What are you contributing?
So, there you are reading this issue of Glass Canada
February 18, 2009 By Frank Fulton
So, there you are reading this issue of Glass Canada and you see this
new column and say to yourself, “hey, I know this guy”, or “who is this
guy, I’ve never heard of him….what’s he doing writing a regular column
in Glass Canada magazine about the glass industry in Canada?”
So, there you are reading this issue of Glass Canada and you see this new column and say to yourself, “hey, I know this guy”, or “who is this guy, I’ve never heard of him….what’s he doing writing a regular column in Glass Canada magazine about the glass industry in Canada?”
Actually, I am as surprised as you are to be writing this column. A lot of the writing I had to do over my 28 years at Fulton Windows wasn’t always all that much fun, particularly the legalistic project background histories, sequence of events, and disputes about scope type letters. I did enjoy writing promotional letters about the technical advantages of some of our products, process improvements, promotional brochures, and positive things like that. So, how did my musings come to be in print today?
Besides almost being a lifer at Fulton, I have also been a longtime member and past president of the Metro Toronto Glass Association (MTGA) that morphed into the Ontario Glass and Metal Association (OGMA) where I once again find myself as a director. For the past number of years we have been recognizing people within our industry and particularly from within our association by presenting them with the OGMA Lifetime Achievement Award at our annual spring golf tournament. The recipients are chosen for being leaders and contributors in our industry, long service and involvement in our association, or in some cases they just lived so long we felt we had to include them.
The recipient of the award this past year was my longtime friend and golfing buddy Bill Parkin from Burlington Glass. Bill and I met when I first got involved in the association in 1982 or so, and when we decided at a directors meeting last winter that Bill would get the award I volunteered to make the presentation.
The editor of Glass Canada, Chris Skalkos was at the event, took some very bad photos of Parkin and me that made him look very old, and asked me for a copy of the speech I had made for Bill so he could include it in a future issue of the magazine. You can take a look at it in the August, 2008 issue. Chris blamed the quality of the photos on the flash. I blamed it on Bill. As it happens, so impressed was Chris by my writing savvy and proper use of those tricky words such as there, their, and they’re and where, were, we’re, and wear, that he asked if I would consider writing a regular column in the magazine.
After telling me why he thought I might be “okay” at it due to my long history in the business and how I appear to know a bit about a few things and seem to know some people, I felt kind of flattered but much older than I considered myself to be. Even though I look like I’m 70-something, I feel in my own mind that I’m only 20-something, when in fact I guess I really am 50-something. I’m sure a lot of you know how that feels these days, and if you don’t yet, you will. Then, when he shamelessly started throwing money at me, I just couldn’t say no. Unfortunately, it was at that point that I found out Chris throws nickels around like man-hole covers.
I was told that I can write about whatever I feel like that I think may be of interest to people in our industry in Canada. It may be about history, about people past or present, about innovation, about legal or safety issues, state of the industry, about anything or, like Seinfeld, about nothing. Now that I’ve sort of introduced myself it won’t be about me _ well, not all the time anyway.
I’m expecting to have some fun with this column. I envision the column will be about you and for you and I would certainly like to hear from you about issues or people of interest you think the rest of the industry would like to hear about. E-mail me.
So, to close with something I found interesting, in October I attended my son Michael’s graduation ceremony at the University of Western Ontario. Mr. John Thompson was installed as the new chancellor of the school at the event and was also the keynote speaker. He also happens to be the chairman of the Toronto Dominion Bank and the Thompson Reuters communications empire as well as a number of other organizations. He’d have to be considered amongst the most successful and influential business people in Canadian history.
Mr. Thompson had a few interesting pieces of advice for the graduates that would do us all well to consider.
At his first job as a systems engineer at IBM after graduating from Western with a degree in Engineering Science, he reflected on how he had done at the end of his first year, thought he had done okay, but then thought that he hadn’t really contributed anything that would make a significant difference to the company. He decided then that he would dedicate a few hours each week to reflecting on what he was doing and to coming up with new ideas or directions he thought could make an improvement. He scheduled this time and stuck to it. He said he didn’t have great ideas every week, but considered that if you come up with something worthwhile, if only twice a year, you can start to have an impact. He eventually became president and CEO of IBM.
He also stated that he considered one of the main reasons for his success was the time he spends face to face with people in business and within his organizations. Bringing forward the ideas he generated during his weekly sessions to superiors at IBM got him recognition and showed everybody he wasn’t satisfied just showing up to do a job. No matter what business you are in, leaving your computer and your e-mail behind and seeing people face to face will go a long way to improving yourself and your chances of being successful.
*Frank Fulton is president of Fultech Fenestration Consulting, offering technical and improvement project assistance to the glass and metal industry. This is his first column in Glass Canada magazine. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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