A Heart to Heart with an Industry Veteran

By Lloyd Graff

Don called me yesterday to ask if I still remembered him. I said “sure, you are that fat Polack in Milwaukee with the Davenport shop.” I could say that because even though I haven’t seen Don in a decade, I always loved his good humor and sense of joy about doing business and making money.

“Remember me, I was that skinny kid who walked into your old plant in south Chicago with my Dad and bought my first two Davenports,” he said. I remembered the story even if I could never remember Don as skinny. Don bought a ton of Davenports and Acmes through the years from me, eventually selling that shop. But he couldn’t resist the clickety-clack of screw machines and started up another shop in the Beer City.

Don’s call was a sobering commentary on the times. His primary customer had dumped him for Asia and his foreman was retiring at 71. Sickness had caught up with Don. He had a quadruple bypass two years ago and is now breathing supplemental oxygen 24/7. He also battles to keep his diabetes at bay, among his other woes.

Don is a warrior and there was no “poor me” in his voice. He wanted the straight dope on what his five-year-old Davenports, three Brown & Sharpes and 18 years worth of collets, diehards and thread rollers were worth today. When I told him that an auction was probably a waste of time he took it with the stoicism of a beaten up knight.

My heart goes out to this good guy, especially to his heart, which I hope will ultimately come back, even if the Davenports never do.

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One thought on “A Heart to Heart with an Industry Veteran

  1. David


    Our customers are fighting a good fight. Most are hanging on for a better day which will surely come. Some are using this time to expand their shop’s capabilities or get their machines back in top working order. Others are networking to get work after the turnaround. I’ve noticed an increasingly morbid outlook in your Weekly Swarf messages. I just wanted to offer encouragement that things will get better. We are seeing increasing evidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there with the rest of us optimists. While there is much uncertainty about the industry’s outlook, and exactly when the turnaround will occur, what is guaranteed is that the optimists will be the ones left standing at the end of this fight.


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