Tim Timmons | Crawfordsville, IN

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June 13, 2021

3/7/2014 4:48:00 PM
Listen to those who have come before

How do you learn?
Three's an old saying that experience comes from getting the test first and the lesson later.
Of course there are countless ways to learn. That's good because learning is something that should be an ongoing process throughout your entire career, and even your life.
One of my personal favorite methods of learning is to seek wisdom from others.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jim Smith, the former head of HC Industries in Crawfordsville.
Jim's father started the business in 1929 and Jim came along in 1951. They built the company into a huge success and, from the sounds of it, had a little fun along the way.
Listening to Jim talk about the trials and tribulations that go with any business was truly a fascinating experience. He talked about what he called his rule of holes. The first rule, Jim explained, is that when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.
Sound advice.
He talked about how he personally managed people and shared lessons such as what he called "WAM" - wandering around management. He explained that this could be both formal and informal, but it was important to him to make an effort to wander around the plant and talk to people on the front lines.
How many plant owners do that today I wonder?
He talked about what companies need today to be successful. Things like a compelling vision, a good team and having a product or service that is in demand.
"It's not just about 'need,' " he explained. "We had so many things come down the pike that we just knew the world 'needed.' We knew we would be millionaires. But we were fortunate to find some things that the world demanded."
He talked about good times and he talked about bad times. He shared memories of times when they worked hard just to keep the company afloat. He reminisced on good times when profitable deals were made with giant companies like Coca-Cola and Anheuser Busch.
Jim said that he is now old enough that he hopes to shoot his age on the golf course. I'm betting he does it.

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