Justin Smart | High End Iron Entries, Semiconductors, and Electric Motors

 In Being an Engineer Podcast

Who is Justin Smart?

After deciding a career in welding might lead to an “early retirement”, Justin Smart turned in his welding torch for a polo shirt and a degree in mechanical design. He worked for several years developing machinery and automation in the semiconductor industry before switching to a different industry entirely. He designed and then led a company developing high end iron doors for residences and commercial buildings. These days, he spends his time as the general manager at Interlink Engineering providing on-demand engineering services and as a reseller of 3D printing machines.


door, design, ryobi, product, hedge trimmer, interlink, motors, semiconductor, bought, metal, job, world, welding, company, moved, called, emerson, welded, machine, engineer
Justin Smart, Aaron Moncur

Aaron Moncur 00:14
Welcome to the being an engineer podcast. Our guest today is Justin smart, who is a mechanical designer and has worked at a few well known product companies such as Emerson, RYOBI, and Motorola as well as several smaller companies and currently manages his team at interlink engineering, where they focus on 3d printer sales, product design services, and on demand contract engineering placement for companies in need of short term engineering support. Justin, welcome to the show.

Justin Smart 00:46
Aaron, thanks for having me.

Aaron Moncur 00:48
All right, so first question, what made you decide to get into the field of CAD design mechanical design? What What was it that was attractive about that space for you?

Justin Smart 01:04
Honestly, when I was younger I, in high school, I thought I wanted to be a welder. And I did a lot of welding into welding every year in high school. And then it during my senior year, I noticed that a lot of people in the welding field that were older than I was, had very poor health. And it just suddenly occurred to me that it probably wasn’t the best line of work and occupation. And so I guess I had always had kind of that design bug in me and like to take things apart as a child and put them back together and build things and

Aaron Moncur 01:50
classic engineer. Yeah, so it just, you

Justin Smart 01:53
know, I like to make stuff and I thought I wanted to weld things together. And then, you know, I thought, well, maybe, maybe I should get a job inside of the office. Instead of I don’t know, in the middle of a refinery,

Aaron Moncur 02:07
breathing the fumes in everyday.

Justin Smart 02:11
Binary. So there’s a lot of piping design, you know, so pipeline. Yeah. So you know, these very large, complicated isometric drawings, it was kind of like a wiring diagram for a refinery. But instead of wires, there are pipes. And there’s millions of pipes and 1000s of valves and elbows and they can’t run into each other. So keeping track of all that, spaghetti. Something I would get is, you know, when you grew up around refiners, you see it everywhere. And then so, we got into that in college, just kind of where did you grow up? From there?

Aaron Moncur 02:55
What did you grow up?

Justin Smart 02:57
Just outside of St. Louis, the St. Louis metro area, okay.

Aaron Moncur 03:01
And what were all the refineries were these like, like, oil refineries with like, mineral refineries.

Justin Smart 03:07
They were definitely oil refineries. So okay, you got it, we had shell and standard and Amoco, and they were pretty much you know, all in the same area. And because you’re right on the Mississippi River, so you gotta be different. You know, the Mississippi, people don’t realize it and probably not as much as it used to be, but it’s for North and South. It is how all the commodities traveled throughout our nation. And so whether they come from from other places, they might land in Louisiana and to get on a barge and head north, or grains that are grown up in Wisconsin or put on a barge and then sent south and you got coal and grain and you know, sometimes tankers will oil and stuff too.

Aaron Moncur 03:53
So okay, and how did you get introduced initially to welding was that something like your family dad or your dad, dad or you had friends that were in welding?

Justin Smart 04:05
Yeah, my stepdad he was a he was a welder. He was also heavily involved in though in the local pipe fitters union. And so it was a very lucrative job if you could survive it, basically.

Aaron Moncur 04:24
I didn’t think about welders and then all working in a toxic environment but I suppose there are tons of like, you know, fumes, chemicals that you’re breathing and then beyond that you’re working with heavy pieces of metal that are probably getting moved around and there’s just physical danger due to that right.

Justin Smart 04:42
Yep, my step back fall, fell in the hole. So like I said, it’s liquid with you if you survive it, you know,

Aaron Moncur 04:51
survive it. Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Okay, so cool. You made the choice to depart this field fraught with danger and health risks and jump into a cushy office job. Nice. Alright, so right out of college, you took a job with Emerson who, who is like a huge company, they do so much stuff. Your particular role, I guess, was designing electric motor components and r&d fixtures. What were some of the projects that you worked on at Emerson?

