Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Something New?

I'm good at the technical aspect of my job, but building a company is an entirely different animal. I've proved I can run a micro-business, to the extent that I can get work done, pay my people, pay vendors, and survive. However, taking a company to the next level is an entirely different task, one that requires a skill set I don't currently possess. I could go back to school, but at what cost? Also, over the last few years, my interests have changed. Even if I decided to go back to school, it would probably be for something new. I've become increasingly enamored with capital markets. I've dabbled for years in the investing game, learned a lot, but never had the time to give it a full try and gain experience. I currently trade stocks between fabrication jobs. 

Lately, my life has led me down a path of self-reflection, curiosity, educating myself, and adapting those learnings to the markets. I like learning about business, and I like running a business; I'm not so sure if I want to build a business, though. Or, perhaps, I want to create a business in a different industry than the one I currently inhabit. Confusion abounds. 

Maybe it's about finding a balance between the two? 

I was already headed down this thought path before the virus took hold; it's only magnified since the world has closed, and the panic began. How will the business environment look in 6 months? A year? Five years? Will I even have a business? Everything going on in the world has led me to a shadowy place. Not dark, but dimming daily. I've been here before, in this darkness, and have many healthy methods to cope. I thank 5+ years of therapy, the self-reflection I mentioned above, and keeping a personal journal. Lately, like when I started this blog, talked about in previous posts, I've wanted to put more thoughts out into the world, but my fears have kept me from thoroughly engaging.

Writing about myself is secure and safe. Putting original ideas into the world is terrifying, especially when you don't have a high opinion of yourself or your thoughts in the first place. I may have many ways to cope with the demons, but that doesn't mean they don't exist daily, looking to bring me down at every turn. It's part of the reason it's been difficult for me to break free of the need to control everything and take a leap to build a business, any business, by giving in and delegating. The company I currently run is not what it could be, and that's on me. Perhaps it's not what I want. I've been fabricating sheet metal since I was 19 years old, 23 or so years, and counting. I haven't done anything else in my life, but I'm having thoughts like I want to try something different. I'm very good at what I do, but it's not enough anymore to keep me motivated. I'm 42, is it time for a new challenge?

So what does all this mean? I have no idea. I guess it's all just an experiment at this point. For now, I'm going to run my company, learn, invest, and write about it here from time to time. I'm going to bet it will be more market commentary and what I'm doing in the financial markets than sheet metal commentary, although I may surprise myself. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

What's in a Name?

I'm a tin knocker by trade, forming and fabricating ductwork in the HVAC industry for 23 years and counting. A tin knocker is a sheet metal fabricator, mostly residing in the HVAC field, but can also inhabit the auto industry and other light gauge metal forming occupations--hence the "tin" tag. If you hear someone described as a tin knocker, however, I would bet they either fabricate ductwork or install ductwork. It's a relatively old-timey term.

The "knocking" is a result of the loud, piercing sounds emanating from the duct as you hammer it together. 

The process of constructing ductwork is one of cutting flat, light gauge galvanized sheet metal, either with hand tools or cutting machines. After cutting flat stock parts, they are formed by braking with a sheet metal brake or run through a myriad of sheet metal forming machines. Hand tools enter the equation as well. 

Obviously, like any trade, there will always be nuances and troubleshooting. I learned those skills via trial, error, and over 20 years working in the HVAC industry installing and fabricating duct.

I equate my thinking and opinions to being cut and formed in my mind, trying to see things from both sides, hammering and fabricating thoughts, like a finely crafted piece of duct. When something, like a trade, is so prevalent in your life, you tend to think about it all the time. It becomes part of your identity.

Putting ideas out in public is scary. I mentioned in my first post, having started blogs in the past, I could never find consistency. Those attempts were all genuine, but they lacked the real openness and willingness to be vulnerable and put opinions out into the world. They were tame, lacking backbone. 

Over the last year or so, I've begun to learn myself. I've started to understand who I am and what interests me. It's embarrassing to say after turning 42 years old just a few weeks ago. Small town living will do this to you, keeping you from growth and change. Ultimately, the onus is on me to make the proper changes to be a better person. Many years of therapy and soul searching have helped me make a lot of those progressions. 

Writing helps. So I am making a concerted effort to write more publicly. 

Blogging this way will be new for me, a place to write about things that interest me and follow my curiosity. I have no direction. That's the exciting part for me, a place to write about anything I want, a place to hammer out ideas and fabricate thoughts to see how they change over time. 

I've named it Knocking Tin because that's a part of my identity, a method for how I get to an endpoint throughout my day. It's my job to fabricate duct. The similarity to forming thoughts fits, for me, anyway. 

I promise to try and keep the noise down.

Thanks for reading, K.T.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Day 1: Back to Where it All Began

I'm going old school. 

Blogger is where I attempted to blog way back in the day--I've since deleted that attempt. I tried other places over the years, including Wordpress, but have never found the proper footing. Everything always feels forced. So, it's back to where it all began for some possible inspiration. 

There is no reason for me to start a blog today. I haven't even attempted a plan of what the subject of this blog will be. Honestly, I should be knocking tin at this point of the day. It is my job, after all. Well, it's not entirely my job. My assemblers take care of much of the knocking of tin these days. It's my job to design and make sure they are fabricating the parts correctly. I'm the owner, so I'm running the business daily as well—another one of my many hats in this 3-4 person operation.

The day has not gone to plan; it never does. Running a growing micro-business, mostly on my own, is getting more daunting by the day. I have trouble saying no, and it's beginning to catch up with me and the business. The last thing I should be doing right now is writing a blog post. Yet, here I am.

My fears are what most business owners fears would be, I imagine—no more business coming through the doors after saying no to a customer. I say yes to everything. And it's beginning to overwhelm the shop and me. 

We do good work, so companies use our service. I think that's why anyway? Maybe it's because the price is right? Perhaps it's because I'm overly accommodating? Both of those may be true, but I hope it's because we do a good job.

I enjoy business. I love reading and learning about it, especially the investment side of the coin. The financial markets fascinate me, so I follow them rather carefully. Today, they are trading like I feel: terrible.

I also enjoy owning and running a business; it's led me to want to understand myself and the markets as a whole. I'm learning something every minute, especially on the bad days.

Days like today feel like there is nowhere to go but down. I'm not that pessimistic, but days like this do render me feeling rather helpless.

The only thing to do is to keep moving forward.

I guess my goal here is to write about whatever is interesting to me, along with what's going on in my sheet metal shop. My life is the shop, and the shop is my life.

Thanks for reading.
Talk Soon, KT