Friday, December 15, 2006

Greenheck Trip – Day 1

. Friday, December 15, 2006

Woke up a little before 5 AM to get ready for my trip. Showered, made a quick blog entry, and then waited for Duke (the Greenheck rep) to pick me up at 5:45. He lives only a mile or so away so it was convenient to hitch a ride to the airport with him. Met up with JT at the airport and checked in. I knew about the restrictions on liquids but wasn’t aware that EVERYONE had to take their shoes off before going through security. Had one guy in front of us throwing a hissy because he had to throw out his hair gel (more than 3 ounces). Being that we were guests of Duke, he bought everything for us. So I had got myself a nice cup of coffee. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really enjoy it as they wouldn’t let us pass through security with it so I had to wolf it down. I figured that they would let you pass through as long as you took a sip in front of them.

Our first flight was from Richmond to Minneapolis. It was pretty uneventful flight – on time, no turbulence, etc. We had to hustle to get to our connecting flight to Wausau. The Central Wisconsin Airport in Wausau is a “cute” little airport. Certainly was small but a little larger than I expected. I half expected the need to shoe the cows and goats off the runway before we landed. A representative from Greenheck picked us up at the airport and brought us to the Greenheck factory, which is about 15 minutes from the airport. There, we met up with several other people who were also participating in the Greenheck tour.

I won’t bore you with the details of all the technical stuff we did and saw at the factory tour. One impressive thing of note was that they have an entire building that essentially is a “show room” of all of their products. An engineer from each product line (fans, louvers, dampers, etc) would guide us through the show room and explain why their stuff is the best. They even had some of their competitors’ fans there, and it was surprising at some of the differences. The gauge metal of one competitor is so thin that you can dent it by pressing on it with your thumb. They have a dining area/kitchen at this building where they provide lunch. They do so many tours with engineers, contractors, etc that it made sense to have their own dining facility with food catered in instead of taking us out to lunch at a local restaurant. It saved a lot of time for what was a very busy day.

We concluded the day with a visit to a mock kitchen setup and learned about their new line of kitchen hoods. They have a smoke machine setup to simulate the smoke generated from a typical cooking operation. He simulated what happens when a kitchen hood is poorly designed and flooded the room with smoke. He said to “not worry” that they have an “antidote” to the smoke inhalation, which consists of drinking copious amounts of beer. So at about 5:00, we finished the first day’s tour and adjourned to the Oak Room. They have their own bar at the show room. I partook of one of the local brews they had on tap. I forget the name of the beer, but it was pretty good.

After socializing for a bit, we all hopped into some vans and went to the local country club for dinner. We had a choice of filet mignon, salmon, or pork tenderloin. I had the pork tenderloin which was pretty good. There were 35 of us all together and they had us seated linearly in a big horseshoe. It didn't make for easy conversation. They should have broken us up into a few round tables.

It was cold, drizzly, and near freezing outside after dinner. A bunch of went to a local bar for some more drinks. Even though the designated driver was driving slowly, we fishtailed around a couple turns on the way there. The one Greenheck guy Duke, JT, and I hung out with is REALLY into curling. So we gave him a lot of crap about that. We tried to talk him into taking us curling but I guess you can't reserve a sheet of ice like you can reserve a lane in bowling. Curling is only open for league play. That would have been too friggin cool if we had got to go curling. So after some fried cheese curds and a few more beers, it was time to head back to the hotel. Duke, JT, and I walked back since the hotel was less than a mile away. It was about 11:00 by the time we got back. I got my clothes ready for the next day and then got my bunny butt in bed.