Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Hacksaw Hangups

I have a natural curiosity about some idioms and how they might have developed over time. Take for example, “throwing a wrench in the plan.” Why choose a wrench? Why not a hammer or screwdriver? Or a… hacksaw?

Turns out I have a hacksaw story – quite the curiosity too – that really got my goad for several weeks. If you have followed any of my meanderings and musings over the last year, you might not be surprised by this story. Rather than cut to the chase though, I would first like to talk about FOD.

Before becoming SORED’s executive director I spent the larger portion of 14 years as a business development manager which included several years facilitating the Oregon Heavy Lift Helicopter Consortium.

Oregon was home to seven such rotor-wing wonders for many years, representing 85-90% of the world’s heavy lift capacity, with capability of lifting from 8,000 to 26,000 pounds. Today there are still 5 companies in the state, and right here in Southern Oregon, there are three.

Croman Corp and Erickson Inc. are based in Jackson County and Swanson Aviation Group (formerly based in Grants Pass) is in Glendale just over the Josephine County border. They all employ highly skilled employees and operate highly sophisticated aircraft – that happen to also be highly expensive. Having been in all their plants and attended a few helicopter tradeshows and conferences on their behalf, I have learned a bit about the danger of foreign object debris (FOD).

The other FOD – foreign object damage – can cause serious injury and potentially loss of life. Aviation maintenance technicians, whether in the field or in the hangar, are particularly religious about making certain every tool is shadowed and returned to its proper place. Every nut and bolt must be accounted for.

In perhaps a less expensive form of transportation – like my 1978 Ford F150 that really will not go much faster than 55 mph – a few rattles here and there probably would not be much cause for concern. It had been sitting for a spell in the carport before my January car accident disrupted my daily drive routine and I was reacquainted with “Gramps” which I expected it to be a little rusty and temperamental.

In the last two months Gramps has had lots of curious noises addressed and a few minor repairs: new rear bearings and brakes, new starter, new belts, new radiator and finally the diagnosis of that annoying whistling sound which was thought to be some sort of vacuum leak. So annoying in fact that I was reticent to look left or right at a stop light – I could sense the stares from my neighboring commuters without even turning my head. I could visualize them screaming “what is that horrific noise!”

All was bliss after my third trip to the mechanic. For about two miles. And then came an even more horrendous gut-wrenching screech that left me feeling like maybe there was a murder in progress under the hood. Gramps was promptly returned for another look.

By mid-day, the diagnosis was made, and the culprit was named. A hacksaw. Yes, I had some seriously large FOD loose in the engine compartment. A wrench really sort of pales in comparison, doesn’t it?

My Dad is fondly remembered to have been prepared for any incident in that truck. He was always on the lookout for distressed drivers in the ditch to rescue. In addition to an entire toolbox tucked under the hood, a spool of baling wire attached inside the grill, shovels, rakes, jacks, and axes bungee-tied to the inside bed of the truck, and who knows what else that is yet to be found behind the bench seat (I already found the 400 $1 bills stashed away for dump runs) – I have a hatchet, just in case.

You might say that there have a been a few wrenches or hacksaws thrown into SOREDI’s traditional business development outreach initiatives over the last 15 months – namely, two disasters. And we are all well-aware of how those same two disasters have impacted the business plans of hundreds of retail, hospitality, and service sector businesses. Yet, we are pressing on to identify and remove a wrench or two that are keeping our businesses from humming down the road on cruise control on their way back to economic vitality.

There is a litany of hacksaw hang-ups to address, as well, particularly resulting from the wildfires – from site cleanup to zoning and permitting constraints to delays in insurance payments to severe losses in operating revenues. And overall – well before the pandemic and the wildfires there has been and continues to be a lack of willing and skilled employees.

Turns out that Gramps is still visiting the mechanic to handle a few other new hacksaw hangups. Yeah, that horrific sound was much more than just the hacksaw wreaking havoc. Life does have a way of throwing a hacksaw in the works now and then, creating a little or a lot of havoc and uncertainty.

I had to be present in the truck though, listening to its creaks and groans to realize something was seriously wrong. And so goes it with our continued charter to excel in business development services. SOREDI has an amazing business development staff interfacing every day with the business community to listen, identify their hacksaw hangups, and respond in earnest.

This Thursday, April 15, we begin a series of on-the-ground outreach with 3-5 staff members in the south valley. We are going door-to-door to say hello to our hurting businesses with warm smiles (under our masks, of course), friendly fist bumps, and a listening ear. And we are inviting every business impacted by the wildfires, the pandemic, or otherwise to visit us on Thursdays at the Phoenix Civic Center to interface with SOREDI staff and other business services partners, meet with community leaders, and find resources.

Review our Jackson County Phoenix-Talent wildfire recovery flyer here to see who you can expect to be on hand to visit with you in the first several weeks beginning April 29. Can’t wait a day longer? No problem. Call our offices – (541) 773-8946 – we will return your all promptly.


Colleen Padilla

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