2005 Lynn Morrison and Mike Longo Retire from Whitacre Greer

At the meeting of the Board of Directors in July 2005, Lynn Morrison retired and I was elected president and CEO. Steve Fellows became the vice president of production. Other personnel changes included Mike Longo retiring in December 2005.

To replace Mike Longo, I approached Colby DeHoff, who had been with WG for several years as a salesman. Colby thought about my offer and agreed on the condition that we focus our efforts on improving the quality of the product. I agreed as I felt that improved quality needed to be our main focal point. Colby became our vice president of sales and Mic McAfee was hired to replace Rick Sherer in our sales area.

The goal of the new management team was to produce a high quality product. At this point, we were beginning to lose customers and the product quality was the number one reason. Our sales group had to focus on convincing our customers that we were improving and they should give us another try. At the same time, the cost of natural gas was ever increasing, up to $15 per Mcf at this point, which had a huge impact on our production costs. Our scrap was high and we were beginning to see the effects of not having our own employees.

Our focus turned to these areas, as we began to try to improve. We all agreed that we needed to begin hiring people, especially those temporary workers that had been with us for many years. We began by writing some of the hiring guidelines, as well as an employee handbook. We gradually hired employees, however, it took several years to get to full strength.

We began to slow down the manufacturing process. Previously, we had been so focused on speed that quality was an afterthought. We slowed down the presses, and began to constantly emphasize the need to do it right the first time. We tried to push down the decision making to the lowest level possible, although we encountered resistance to this change in our culture.