Around the World, Meet the President
The following is a chronology of my activities during this time.
In late 1973 the Egyptians and Syrians attacked Israel during the Yom Kippur holiday. The Arabs were quickly defeated but declared an oil embargo that led to long lines at the gas pumps. A captured Soviet tank reveled that their tank cannons were much better than the American ones. The pentagon issued orders to correct the situation and Cheston was able to obtain a major order for induction heating equipment. http://www.ioa.com/~zero/445-Cannons.html
By mid1974 Raufer was disgusted with the situation. Hill was not making any progress in finding business for induction heating and I was spending all my time chasing jobs in Moscow and not closing them. Rowan hired Raufer to run his operation in Brazil. In addition to Taylor from IPE he had stolen Raufer from Cheston and we were left without an experienced induction engineer.
I bought Raufer's class A stock by borrowing more money from the bank. Raufer exchanged his class B stock for Inductotherm stock. This made me fighting mad. With fire in my eyes a short session with Rowan again established that I had the moral and legal right to control the board and twenty percent of the stock.
Sears was buying up forging houses left and right for their Craftsman tool line so sales of resistance heaters were doing very well.
Howmet needed a larger vacuum furnace for England and with a little selling effort I was able to land that job. It was unique in that the flanged opening was on a forty five-degree angle so a cement mixer type charger could be mounted on the high side. Lona was put in charge of this project from cradle to grave.
I was not happy to lose my electrical engineer and the electronic genus that came with the Pelton purchase was worthless outside his area of experience. We needed a major order for induction heating.
A company in Michigan, Hoover Ugine, had a bold, grand plan to recycle scrap automobile parts. They planned to shred the scrap and press it into billets about twelve inches round and three feet long. These billets would then be heated before being extruded to form a wire bar for use in items like clothes hangers. My former employer, Ajax, had a lock on this business, but the buyer wanted a competitive bid. I wanted the business and was going to get it. The bid on the table was one and a half million. The project manager Bud Wahl, asked me if I was Santa Claus. I had arrived on a 707 sleigh and the price would be $707 thousand and with some difficulty we won the order. http://www.ioa.com/~zero/446-Hoover.html
Aerojet closed down the department that was to build the rocket motor for Mars and we were given the order to pack up the furnace equipment for storage at JackAss Flats, Nevada. Jack Ass Flats is one of the places the government stores things that they may use in the future, including old World War II planes and the like.
Late in1974 Cheston was able to obtain vacuum melting furnace order from Creusot-Loire in France. This order was profitable and paid the costs of operations and began to earn out the loss carry forward.
In early 1975 I made my first flight around the world. Before I stopped traveling in 1996 I was to purchase a total of 37 round the world tickets. Most people did not understand that these tickets were the cheapest way to travel if a salesman sets up his schedule correctly.
On this flight I did a little sight seeing but most of it was business. The first stop was London where I met Jess Cartlidge again. Union Carbide was looking for a 5000-pound facility for ingots and master alloy. They were after an old type chamber made from stainless steel. The English were never able to get along with me. The next stop was in Germany to visit a potential customer. The next stop was in city of Beirut for some delightful sightseeing. The next stop was in Karachi to allow the airplane to be cleaned. The next stop was in Delhi where I continued to Hyderabad to visit a customer. The next stop was in Tokyo to sell a furnace to New Japan Steel. The next leg was to Hawaii for a little rest. The next short flight was to LA to a visit to a customer. The last leg was the red eye home.
The sales trip to Hyderabad turned out to be fruitful. This is where I met Eon Brackinberry, the owner of Scotvac, and Tom Dick it's managing director. Consarc would buy this vacuum equipment producing firm several years later. This is the company that bought equipment for production of carbon-carbon from FMI years later that led to the conviction for breaking export laws in 1995. John Haubenstein and Ray Roberts were there from Consarc and Roy Ruble was selling for Inductotherm. The French, German, Swedish and Japanese equipment suppliers were also there. This company was building a factory to produce superalloys and other materials they would need for defense purposes in case they could not buy the material from the West.
Selling was tough so Ruble agreed that we would make a single offer for three pieces of equipment so they could not break down the prices and find the lowest bidder. Inductotherm then would take the single order and the money would be split up back in Rancocas.
By early 1975 downtown Moscow bars were full with leading American businessmen politicians. The buying houses had many things they wanted to buy. It looked like I could sell the technology to build the Pelton governor for three times more than we paid for the business. I quoted a joint venture with America's leading oil-drilling company for drilling tips. I worked on projects for heat treatment and vacuum processing of transformer steel with Armco. This is where I met the President and was able to set the stage for Armco's purchase of a ten-ton furnace.
One project was with Crucible Steel to produce steel powder that would be pressed into ingots using an isostatic press. This selling attempt introduced me to the terminology of isopress equipment. None of these time consuming projects turned into orders for Cheston. I decided to stop chasing rainbows until I could find a way to meet the actual customer before expending sales efforts. http://www.ioa.com/~zero/442-ASEA.html
The Russian inspectors for the Metallurgimport order finally arrived in New York in March 1975. http://www.ioa.com/~zero/448-Inspectors.html
We sold the Pelton operation to a company in Austria that were builders of water turbine generators for the world market and got most of our original investment back. I learned a very important lesson operating the Pelton division. You must have someone who loves a business to make a small operation work. None of our people liked this business and we made very little money for our efforts.