Manufacturing Assistance: WIRE-Net Peer-to-Peer Learning

Pete Accorti looks back on how WIRE-Net helped his company grow

Pete Accorti

"We moved to the near west side of Cleveland, right around the corner from WIRE-Net offices in 1991," Pete Accorti, President of Talan Products explains. "We got involved with WIRE-Net when a staffer, Holly Harlan, just walked into our place one day and sort of engaged us. She talked to us about what WIRE-Net was doing and what they could do for us. We took a walk around the plant and she was very interested (she's an engineer). She talked, but the whole time she talked, she was looking around."

Accorti went on to say that Holly's main purpose for the visit was to observe his operation to determine ways in which WIRE-Net could help. And that's what convinced him to join, and eventually work his way up to the Board President position for the organization

Talan Products is a full service metal stamping company and manufacturer of tooling and engineered parts, serving the fastener, building products, appliance, hardware, defense and transportation markets. The company has also successfully stepped into the renewable energy arena by producing solar racking systems.

"We grew really rapidly throughout the 90s and we had growing pains," recalls Accorti. "It was the kind of problems growing companies have. You're trying to hire staff, you're training, you're designing infrastructure, and you're building. So there were all sorts of issues."

WIRE-Net became a reliable source for helping Talan Products address many of those issues, said Accorti.

"WIRE-Net provides a voice for manufacturing. So there's lots of visibility for manufacturers through WIRE-Net and I think that's an important component."

Pete Accorti, WIRE-Net Board Chairman, 2000-2001

WIRE-Net empowered business owners by teaming them up in groups to compare notes about anything from personnel to technology. Accorti was a participant of a Learners Group that Holly Harlan ran based around the concept of natural capitalism, which was a pretty impactful group, according to Accorti.

"Learners Groups were designed by WIRE-Net as peer-to-peer learning," he explained. "So the idea was to come up with a topic and bring a group of business owners, CEO's or managers together, depending on what the topic was, and learn in a structured way over a course of six to eight months on a peer-to-peer basis. Different companies would host on a different month, there'd be a topic and we'd bring a lot of speakers in.

"The real strength around Learners' Groups was the peer-to-peer aspect of it," Accorti continued. "So not only did you get to know people, but you really got to learn with them and through them. It was a very interesting approach. There was an accountability aspect, and certain groups would have outcomes which were expected. It was really good."

Accorti credits WIRE-Net founder John Colm for the depth of assistance that the organization offers members, and John's devotion to Cleveland's manufacturing base.

"WIRE-Net, through John Colm, really gave us a sense of place in Cleveland. He's a very cerebral guy, he's very bright and he's always looking for the next thing. So we've learned a lot from him."

Pete Accorti, WIRE-Net Board Chairman, 2000-2001

"John connected us (Talan Products) to Cleveland," he said. "For us early on, it was just 'put us in a box' and we didn't care where the box was. And when we moved from the near west side to the far east side, we didn't have to stay in Cleveland. But I knew I had to stay because my friends at WIRE-Net wouldn't talk to me if I left Cleveland.

"But the other thing was that we felt a real connection to Cleveland. We consider ourselves urban entrepreneurs. This is where we live. This is where we work. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'd rather not have to travel the distances I travel, in terms of commuting, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere but Cleveland. We put our money here and we provide jobs here and we like that."

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