2021 was a hard year, but while I look in the rearview, I see we’ve got plenty of reasons for optimism as we take on the year ahead.
A good friend and great mind, Simon T. Bailey, once wrote about how you have to look back to go forward. Your rearview mirror, he explained, is one of your greatest tools for “envisioning the future”. As we start a new year I find myself thinking of his book, Shift Your Brilliance, and the power of reflection.
When I started this business, I was 29 years old, busting down sheet rock in the basement of my family home to make room for a Bridgeport I bought used from a newspaper ad. Prospects were a little grim to say the least; there definitely weren’t signs that I had just made a professional dive into a goldmine.
As a matter of fact, some of the brightest and most trusted people in my corner called me crazy. I myself had enough doubt to agree with them. Looking back on the early years of Westminster Tool, it’s hard in hindsight to pinpoint what exactly convinced me to power through some of the most difficult chapters of this company’s history. At the very start, like all startups, there were enough bumps to humble anyone. But for me and a team of three of my closest buddies, somehow it got easier, and the expansion began.
Over a decade later, at the height of the recession, my resiliency was again put to the test. Colleagues all around me were going under, with little optimism to go around. But we made it through, stronger than ever. Again, I look back and wonder, what made us different than so many other companies that closed their doors that year?
I think that these years of the pandemic are no different than the greatest hurdles we’ve had so far. The same challenges we face today are shared by our customers, our vendors, our partners, and the families in our community.
In reflecting on 2021, however, we grew. We made it through the year by the seat of our pants with the support of our strongest allies. We tackled unprecedented technical demands with groundbreaking design and engineering methods. We brought in new business in a time where most companies were playing it safe. We invested in new machining and 3D printing technology to give our team the latest tools available. We made new partnerships with Mantle Inc., Sumitomo SHI Demag and Keystone Plastics Equipment. One of the most exciting accomplishments of last year was our recognition for some of the most prominent awards in our industry. Standing on stage, receiving Mold Builder of the Year from AMBA, was easily one of the highlights of my career, rivaled only by the pride I had standing with my team as the MMT Leadtime Leader at Amerimold.
What made that growth possible is a combination of several things. First and foremost, it’s people. The people we have here at Westminster Tool are the sole driving force of every ounce of success we’ve had, and they’re the reason we can look to the future with pride. Without our partners, last year would have looked a lot different. Our suppliers, vendors, and every company we rely on to deliver to our customers, they make it possible for us to fulfill our value proposition. And finally, our relationships in the community. In a year where our social circles have never felt smaller, our community has never been stronger. The teachers in the town of Plainfield, our first responders, all of the people essential to supporting our neighborhood have gone above and beyond to keep our community safe.
It’s never been more clear that overcoming life’s biggest hurdles takes unity. With that in mind, we look forward to 2022 with an emphasis on collaboration. Every single day I’m blown away by the incredible people that surround me and is the reason I love what I do. As long as we can continue to rely on each other, in our own companies and communities, I have no doubt we’ll tackle whatever comes next.
Raymond Coombs, Jr.
President, Westminster Tool