Leadership Huntington: Manufacturing Session

Leadership Huntington: Manufacturing Session

Published: 01/15/2024

Last week was our first Leadership Huntington session of the year, all about manufacturing.

I’m going to be honest…it was the first time I wasn’t looking forward to going to Leadership Huntington this year. Bullseye has gotten off to a very busy start to the new year, I’ve been tired, and, frankly, manufacturing isn’t something that is all that exciting to me.

However, like always, the session proved to be both insightful and encouraging.

The day was filled with insightful talks at the Marshall Advanced Manufacturing Center, culminating in an eye-opening tour of Rubberlite in Huntington.

Leadership Huntington Rubberlite Tour

My Key Takeaways:

Secrets don’t make friends:

As someone from the world of marketing, I cringe when I hear phrases like “we’re Huntington’s best kept secret.” In my mind, this translates to a missed opportunity in storytelling and brand building. Our local businesses have incredible stories that deserve the limelight.

Empowering people:

A standout moment was hearing a leader from Zims Bagging Company discuss his leadership approach. He emphasized the importance of allowing team members to pursue their ideas independently, fostering a sense of ownership and learning. This approach resonated with me as it highlights the power of supportive leadership.

The Huntington Scoreboard:

I think we need a giant scoreboard in Huntington that tallies up how many times someone publicly says the name “Brad Smith” or publicly says the word “Nucor.” I figure they have to be neck and neck for the top spot.

The challenge of alignment in leadership:

The concept of alignment in leadership has been on my mind lately. While I do believe that “two visions equal division,” I also ponder the complexity of achieving genuine alignment without succumbing to the ease of ‘yes-men’ culture.

Listening to Nucor’s story and other manufacturing in the area, I was struck by the amount of alignment that is required from many sectors to bring in good manufacturing and help existing ones thrive.

Alignment is great, but I’m struggling with the idea of unearned alignment. It’s one thing to take a group of people who are all smart and opinionated and creating a plan of attack that most feel good about. It’s another thing to surround yourself with yes people that are going to along with whatever you say.

Buddy’s BBQ is good.

I like their pulled pork very much.

The people are the highlight:

Getting to chat with my peers from Leadership Huntington is always a highlight. It’s such a unique group of really good people.

It’s not just business, it’s personal:

It was good to see a former client that was presenting at the session. I think some people may find that awkward. And maybe it was for them. But, I just don’t look at it that way. I hate that we no longer work together, but it just didn’t work out.

I’m still one of the bigger fans of this local group doing cool things. And they seem like genuinely good people.

My favorite part of the day:

The real stories are in our backyard

While manufacturing might not be something I stay up at night thinking about, the session opened my eyes to the many inspiring stories within this sector. It’s about the people - their dedication, their innovation, their hard work - that truly make these stories worth telling.

My biggest takeaway:

Ingenuity + Hard Work = Magic

The session was a testament to the power of dreams turned into reality. Hearing about individuals and groups who took an idea and transformed it into impactful ventures was both inspiring and motivating. These stories are not just about businesses; they’re about community impact and personal triumphs.

We need to get better at telling these great micro stories in our area, so we can improve the macro story we tell about our communities.

©2024 Jimmy Lemon