A Conversation With: Ivan Reed
At 66 years old and with more than 40 years in manufacturing, Ivan Reed retired from his job as division manager at SourceOne in Lincoln, NE, where he supervised not only a powder coating operation, but the building of special machines, a tool room, complete CNC functions, sheet metal cutting and forming, and a welding department.
Retired Division Manager, SourceOne
At 66 years old and with more than 40 years in manufacturing, Ivan Reed retired from his job as division manager at SourceOne in Lincoln, NE, where he supervised not only a powder coating operation, but the building of special machines, a tool room, complete CNC functions, sheet metal cutting and forming, and a welding department. But the very next week he went back to work at SourceOne as a special project consultant working hourly, four days a week with no one to supervise. And he couldn’t be happier. Reed celebrates his 48th wedding anniversary with wife, Carol, this year, and in between his new “part time” job, remodeling his house and restoring a 1957 Cadillac, he agreed to answer a few questions for us.
How did you get into the finishing industry?
IR: I was initially hired to start a powder coating operation from the ground up. All that was available to me was very little money and an old building that needed a complete remodel. I knew nothing about powder coating, so I learned as we went. It took a year before the line was complete. We built it ourselves, every piece. We added a batch booth, and then built another powder line from scratch, so we were coating a lot of parts. After a few years, the owners asked me to take over the management of the division, so in that time we were doing about $4 million in sales, and right before the recession we had increased this to $10 million.
What was your management philosophy?
IR: My management style had always been rather direct and blunt, but always fair with each employee. I believe that the company owes the employee eight hours pay and the employee owes the company eight hours work, so at the end of the day, everyone is even.
When did you know it was finally time to retire?
IR: The recession was tough on everyone. We had to lay off employees, cut expenses to the bone and we still were not making a profit. It was during this time that I just didn’t want to do this anymore. We needed someone younger, so I told the owners last January that I wanted to resign my position and that there was not a time frame. I did this so the company would not suffer any from a management change, so there would be plenty of time for them to restructure without too many hiccups.
What are your retirement plans?
IR: Plenty. I have three acres of land that needs work and an older house that needs the second floor remodeled. We moved in 20 years ago and I haven’t got that done yet. I want to build a shop someday. I have a 1957 Cadillac to restore and a 1957 Chevrolet that I want to build. My daughter is a single mom with five acres and two teenage boys, and I am the maintenance man there. I just bought her a 1972 Honda, which was her first car, and we want to fix that up.
You’ve travelled a lot, especially in Europe with the DuPont StarCoaters program. What are your favorite places to visit, and what are some places you still want to see?
IR: Carol and I have been lucky enough to take several family vacations to Florida with our son, daughter and three grandkids. We have been able to travel to Europe three times, and look forward to going back at least once more. We enjoyed Paris and Rome the most, and would go back again. We would like to take a trip to the northeast in the fall to see the leaves change sometime.
Tell us again that great story about getting up for work one morning and things not going as planned?
IR: I’m a creature of habit, and when the alarms rings for me to get up, I just go through a routine. Carol and I are early risers and leave for work about the same time each day; she gets up earlier than me because it takes her longer to be as good looking as I am. She was working four days a week then, so on her day to sleep in, my alarm went off and I got up and headed to the coffee pot. The coffee wasn’t brewing, so I guessed we didn’t set the timer. I made coffee, went to the bathroom to clean up, and when I turned on the radio and my normal DJ wasn’t on, I assumed he was on vacation. I showered, shaved and dressed, then jumped in my truck to go to work. When I stopped at the highway, I looked down at the clock. I like to leave the house around 5:30 a.m., so imagine my shock when the clock indicated it was 12:35 a.m. The power had been off the day before, Carol had not reset the clock, and the battery back-up caused it to go off at midnight. So I’m sitting at the stop sign thinking “Damn, this is way too early to go to work; no wonder I am still tired,” so I drove back home and crawled back in bed. Later in the morning, Carol said ‘Are you getting up?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, for the second damn time.” n