Justin Smart 05:23
Well, Emerson Electric is, at the time, the largest motor manufacturer in the world, I’m not sure if they still are. But they had like 54 divisions that pretty much all of them were somehow related to electric motors. So you probably have one in your house. InSinkErator is a division of Emerson, right? So it makes your garbage disposal, which is a big motor mountain to the bottom of your, your drain. US I want to actually work to work for us motors, and, and then I moved from us motors and got promoted down to a r&d division within Emerson. But oddly enough, US Motors was a company in Prescott, Arizona. And right before I went to work for them, they actually got moved. Or Emerson bought that company and moved almost all their employees to St. Louis. And so my boss and my boss’s boss, they were all guys from from Prescott, pretty much that had moved to St. Louis, it was kind of odd. I ended up out here.

Aaron Moncur 06:31
Is that how you got introduced to Phoenix, all these guys?

Justin Smart 06:34
Coincidence, but I just thought odd later in life that I came out here and they all went out, went back to St. Louis.

Aaron Moncur 06:43
Yeah, the universe wanted you here at some point, right? So

Justin Smart 06:48
they make very large motors, some motors you could actually stand inside of, and then a lot of their product. You’ll you can actually see as you drive around the Phoenix metro area, whenever you come to the intersection, and you see where’s there’s a canal, and there’s oftentimes a pump station, where they’re trying to raise the water from one height so they can get to flow down the next canal was often very large vertical motor, painted bays, is moving that water up a few feet from one canal, the next. And those were almost all US motors. So they make very large industrial electric motors. Cool.

Aaron Moncur 07:30
I’ll have to take a look. See if I can find this next time I’m driving past the canal,

Justin Smart 07:34
you dropped out. Remember that you don’t realize it was just I just happen to know that what the castings looked like because I worked on the drawings all the time, so I can spot that chasm handle.

Aaron Moncur 07:46
That’s pretty cool. Is it a disease? Something you worked on out in the wild? What a great feeling.

Justin Smart 07:51
Yeah, yeah. I’ve got a few things I’ve designed on the wild when I worked at RYOBI when that’s who moved me out here was RYOBI.

Aaron Moncur 07:58
Yeah, okay. Let me ask a question about RYOBI. I went when I saw that, I thought, Okay, this is RYOBI like the big company, lawn mowers and all that stuff. And then when I tried to find the low key, I had no idea that they had a location here in Arizona. So the ryobi worked at that’s like that was the big RYOBI the one that everyone knows and the one that’s in Home Depot, right?

Justin Smart 08:21
Well, yeah. And so there was two divisions, there’s rally outdoor products and they make basically the lawn and garden, the line trimmers, hedge trimmers, that type of equipment, the ryobi that makes the drills like the handrails was a vision and wasn’t related to us what’s other than the name and the corporate headquarters back in Japan

Aaron Moncur 08:44
got it. So thin company

Justin Smart 08:47
into the purchased rowdy Outdoor Products a number of years ago. So basically all the guys I worked with and Riley are some of them became became MTD and then MTD just got purchased about two years ago, maybe a year and a half ago by Black and Decker. Okay. They’re still called MTD, I think under the trade name, so they they kept the name but they’re all my Black and Decker now.

Aaron Moncur 09:15
Got it and what were you making? You said it was lawnmowers and things like that. Yeah.

Justin Smart 09:20
And I wasn’t say that that’s a product that I worked on. I was there was the attachment. And it was a hedge trimmer attachment. So you can still go to Home Depot and buy that, that that product that? Me and another guy designed 20 to 22 some years ago 20

Aaron Moncur 09:39
Nearly three years ago and they’re still selling.

Justin Smart 09:43
I mean, it looks it looks exactly the same. Yeah, that’s

Aaron Moncur 09:46

Justin Smart 09:48
But otherwise, it’s the same.

Aaron Moncur 09:50
This is a hedge trimmer attachment. It sounds like I mean, it’s not a hugely complex component. Is that accurate? I mean, it’s like a A plastic part that gets attached to your head trimmer, right? Yeah. So

Justin Smart 10:03
that the router we had this thing called the, it was called the quick link system. But basically it bought the gas engine, you know. And instead of being a solid boom, all the way down to your head where your string would come out for trimming weeds. That boom was split, and you could add a multitude of attachments, right? So they had the line trimmer, they had a hedge trimmer had even had a small snowblower that I took up skiing with me one weekend and test it out for all weekend long.

