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On the Job with Richard Hambric

Richard Hambric is the owner of Hambric Steel and Fabrication.

Richard Hambric is the owner of Hambric Steel and Fabrication.

DOSSIER

NAME: Richard Hambric

AGE: 57

POSITION: Owner of Hambric Steel & Fabrication

FAMILY: Married to Elaine; with four adult children

EDUCATION: Westover High School, Darton State College

ALBANY — Richard Hambric and son, Ricky Jr., are both welders. They are following in the footsteps of Richard’s father in operating Hambric Steel and Fabrication.

The Hambric welding tradition got its start when Richard’s father, Leon, enlisted for military service during World War II. In a test during the induction process, he was determined to have an aptitude for welding.

After his stint in the military, Leon Hambric purchased a shop on Front Street.

Richard Hambric has been sole owner of what is now Hambric Steel & Fabrication since his mother and older brother passed away two years ago. When he happens to get a break from his 10 to 12-hour days, Hambric enjoys movies, fishing and vacationing at the beach and mountains.

Hambric recently shared some opinions in a question-and-answer session with Herald reporter Jim West.

Q. What was your first job?

A. This was a family-owned business and so my first job was with the business. I was a young teenager, probably about 12 or 13. I remember when I was 13 my dad finally paid me about a quarter an hour — after school half a day on Saturdays.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. I saved up and bought myself a 16-gauge pump shotgun.

Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. I try to treat them the way I’d like to be treated. I try to show them respect and the overall mannerism of telling people thank you for a job well done.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. As my parents became older and retired, through the years I just accepted more and more responsibilities through the company.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. My dad taught me a lot. He taught me about life and about people. I really miss him a lot. I wish he were still here.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. Be prepared for the worst. It’s going to happen sooner or later. I don’t want be negative sounding, but you can’t always have ice cream. You’ll always have bad times somewhere along the way.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology – examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. – what would you most like to see go away?

A. Automated phone systems. They’ve got to be the worst.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. Probably a cell phone. Just convenience.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. Probably Christmas. I like the Fourth of July, but I think Christmas is best. The family gets together and enjoy each other’s company.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. My day stays pretty busy. I really don’t have enough time to read. I mainly watch movies when I can.

Q. I’m up and going by?

A. Most days I’m up by 6 and on the way to the office. I get here between 7:30 and 8.

Q. What famous person would you like to meet?

A. George W. Bush. I think he’d be an interesting person to talk to. Just his history and the politics and the things that went on during the Reagan era. I think in my lifetime, as far as I’m concerned, Bush and Reagan made the better presidents that I’ve ever seen.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Fishing and just being with the family.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. Not expanding the company when times were good. When the cash flow was available we were so busy keeping our customers happy we didn’t have time to relate to expanding the company when we were able to afford it.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. I’ve always been a hands-on person and occasionally we get a good task that a lot of other shops don’t know how to do. My dad taught me to repair some things the old-fashioned way. I think they’re better than the new way — the new techniques. Very few people know that lost art. Some of it goes maybe all the way to blacksmith art. I’m trying to pass that on to my son, who also works here. We weld some exotic metals and cast iron and bronze, brass and pewter.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Having to fire people who just don’t want to do right. They’re not here for the company and don’t want to be a team member and therefore they just don’t work out.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Math. Probably could have just used more of it. I never so when I was in school.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. If I had it to do all over again I think I’d like to do something in the medical field.

Q. Finish this thought: “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …

A. Sitting on the beach with my wife.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. The ability to analyze the business and the people that surround it. If you can’t do that you’ll have a tough time.

Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. I believe it will be a lot longer than most people think or hope. I would like for it to be next month, but probably four or five years from now.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. I don’t own an iPod, but when I listen to the radio it’s probably oldies like 1970s or a little country and western.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. I don’t know if the city or the county will really change that much — compared to the last 10. I would hope more industry will move into this area but I’m not so sure the people we have in the area will support that. I’m talking about employees, people who they can hire to manufacture whatever.

Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?

A. I like short vacations, probably to the mountains or to the beach have been the best.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. The equipment that we’re using is becoming more high-tech. Computers are attached to everything. We’re trying to upgrade our facility now. Unfortunately, everything costs so much, but we are trying to expand and grow with the new technology that’s available.