My fellow editors and I often invite those who read our columns to share their success stories so that we may pass them on and inspire others. Traditional success stories about businesses thriving are hard to come by these days. The last time I personally received e-mails from readers who said their businesses were doing well was in the first quarter of this year, when I received two. One was about a family-owned fabricating shop in Louisiana that was just moving into a new, larger facility to accommodate its rapidly growing business.
The other was from a newsletter reader who wrote about the status of her company in March. In spite of layoffs, she was encouraged because her company was purchasing the property next door to expand. I can't help but wonder how these businesses are doing two quarters later. I hope they are successful or well on their way.
My dictionary that gives my biceps a workout every time I pick it up defines success as the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted. That definition's a little broad for me; it could be used to describe those who commit heinous crimes against innocent victims as being successful.
Success is relative. One individual's measure may differ from another's. Some might think that the 9-11 terrorists were successful in carrying out their plans. Some might think that those who bilk trusting investors out of their hard earned savings are successful—until they get caught.
How you measure success also depends on the area you're examining, for example, your personal life or career, and can change over time. Today's success—or failure—need not be tomorrow's.
What about success in business? What defines a successful fab shop in today's economy? My own, highly subjective definition of today's successful fab shop is one that remains in business; is solvent; makes every effort to retain and train its quality employees; pursues new business; searches for economically feasible ways to improve its operation; and makes the most of the opportunities to be found in a recession. Successful shops are out there.
There's the story of Machine Specialties Inc., Greensboro, N.C., which meets my criteria and then some. The metal fabrication company is planning a major expansion that will triple the size of its facility to 153,000 sq. ft. and double its work force.
In an interview with radio station NCNN, Greensboro, company President Rob Simmons said, "I told my staff last year that the recession is coming and I've elected not to participate." MSI projects a 34 percent growth in sales this year.
The company serves the aerospace, defense, and medical industries. It recently expanded to serve the energy market.
There's AZZ Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, a power grid equipment producer and provider of galvanizing services. The company grew almost 37 percent in 2008. Its profits dipped slightly in the first quarter of fiscal year 2010, which officially ended May 31, in what President and CEO David H. Dingus called a challenging market.
According to Dingus, based on the strength of its historical operating performance combined with positioning of its products, the company is in an excellent position to grow once the market recovers.
This company really believes it's successful. The motto on its home page is "Building on Success."
Sometimes striving to be successful, doing what needs to be done day in and day out, is success in itself.
However you define success, more often than not, it's yours for the achieving. As Thomas Alva Edison said, "Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration."
Edison also said, "Be courageous! Whatever setbacks America has encountered, it has always emerged as a stronger and more prosperous nation ..."
Let's hope he's right on both counts.
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