’t come to the I don’t know, I had an aha moment. One day, it was the, the why, you know, why are we doing this? You mentioned Goldman Sachs. I literally just got off a call prior to us jumping on with a Goldman Sachs colleague, and we were we were talking about our wives, you know, small business owners doing this, oh, my God, you know?
And I said, Well, this is why because we get to do really cool stuff, like provide unity for people that you know, want to work for me. It’s work in the skilled trades, then stems, mire, that guy work with his hands. And using hands, I love that man’s hands. And he used them he was brilliant with his hands. Meaning no, not so much. Yeah, I had to figure out what what am I even doing?
You know, this is this is Ben’s dream. This is Ben’s gig? Well, I figured out that. I gotta I gotta figure out what is what is it for me? What What am I? What am I supposed to be doing with this? And that’s what it is. It’s providing opportunity for other people that want to work in this in this era in this area? You know, we are all the equipment here to do it. We got lasers and bright presses. Well, you know, like God, if you if you want to use those skills, I got one roof. We can do it from one end to the other this
Damon Pistulka 13:00
place? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. If you like to build stuff out of metal, I mean, that’s your kind of place is to walk into where you’re at. Because your custom fabrication that you’re doing, you’re probably not doing the same thing, day in and day out. And different kinds of materials, different kinds of equipment, different kinds of processes you need to use to make the things that you guys make?
Jenny Steffensmeier 13:21
Well, absolutely. And we all know about workforce issues. And so, you know, processes become more and more important, because, I mean, you’re trying to set people up for success. And if there’s a process and you just follow this process, we should be good. The custom one off stuff. That’s the that’s a little trickier that takes experience to gain, you know, the ability to do that profitably. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s finding those folks and and finding your niche. You know, who exactly are you targeting? Every every business has to? Has to do that. So yeah, not exempt.
Damon Pistulka 14:05
Yeah. Yeah. So this has been, so you, you’ve started on a couple other things. I read something about, I think it was, was it last year or the year before your daughter decided I see something in the background there that your daughter decided to do? Let’s talk about that a little bit.
Jenny Steffensmeier 14:23
Yeah, so Rachel, I hired Rachel. totally legitimate. She she had been working a job out of college. And she shared with me that she was going to start pursuing perhaps doing something else. And so I’m like, Oh my God, I want her like I need her. I need to I need a marketing website person here. So we sat down and you know, drafted up the official offer letter and all this. She was on her second interview with his place so like this is getting serious so that her house slid the thing under her lock door. I just put some did look at your doorway. And she turned down more money to work here. And I think that was three years ago.
So she is she does do more website marketing. But she’s been really that efforts been tabled because we’ve we’ve got another knee, you know, this is a core small business world. But um, she came to me one day with this, she was trying to think of something that we could make here at the welding company, that would be our own product line. And so she’s at our house looking around and see their dumbbells on her floor, who said, Well, those are those are steel, we can make weights, but they’re ugly.
And so she came up with this idea to make decorative weights and asked me what I thought so of course, we go to our machinist, and he, you know, probably gives a couple of iron rolls and Yeah, well, 13 hours or so to, you know, pop one of these things out of a CNC, we’re thinking and we were going to be making truckloads of these things. So we got to find a faster way. So we found a foundry and you see for those are the four there’s an 810 15 and 20 pound weight that you work out with and then put this beautiful decor piece in your space. So it’s you know, home decor. You know, you want your space
Damon Pistulka 16:31
to look. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, right outside my office. You know, I’ve got my gym set up in my in my home office here. And there’s weights out there. There’s a day it looks horrible. It looks horrible.
Jenny Steffensmeier 16:44
You you need some soul impacts.
Damon Pistulka 16:48
I saw it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s it. That’s cool, though, that you’re you’re able to bring, bring your daughter back in working with you, and helping help them with the business and then develop another product line. So now what is that? What is that product line together? Make sure you said it and I kind of cut it off there.
Jenny Steffensmeier 17:07
Well, the name of the company is subtle impacts. Subtle impact. Okay. Yeah. So you know, Rachel does, she also has a photography business. So she does all of the Instagram and all of that stuff. Like she had to explain to me one day, Rachel, what’s an influencer? What’s an influencer? Oh, yeah, Mom, I’m like, Oh, God. Yeah, I get it. I get it now. But um, I don’t know. It’s been a lot, a lot of fun to do this with Rachel.
