May 1st is a special day for Peiffer People and the Ressler family, as it marks the anniversary of the day in 1974, when Robert L. Ressler purchased Peiffer Machine from its founder, Mr. Paul Peiffer. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bob Ressler, for being an excellent business man, a generous boss, a trustworthy business partner, and person of tremendous integrity. We are all here today at Peiffer, in large part, thanks to the business model and principles put in place by Bob. (You can learn more about Bob and the Peiffer Story here.)
People who knew Bob marveled at his friendly spirit, his willingness to help others, and his very astute business acumen. In 1963, while still a member of the management team at what was then the New Holland Machine Company, Bob penned a memo to a colleague, who had inquired about ‘the basic principles…to be essential in running a successful operation’. Bob’s hand-typed, three-page response is humble and direct; its words speak wisdom that is timeless and relevant for any endeavor. He lived what he believed, practiced what he preached, some might say. Here are a few excerpts:
“The first thing that has to be present is the belief that a business will grow and prosper…. that association with and working within the business will also be profitable and satisfying for the people who are employed in the business, since it is the people in the business who usually hold in their hands the difference between a successful business or one that fails.”
“Unless we are geniuses (and most of us are not) we can make better progress if we can work successfully as a team–each person making the fullest contribution possible, and learning from and helping others to do the same.”
“If progress is to be achieved, all people in the company must know, generally, what the overall objectives are, what the basic problems are, and what programs will be followed to overcome them.”
He also believed that we all, as human beings, are “motivated” by six things, which “cause people to work well in an organization”. Bob enumerated these “motivators” as:
1) Material needs–things like food, clothing, and housing–that the wages people earn provide.
2) Security–including steady work, fringe benefits, prospects for a good future.
3) A feeling of belonging–knowing you are a member of a team.
4) Respect of associates–we all like to know that our efforts are appreciated.
5) Accomplishment on the job–we all get satisfaction from doing a job well.
6) Opportunity to learn–the desire to know your job well and to grow with the company.
In closing the memo, Bob mentions two other points of importance he wanted to share: “humility” (i.e. on the part of a “successful manager…. in order to generate a greater sense of participation in the part of people under his direction”), and the relevance of these “six motivators” not only for the workplace, but also with children, as they grow and develop, as these may “give him a perspective as to what is required from him if he is to make a successful contribution to whatever he plans to do through the remainder of his life”.
As our present-day employees gathered this morning (as we do every “First Friday” to celebrate our work and talk about our upcoming opportunities and challenges), we all agreed that this business called “Peiffer” is a “pretty special place”. Surely, Robert L. Ressler, by his words and his actions among us, helped define us and continues to inspire us–even today. We’re a family, we’re a team–and in working as such, we can make really good things happen–for our customers, for each other, and for ourselves.
Happy Anniversary, Peiffer! (If Bob was still here, we’d join in a hearty chorus in his honor: “For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny!”)