Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A country villa

I've just poured the last glass of wine from a bottle I opened on Monday.  I drank half as I ate a dinner of hummous and pita bread then, and I am finishing it tonight with a dinner of a Greek salad.  A Chilean red of no great importance, but good company on a beautiful evening in the country south of Salem.

I am staying for the first time in a bed and breakfast arranged online using a website called  I have been looking and thinking about doing this for quite some time, but finally pulled the trigger last week, to stay this week.  It has worked out very well, actually, as I have a private room and bathroom in the lower floor of a large house on a hill, with a nook that contains the breakfast part and holds a small fridge, microwave, tea and coffe makers, dishes, and all the necessaries of a do-it-yourself breakfast.  My hosts are a couple that wanted to make a little extra cash, and they have been surprised at the freindliness of the visitors, and the success of thier venture.  Debbie, the hostess, tells me they have cleared $1,000 in August alone.  Not bad at $50/nite.

My week has been what is coming to be part of a routine.  Everyone is in the office this week, or mostly.  One of my sales guys is doing a start-up in central CA today and tomorrow, but he was around Monday and Tuesday.  The boss and my co-workers are all here, and we are having what I think of as very good communication and I am fitting in very well with them.  It is clear that someone to fill the void I have filled was needed.  There is lots to do and someone needed to do it.  That's me!  I have good help, and things are moving along fine.  I continue to hear from my industry friends who tell me that I have joined a good company (my feeling exactly) and they are telling my co-workers that West Salem Machinery has got a good guy on their team (again, my feelings!).  So far we are all on the honeymoon, and I haven't stepped on any toes yet.  Yet.

Last night I played golf with the owner of WSM, and we had a good chat while we played.  He is a very good golfer, but we played about even.   On one hole he drove to within 30 yards of the green, his best drive of the night, but ended up with 7 strokes on the hole.  My drive was not as good but I got a 6, so I had something to rib him about, which I did not.  We walked and talked, and it is clear that he needs a confidant and advisor in many things, and this is the role I am to play here.  It is a good place for me, and is a big part of why I like being a part of this group.  Very different than the last company.

The thing that is starting to define my travels is something quite unexpected.  Peter Harvey, my friend and finnacial advisor, gave me a set of audio CD's with the chronicles of Narnia on them by C.S. Lewis.  I am listening to these in the car, and I am HOOKED!  I can't wait to jump in the car and find out what Peter, Edmund, Sally, and Lucy are up to now.  Aslan and all the talking animals of Narnia.  It is very exciting, and interesting.  Too much dialogue, in my opion, but the action scenes are fun and the good guys always win in the end.

I hope you are reading this and find it interesting.  I see that people are checking it out, so perhaps my efforts are not just for my benefit only.  A diary, as it were.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Living in Salem, Week 2

It is Wednesday night, and I have almost completed Week 2 of my new Normal, living in Salem Oregon during the week.  I drove down on Sunday night, stayed in Gresham for a few hours, and finished my drive here on Monday morning in terrible traffic.  I spend Monday through Wednesday nights at a Howard Johnson's not too far from the interstate.  It is what I call Spartan in terms of accommodations, but  in my new Monastic State, I suppose it would suit me fine.

Monday I explored, Tuesday I rode my bicycle around a local park on the Willamette River for an hour (very narrow bike path, lots of walkers, and lots of turns).  Tonight I golfed at Oak Knob Golf Course after work with a couple I met on the first tee.  This course is notable in that the fairways are absolutely straight, every one.  A hook or slice and you will be playing your ball in the adjacent fairway, guaranteed.  The par 5 holes were all over 500 yards (this is long, in my experience), and the par 3 holes were 180 yards+, which is also long.  The greens were soft and slow, but smooth and nicely cared for.

