My travels have taken me all over the place lately, trips for which I’m very lucky. I’m feeling a little bit nomadic and like an airport security pro lately with all of the recent traveling for blogging and other jobs, I don’t even travel with my own shampoo, conditioner, or soap anymore. Blouse-squeeze-packing aside, unlike any seriously metropolitan-subway-taxi excursions, this latest trip made for a downright relaxing two days in the rural towns of Mt. Hope and Baltic, Ohio.
Rural, I strongly emphasize. The Genie Company is headquartered among the largest Amish population in the country, which seems like a crazy disconnect at first for a company that has mastered the art of not having to manually open a door, but we learned that the first garage door systems were designed and manufactured by the Amish, so go fancy yourself that. As we were shuttled from the Akron, Ohio airport, the landscape quickly turned from city to countryside, with rolling hills, beautiful orchards, and pastures extending further than I could see.
These next pictures were taken from inside headquarters, a building that’s more so a masterfully architectural phoenix in the middle of cow fields and Amish barns, set back and up away from the street itself but totally the big cheese in town by employing, uh, lots of people, Amish and otherwise. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and maybe a little disruptive to the natural surroundings, but it sure gives those employees a wonderful view and access to great craftsman.
Oh look, a horse and buggy. I wasn’t lying about the Amish countryside thing, I wish they’d come do my landscaping and lawn maintenance, they’re fabulous.
The brunt of the Genie experience involved a tour of its assembly plant in Baltic, Ohio, where we had an opportunity to learn about marketing and distribution and then actually wander through the plant to watch door openers being assembled and quality-checked. Machinery and operations can be so interesting to observe in person (says this dorky project efficiency girl). And they churn out nearly 900 assembled and packaged products every day; I don’t really have a good scale for how awesome or not awesome that is, but I can extrapolate from my own experiences that it’ll probably take me an entire day to unwrap, read directions, and then install my opener someday, so… they win.
Side note: Still getting used to and loving the 50mm lens that Pete bought me last Fall. Outside of the house when I have room to stand back and focus, I’ve been trying to use it exclusively to learn how better about how it works, and this next picture felt particularly charming thanks to the radical depth of field.
It’s always interesting to see how companies will rag on their products for quality control measures; Genie does this interestingly, by installing randomly selected products and letting them simulate opening and closing a door upwards of and beyond 5,000 cycles to test for mechanical mishaps and audible issues, even testing to see if any models produce oil droplets on the track overtime. QC testing rules. I had some what-I-thought-would-be great pictures of this mechanism, but it was an Emily-meets-50mm fail so… nada. Just a picture of me, maybe? Sure, I’ve got one of those.
Right. Warehousing the products took me back in time to my first-ever job which was on a team performing an inventory count at Dunlop Tires in Buffalo, NY. It involved counting individual tires and differentiating them based on tread markings for two consecutive 16-hour days, easily making it the most almost-union experience I’ve ever had. I’m not exaggerating, I was 18 years old, I was just as process and accuracy-oriented as I am today, but I had tire counting dreams for weeks (and by weeks, I mean years). Product inventory headaches aside, forklifts look like a fun drive.
I’ll plan for a follow-up post on the products themselves in the future; I didn’t get to handle or participate in an installation, but they are sending us a product to test out for ourselves.
**And with that said, The Genie Company did pay for my travel and lodging, but not my own airport parking investment or any of the string cheese, beer, or bad sandwiches I ate in any of the four airports I spent quality time in. I wasn’t under any obligation to discuss to share pictures or my opinions with you. If I pinch my finger off installing the door opener, you’ll hear about that too.
***P.S. How many other travelers become overwhelmingly squirrely when traveling, and eat everything in sight? I think I do it out of fear of when my next meal will be coming. And the string cheese in the Philadelphia airport was divine, even if it constituted my lame Thursday night din-din.