Aaron Moncur 10:37
Okay, so when you say an attachment, it’s not just like a piece of plastic. It’s like a sub assembly.

Justin Smart 10:44
It’s basically you’re using the gas engine as your power unit. And you could attach whatever you needed to do. Saw. Yeah, the line trimmer they had the leaf blower, a hedge trimmer, you know, my head had caught the saw blades where you know, your standard hedge trimmer. But yeah, it looks to Pollack lawn and garden to

Aaron Moncur 11:11
like a pair of clippers, right? Where there are two blades that reciprocate back and forth relative, you know, approximated right up against each other walk bar. Right, right, right. Yeah. That’s a little bit like a chainsaw. But it’s not a chainsaw.

Justin Smart 11:23
Yeah. Linear chainsaws, right?

Aaron Moncur 11:27
Yeah. So okay, I want to learn a little bit more about how long it took to develop that attachment. Because like it at first, I was thinking this is just like some plastic attachments and little cover or shroud or something. And even then I was I was gonna say, How long did it take to develop that because it’s hard to appreciate how long it takes to develop something that’s going to be mass produced, even something that’s relatively simple. But now we’re talking about something that’s not just like a plastic part that gets snapped on. This is an entire sub assembly. So tell me, how long did it take to develop this hedge trimmer assembly?

Justin Smart 12:06
Well, the lawn and garden industry is a, it’s a tough industry to live in, because there’s this big trade show that everybody goes to. So basically, you have to get everything done within a year or less than a year, everything isn’t like these one year, or nine month cycles, because you got to take your product to the show. And at that show, you get all your orders for the next year, basically, kind of one year cycle. And so it’s it’s a very compressed timeline. It’s it’s definitely not easy. And, and how I took you know, so it took us, you know, a less than less than a year, because you got to have everything done before you go to the show. And, and basically when the guy when the sales guys go to the show one year, they come back until the engineering what everybody wants us next year. Okay, a year to figure it out and get to the show with your product.

Aaron Moncur 13:08
So when you you design this hedge trimmer, and it was you and I think you mentioned one other engineers would like to basically when you when you to develop this hedge trimmer, did you have like a predicate device to start with? Or was this just from scratch?

Justin Smart 13:25
Well, the way RYOBI worked, there was some some fellows that were in a separate building from us that were from Japan. And they were in charge of industrial design. So all of our products started out as this look. And as an engineer, we had to figure out how to make it work within those confines. And that was probably the toughest part of the job, I wanted to increase the size of something because I wanted to put it we had a bevel pinion gear, and I wanted to change I wanted to reduce the speed of my, my blades. And so I wanted to make a bigger bevel gear. And after multiple meetings and battles, I lost the the industrial design of that company was the end all be all and it had to look a certain way. And it took me a long time to really kind of digest that and get over it. But it’s the brutal reality of consumer products.

Aaron Moncur 14:38
You know, people buy pretty things, right?

Justin Smart 14:41
I always tell reps, it’s like, you know, the guys that work at the companies that sell fishing lures, they’re not analyzing fish, they’re analyzing fishermen, because one, picking up that Luer off the off the shelf and saying this is the one I think is good catch fish, but they don’t, they never serve a fish. It’s the feeling that it gives somebody when they pick it up off the shelf. And so I guess as an engineer, I kind of push back on that mentality. But the reality is, doesn’t matter how good your design is, if somebody’s not going to buy it, it was always the time anyway. And certainly your products world. That is completely out the window.

Aaron Moncur 15:34
Right? And the consumer products world did you feel like that was the right strategy to make it look pretty first and then figure out how to make it function.

Justin Smart 15:42
At the time, I thought it was the worst idea ever. That was, I was in my early 20s. I’m in my mid 20s, and was probably full of myself. And now almost 50. And it makes more sense than I used to. I’ll say that for sure.