And, you know, I’ve got so we have five kids. So she works at the company, her helloooo there, and it’ll be 22. Next month, he works here at the company. And our youngest son is a marine. But his his plan is to come back here when he’s finished with the Marine Corps in three years, and he’ll you know, carry on status firewalling. So, yeah, we’re I’m super excited. I wish he was back. Don’t tell him but I wish he was back right now. We can help. He’s a good kid.
Damon Pistulka 18:14
That’s incredible. That’s incredible. Because they’re gonna be able to carry that legacy on. It’s really gonna be salted. Yeah, that’s cool.
Jenny Steffensmeier 18:25
Aaron, it’s, this is a true story. One of the reasons I recently reached out to that brother in law is because he happens to be the 22 year old son’s godfather. Yeah. Hey, Glenn. I think that Aaron is a chip off the old blog. I think that he is just like his dad. And not to go into all the detail. But Glen laughed and agreed that yes, he is Ben.
Damon Pistulka 18:55
So you’re awesome.
Jenny Steffensmeier 18:57
Very visionary, very visionary, not so much attention to detail. So, you know, everybody’s got their seat on the bus. And we just got to find everybody’s seat. And yeah, that’s
Damon Pistulka 19:09
for sure. Well, and in a family business, it’s nice to be able to involve family when it’s when it makes sense. And it’s and with Rachel, I mean, one of the things that you’re doing that many small manufacturing companies don’t do enough of is any digital efforts and moving down the road that way, and just being able to do that allows you to compete at a different level and a lot of other
Jenny Steffensmeier 19:32
people. For sure. I completely agree. I, I we’re not we’re not able to put enough the attention on that, that we should be. You know, in my opinion, I think it’s it’s just had lunch with our tooling rep today. And we were talking about, you know, the days of, you know, going and knocking on people’s doors. Of course, I love this game and I love what we’re doing right now this This relationship stuff that that will never change.
Hopefully we can thank COVID for that probably, yeah, you know, in some ways, but you got to have a website, and yet it has to be a functioning website, you know, while they’re there we have, we have capacity right now, it’s different from our welding. And it’s, you know, targeting the folks that is our core competencies, and letting them know that, hey, we’re here we exist. And because I know there are people out there with their own capacity issues, and they’re having to outsource exactly what we do here. It’s just making that connection. And
Damon Pistulka 20:44
yeah, it is. And when you look at it, and this is one of the things that, that we work a lot with, with people in some of our training is that when you look at the buyer demographics, right, and buyers aren’t mean they aren’t you anymore, the buyers are in their 30s and 40s. And they they are grew up with Google, the first thing they’re gonna do to figure out where they should buy something is Google it. And if you don’t come up, when they search the right words, the first thing that does is who gets that business a lot of times are one of those first few are going to get that business, and it’s so critical to have that part of it understood.
And and then the one the other thing has happened to is that, you know, the, the way that other places like LinkedIn, for a year, kind of in a b2b setting, like you’re in, you know, they’re gonna they’re gonna look at your website, but then they might go look at LinkedIn, they might look at you, they might look at your, your company part on LinkedIn, and I looked at some of the other employees to see this thing. And just there’s so much of that that happens anymore. Before anyone even makes any contact with a company.
Jenny Steffensmeier 21:53
Yeah. Yeah, you know, what’s coming up, Damon is a, in addition to the relationship with customers is the relationship with competitors. I call from a from a friendly fabricator. Can you call his competitors? You know, we help each other out? Yeah. And he wanted to know, what are you doing for benefits? You know, what are you offering? And how are you attracting and retaining employees because they’re really struggling. And so not only, you know, this, this whole it’s relationships with customers, vendors, and competitors.
We’re all struggling to figure it out supply chain, and unlike Hey, you if you have anything you want to say, because he said, he’s got so much work, he’s got so much stuff he could bid on. But he said, there’s no point in bidding on it, because I don’t have the the workforce to get it done. So you know, reminding them that hey, you know, send something over. We’ll, we’re happy to take a look at it. If we can help you out until you give y’all some help. Yeah.
You know, I’m I’m really I don’t know, I think we’re really fortunate here in Iowa. Everybody seems to want to help each other. And yeah. You know, I guess I can go back to Ben’s illness. And I recognized immediately that, you know, that Frontotemporal dementia diagnosis, yeah, you said Google, I was on Google, like, they they said the words in the doctor’s office, and I went and sat next to Ben in the in the office, because he said, have a seat when we want to refer you.
So I’m googling Frontotemporal dementia. And I’m like, wanting to figure out what this is? And what do I need to do? And if anything has happened with the business, I just need to talk to people that you know, can explain stuff and help me figure this out. And I would not be where we are today without the gracious pneus of other folks. Taking time to spend with little Jenny to say here. Why don’t you try this or what you know, think about that.
