Kelly and I are just back from Colombia, and it was an incredible trip. We did clinics in three cities and met over 300 Colombian farriers. To say it was inspirational would not do it justice.
As part of the trip, we got to tour the Emcoclavos nail factory in Bogota, and the Heller Rasp factory in Medellin. What an experience.
I reflected on my experience touring factories. The majority of these opportunities have been through the generosity of Mustad and the relationship that we have had for nearly 20 years. I had a tour of a leaf spring factory in Calgary, and had a great time spending several days in a knife factory in Sweden. I have been through a steel mill in Nebraska, horse nail factories in Connecticut, Sweden and now Colombia, a horseshoe factory in New Mexico and Australia, and now a rasp factory in Colombia. It has really been an amazing thing to see for a farrier, which is about as far from a factory job as you can get.
At any rate, I have to say that I am awed by the incredible passion that these folks show for their jobs. In the Mustad nail factory in Sweden, the guy who gave me the tour was bouncing as we walked past rolls of metal and bins of nails. The same was true of the factories in Colombia, and every bend led to another happy worker that was excited about what they were doing. I asked one worker if they had ever shod a horse, and even though they hadn’t, they knew more about nails, metal strength and hardness, tip angles, head angles, shearing, deformation, rolled vs. forged, etc. than I even knew there were things to know about a horse nail. It was amazing.
The rasp factory was more of the same, only now there are so many new angles, shapes, and manual processes. And every one of them was smiling.
Both factories have a quality control room area manned by personnel that take their jobs so seriously. These folks have access to equipment that is state of the art and precise. They are measuring things that I did not know could be measured. Kelly and I both left with a completely new appreciation for what these folks are producing. It is a wonder that the nails and shoes we use don’t cost many times what they do.
At the end of the day, their unbelievable dedication to quality and precision allows me to hit the head of that nail with trust and force, and I know that the next one will be just like the last one. It allows me to buy quantities of rasps at a time, knowing that the inspections and workmanship is going to be there.
It has been an honor to be a part of Mustad’s mission of educating farriers around the globe. This company has given so much back to our industry that most of us will never even know about. There is a willingness to do whatever it takes to make the highest quality products, and it is evident in the way that every employee carries themselves and acts. There is a global company culture that is not common, and I am proud to be a part of it.