Aaron Moncur 15:58
Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. Well, that’s a big point. All right, you moved on to the semiconductor industry. And I wanted to touch on that for a little bit. Because we’ve all heard, you know, the term semiconductor that gets thrown around a lot. It’s a huge industry here in the US and in the world. But I feel like at least me anyway, I don’t have a really good understanding of what semiconductor is, you know, like, if I were to go into a building what what am I going to see? And know Oh, yeah, okay, this this is semiconductor, give us a sense for what that that space looks like, what’s what was happening, what the equipment, the machinery was, like, sharing a little bit of that,

Justin Smart 16:43
right. So I was I just had this conversation with a fellow employee this morning about how the term semiconductor industry is overused, undefined, and just way too broad of a statement, you know,

Aaron Moncur 16:59
it’s good, I thought it was gonna come off sounding really dumb ass, because

Justin Smart 17:03
there’s a million things that fall under that group. And there’s things that like I worked on in Motorola there, that, you know, I never handled wafers, right, I never polished away for. But some people think that’s really all there is to that industry, there’s so much more. So we did there, we did these things called a ball grid arrays. And so we would have a tray full of chips that had a an array of metal flats on them. And we would take, we put this into a machine, our machine would have one and went into factor that would dip about 10,000 needles down into a thin layer of flux paste, and then go over and then these like little pogo pins, would touch each one of those little metal pads on 10,000 spaces, and transfer just a little bit of that flux paste, right. And then we had another head and that same machine, they would go over a tray full of solder spheres. And that’s a little ball of solder that’s maybe 10 1000s in diameter a or a 1000s in diameter. And, you know, static is a real problem with this, you know, you can imagine a little metal sphere like that. So we would pick up 10,000 spheres in a vacuum chuck, and then set those 10,000 spheres down on those ships, and that and they would drop them and hope that sphere landed right in the middle of that pad and got stuck with that little bit of flux we just put down.

Aaron Moncur 18:48
How far were they being dropped? Not far, I’m

Justin Smart 18:51
not sure. But you know, you’re talking about a 10,000 ball. Yeah, it didn’t take much for it to go awry on you, you know. And then so those would come out with you know, you’d fill up multiple trays, and then that would go over to what they call a reflow oven. And basically, we are going to heat up that ship just enough to where the ball the bottom of the ball melted, and then attached to that pad that it was sitting on. So then you would have a chip that would have, let’s say 100 or 200 depend on the big it was a little spheres of solder that were attached to the contact pads on there. And then those things could be put on an actual circuit board and they would run it through again and that process so basically, the pattern your chip had a sphere of solder melt into it and then that same sphere would melt to something else. So highly controlled temperatures and get back to melt just right obviously if it melts too much it can bleed over onto your NaVi adjacent Contact, so was high precision, you know, type of things, we also made some some machines that would take a wood cut up, or chips with a saw blade that was about six thousandths of an inch thick.

Aaron Moncur 20:18
the saw blade with 6000s of

Justin Smart 20:21
saw. And so it was just like a razor, you know, that was

Aaron Moncur 20:24
spinning that made out of

Justin Smart 20:27
like a thin metal and then it had like some sort of ceramic thing on it, you can see the damn thing you know, it was like we bought a machine from an Asian company in and then reworked their equipment to work with our system. So it was a lot of you know, buying equipment, and then making equipment that didn’t exist. So you can get, you know, this chain of machines that you put something in one in and out the other end game a bunch of something else, you know, so combination of custom equipment, or reconfiguring off the shelf equipment to meet the customer’s needs. And so it was just a lot of one off machine design. And it’s pretty unique. So

Aaron Moncur 21:14
well, that sounds one off machine design. That’s where we live.

Justin Smart 21:19
Yeah. That was that was kind of a fun job. I liked working there. It was fun.

Aaron Moncur 21:28
This six thousandths of an inch psi. I keep going back to that I’ve never heard of a six thousandths of an inch thick saw what what was it cutting? And why did it have to be so thin?

Justin Smart 21:40
Because we’re cutting these little they started instead of making the chips, they came with the idea instead of making these chips and cutting them up into initially. And then that’s having to locate and drop the balls on there. They said, hey, what if we cut it off at the last step? So they’d print this whole circuit board. And that circuit board would have actually, you know, a couple 100 components on one board. And then they would do all these processes. And the last thing they would do, they would cut it up in the little in each individual component. But it would have all the other processes done. And it was kind of nice, because we didn’t have to locate 100 times we only located once. Right? Okay. But these things up and they were so tiny, that you know any if we only have that much room plus our tolerance because if you went over that the blade was thicker, it would you know it would cut into the end of the component, right?