Yeah, yeah. I
Jenny Steffensmeier 24:22
love the relationship building. I love the networking.
Damon Pistulka 24:27
Yeah. That’s awesome. Because it is and I tell you, people ask me about competitors is I say I have zero competitors. And when you when you approach business like that, you know if I was Coca Cola, yes, you know, Pepsi is the competitor, right? All that so we’re not Coca Cola. We’re not looking at we have significant market share and anything we do in most, you know, 99.9% of the business United States. Even if you do the same darn thing is somebody across the street from you And when you look at it that way, I think it really allows you to think of things differently.
And there’s there’s someone a guy I know on on from LinkedIn, Dan bigger he is out of South Carolina, I believe he sells extruded products for a fairly large extrusion company. He says I don’t have any competitors, we have no competitors. He said, I talked to him all we know each other, we refer work back and forth, because they’ve got capacity is something we don’t, it’s like, and you know, you look at extrusion or mold. He was in molding before that molded products before that, this super high competitive, I mean, you got, but he said, we don’t have competitors, because we all work together to get the work.
And I think that’s so cool, because in manufacturing in the United States anymore. They’re the the smaller businesses and manufacturing, when you work together, y’all can be a lot better and more effective. And everybody wins. It’s not like there’s not enough business. It’s like, there’s not enough people that understand the business or know about your business, to be able to get the business to you. Or you look at a job and you go, it’s too big. But if you thought about it, as it was too big for me, but if myself and these other three places work together, we can do it.
Jenny Steffensmeier 26:19
Absolutely. So I mentioned Ben skill with his hands, you know, his passion there. And I, I really the aha moment I had with my why? To give back, you know, because Ben was always doing that, I believe that Ben was always giving. He was very generous in that way. And so I don’t know, I came up with it, not in any certain order. But this is my thing. You know, community, customers, employees. So you said everybody wins, everybody wins. You know, we’re, as I mentioned, we’re small town, Iowa here. These small towns are, you know, fighting to stay along, schools are going away. Liar, you know, so what are we doing to attract and retain our communities?
You know? So in the manufacturing is, I don’t know, it’s just such a cool sector. And you know, you mentioned LinkedIn, there are manufacturing groups that are so there is such a buzz. Yeah. And I love it. I just, like love the energy, I could just sit on calls all day talking to people about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, you know, it’s fun stuff. It’s, it’s really fun. And when you’re Yes, when you’re, when you’re giving the receiving it, it all just is happening very naturally.
And I mean, I don’t want to get you know, whatever. But it’s, it’s such a feel good. You know, that is what then did if I’m sitting in this is my office, this used to be been a nice bedroom. So this is one of the business. And we lived here for the five kids. While we lived here, you can hear Ben just laughing downstairs, he his laugh was just he loved it. And that’s what I feel like is happening in manufacturing. There’s, there’s so much buzz about it, and people are fired up, we’re gonna get these kids engaged. And oh, my gosh.
It’s good stuff. I know that there’s like chain issues, and there’s workforce and whatever. Yeah, I know. I know. But, you know, what are we going to do? What am I going to do? Just Ben’s gone, I’m going to have to just not get out of bed and I just can’t go wrong. I’m gonna get out of bed. One, and we’re gonna say, Look, you want a good job? You want to you want to make a career out of something? Yeah. You know, I got a machinist that absolutely loves to make chips fly. You know? Yeah. I don’t know, get these kids exposed? And
Damon Pistulka 29:24
well, and that’s it. I mean, when you look at it, and I, I’m fortunate enough to talk to a lot of people about getting young kids interested in manufacturing. And I go 99% of the kids don’t even know what manufacturing is. They don’t have you gave he talked if we talked to even probably in the high school there. If we said how many people have ever seen metal fabrication? Maybe some of them, but a lot of them wouldn’t even there and you move into a place that’s in more metropolitan setting. And there’s like you hardly any hands would come up.
They don’t understand. Like you said, it is a career, it is something that you can you can build a life on that you can you can build a family on and you can have truly engaging and interesting work. Yeah, it’s so much fun to see people. I can’t even tell you all the people that I that I get to talk to you that are that are in the high schools, Matt goosies, one that comes to mind out of Wisconsin with his machining, Mrs. machining. And he’s he’s been featured with, I don’t know, modern machine shop magazine or something like that. He’s like at the top top shops and blah, blah, blah, he just just has a really good job of it.
