By Lloyd Graff
The variety of small business permutations in America always surprises me.
In the rolling prairie of Northwest Indiana-Amish Country—Eli L. runs 3 1-1/4″ RA6 National Acme screw machines without conventional horsepower electric motors—the normal power supply. He has been making fittings on these workhorses for 25 years using a jerry rigged diesel generator connected to a line shaft to power his machine tools.
The Amish are adamantly opposed to being hooked up to the power grid but are not Luddites. For instance Eli, who runs his shop with his children and grandchildren, has upgraded his screw machines with Logan air clutches to squeeze out more production.
Eli used to make a line of machined salt and pepper shakers, but that business has faltered. He is quite busy, however, on contract fittings manufacturing.
It used to be very difficult to reach Eli, but his business is now connected to the outside world by cell phones. You cannot easily find his shop on a map, but a GPS will guide you. But one thing you will not see in his office is a computer connected to the Web.
Question: Would you do business with a company that was off the power grid?