Aaron Moncur 22:37
Yeah, I see. I get it. All right quick break here. Short plug for my company. The being an engineer podcast is powered by pipeline design and engineering, where we work with medical device engineering teams who need turnkey custom test fixtures, or automated equipment to assemble, inspect, characterize or perform verification or validation testing on their devices. And you can find us at test fixture design.com we’re speaking with Justin smart today. So the next place that you actually you went you went to another semiconductor place three as Phoenix, I think but but after that you went to a completely different industry. Coletti design. Am I saying that correctly? Coletti Yeah, yeah. Okay. Quality design. Tell? I can’t do it justice. So you tell us a little bit collected design a completely different industry? What What were you doing there?

Justin Smart 23:32
Yeah, I went from high tech to low tech, and a very extreme way. I didn’t get to do you know, back to the welding thing again, but I wasn’t doing the welding I had, you know, I was designing the stuff that got welded up. So. And, to be honest, you know, what happened was, if you if you look back at the chronology of that was, we had a recession, basically. Right. So a lot of things were kind of going south on us. And I had, I guess, I had felt like the semiconductor industry, I’d had a couple of jobs and it was just seemed to be kind of a little shaky, you know, it was up and down, you know, kind of a feast or famine thing. So I had, I had saw the job opportunity in this place called quality design. And I worked there for a couple years, doing basically drawing iron entry doors, so I wouldn’t drop the doors, all the artwork that went inside of them, and then all that, all my my output would basically go out to the shop via a plasma cutter, or a few other tools and to make the parts that I had designed, and then they got all welded together and they would become a door for very high and I’m talking like a $20,000 door. You know, it’s

Aaron Moncur 24:58
yeah, it was Looking at the website, the impression I got these are not cookie cutter house doors, these are

Justin Smart 25:07
doors? Yeah.

Aaron Moncur 25:09
Was it? Was it mostly businesses? Or was there a lot of just high end residential homes as well? What was the spread there?

Justin Smart 25:18
I would say, at Columbia, it was primarily high end residential. Okay.

Aaron Moncur 25:28
And what were the common manufacturing processes that you all use to produce these doors.

Justin Smart 25:35
So, it collectI it was very old world, you know, they, the above the only the thing that was automated was the fact that I had a plasma cutter, that was CNC control. For let’s say, if I had a door, the arch on the top, you know, and we didn’t have a hydro former to roll tube, you know, that big heavy wall too. So you would basically form a tube out of four pieces of metal. So we’re going to cut the arches, and then roll some sheet metal on top of that, and form a box or a tube. And then that gets repeated throughout the door, you got the door, then you got the frame on the outside, and any window sashing and things like that. So that was what the highest tech thing we had was a CNC control plasma cutter to cut arches that we would need. And then everything else was welded and ground to differ, you know?

Aaron Moncur 26:37
And was was everything so manual just because of the kind of the intricacy of what was being designed? Or were the company just kind of hadn’t moved on to the next phases of the engineering world with automation.

Justin Smart 26:51
That but at the same time, we’re talking about an old world practice, you know, metal forming blacksmithing it’s kind of, you know, blacksmithing will always be old school. Even if you get some new tools, you know?

Aaron Moncur 27:12
Yeah, yeah.

Justin Smart 27:14
You used to have to kick your bellows to get your fire hot, you know? Yeah. You can hit a hit a switch on a fan and it’ll blow heat into your into your furnace box and get it cherry hot for you. So

Aaron Moncur 27:30
do you think that’s some of what these homeowners were paying for the fact that there’s some custom element to each one of these doors right there, like just some guy out on a shop rolling these things up? It’s not been stamped out of machine at, you know, 100 cycles per minute or something? Yeah. And

Justin Smart 27:47
to be honest with you, there’s, when we, when I first started industry that was not as common as it is. Now, there’s a couple of companies that are making doors. Turn on the name of the one, but I believe it’s just across the border in Mexico, and they sell a lot of doors in the southwest and these metal, but they’re, they have like five different designs. And they’re they’re kind of automated, you know, they look old world, but if you get up close to them, you can tell that it was really, you know, not so custom. Right. So okay, yeah. It kind of depends. You know, you get what you pay for, right? Yeah,

Aaron Moncur 28:27
I saw one picture on the website, the Kalevi website. It was a set of doors that had been designed, I guess, specifically for like a large wine cabinet. And I wondered, do you have any any memories of projects that were kind of interesting, you know, like, you think of doors as you know, as the front door of your house, but they’re probably doors for a lot of other things. Do you remember any projects or experiences where you guys develop a door for something that you might not think of every day? Well,