But he actually even went to the extent that he started. His father, I think, started something years ago where they actually have a machining program in the local high school or something like that, or the tech school that they started that was actually just in get set up to get get kids in high school involved. And he brings tours into the high school, he does all these other things that to engage him. And consequently, this work over the years has allowed him to have like an average age on the people that are working in his company. It’s like 20 years old or something like that. What’s the average work? Age of people in most companies, it’s in their 50s?
Jenny Steffensmeier 31:24
You know, kind of statements crazy what you’re saying, because I literally was just talking to one of my employees this morning about, you know, look at this place. Now. There’s only 12 of us now. Yeah, but I can say we can leverage our people just by our the age. Look at the age of everybody that works here. I mean, we are a young group. Yeah. So yeah, it’s cool. Yeah, it’s exciting. And I’m really looking forward to 2022 We got we’ve got some good stuff going on. And
Damon Pistulka 32:01
it’s what’s what’s on the horizon? What’s, what’s it what’s the other What are you excited for? 2022? Do you see that in your areas the business picking up? Or is our people finding out then that Stephens Meyer Stephens Meyer welding, and manufacturing is there and ready to build, you know, make the metal fabricator products they need? What’s what’s happening?
Jenny Steffensmeier 32:23
Well, I’ve gotten involved with some folks that, you know, I’m finding out that there is, there’s a lot of work out there. I, as I mentioned that earlier, so I recently joined farm equipment manufacturer Association, and yeah, they’re, you know, again, another really energetic, enthusiastic, passionate people about, you know, what they’re doing, and they, they need help, they need people to make stuff.
And so, you know, just, that’s, that’s a super exciting. I mean, it’s all very cool. This is brand new, I just went to that convention here this fall. And so, you know, there’s just more to come on that. And this is like, I don’t know, I’m not even gonna say I’m embarrassed about this. I’m gonna say, in 39 years of business, we’re, we’re under caking. This is Rachel and I, our first ever strategic business planning session. Like, you know, GE ever hear one of those. You know, sometimes I serve on different boards.
And so I I’m so humbled to get to participate in some of these things, and just learn from really smart people. You know, how to do some of this stuff, but it’s like yeah, yes, I was kind of thrust into this role under some very unfortunate circumstances, but I guess maybe that’s what I feel like we’re even though it’s been 39 years. We’re kind of just getting started off with a really good group. I mean, I just have I have the best people working for me right now. And I’m, and I’m so proud of them.
And it’s, I mean, how cool is it that I’ve got, you know, two of the five kids participating in it? Yeah, most of my kids have been through this journey with me because yeah, all mom that hasn’t done as good a job as dad did separating work from home. Yeah. They, they’ve heard the mom struggles in and then they chose to come here and be part of it. No, they. They get it. They understand what’s going on and what It needs to happen. And so it’s, it’s fun to have them on board and actually be participating instead of just being on the receiving end of, you know, Oh, what about this? And what about that? Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 35:15
But really, yeah, it’s cool, because I think what’s happening and you’re, you’re really, you’re really showing it and doing it a first of all, it’s awesome seeing your face light up, and you talk about your team and your people and how proud you are of it. And I know that takes a lot of work. And it’s, it’s cool to see that because then that allows you to go out and do these other things that you’re looking at now, this farm equipment manufacturing Association, your strategic business planning, so you can really see that path that you’re going to be going down and then and then its execution from there on out. And it’s going to be 2022 is probably going to be a good year for you.
Jenny Steffensmeier 35:56
I’m looking forward to it. Yeah, you know,
Damon Pistulka 35:58
and the thing is, is that whenever whenever we’re setting here, as business owners, you know, I think after a while you just get conditioned that a good year does not mean a year without challenges. It just means it’s a good year. And I think part of that is, is setting yourself up and you’ve got the people I mean, I know, that’s one of the biggest struggles and getting more of them, I’m sure is going to be a difficult challenge.
But having a good base of people to start with is so key because they will help help you go much farther, much faster. But it’s awesome. Awesome. Well, so when you look at it, what do you think some of the some of the challenges, I mean, we’ve we’ve had, I’ve talked to some people that are in fabrication and other things, and it’s, you know, just the the acceleration and price increases on steel, and things like that. Is that kind of stuff leveled off any? Or is it still just going nuts?
Jenny Steffensmeier 36:52
Um, I think there’s been some leveling off. Maybe Maybe it’s the new maybe it’s the new kind of thing. So but but I think workforce is going to continue to be an issue. It was an issue before COVID. We all know. Yeah. So it’ll continue to be we’ve struggled with the kind of the engineering aspect. It’s been a bottleneck here, but recently relieved. And so I think our next bottleneck, you know, this is how it works.
