How Online Ceramics Keeps Its Cool
In the early 1900s, the US had a big lead in ceramic technology. A lot of the work was being done in Germany. A few Americans, including a couple dozen in the army, were working over in Europe, and a small group of Americans at MIT decided to return to their own country to set up a joint venture. This group had already been in business for a couple of years and was pretty profitable. So, the group decided to open its own foundry in California. This group eventually grew to 10 to 12 people. It was their first big break.
They’d been successful up until that point. Their production was not only high volume, but also well-regarded. What’s more, the foundry had a reputation of producing quality products that were consistent. They were well respected. A lot of their customers were big companies, such as General Electric and Westinghouse Electric.
A few years after they started their business, the foundry was taken over by a group of investors led by the local hardware store owner (the founder had been a local merchant in this town). This group wanted to bring in more customers, but was worried about its competitive advantage. How can they keep competing?
A few weeks passed with nothing happening with this venture. Then, during a Sunday morning service and after having been in the service for a bit over 10 years, I walked into the foundry to grab a cup of coffee and a smoke. I was just settling into what I was doing when some people came in that had no idea what I was doing. All of a sudden, their faces changed completely and they started talking to me. Soon, they started talking about what I was doing. They were so impressed. They were like, “You don’t know what you’re doing, but you are so much more impressive than anyone else in this town.” I got to thinking about it, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Was it that I was a bit too cool?
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was