094. Idea – Taking Action to Support Industry Transcript


Tim: 00:00 

I believe that anyone that is successful in their trade has an obligation to help raise up the next generation. And I don’t think that means after you have 30 years of experience in your career is winding down. I believe that, if you are even starting out in a trade, then you are capable of mentoring a college student. If you’re a college student, then you’re capable of mentoring a high school student. 

Chris: 00:27 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. A podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics, spotlights the heroes that keep America running. I’m your host, Chris Granger. And on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features and benefits on products that come to market. Instead, we focused on advice and insight from the top minds of industry because people and ideas will be how America remaineds number one in manufacturing in the world. 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why, today we have an idea episode and we’re going to be talking about taking action to support industry. And I’m so excited to have with us, Mr. Tim Wilborne. And he is at TW controls and actually we call them the Industrial Sourcer. So we’ll talk to Tim about that title here in a minute, but welcome Tim. How you doing man? 

Tim: 01:15 

Doing great. Chris, happy to be here. 

Chris: 01:18 

We’re very excited have you with us and you just for our listeners to know you reached out to me, I guess you, you found the show and you were getting some value out of it. And then when I saw what you’re doing, it’s like, Oh, wow, we got to get together, man. 

Tim: 01:31 

Absolutely 

Chris: 01:31 

Absolutely for sure. So I’m so excited to talk with you today and maybe to get us started, explain to the listeners out there, the mission behind what you’re building, because you’re really trying to educate a lot of people and get them interested in this exciting industry that we’re in.

Tim: 01:48 

We’re looking to build the next generation of technicians for our industry and to instill confidence in existing technicians that may not realize that they can do, that they have more capabilities than they realize. 

Chris: 02:02 

Okay. So you’re really focusing on the technician in themselves, the people that are actually working on the equipment.

Tim: 02:09 

Yes. The people that are going to support it once it’s installed and everybody who designed it and built it have walked. 

Chris: 02:16 

Not notice just by, by going to your YouTube channel and seeing some things you’re doing Al I was scrolling down. I looked like. About two years ago. That’s when the content started rolling in.

And man, it was rolling in big time. Now you got almost from my account 300 videos, you have 23,000 followers, you’ve got an Instagram. Every time I turn on Instagram, you’re dropping some cool new video trying to help people do something. What sparked it all? 

Tim: 02:41 

Yeah, that’s an interesting question because really actually about three years ago, I got burnout on YouTube and I really lost sight of the goal or why was actually doing this. And for almost a year, we didn’t put out any videos and every year Amber and I really measure, what are we doing? What’s working, what do we need to just get rid of? And we almost deleted our YouTube channel. It wasn’t working. It was I had taken a negative turn towards it and really, I forgot that I was there to help people get into our industry. And I had actually turned off all the comments where I didn’t have to see them anymore or any of that. And so really I was reviewing it and looking how are people using this?

And I found one guy, actually, when you Googled me, he came up to the top and he was using one of my videos. And he said, that I was no longer doing this, but for $39.95 a month, that he would take my place. And I’m like, no, that was, this is not the way this is ever supposed to be as, so I started reading through the comments and realized that I had missed so many opportunities to help people. And I had started, I made the 44 questions about PLC’s video, which really I just gathered those questions and said, “Okay let’s try to answer these questions and just see if we can get the ball rolling again.” And out of that, a guy, I believe his name was Andrew asked probably the most popular question we get is, “Hey, I’m an electrician and I’m trying to get into PLC programming. How can, what are steps I can do to do it.” And so I did the how to get a job programming PLCs, and the cogs started turning and I started getting focused again on, “Hey, we’re here not to sell products.” There’s no agenda except to help people. And so ever since then, every video we have done has been because of a user’s question. 

Chris: 04:44 

That is awesome. That is awesome. And the focus on helping people know there is a book out there, Tim called a utility, and I’m not sure if you’ve read it, but it’s a, I just finished reading it for about the third time cause I’m trying to find ways to help people there too. And it’s exactly what you’re doing. It’s creating information that helps people get better and there’s no really no end game, other than. All of a sudden. Now you’re the expert in a lot of these areas because people are trusting you and you’re building that trust and on you’re helping in an area that of industry that definitely needs it, man.

So hats off to you. That’s good stuff. Now, when you start looking at those videos and you started looking at that feedback, what’s been some of the most impactful comments or feedback that’s come back to you. That’s helped drive where you want to take new topics in the future. 

Tim: 05:33 

Probably the most impactful feedback that I got, actually wasn’t in a YouTube video.