Justin Smart 28:57
I would say that what so I worked in custody, and then I left there and went to work for their competitor. And you know, so it was kind of doing the same thing. We did a ton of wine doors, wine wine cellar doors, you know, people have this tendency to it was in their basement had a lot of stonework. And so that iron entry door just kind of really fit the motif. Got it was a company that’s called King architectural products. And they’re like the worldwide leader for iron components, you know, you can buy hand rail and the balusters he was buy all this stuff out of catalog and then weld it all up and build just about whatever you want. And for some reason, they have gotten they had a ton of like, grapes and grape leaves, and a wide assortment of those. And so we can just get all these really cool grapes and grape leaves and make these really fancy doors for your wine cellar. And I mean Tarnovo everybody that bought one for their fans. House had to have a little one for their their wine cellar in their basement. That those were always kind of interesting. And then did a couple of doors for a gun store. That was I don’t know, we just shipped them. I never saw the place. But we advanced specified, we used a we had to order some special steel. It was bulletproof, or what I remember it was a little more difficult to manage out in the shop. I think we had to credit the power of the plasma table a little bit, you know, to get it to cut. Right. But that was interesting. Because I just might have some idea behind that door someday and some other other guy trying to shoot his way in. And I was wondering, gonna last?

Aaron Moncur 30:48
Yeah, you never know. Yeah. Either data, the fabric track needs to be there to stop it. Yeah, exactly. So that the other company, the competitor of quality, that was first impression Iron Works, I believe. And I’ve read on their website, the word rot, wrought iron, which I think I mean, that kind of refers to like banging on something with a hammer, where they’re

Justin Smart 31:12
Kassian process, which is, you know, nobody’s doing that anymore, really, that these days. But there’s a company called HEBO, that makes these. It’s a German company that makes these, what I would call blacksmithing tools of the 20 or 21st century, we bought a bunch of those from Germany. But the tooling for that they sold was astronomically expensive. And even if you were willing to pay for it, the lead times were like, You better plan a good year in advance, if you wanted some good, there was an amazing longer times. So after we bought the equipment, my boss, we quickly realized that we had this problem that we had only purchased certain tools. And we needed a bunch more. So we started to kind of reverse engineering their tooling and make our own. So we could make more stuff and more designs and create basically create more tooling. So we can make different and expand our library of parts of these HEBO machines could bend and they’re basically like, you know, if you think about blacksmith taking a piece of bar, and he’s hammering it around a an anvil, right, you know, so the anvil horn has got a specific shape for a reason, because you typically want to form things around it. And so this, this automated machinery, and would allow you to stick a bar and it would have some cam, you know, levers and would just basically roll something or bend it or, you know, we had a few different machines, but it was modern blacksmithing. And so that, that was closer to the old world self than than a lot of companies are doing because most companies are just buying those things pre made from Ken right.

Aaron Moncur 33:04
Okay, yeah.

Justin Smart 33:06
So we were forging on a daily basis

Aaron Moncur 33:10
in in my world and in your world now as well. We’re concerned with tolerances that are down in the 1000s of an inch spectrum. I imagined that was not the case at Coletti. And at first impression iron worse what kind of tolerances did you guys deal with?

Justin Smart 33:28
Well, it’s an architectural product. So we’re gonna work in fractions of an inch, not decimals, right? Yeah. And you know, I would say it depends on on the product and what part of the product you know, but But to your point everything was custom and basically kind of ground to fit you know.

Aaron Moncur 33:53
So you’re like putting things into place to get them to fit and then welding it it nothing is precision here plus or minus, I don’t know what 1670

Justin Smart 34:02
on the on the OD or the door you got a quarter inch on the wind quarter. Okay. There’s always a gap and you’re gonna put your shims in and then you’re going to cover with trim anyway.

Aaron Moncur 34:14
Right. Good point.

Justin Smart 34:15
Okay, you’re gonna see your doorframe is not even close to the studs and there’s gonna be probably some chunks of wood stuck in there as shims Yeah, yeah. You got a certain tolerance on the when you get out there with the with the iron door. It’s got to fit in the hole and hung up on that kind of thing. Your tolerance you always want to go plus nothing minus something basically. Yeah, otherwise, you’re taking solves all this something that you probably didn’t want to do.

