Richard has been welding at Imperial Systems for twelve years, and in various other jobs for eighteen years before that. He is a graduate of Jamestown High School. Outside of work he enjoys relaxing with his wife and spending time with his three kids and eight grandkids.
Q: What date did you start working at Imperial Systems?
A: September 17, 2006
You said it was only that first bay?
A: Yeah. It was probably ten or so guys working. The road crew was there.
Q: That would be pretty tight.
A: Yeah it was for everything we build, like us with the big BRFs. You see how much room the fourteen footers take up here. It was tight, but we did it.
Q: How long have you been welding?
A: Oh jeez. Twenty-five or thirty years. I had thirteen years in at Trinity Industries, twelve here, and five at Tri‑County. I was welding dumpsters and stuff, rebuilding them. Then I worked a couple other places. There was a rail division down in New Castle. I didn’t work there very long because it was too far of a drive from my house. It was an hour and a half each way.
Q: Did you go to trade school?
A: No. When Trinity shut down we did get to go to school. You could keep your unemployment because they moved out of the country and went to Mexico. So they put up a school and you could draw your unemployment while you were in school. Even when I started at Trinity they put me through weld school at Mercer Vo-Tech. It wasn’t a long class, thirty days or something like that. It was heavier. Rail cars. It was big.
Q: How many kids do you have?
A: Three. Two girls and a boy. I’ve got eight grandkids. Two are twin boys.
Q: Do you like any sports?
A: I watch a lot of football. I’m a big Steelers fan.
Q: You got that question correct.
A: I’m a little unhappy with them right now.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: We usually sit down back. We built a big pavilion and we usually sit down there, me and the wife, drink beer and listen to the radio, build a fire.
Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: Country. Willie 95. They’ve changed country so much. Its more getting into pop or something.
Q: Do you ever go to concerts?
A: Nah. Once I went up to Crawford County and George Jones was there. It was a pretty good concert. Loretta Lynn was there too that night, but she wasn’t feeling good. She had laryngitis and was having trouble singing.
Q: Do you have any projects at home that you do?
A: All the time. It seems like the wife always has something for me to do!
Q: You ever go to any football games or anything?
A: No, I always wanted to, but usually I say “Why would I want to go watch that live when I could sit at home and watch it with no crowd?” And usually its too cold, too. I don’t want to be out there in the freezing weather. Then, when you drink like I do you can’t afford to go there with the price of their beer, jeez.
Q: You’re just a good country guy, huh?
A: That’s pretty much it. I don’t bother no one, no one bothers me. That’s what I like. We have a lot of parties though. We have a big Fourth of July party every year. We’ve been doing that for about twenty years now. We invite a bunch of people and get fireworks. Seems like it keeps getting bigger every year. More and more people come, and more fireworks we have to buy. But its fun. We have a lot of fun. We’re out in the country enough that no one bothers you either, thats whats nice.
Q: What do you think about being in the magazine?
A: It’s good. It gets it out.
Q: We’re showing off our employees. We’re proud of you guys. We want you to be known for the work you’ve done. It’s because of you guys that this place…
A: It goes! And that’s good. We need it to keep going for a long time, hopefully.
Q: Do you have anything else you want to say?
A: I do appreciate having the opportunity to work here. I appreciate that. And Jeremiah’s real fair about everything, as far as I’m concerned. He’s a good guy, and good to his people too. There ain’t too many places where on holidays you leave early and they pay you for the rest of the day and stuff like that. I’ve never heard of any companies doing that, not that I worked for.
For several years, I worked as a Sales Rep for a large, European‑owned dust and fume collection company. Like most of the big companies in this industry, they had an aggressive way of doing business that was not consistent with how I believed things should be done. They called it “filling holes,” which was the practice of sizing dust and fume collection equipment large enough to perform well, but not at a capacity that would minimize periodic filter replacement. Regrettably, I condoned it for far too long. How did I reach the tipping point where I decided to start my own business? My story starts with my granddad.