It was before YouTube was really a big thing before then a lot of us were in the control forums and especially early on I started dabbling in the control forums, but because I was new and I had, I’d asked you a question about a project that I had and I would get some feedback, but then also started trying to answer other people’s questions and even. We got 10 different answers was mine the best or was it, where was it on the scale? And probably at that point in time, my answers were probably 80% accurate. But I got a guy who messaged me one day. And said, thanks for a recent answer I had given him and that he read every single one of my posts and he practiced what I said and tried to replicate it and really appreciated it.

And it was the first time that all of a sudden I realized I really need to watch. The way I act on these forums are now on YouTube and really, I need to make sure that, I’m giving the best information. And yeah, that was probably, it was a small message, but it was probably one of the biggest turning points that really set me down.

Excuse me. That really sent me down on this path. 

Chris: 06:54 

Yeah. Yeah. How many comments and feedbacks are you seeing on a regular basis now? Cause I’m sure with your subscribers, it’s probably flooding in with information and, from your viewers and what they like and what they’re hoping to see next.

Tim: 07:08 

That’s one of the biggest challenges actually on a peak day, we’ll get 900, emails, comments, questions, and yeah, it’s becoming to the point that it’s really difficult to address them all. 

Chris: 07:23 

Yeah. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. So on those peak days, and you’re taking this training to a new level, you know what who’s coming to you?

Is it the people and the plants themselves, or is it people in maybe younger generations that are looking to do some training and figure out where they want to go for college? Where are you serving right now? 

Tim: 07:42 

As far as the questions that we are asked there’s two groups. We mainly, it will be maintenance, technicians, electricians, maybe mechanical guys, people who are right on the fringes of automation, they’re having to run into it.

They’re butting heads with it. And they’re like, man, I’ve really got to learn to navigate this better, to do better at my job. So that would be the one that was probably my favorite. Not that I don’t enjoy the second group, but the second group is actually schools, mostly technical colleges, looking to figure out how to do the best training they can for the technician. 

Chris: 08:17 

Yeah, no doubt. That’s great. Hats off to you and speaking of schools, I know when you and I were talking, you mentioned the, you make it challenged and that, that was a very big, impactful thing for you. So maybe explain that to our listeners who may not understand what that is and w and why you’re so passionate about it.

Tim: 08:35 

Oh, that now we could probably spend a whole podcast on that. So the, you make a challenge was put out by Rockwell automation. It wasn’t something we did. And here’s where you always have to watch how you challenge your children. But I do, I look for things like that, just to stretch them a little bit.

And I believe that was in July or August, the school was about ready to start. And so I told my kids, you’ve got to submit something to them. So the general gist of it was. Rockwell automation said, find something that you feel is wrong in the world and come up with an idea on how to solve it. And so my son and daughter both submitted entries and really, I thought that was the end of it.

And few weeks later, we got an email that said your child has been selected as a top 10 finalist, which was really challenging because obviously we had two entries into it and we’re like, okay, which child was the, so it ended up being my son, Michael, and my daughter, after being upset for about 20 minutes and swearing, she was going to sabotage him in every way possible she did get behind him on that. But he came up with an idea of how to improve sanitation in developing countries. And that’s something Amber and I do. We work on the side in drinking water and sanitation and general healthcare in developing countries. And so he came up with this idea. And the top 10 finalists, it was all put to a vote online and the top three got flown to Automation Fair in Chicago to present at perspectives.

Chris: 10:19 

Okay.

Tim: 10:20 

Now, Chris, I don’t know if you were aware of perspectives is like where the top people of art industry come to hear about what all is going on. So one, we had all the Rockwell automations top executives, but you also have executives from the big industries there. So Michael ended up in the top three, he presented there in front of 400 of probably the biggest people in our industry.

And yeah, that was just an amazing experience for him, for me as a father, just overall, I can’t, I will never be able to thank Rockwell enough for what it did to him and to us and, kinda loop that back around. I think I really felt after that, I need to figure out how to do that to the next generation.

We have some ideas that we’re working on, that we’re going to engage with high schoolers. We’re going to engage with midle schoolers. Cause maybe I can’t put on the you make it a challenge, but I can do my part locally to bring kids into our industry or maybe I’ll call it more planting seeds in our industry that hopefully will flourish. Maybe in six years, maybe in 10 years. 

Chris: 11:37

 Yeah. You’re planting those seeds at that right level. Cause we’ve talked to several people who are really focused on that technician and the college level, those types of programs, even a program for military to manufacturing and trying to help them transition.

But the piece that’s, I hadn’t heard many talk about. And since encouraging to hear you talk about is that middle school, high school STEM focus, cause that is. That’s where he can really generate a lot of interest and maybe find that next set of engineers out there that are passionate about, about, STEM and want to get into the industry and take it to the next level.

