Entrepreneurs are always seeking new pathways and routes to the target of their vision. We always have our influences and inspirations for comfort and sanity when all around us are naysayers. As my endeavor grew legs and I began to create the world’s leading hydraulic access systems OEM, I often reminded myself where it all began. Ask any entrepreneur about their “story” and they will most likely tell you an interesting tale sprinkled with unlikely details. The vision that drove me on the road to success is historic, deep-rooted and possibly even surprising.
Like most boys, I had a fascination with (Pre Teknik) Legos. Like the Hydroswing® of the future, the simplicity of building was key. However, by the age of 6 I became very frustrated in my Legos — No hinges for door panels! Thankfully, in 1973, Lego introduced hinges for my single panel creations! I was quickly able to construct doors for my landing craft, tractor shops, and hangars for model aircraft. I was hooked on doors!
All told, the power, simplicity and sheer versatility of this incredibly simple and controllable power source was all around me ... and as a farm boy in the North of England my grandfather very quickly had me using all sorts of agricultural hydraulic equipment from front loaders and backhoes to hydraulic grass box trailer gates and forage harvester trailer pickup hitches.
Then, things really took hold when I began watching Thunderbirds. This British science-fiction television series was produced between 1964 and 1966 using a form of electronic marionette puppetry (dubbed "Supermarionation") that combined with scale model special effects sequences. A now iconic show in the U.K. follows the exploits of International Rescue (IR), a life-saving organization equipped with technologically-advanced land, sea, air and space rescue craft; these are headed by a fleet of five vehicles named the Thunderbirds and launched from IR's secret base in the Pacific Ocean. The jet powered rescue craft and space craft had hydraulic doors clad in stone and landscape, hydraulic launch pads, a hydraulic swimming pool cover for rocket silo and the most incredible hydraulic door for the Thunderbird 2 hangar ... complete with hydraulic palm trees !!! Go Figure! I was completely captivated… Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMEuEF9-UbU
As I grew up, the door images continued to inspire me… always in my head. Eventually I ended up in the HAZMAT storage business. While growing several successful HAZMAT companies, I had an opportunity to see the ultimate hydraulics at work at Greenham Common. Greenham Common used hydraulic doors to seal in safety and seal out nuclear blast. Opened in 1942, it was used by both the Royal Air Force in WW II and most famously by the US Air Force as a major Cold War Nuclear Strike Base. From late 1967, Greenham Common was used for NATO operations in deterrence of the Eastern bloc countries. The missile bunkers seen here were designed with their hydraulic doors to withstand the local airbursting of a point strike on the West’s front line deterrent from the East, showing the unique ability of the Hydraulic door system to carry strength and integrity to such a level… and they are still in existence today for all to see as part of the Cold War history. These extraordinary doors were some of the main inspirations for the strength of the hydraulic system that would later become Hydroswing®. “Simple, Strong & Secure.” a mantra we still use today. Recently, these bunkers have been used in the making of the latest Star Wars movie as X wing hangars!
In hindsight, Hydroswing® was simply the coming together of what that early vision had built. As entrepreneurs, we all know the core to our inspiration. Do you know what sculpted your vision?
Next week, back to business. To be continued.