I grew up in a family-owned and operated sheet metal shop. My granddad, a loving and driven man, had me slagging parts and sorting hardware by age seven. I spent every minute of every summer in and around the shop. It was a noisy, greasy and busy place – and I loved it! At an early age, I was fascinated to learn what a cyclone and baghouse were and how they were built. Warm family gatherings always included shop talk and I would eagerly sit in on those conversations, listening to every word. Today is no different. I still love fabrication and never pass up an opportunity to tour a fabrication facility. Dust and fume filtration is truly in my blood.
I started as a sales rep in my early 20’s. At the time, the industry was led by a couple of company giants who promoted the practice of filling holes. I was quickly taught to stretch the limits, get the orders and move on to more projects. This philosophy was fundamentally against what I had learned growing up in the family business. Unfortunately, top dust and fume collection companies continue with this practice today. But being ambitious and eager to please, I unwisely suppressed my opinion of it and sold collectors in this manner for years. Increasingly unhappy with my circumstance, conviction compelled me to start my own business.
In October 2001, I founded Imperial Systems with the mission that my company would build the best dust and fume collection equipment on earth. Our collectors would be designed and built from an end user’s point of view, last longer and filter better than any other collector on the market. Growing up in manufacturing, I knew that one of our strongest attributes was that we were a company that knew how to design, build and install complete systems from start to finish. This was a distinct advantage over the big companies and still holds true today. Every one of our sales engineers has spent time in the field installing systems so that they understand what they’re selling and what it takes to get equipment properly designed for a dependable installation.
For years we successfully built and sold cyclones, baghouses, ducting and airlocks. In 2010, I decided to expand the company by building cartridge style dust collectors. When we started, we copied a major brand’s collector almost exactly. Unfortunately, this was a mistake for several reasons. For one, it did not differentiate us from our competitors. The technology was old, and by replicating it we made ourselves a “me-too” brand. The only way to compete was on price, which immediately put us at a disadvantage. We were the smallest industrial dust collector manufacturer in the industry. Why would someone buy from us over one of the larger, more established companies? When it was all about price, we would win a job but lost money as a consequence. Regrettably, I realized that copying a competitor was a short-sided strategy. Being a “me-too” company is not what I had envisioned as our future.
So, we regrouped and made some innovative design changes. We committed to build a better cartridge dust collector and differentiate ourselves from our competitors. It was then that I realized that our strength was in our differences. From that point on, we reminded ourselves of this insight at every design and engineering meeting. It became a mantra as we insisted on being innovators, not copiers. That’s when our business started to thrive. Independent sales reps started calling us unexpectedly to represent our product line. We started winning the majority of the quotes that we were working on. It was a new beginning for the newly designed CMAXX, now the flagship of Imperial Systems.
I am proud of the new approach and success that Imperial Systems has had with the CMAXX. The innovations came from customers reporting to us the problems with other equipment that they have had for years. They spoke and we listened. Because of these innovations and loyal customers, Imperial Systems is now the most progressive dust and fume collection company in the industry today. Ironically, CMAXX is now the most copied collector on the market!
I guess you can say we are now doing things right. We’ve emerged with dignity from being an ambitious imitator to an industry thought leader. We are transparent about the solutions we provide to fill needs, not holes. I’m so grateful to my granddad for his influence on my life. And I thank every member of the Imperial Systems team for fulfilling my true vision of this company.
HOW YOUR DUST COLLECTOR CAN PAY FOR ITSELF
Installing a dust collection system (or updating an old one) is a big investment. Safety, health, and compliance are all important reasons to do so. Will energy cost savings with this investment benefit your company in the long run? When a company is looking at spending that kind of money, it helps to be able to talk about a more immediate return on your investment.
The good news is that your new system can pay for itself in as little as two years by saving you a lot of money on heating and cooling costs.
It’s hard to put a dollar amount on employee health, but it’s easy to put a dollar amount on how much you spend heating and cooling your building. If you’re spending that money and then venting heated air outside the building, you’re effectively blowing money out the window.
Many of our CMAXX systems have paid for themselves within two years just in energy cost savings. And they will continue to save their owners money for many years of service. Some companies have even been able to find energy conservation incentives that save them money on the immediate cost of a system.
Recirculating air back into the facility can be an excellent cost-saving measure, but only if it doesn’t compromise the health of people working there. This means that the recirculated air has to be completely clean and safe.
