Business

Fawcett – Building an ant empire

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Fawcett - Building an ant empire

“A customer is always right” is a saying that explains that you should do everything to satisfy customer’s needs. The problem arises when a customer asks for something you know nothing about. Satisfying a customer is a must even if you have to go back to basics and learn about something from scratch.

Fawcett’s story – “How ants saved my family”

“We’re thinking of making an ant farm. Some of our customers have been asking about it. We know nothing about it, but we need a supplier who can supply ants for us.” The request came from one of Fawcett’s customers in New York, a wholesaler to Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.

At the time Fawcett was selling rocks to collectors all over the United States, but things were slow and his family was ready to starve. The ants took on a sudden appeal.

“Well, there are plenty of ants around. I don’t know what you’re looking for,” Fawcett said.

“The best workers, that you’ll put them in sand and they’ll dig,” came the reply.

Fawcett set out to gather his first batch of ants. “I went around the whole county, gathered up ants in different colonies and sent them to Utah State University and they identified them for me. Then I experimented with them,” said Fawcett.

Fawcett found that the type of ant that built the best tunnels was also the most common ant in southern Utah. It was also the ant people hated the most and wanted to get rid of.

Fawcett called his buyer and announced that he’d found the ants for their ant farms. The buyer was excited by the news but wary. Were there really enough ants in southern Utah to fill the potential orders? A representative from Sears in Chicago quickly came to investigate.

“I took him out in the fields. I had to prove to him that there were enough ants – that we wouldn’t run out” said Fawcett.

One look around was all the man needed. “Let’s go for it,” he said.

The expansion of business

A few months later the ant farms were in production. Stores would sell the farms with a certificate for ants included. The new farm owner would fill out the certificate and send it back in. Those requests were forwarded to Fawcett. Every couple of days, Fawcett received thousands of requests. Armed with this glass pint jar and a funnel, Fawcett would funnel 40 or 50 ants into a small plastic vial and ship the order out. Ants from Hurricane were soon considered pets of people all across the United States.

Ant farmAfter four or five years Fawcett received another request. The largest manufactures of ant farms in the country had lost his supplier and wanted Fawcett to take over. After working out the terms, Fawcett began shipping from 100,000 to 200,000 ants per week to this new contact. The wholesaler supplied all the materials needed, from the plastic vials to shipping envelopes, and Fawcett recruited his wife and children to help keep up with the demand.

Able to live only a week confined in a bottle, the ants had to be gathered, sorted and shipped quickly. “They will dehydrate from lack of moisture faster than they will eating,” said Fawcett. “These things hibernate all winter long and eat very little of anything.”

Fawcett has grown older and now only ships the ants to large suppliers who then ship the ants to schools. His son, Kent has taken over the largest portion of the ant business.

A man of many hobbies

Fawcett is not just enamored with ants, he’s also an avid rock collector, flower collector and fossil hunter.

For years Fawcett has gotten up early in the morning and made the trek into the hills to gather wildflowers that he can press and sell to wholesalers across the country. His pressed flowers have been made into framed art, pendants, bracelets and rings. He’s sold everything from wheat grass along the highway to the shooting star, a flower that only blooms once every ten to 15 years and is only found at 10,000 ft. elevation in the swamps.

AntDuring his rock explorations, Fawcett found a very rare collection of flower agate from the dessert floor, which is now under Sand Hollow Reservoir. The white bursts inside the rock resemble delicate white flowers trapped in glass. It is one of Fawcett’s most prized finds.

Of all the nature projects Fawcett has been involved in over the years, he admits that his favorite has not been his ant collecting. It’s been gathering wildflowers. Fawcett has a permit from the forest service to cut wildflowers on public land, and he also has his own private wildflower garden in his backyard.

Fawcett has grown older and turned various portions of his business over to his sons, but at 79 years old, he still has the energy to spend eight to 12 hours every day hard at work, and he’s still making new discoveries.

What is Fawcett working on at the moment?

His latest venture is a “living fossil.” At first believed to be the ancient trilobite, this tiny tadpole shrimp lays its eggs in the sand beside pools of water. Despite temperature changes and long periods of time without water, these miniscule eggs come right back to life after they’re exposed to water.
Fawcett knows just where the eggs are most likely to be found, and he gathers them, packages them with a combination of different dirt and sells them to wholesalers. In 24-36 hours of saturation, the tadpole shrimp hatches and quickly matures.

Fawcett may be slowly backing away from his ant days, but the story will never rest. Fawcett has been featured in the National Enquirer, the Salt Lake Tribune, Career World and People Magazine, among many others. He’s also been asked to appear on the Johnny Carson Show, Jay Leno and David Letterman, though he refused them all.

