Loyd speaks at ‘Cof­fee+E’ event

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Hunter McFer­rin Staff Writer hm­c­fer­[email protected]

A mix of busi­ness lead­ers, en­trepreneurs and in­no­va­tors in the com­mu­nity gath­ered at the Court­yard Event Cen­ter for the “Cof­fee+E” event on Tues­day morn­ing.

“Cof­fee+E” is a bi-monthly net­work­ing event hosted by the Siloam Springs Cham­ber of Com­merce and Tues­day’s meet­ing was also spon­sored by Startup Junkie. The be­gin­ning of the event is a time for pro­fes­sion­als of var­i­ous back­grounds to meet and speak with new peo­ple and ex­change ideas and in­for­ma­tion, fol­lowed

by a guest speaker with a demon­strated acu­men for en­trepreneur­ship and lead­er­ship.

Tues­day’s speaker was Grant Loyd, pres­i­dent of Al­ter­na­tive De­sign Manufacturing and Sup­ply Inc., a Siloam Springs-based com­pany that spe­cial­izes in metal fab­ri­ca­tion and more specif­i­cally, caging sys­tems that are used for an­i­mal re­search, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s web­site. The com­pany was founded in 1987 by Loyd’s par­ents, Eddie and Ge­orga Loyd, and has grown con­sid­er­ably since then, op­er­at­ing across the United States with dis­tri­bu­tion fa­cil­i­ties around the world, from South Africa to Bangladesh.

Loyd has been with the com­pany since its in­cep­tion work­ing in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent po­si­tions. In 2014, Loyd’s par­ents sold the com­pany to Grant and his wife, Jessie Loyd, at which time he took over as com­pany pres­i­dent. Loyd touched on a num­ber of top­ics on Tues­day, be­gin­ning with his fam­ily and how their en­tre­pre­neur­ial in­flu­ence helped guide him to­ward many of the suc­cesses he’s ex­pe­ri­enc­ing to­day. He said the story of his com­pany be­gan with his grand­fa­ther, who moved to Arkansas from Ok­la­homa and set­tled on a farm and be­gan rais­ing chick­ens.

“(My grandpa) de­cided to raise his fam­ily on a farm, which was a bless­ing to me as one of his grand­kids,” Loyd said. “That’s kind of where we started out, with a cat­tle op­er­a­tion and a poul­try op­er­a­tion. Back then, those cages would rust out be­fore you could pay them off. That’s why my fa­ther and brother started look­ing for new caging and no one would give them what they wanted. You don’t want to keep buy­ing some­thing that’s go­ing to rust out be­fore you pay it off, so be­ing the en­trepreneurs and in­no­va­tors they are, they started look­ing for dif­fer­ent meth­ods and looked at the wire that’s used in crab traps and said ‘If it’s good for salt­wa­ter, it’ll be good for caging.’”

Loyd also dis­cussed some neg­a­tive as­pects of his time at the com­pany and em­pha­sized that it hasn’t al­ways been easy and that there was a time they be­gan sell­ing prod­ucts like Ra­zor­back li­cense plates and trailer hitches to keep up with ex­penses. While times have been tough and still are in some re­gards, Loyd en­cour­aged the au­di­ence to try and ap­pre­ci­ate strug­gles they ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause a lot of times a neg­a­tive can be turned into a pos­i­tive.

This turned out to be the case for Al­ter­na­tive De­sign and Manufacturing, as the idea to sell trailer hitches and li­cense plates quickly ex­panded into other ven­tures, such as the in­stal­la­tion of bike racks and flag hold­ers around town, Loyd said. Even­tu­ally, it cul­mi­nated in the com­pany’s in­ter­est in con­struc­tion, and they have since worked on a num­ber of projects across North­west Arkansas, like J.J.’s Beer Gar­den and Brew­ing Com­pany in Fayet­teville or Red Barn Apart­ment Com­plex in Rogers. In his fin­ish­ing re­marks, Loyd de­scribed his idea of suc­cess­ful lead­er­ship.

“My as­pi­ra­tions aren’t nec­es­sar­ily to be this $20 mil­lion com­pany, or some huge, you know, just con­stant growth, money hun­gry com­pany; my job is to pro­vide for my em­ploy­ees,” Loyd said. “If I’m meet­ing their goals, meet­ing their house pay­ments, their car pay­ments, if I’m fo­cused on that, then I’m suc­cess­ful. I’m not wor­ried about my­self, if I’m meet­ing (my em­ploy­ees) needs, then I’m go­ing to be okay. That’s truly what my focus has al­ways been.”

The au­di­ence was given the chance to ask ques­tions of Loyd. Fol­low­ing are two of those along with his re­sponse.

• How do you at­tract and re­tain tal­ent?

“Any­one that drives by our build­ing, es­pe­cially nowa­days, sees that we were putting up and down a ‘Welders needed’ sign, and I fi­nally just left it up,” Loyd said. “It’s also tough do­ing that when you’re go­ing through changes in your busi­ness and af­ter you’ve made dif­fer­ent cuts in your busi­ness and you’re try­ing to bring tal­ent over. En­gi­neer­ing is a very tough area for us to hire and welders are a very tough area for us to hire, be­cause we’re spe­cial­ized welders. I’ll be quite frank with you, I don’t know if any­one here has a weld­ing li­cense from col­lege, but when we get those in, we don’t hire those peo­ple be­cause they don’t know how to weld like we do. They’ve had some ed­u­ca­tion on it, but it’s eas­ier for us to train them. So most of our tal­ent, well, we have peo­ple that have been with us for a long time, and we’ll go through the cham­ber on some things to at­tract tal­ent, but a lot of ours we’re train­ing within and also we’ve got peo­ple that have been with us for a long time. A lot of it is try­ing to pro­vide an hon­est, fair and eth­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, and that’s how we main­tain what we do here.”

• How is the tar­iff is­sue (with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion) af­fect­ing you right now?

“Well, it’s up and down, a lot of the prob­lem that we have is the un­known,” Loyd said. “I’ve al­ways said ei­ther do it or don’t do it, I don’t like the threats be­cause there’s a lot of com­pa­nies that are big­ger than us. So when there’s a scare or a tar­iff men­tioned, all these big­ger peo­ple go out and buy up all of the ma­te­rial. So prices go up even though the tar­iff hasn’t even kicked in. That’s one of the big things with this or­der (that I talked about ear­lier). They want a year guar­an­tee on a price and I can’t give them a price guar­an­teed for over a month. So it af­fects us quite a bit just be­cause we don’t know what they’re go­ing to do, I’m not go­ing po­lit­i­cal but one pos­i­tive/neg­a­tive is, one tweet can change our pric­ing struc­ture a lot. You never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

Hunter McFer­rin/Her­ald-Leader

The Cham­ber of Com­merce held its “Cof­fee+E” event on Tues­day morn­ing, where a group of com­mu­nity mem­bers con­vened for a net­work­ing ses­sion and to hear a brief speech from Grant Loyd (left) about his ca­reer. Loyd is the pres­i­dent of Al­ter­na­tive De­sign and Manufacturing, a Siloam Springs-based metal fab­ri­ca­tion com­pany. Loyd spoke about a wide range of is­sues per­tain­ing to his ca­reer; from the good, the bad and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

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