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My Dad the Toothpick Ninja

September 24, 2014

Toothpic EWIKnowledge is funny. Once you know something, it seems so obvious. I once had a door in my house that would barely scrape against the floor. I asked my father to give me a hand with it, expecting that we’d need to shave some material off of the bottom to give the clearance needed. I owned no such tools, so that when my father showed up empty-handed I was baffled. He said, “Let’s go to the grocery store, we can get what we need there.” My father emerged with only a box of toothpicks. When we arrived home, he removed the door and the hinges, placed a toothpick in each screw hole, and broke off the ends flush. He then reattached the hinges and replaced the door, the toothpicks offsetting the position of the door upward just enough to eliminate the scraping. As he triumphantly opened and closed the now quiet door he smiled. “Son,” he said, “Sometimes you just need a shim.”

I’ve worked at EWI for nearly nine years. This is a special place. Special because of the variety of individuals, the collective breadth of knowledge under one umbrella, and the knowledge that if it can be done, we can do it (and if it “can’t be done” we can probably do it anyway!). Rarely are we faced with a “normal” task, because our customers are often readily capable of solving such problems. More often we are faced with things that have never been done, or have never been done so quickly. We are confident in our ability to meet these challenges because of the knowledge gained from our collective vast and varied experiences. With specialists in every welding technology on the planet, machining, forming, design, modeling, metallurgy, and failure analysis (to name a few), EWI is a truly unique and valuable resource to customers across many industries.

We don’t do a whole lot of door shimming at EWI, but the story about my father demonstrates an important concept: When you need to solve a problem and you ask someone who has experience and is willing to share their knowledge with you, you get smarter and your life becomes a whole lot easier. This is true within EWI and equally true for our customers. We often tell our members that they should think of EWI as an extension of their staff, as a massive resource at their fingertips. Maybe we should tell them to think of us as their carpenter father who knows how to fix a door in five minutes with a $0.99 box of toothpicks. By benefitting from our breadth of experience, our customers can free themselves up to focus on the things that will help grow their businesses and reach new levels of success.