If you’re planning to recirculate air, it’s important to make sure that your system is equipped to handle the type of dust you’re producing. Particles from welding fumes and laser or plasma cutting smoke can be as small as half a micron. This usually requires a filter with a rating of at least MERV 15, meaning it is more than 95% effective for particles down to 0.3 microns. If there might be dangerous or highly regulated materials (such as hexavalent chromium) in the dust, a HEPA filter may be necessary for air that’s going to be returned inside.
Besides the savings on energy costs, a system that recirculates air can actually be more efficient. In some ambient systems, the clean air enters at the level where people are working, which moves the dirty air out of the work area and toward the collector. These types of systems are very effective at filtering the air in larger spaces.
If a dust and fume collector is something you’re going to need anyway, the tremendous savings in your energy cost might be what it takes to get that project into the budget. After all, those heating and cooling cost savings will go back into the budget year after year, and that’s something everyone likes to hear.
Afraid to report unsafe work conditions at your work site? OSHA can protect you from retaliation.
It is a known fact that many workers are forced to work in unsafe environments. Although most companies strive to provide safe and healthy working conditions for their employees, there are some places that are unwilling to make worker safety a top priority. If you know you are in a situation where your safety and others that work with you is at risk, you may have fears of losing your job if you bring it to anyone’s attention.
The stigma of being a Whistleblower is not what it used to be in the past. In fact, OSHA has a program in place that protects your rights as an employee. Such provisions include:
- The right to file a safety complaint to OSHA
- Protection from employer retaliation, such as termination
- The right to participate in OSHA inspections and talk to the inspector
- The right to review employer exposure and/or injury records
OSHA has fined many corporations due to unfounded termination of employees who report safety violations. It is simply against the law, and in the end, costs the company more than just fixing the safety problem itself.
Keep in mind that sometimes it may not be a malicious intent by your employer. They may not be aware of safety issues that concern you. How do you approach this situation? Read this informative article that gives you tips and advice about talking to superiors with confidence.
All in all, there are many options for shop and factory workers to be part of the solution in making their job safe. Click on the links below if you have questions or want to learn more about safety in the workplace.
OSHA NEWS: http://bit.ly/2bX9j1E
Whether you are a new manufacturing business or just branching out into new territory, if you are going to get into the metalworking field, addressing industrial dust control solutions demand some serious consideration. Not only do you have the safety of your work space to think about, but unchecked dust and fumes can also pose health hazards to those working in it. We’ve spent nearly 15 years considering the challenges of industrial dust accumulation and control, and we have developed the solutions our customers need. Discover the facts you need about dust control for your business to keep things running safely and smoothly.
Meet Safety Standards
An accumulation of dust in any industrial setting poses a threat to the health and safety of those working there. This is especially true in the world of metalworking where the fine dust particles may be especially toxic. In light of this threat, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established standards of safety that must be followed in any such industrial settings. These address not only dust that may be inhaled but also the threat of combustibility through its accumulation. Check out the latest combustible dust update HERE. When you look for an industrial dust control system, begin by ensuring that it meets these and other industry standards.
Anticipate Dust And Fumes
As you consider a system to provide dust control for your work space, make sure you take fumes into account as well. In many metalworking processes, noxious fumes are created which are more than unpleasant; they can be increasingly harmful when inhaled. Not all industrial dust control systems are created to handle this dual threat, so it is vital to choose a collector that can manage both dust and fume generated by metalwork manufacturing.
Your Industrial Dust Control Solutions Experts
Whether you need dust and fume filtration or just a dust collection system, Imperial Systems is your industrial dust control headquarters. We manufacture the most efficient, strongest and longest-lasting systems and filters in the industry. Through these products, we have become well known for our dedication to quality, value, and safety. Our outstanding line of equipment includes:
- CMAXX™ Dust Collector System
- DeltaMAXX™ Cartridge Filters
- CMAXX™ Laser Fume Extraction System
- Spark Arrestor
- Explosion Isolation Valve
- Custom Ductwork & Fittings
- Heavy Duty Abort Gates
- and more!
Most of our products are available to ship within 24 hours. For more information about our products and how we can support your metalworking business, contact us today.