You’re trying, we’ve talked about it a little bit, but you’re being very intentional. I know that a lot of your videos that you’re coming out, you pick topics and you dig deep in them. Prioritizing those topics. I’m sure it can be hard because there’s only so much bandwidth in a day to create so many videos. So how do you walk through that? Because you’re really trying to support industry at a high level. Just curious on your thought process of that priority. 

Tim: 12:35 

We usually focus on the more basic topics. We get a lot of requests. Or, I don’t know, let’s say how to do vision systems and how to do augmented reality and all these things.

But while those things are important to our industry, I think our focus is really on understanding the basics. In other words, when a technician walks up, he’s going to say, okay, my motor is not running and how can I help him? Trace that motor back to the contactor and realize that contactor is not coming in and trace it to the PLC and then follow the logic enough. And he can find out that his gate switches bad and that, so that’s more of our focus is, was a low tech, don’t know, I don’t want to call it low tech, but there’s board basic principles that are probably behind even all the high tech things that we’re seeing. 

Chris: 13:28 

No doubt it is. The whole IOT and 4.0 and smart manufacturing, none of that happens if you don’t get the basic blocking and tackling down.

And I think that’s the piece that, from what we seen with manufacturing in particular with the infrastructure as old as it is the aging workforce, that’s the gap.  I think you’re all over it. Now you’ve got what, 300 videos or so out right now . So you’re not you’re not shy behind a camera.

You obviously you’ve got you’ve got to figure it out. For the listeners out there who want to start creating content or making videos to help all the topics they’re in, and maybe it’s an engineering topic, what have been some of the learning curves that you’ve had to along creating some of this content.

Tim: 14:13 

I think the biggest issue that I still have today is probably dealing with negative comments and what I would say to them, as there is constructive negative criticism, but it is rare. Usually the negative comments you’re getting in no way can help you. So try not to get stuck on this and really whatever platform you’re doing, just hit the record button and throw something out and yes, it won’t be perfect, but it’s a start and then do it again and just try to learn and do better.

And the one thing I would probably say to you, Chris, and to me, actually, this is how we ended up in this podcast is, if you see someone who is doing something and okay, maybe it’s not even perfect. If they’re doing something and it’s helpful, then reach out to them and tell them, “Hey, you’re doing a great job.”

Don’t say you’re doing great, but here are some suggestions or don’t say, you’re doing great. How about you try our products? Just tell someone that they’re doing a great job. I think there’s enough room out, there’s enough need out there that none of us should be considered competition. That’s why I reached out to you Chris, you’re doing a great thing and they’re complimentary to each other. I don’t think there’s any of us that are really butting heads on this. 

Chris: 15:35 

You’re exactly right. And I know this, you and I, we both are have mutual connections with Chris Luecke and Manufacturing Happy Hour and things that he’s doing there. And we support that a hundred percent and then on been honored to be on that show. And I just think you’re so right. Just that gratitude and support for each other. I even noticed you were on a one of those happy hour social events. And I think it’s just great to get together for those types of things and encourage people.

You’re all over it. And you mentioned the platforms that you’re on and some people may think that you have to have all this, elaborate platforms to really make a difference and help people, what are you using now? What have you used in the past and maybe where are you going with some of these platforms to create some of this content.

Tim: 16:16 

As far as creating it, most people are surprised that yeah, I use a $200 old cell phone and a $15 mic and yeah that’s the extent of our YouTube set up. It’s really hit play on it and try to make content that is helpful. And also that sounds okay. And that would be the one big is watch the sound.

Most of ours is on YouTube and you know what I would warn people that are trying to get into this as realized that you don’t have to be into everything. You don’t need to do YouTube, Instagram, reels, LinkedIn, and all these things really find one that you know, that you are helping someone, and you find rewarding and stick in that one. 

Chris: 16:55 

For sure. Keep it simple to start. It don’t feel like you have to make that, $5,000 investment out the gate just to get going, you really can start simply and make a big impact for people. How about the industry that you’re serving? You’re working with a lot of manufacturers. What are they saying? Are you getting any feedback directly from the manufacturers out there? 

Tim: 17:15 

I think the big thing that I hear from people is that I’ve been instilled confidence. And like you said I’m hitting basic topics. I’m not hitting, the latest and greatest in industrial 4.0 or whatever we’re talking about.

Really it is those basics and where a technician before would get to a certain troubleshooting step and say, “Okay, there’s something wrong the PLC, we need to call somebody in.” It’s just getting them to that next step where they can look into it and say, “Hey wait, I’m following this motor here. And I go back and, Oh, here’s my gate switch. Now, let me grab my volt meter and go look at the gate switch.”

Chris: 17:55

I got you now, as this thing has evolved Tim, you’ve come a long way. Your videos are awesome. What do you see as next what’s coming down the pipeline that to help others learn and keep to keep creating and be on that cutting edge to bring this information to industry.

