A Change of Direction

For the past 20 years I have been involved in the automation and machine-building industry in one form or another. In 1996 when I had a lot more energy and less common sense, I started my own integration business that eventually evolved into a small machine building company. I learned a lot during the ten years my company survived, but when I closed the business I realized that a large part of running a company involved things I wasn’t interested in or very good at.

In 2006 I moved here to Nashville and went to work for a very large custom machine builder. This was a great opportunity to learn how the “big boys” do business, but I found that my schedule and life was very difficult to control while doing these types of projects. Building large machines involves some late hours and a lot of time away from home during startups.

I left Wright Industries at the end of 2011 and started different kind of business hoping to have a bit more control over my time. With my background in machine building and controls however I ended up contracting to a couple of machine building companies in the middle Tennessee area. Again, I found myself at the mercy of project schedules.

After finishing my book and getting it published, I have done a lot of thinking about what I really enjoy about my career field. I started this blog about two and a half years ago, just after deciding to write the book. I have enjoyed putting a lot of my thoughts into written form, both in the book and on this blog. I really didn’t even know what a blog was until about three years ago, and now I “are one”.

I think the thing I enjoy the most about this field is sharing information with others. I hope that this blog shows that. I have also realized I really enjoy variety. I love to travel. Some of my best trips were during machine startups, especially in other countries. Even though I worked a lot of hours during some of these startups, I always found time to enjoy the culture and meet new people.

As of the end of this month, I will no longer be doing contract work for machine builders. My original intent was to move into more of a consulting role, and I still plan on doing quite a bit of consulting, more or less on a week to week basis. My days of working on longer term projects are over though.

So what will I be spending my time doing? Well, much of my time in August and September will be spent promoting the book. I have created a flyer for professors to request a free evaluation copy from McGraw-Hill and will be getting as many of these out to universities and colleges as I can. It will also involve meeting with a lot of instructors personally.

I am also starting another book with a working title of “The Art of Panel-Building”. As far as I know, there are no books on the subject. It will include a lot of information on both panel fabrication and layout/design. This will involve a certain amount of CAD work as well as a LOT of pictures. Fortunately I am connected to several companies that have excellent panel shops. I am contractually obligated to pitch it to McGraw-Hill first, but since this will NOT be a college textbook I am hoping it will be much less expensive than Industrial Automation: Hands On.

One of the most important changes I will be making is that I plan on doing a lot of teaching. To start with, I have contacted Automation Training, a company that does PLC and SCADA instruction. The classes are platform specific, primarily Allen-Bradley and Siemens with some Wonderware, Omron and Mitsubishi thrown in there also. I have quite a bit of experience on all of these platforms, so I hope I will be an asset to them. Most importantly, the scheduling is pretty flexible since classes last a maximum of four days.

This training is held across the United States and Canada, so I will hopefully also get to satisfy some of my travel bug.

I would really like to do some training in other countries also. About a month ago I installed Google Analytics on my website to see where traffic comes from. Of course the US provides most of the traffic, but I was surprised to find that India provided the second most, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. I would love to do training in any of those countries, as well as (nearly) anywhere else! To increase the chances of that happening, I plan on broaching the subject to Automation Training in addition to creating some automation courses of my own, based on my book. So if anyone from outside of the US would like to talk to me about coming to their country and doing some seminars or training, please let me know!

I also plan to unveil my other website formally on or about September 1, 2013. Much of the information on that site will be more business/lean manufacturing related, but that is where details on any classes or seminars will appear. Meanwhile, if you have any ideas or comments you would like to share, please do!


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.

1 Comment on “A Change of Direction

  1. Sounds like a good career change. I know the machine building business. I applaud you for doing it for so long. When you want to guest post on my blog, let me know. Best, Gary