Work is starting to fall into a routine.  It is summer, and there are lots of people taking time off.  The manufacturing pace is brisk, and things get done.  We have a large project in house that is being manufactured and progress on that happens daily - you can see large machinery moving through the stages of manufacture.  I wander through the factory looking at parts and pieces going together.  It is fun.

My new computer is being worked on by the IT staff, so that I can work remotely, so that I have the latest versions of the software, so that I can do anything I might need to do anywhere I might be.  Today they were working on it for an hour or two in the middle of the day, which gets in my way of doing things.  I'm sure it will settle down shortly.  Perhaps tomorrow I will get a key to the front door that will allow me to stay late and work, since if I don't depart with the last person I stand a pretty good chance of being locked in.  Not good...

Tomorrow I depart for Snohomish at 4:30 or thereabouts.  Wish me luck with the Portland Traffic!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Time to Catch Up

Well, it has been a while since I've taken the time to sit down and write up something for my blog, and in that time things have changed quite a bit for me.  I am on the road more literally these days, logging 1,000 miles a week on the Prius driving to and from a new job.  I have completely changed hardware for my Road Warrior support system, including a new cell phone and phone number, new computer (I lost lost of old stuff including some contacts, so if I ask for your info, that is why), new email address for work, and a host of new co-workers.  But more on that in a moment.

In brief, I now work in Salem, Oregon.  This is a city about 250 miles south of my home in Snohomish.  Judy, Marilyn, and the cats and dog will continue to live in this wonderful house close to the kids and grandkid, and I will commute.  This means I depart on Sunday evening, stay with my dad and Rose in Gresham, OR (3.5 hours drive) and then make the final 1 hour trip on Monday morning.  I will be in residence in Salem Monday through Thursday, typically departing 4:45 or so for home.  Last Thursday it took 5 hours, door to door, to get back.  Without traffic it takes 4.5 hours, so I lost just a little time in Portland, but Seattle was clear sailing.

My new job is as the VP of Sales and Marketing for West Salem Machine (  They make machines that grind, chip, chop, crunch, and mill all sorts of waste materials including wood and bark, plastic, yard wastes, municipal wastes, pallets, construction debris, corn stover and wheat straw, and lots more.  They have a very good reputation for making strong and durable machines, selling them at a competitive price, and standing behind them.  They have not had anyone in this particular position in the past, with the owner and General Manager sort of doing the selling and marketing in their free time while running the company.  They needed someone to help them and here I am.  I have known the company and these guys for many years, and we are all old friends.  So far it is working out very well and I am pleased.  I have a small staff in the office, and one remote guy who works for WSM and lives in Bangkok, Thailand.

I gave notice at BRUKS and spent a week in Atlanta off-loading my projects and information.  The BRUKS people think that WSM is a good company, and they often include WSM equipment in their system offers.  There was one project where both BRI and WSM were bidding, and I have stayed away from that one so there is no conflict of ethics involved.  Other than that the companies are very different - WSM is much more like Acrowood in that they make the machines, and BRI didn't make anything directly. 

I felt that it was important for me to be working from the home office rather than remotely, both because a Sales Manager needs contact with the daily activities of the company and because my remote office environment at BRUKS kept me too distant from the flow of information that is vital to being involved with a company.  With salesmen and support people reporting to me I needed to be at hand to have the impact the company needs me to have.  I have already jumped into some manufacturing issues that I dealt with in the past, and am making contributions here and there beyond things that are strictly sales.  Wood handling machinery is what I do.  It is god to be back in close contact with the sounds and smells of making machinery.

So that is the big news on my end and how I see things going for at least the rest of the year.  I will have evenings to spend blogging, and I hope it works out that way.  I am taking my bicycle and golf clubs with me this week, and hope to do some evening riding or ball driving.  I am staying in hotels for the three nights I need them.  I book on and can find decent (not great) rooms for $50/nite.  It doesn't take much to make me happy, I suppose.  Long term it might make sense to rent a room in a house or rent a studio apartment, but this is OK for now.