Tim: 18:11 I know a lot of people say that this is virtual reality and augmented reality and those types of things, but I really feel that we need to get people in front of industry. I believe that is how we’re going to inspire the next generation. This statements, I use this statement a lot and while it’s a little off basis, the day that they close Disneyland, because augmented reality and virtual reality can do better.

That’s when that should be our primary recruiter into our industry, but right now, what I’ve seen, doesn’t do it justice. And actually I will go on a little rabbit trail here about this Amber and I, we do a lot of projects in developing countries. And if you’ve ever been there and you watch the well go in and then put the pump on it, and the moment they pump the first drops of water and the kids run up and they’re trying to get it.

And the, all the parents are cheering and you’re going to end up crying and I’ve been, I’ve watched this an augmented reality and every single person cried.

It doesn’t have that impact that we need to get people into our industry. We live in the most awesome time in human history and the generation that’s coming up now. They’re looking for more than a big paycheck and a nice benefit packages. It’s going to take more than that to get them in our industry. And so I think that is as getting people in front of, letting them see the machines and  let’s stop being these ginormous buildings with no windows in them, but let’s let people know what is going on in there.

You know how, we talk security so much and I don’t get me wrong security is important, but we act like we have to keep everything so guarded, but nobody actually knows what goes on in those buildings. So I would say is, if you’re, if you’re a company, guard, what you need to guard, but also let people see what is available to see, and whether that be a small clip that you put out on LinkedIn. Let them see a little bit of your process that way somebody can be like, “Oh I didn’t even know how, but it’s made,” or, “Hey, I never even thought about how that’s made”or, heavier employees do it, do a competition of who can do the best Instagram, where he’ll own, how to prep steel for a weld, let’s start talking and showing what we do.

Chris: 20:35 

Yeah, no doubt. I even noticed there’s some manufacturers out there just utilize big glass windows instead of those brick walls and actually showcase some of the equipment, just to let, actually just get that peek inside. There’s one on interstate in North Carolina. Every time I drive by it, it’s a brewery and you can see literally everything, the whole process, as you go down the interstate and that’s just cool. It just, it peaks your interest and okay. That’s a pretty big equipment and I know they’re making beer, but it takes all of that to make beer. So it’s just another way to connect the dots.

Tim: 21:07 

Yeah. 

Chris: 21:08 

Very cool, man. You’re so passionate about this and this has been so much fun, but we call it EECO Asks Why that’s the heart of the show, Tim. So if you were to answer someone, why should everyone take ownership and really be advocating and training others just about this amazing world of manufacturing? What would it be? 

Tim: 21:25 

I believe that anyone that is successful in their trade has an obligation to help raise up the next generation. And I don’t think that means after you have 30 years of experience in your career is winding down. We actually helped mentor our first company when we were about six months old.

And I believe that, if you are a, even starting out in a trade, then you are capable of mentoring a college student. If you’re a college student, then you are capable of mentoring a high school student then yeah. If you’re a high school student, you’re capable of mentoring a middle school student.

And yeah, if you’re a middle school student, you can, you’re capable of mentoring and elementary school student. And that’s not a farfetched thing. I, my kids were just talking about it the other day. They were remembering their elementary school buddy. And so when you come into school here in elementary school, you get a fifth grade buddy and they take you around and show you the school.

They remembered for that. And six years later, or five years or however, whenever their fifth grade term came, they’re like, “Oh wow. We get to mentor somebody here. We get to mentor kindergartener now.” And that’s the way, there is that feeling of it. You’re going to get so much more back by mentoring someone. And I’ll say that, I answer a ton of questions, but I learned so much from it. Somebody has a problem. Chances are it’s in an industry that I have, I know nothing about. And so I had to think, okay, what, how do they do that? And that’s a great learning experience for both of us.

Chris: 23:03 

Oh man. You’re doing great. That mentorship is so important, and Tim, for people who want to follow you or learn more about TW Controls and maybe want to learn more about industry and automation, where can they go to connect with you? 

Tim: 23:16 

I certainly hope they can Google me now and find me and not find somebody else who uses my stuff, but yeah, you can Google Tim Wilborne. You can go to TWcontrols.com and yeah we’re on LinkedIn and yeah, we’re real accessible and reach out to us. We’d love to talk to you. 

Chris: 23:31

Absolutely. And we’ll make sure that we link all your your links and connection points in our show notes for our listeners as always. So go there checkout some great ways to get in touch with Tim. And thank you, Tim so much. This has been a fun topic. Really enjoyed walking this through. You’re doing a phenomenal job and just hats off to you and your wife for all the work you’re doing. 

Tim: 23:51 

Thank you so much for having me, Chris. And you’re doing a phenomenal job also. 

Chris: 23:56 

Thank you, sir. You have a great day. 

Tim: 23:58 

You too.