The boom of home improvement business satisfies everyone

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The boom of home improvement business satisfies everyone

It’s a well-known fact that the number of home improvement projects is on the rise all across the USA. People are shifting their investments from new property to the improvement of the one they own.

People improve their property for a variety of reasons, from increasing the sale value to improving it because they want something more in their home. The result of this is the increase of the Woodyard adds you see on various internet pages. Many similar businesses became popular thanks to the shift in this industry.

Everyone profits from home improvement business boom

This whole industry relies on homeowners and property resellers who change particular aspects of their property. The term “home improvement” covers everything from changing the color of walls to adding decks and other huge elements. The said industry is full of various parties that experienced the increase in profit and revenue thanks to the increased interest in home improvement.

Material stores experienced a considerable revenue increase as they get to service more clients. And this is excellent as they have to offer relative prices to keep existing customers and to attract new people. This, of course, refers to clients that do home improvement projects without professional help. They also have to stay relevant to strike deals with construction companies that offer home improvement services.

This is an industry in which everyone profits, as long as they are willing to adapt to the ever-changing market. Those that fail to adapt tend to lose their footing in the business and go down as soon as something changes.

How home improvement business changes affect relevant parties

Home improvementWoodyard is one of many material stores that experienced a sudden increase in their business. The sheer number of ads on various sites increased as the demand for raw materials went up. People got interested in home improvement projects, and that resulted in a higher count of searches regarding materials used on those projects.

All that was left for Woodyard and other similar stores was to adapt to the demand and try to satisfy all customers. That might sound easy, but the fact that many stores failed to change is something that reflected the surprise that all of those stores experienced. They were unable to cope with 200% or higher increase in demand for materials they sell, and that resulted in a loss of a lot of potential profit.

Construction companies fare well with the increased demand for their services. Many expanded several times in the last couple of months to satisfy the needs of new clients. Some of them branched out to offer new services that cover different areas of the home improvement.

Why Do We Need Spiral Wound Gaskets?

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Why Do We Need Spiral Wound Gaskets?
Featured image of Why Do We Need Spiral Wound Gaskets?

Spiral wound gaskets are basically (semi) metallic rings that are placed between two surfaces that are of different materials with the goal of preventing the leakage. It consists of two parts: a metal wound and the filler material, where the metal part acts as the strong structural support and the filler material is actually the sealing part.

Stainless steel, or carbon-rich metals are used for creating these, while the filler material is usually graphite. One of the best companies, www.specialistsealingproducts.co.uk, is specialized in creating and selling these for various purposes and we asked them a couple of questions regarding these.

How are spiral wound gaskets made?

The process of creating starts with the winding the tracks of metal and filler material over a smaller ring that is made of steel. The metal material is always used for the structure while the material for sealing is picked upon the role of the whole element/gasket.

Blue spiral wound gaskets
spiral wound gaskets

The process of selection of the sealing material depends on temperature, amount of fluid, chemical reactions between materials. These variables influence the overall selection so the gasket could be used in a certain industry or for certain actions.

The alternating spirals of metal and the filler material are made into the ring made of steel, which has a certain thickness that depends on the purpose of the element.

The outer ring is usually made of stainless steel, type 304 or 321 while the filler material is made of graphite or asbestos. The outer ring, however, is made of carbon steel to ensure robustness and firm structure.

Where do we use spiral wound gaskets?

We use these wherever we have an operating under the high/low temperature and high/low pressure. They are placed in face flanges, as well as in tongue and grow flanges. Wherever we have the two separate parts that are working in extreme environment (high/low temperature/pressure), these are applied as the security for leakage prevention.

Petrochemical industry, as well as any kind of plants, uses this element to prevent any leakage of toxic fluids or elements that could affect the people’s health and inflict serious damage. Oil refinery uses the gaskets to secure two pipes for example and prevent the possible oil leakage.

Also, the high-pressure conditions and environment could have a lot of benefit from using these as they can withstand a really high level of pressure without cracking or releasing.

Can we re-use spiral wound gaskets?

Technically we can re-use them after they had served a purpose for a while, but it is not really recommended thing to do. Over time, high temperature, high pressure and huge amounts of liquids may ruin the overall structure of this element and it is very likely that it will not withstand the same conditions later.

Therefore, the professionals must examine the piping system, take into consideration the operating conditions and fluids in order to determine whether the replacement is needed.

Still, have in mind that these can work for a long time, but once you disassemble them, you must replace these with the new ones.

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