Aaron Moncur 34:49
Maybe that’s a good opportunity to bust out that six thousandths of an inch semiconductor saw get some there and correct me if I Ron, I think that you were the director of operations at first impression. Is that right? How was that going from being, you know, a design engineer to Director of Operations,

Justin Smart 35:11
um, a lot of hard work. And, you know, just, I’m a problem solver, really, you know, kind of regardless, and, you know, I could just get the job done and and get the team motivated. You know, we had close to 200 employees over there. I have a big team, I had four different departments that, that I basically was in charge of the design group only be on one of the four. So it was a lot of a lot of 60 hour weeks is when it was really, yeah.

Aaron Moncur 35:51
Did you miss being a designer?

Justin Smart 35:54
You know, the design work, they’re so rudimentary that I quickly kind of, you know, it’s not like not real design work in the sense that I was really challenged with a real problem, you know, because we’re just dorks you know, okay, once you figured out the problem, I would I would do as a training somebody on how to deal with it. I didn’t want to, you know, continually have the same problem every day. So okay,

Aaron Moncur 36:23
the Director of Operations, that was a much more interesting problem for your brain to noodle on than

Justin Smart 36:31
all kinds of rattles.

Aaron Moncur 36:33
About some, what were some of the more interesting problems or challenges that you ended up solving?

Justin Smart 36:39
Well, it wasn’t my departments was the shipping department. We had when I started there, it was basically we just serviced Arizona, you know, that was our customer base was Arizona, security screen doors, and we got an uninsured men started growing and growing and growing. And then we said, hey, can you show me one in California? Okay, yeah, we can do that. But in the box shipped over there. And then but the most interesting ones I got, I had a customer up in Canada said, Hey, I have a house they had a house and somewhere here in Arizona snowbirds, right. And but that their main residence was back in Canada. And so they had ordered a door from us for their house in Arizona and they loved it. They said, You know what, we got to have a big iron entry door for our house in Canada. And they sent me some pictures of their door that winter after we was installed, and I came to the realization to the metal doors like that, in Canada, where it snows a lot and it’s really cold. Not the best

Aaron Moncur 37:39
idea because of rust and corrosion,

Justin Smart 37:44
though mainly just because they’re thermal conductors. So the and they didn’t seal that well to be honest with you, you know we put doors sealed in there but they just the nature of the sides of them. The old world was of them. It was no space shuttle door you know. And so even though they were blown with foam on the inside the steel tube would just conduct so much thermal energy that they sent me a picture and basically there was a look like he had left your freezer door kind of open or little it was like an iceberg on the inside of their house that had frozen

Aaron Moncur 38:29
it was they couldn’t open the door. No it

Justin Smart 38:33
was just a little bit of error was the air is so cold outside. Because it’s in Canada. It’s so cold that it’s making the whole metal door cold.

Aaron Moncur 38:44
Okay, and then that just makes the inside of the house cold.

Justin Smart 38:48
The inside of the door is almost as cold as the outside.

Aaron Moncur 38:54
I say okay,

Justin Smart 38:55
the door because it’s metal is below 32 degrees. Woof and so a little draft was coming in I guess from the door a combination of the A might have been running a humidifier in their house because a lot of people do we’re in cold weather climates. I know when I was growing up in COLA that we would have tended to run humidifier in the wintertime because the air gets so dry and so like formed an iceberg basically the giant icicle on the inside into the house and they were you know it was a problem

Aaron Moncur 39:32
and they probably paid you know many many 1000s of dollars for this custom door in

Justin Smart 39:38
Canada $15,000 door at least it was

Aaron Moncur 39:42
the moral of the story is don’t lick the inside of your iron door in Canada

Justin Smart 39:48
even if you get a double dog dare do not

Aaron Moncur 39:51
get a double dog dare Yeah, forget about it. Go shoot your I Am.

Justin Smart 39:56
I think it was they’re better suited for your warm or cold. alignments. You know, metals have really good insulator whether you want it or not, you know.

Aaron Moncur 40:08
All right, so fast forward to current day you work at interlink engineering, tell us a little bit about interlink what, what does interlink to what’s your role there.