Damon Pistulka 37:25
Yes. Was around Yeah, yeah. Well,
Jenny Steffensmeier 37:28
we’ll need more welders will need more operators. And, yeah, but I’m, you know, so I’m supposed to be the leader, I’m supposed to be the visionary. So what, you know, what am I what do I want? Well, the community employee giving back thing, um, I just want this to be the best place to work, you know, for, like, everybody wants to work here, you know, because it’s just like, you just cannot work in a better place.
And, you know, I remind these guys, that, you know, we are it like we do, we do get to decide this, we don’t have layers and layers of yeah, whatever, to go through it now. It’s, it’s just us. So like, a plan will help a plan would be nice. Yeah. But in the vision, you know, somebody’s got a vision. So I think, you know, your question, what, what struggles? Do I see, it’ll be workforce and executing on the goals that we, yeah. In the plan? Yeah. And, yeah, the small business thing is always a struggle, because we just don’t have the resources that some other bigger places do. And so you’re always battling that, but
Damon Pistulka 38:53
Well, that’s where a good team, they’ll help you know, a good team helps that a lot. I mean, it makes a huge difference because the flexibility and what you why you need to do to get things done and get them done right to make sure that customers are happy with the products and and, and everything else, but the team is the basis that if you’ve got that started, I think that’s good and and you’re right though, if you if you are the best place to work,
I think that’s an awesome thing to really focus on because if you are the best place to work and you’re making money, you’re going to have peace if people want to work there, that’s going to at least help your workforce a little bit, but it’s gonna make here it will make your stuff going out the door a lot better products. A know some people don’t understand that or don’t or fail to understand that but when, when people are happy making their stuff, doing coming to work.
They’re happy about the people they work with. You don’t just lease Hey, we’re doing it. We’re in this together. We’re having a good time. We’re still working, but that that’s like night and day for the product that goes out the door. and everything else that happens around it. And if that’s one of your goals, I think you’re gonna be, you know, have had some good times in 2022 It’s here. It’s good. Good. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, have you guys had I mean, it’s just the start of winter as a snow yet or no,
Jenny Steffensmeier 40:22
we have some flurries maybe a few weeks ago. Flurries? Nothing that’s stuck. Boy miniature drop today it’s chilly out there today. Yeah, so I don’t know it’s not going to keep me from getting my runs and I’m going
Damon Pistulka 40:35
to There you go again. Yeah, good stuff. Well, Jenny, thanks so much for being here today because I tell you, you, you talk humbly about your business but you’ve done big things. And and I think that’s, it’s it’s so cool to see that that you’re able to a first of all, continue the family business. See your kids working in IT, building that legacy, helping the community. It’s really something. And I know you don’t see that because you’re in there doing it, but it is making a big impact.
Jenny Steffensmeier 41:12
Well, Damon, thank you very much. Truly. Thank you. Thanks for having me on. This was a ton of fun.
Damon Pistulka 41:19
Good, good. Because everybody, God, you’re like, Oh, Jesus, you know how many people and stuff? We’re just gonna talk about stuff. That’s all we do. But so glad, so glad to have you here. And again, we have Jenny Stephens Meyer from Stephens Meyer welding and manufacturing. In what town? And what, how do they get a hold here?
Jenny Steffensmeier 41:38
In pilot Grove, Iowa?
Damon Pistulka 41:41
There we go. And then your your website is?
Jenny Steffensmeier 41:47
Damon Pistulka 41:49
Yep. And I’ll put that in the show notes. So that’s in there. And that’ll be there. And what’s the phone number if somebody wants awesome fabrication services in Iowa?
Jenny Steffensmeier 41:59
Yeah. Call us at 319-469-3961.
Damon Pistulka 42:05
Great, great. Well, Jenny, thanks so much for being here. We had Ingar was on anger is actually in, I believe indoors outside of Ontario. Awesome. She’s good and says hello. Thanks for listening, Gore. And thanks everyone else for being on here. We’re so appreciative. You have you listening to us today.
I hope that hearing Jenny, her story, and how our business is just going to kill it in 2022 has given me a little bit inspiration. I know. It just fires me up to see her watch your face and have some fun talking tonight. We will be back again Thursday. And we’re going to be talking about what’s it Thursday, achieving C e to success and happiness. So a little bit different topic. We’ll see how that goes. It’s gonna be awesome. But thanks so much, everyone for joining us. We’re signing out for now, Jenny, just stay on and we’ll talk a little bit after we’re done. Right. Thank you
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