A Message from Our AWCI President, August 2014

While we may complain about a variety of situations, such as the lack of spare parts, and this is certainly a valid concern, the main issue still remains—the lack of the visual standards and best practices of workmanship.

Manuel Yazijian, CMW21, AWCI President

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As you are reading this month’s issue, summer is in full swing: hot and dry for those of us in the Southwest and mostly muggy and hot for the rest of the  country with a few spots of cool here and there. Regardless of the weather, many of us are preparing to attend our annual convention, August 21-23. Specifics are in the ensuing pages of this magazine as well as on our website, awci.com/symposium. If you’re reading this early enough, and you can make some free time on these dates, register first and stop by our convention. There may still be room to get in, and we’d love to have you.
Reflecting upon the events of this past month, we have two new directors elected to the Board of Directors, Aaron Recksiek and Joshua Kroman. Fred White has been reelected to the board. Congratulations to all three of you. I am looking forward to working with you all on the main mission of continuously elevating and maintaining the standards of workmanship in our profession. Also, a big thank you to the outgoing directors, Henry Kessler and Michal Blaszczyk. It’s been a pleasure serving with you.
     As some of you may know, I have quite a few heroes, the first being George Washington as the first American president for seeing an infant country through some very difficult times, but mostly because he ultimately went back to tending his farm, a move which is said to have bewildered the British. But, of course, the rest is history. As with all presidents, there are admirers and supporters as well as a fair share of critics—this comes with the territory. A famous quote comes to mind from yet another hero, President Abraham Lincoln: “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Which leads me to the third individual I admire, William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900–December 20, 1993). Born in Sioux City, Iowa, he was an engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. He is best known for his work in Japan after WW II, particularly for helping the leaders of the Japanese manufacturing industry rise out of the destruction and devastation of their economy. You may read more about Mr. Deming on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Edwards_Deming.
     Although watch service and maintenance may not be the same as manufacturing an automobile, motorbike, or shoes in the strictest of sense, in my opinion, we are facing some of the similar problems as the Japanese were prior to their adoption of Dr. Deming’s ideas and concepts.
     When you read Dr. Deming’s points and teachings, you will notice he places great emphasis on producing the highest quality of product, process, and/or service, and better (different) management of a system. While we may complain about a variety of situations, such as the lack of spare parts, and this is certainly a valid concern, the main issue still remains—the lack of the visual standards and best practices of workmanship in the repair sector. The lack of these visual standards leads to a “free for all” situation where those who adhere to high standards of workmanship are constantly battling with those who do not adhere to the would-be generally accepted visual standards and vice versa. This leads to a domino effect on several levels, which has repercussions all across the industry, mostly negative. It seems our current situation is nothing new, just read page 30 of this issue—watchmakers in the US endured the same issues as far back as 1934. Naturally, it would be preferable for all the major industry members to agree on a set of best practices that would be available for public consumption. Compared to the 1930s, we now have a different set of tools at our disposal, namely the availability of a wide array of electronic media that is quite affordable and freely available to a worldwide audience. This means, once everyone in our industry agrees on “red for stop, amber for caution/slow down, and green for go,” then we can all play on the same level field, and work ethics and integrity become a little less ambiguous. Until then, we will be going round and round in circles, and the never-ending search for those highly qualified individuals will forever be haunting our industry.
     Quoting a friend and colleague, Bernhard Stoeber, “A true professional does the right things (and things right) when nobody is watching.”  The question we must all ask ourselves is: “Am I doing the right things and things right when nobody is watching?”
     Keeping in tune with this month’s editorial focus on crystals, “One can better see the dial and hands after changing that scratched crystal, and our crystal is quite badly scratched. Things become crystal clear and we may or may not like what we see; but first, we need to change the crystal.”
     In the meantime, keep your skills honed, your standards very high, your attitude professional, your tools and equipment in great condition, and your workshops clean and organized—this is the only way we will excel.