Justin Smart 40:18
Well, I started out working for Centrelink, I took the job as a mechanical designer, and I worked in that department here for probably about a year and a half. And the opportunity arose for me to move in, move up and move into a more of a managerial role and also focus on sales. So it was, you know, a new challenge for me, so I never done before. Everybody that I know, kept telling me, that’s what I shouldn’t be doing. Because why I have no idea. I still don’t really know. But most importantly, rich, my boss, he was a believer, he believes in me, you know, he believes in my talent and my, my, what I have to say, and what I, you know, my getting close to 30 years of experience and doing this I’ve seen quite a bit and done quite a few things. So it’s, it’s definitely the growth path for me. Almost on a spiritual level, you know, just same thing for your whole life. And then it’s kind of this whole new thing. So it’s been kind of mind expanding, and fun for me. frustrating sometimes, but, you know, I really, I really enjoyed it. And then working for interlink in general. You know, sometimes, all my jobs I’ve had, you know, I worked for a manufacturing company that did this, right, you know, whether it was doors, or, or automation equipment, or electric motors, it was one thing right, you did one thing and it interlink. If you don’t like what you’re working on, just wait a couple of weeks, you’ll be on something different. Really enjoyed that constant, new, exciting problems that come across our place. So I’m still heavily involved with, you know, I can go out and sell a project, and then communicating that back to my team what needs to happen, and then still be involved, sometimes on a conceptual design standpoint, so I might kind of flush out the idea and then pass that down to one of my designers or engineers to kind of wrap up the details and get it to something we can get manufactured. We also, you know, we started selling 3d printers a few years ago. That’s been super exciting, because I actually started using 3d printers back in the 90s. And so it’s, I’ve seen it come a long way. And I am impressed what we can do with them nowadays compared to what we did 30 years ago. And it’s just, it’s been a lot of fun. We’re like working here.

Aaron Moncur 43:25
What are some of the the challenges some of the biggest problems that you face? Not necessarily on a daily basis, but just generally at work? What are some of the biggest challenges that you have to overcome?

Justin Smart 43:45
Lately, it’s been a, it’s been it’s been managing how to maintain a sense of normalcy throughout this COVID experience, you know, yeah, that’s been, I think, probably, you know, I would say that I’ve been through two recessions since I’ve, you know, been in the working world. And this is way worse, you know, even though you know, I haven’t, you know, we’re still chugging along, it’s just, we’re in such a weird space. And, you know, nobody. I never thought that we were walking around wearing masks. I never thought that you know, I love going into my customers office and walking the floor with them and helping them out with their problems and not being able to do that, you know, and get down into where the rubber meets the road and look at the machine right there next year. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s been super challenging for me to try to, you know, keep things going I guess.

Aaron Moncur 44:54
Are you do you prefer to work in a space where there are other people and you get to interact, I mean directly physically with other people? Or do you prefer a space where you’re kind of, you know, just by yourself doing your own thing and you don’t have to really worry about what other people are doing.

Justin Smart 45:11
I gotta have to two lives in that sense. You know, I think more during the daytime, getting pulled a lot of different directions and helping people out and, you know, answering questions from different coming out from different directions. At nighttime. After after dinner and the kids put to bed. I I definitely have some quiet, focused work time. I probably get most done after nine o’clock at night. Oh, really? Yeah, just because I can. Nobody’s calling me. Nobody’s sending me emails. Nobody’s asking. Yeah. And, and I, for some reason, I feel a little more creative in the evening hours. I don’t know why. You know, like laying in bed. I get my best ideas like literally laying in bed. So I think it’s really just that time of day for me when I can really kind of when that basically all the other noise stops, you know?

Aaron Moncur 46:18
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. All right. Well, Justin, we need to wrap up here. I don’t want to take up too much of your time. But last question, how can people get a hold of you? Well, you can

Justin Smart 46:31
go to our website. interlink engineering, dotnet. Or, you can reach out to us by phone at 480-699-0600. Or you can shoot me an email at Justin at interlink engineering dotnet.

Aaron Moncur 46:49
Excellent. All right. Well, Justin, thank you so much for for sharing your time today. It’s been really cool hearing about all the different things that you’ve done, especially like in the architectural world, we’ve never really had an engineer on the show that has been in that space. So that was it was really interesting hearing about how doors are made and kind of that old school blacksmithing. Great, a great twist to the show. Appreciate appreciate you sharing all that. Well. Thanks for having me. And

Justin Smart 47:17
it was fun. You bet.

Aaron Moncur 47:19
Until next time.

Justin Smart 47:20
All right. Well talk to you soon, bud.

Aaron Moncur 47:25
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please leave us a positive review. It really helps other people find the show. To learn how your engineering team can leverage our team’s expertise in developing turnkey custom test fixtures, automated equipment and product design, visit us at test fixturedesign.com. Thanks for listening.

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