Most people after they’ve retired usually sit back, relax and maybe travel a little bit.
Not Bill Wright.
After Wright retired from the army in 2003, he was helping a friend clean out his shed when he found an unwanted Lincoln 225 Buzzbox.
“I threw it into the back of my truck, took it to the house, plugged it in one day and started playing with it,” Wright said. “Before you know it, I bought a Ford-350 and got it set up with a welder on it, bottles and all that kind of mess.”
Soon, an unexpected, new chapter in Wright’s life began. Suddenly, he was a welding contractor, running around at 90 mph. However, the workload from his new hobby was quickly becoming too much, and Chuck Layton stepped in.
“Layton approached me and asked if I would take a look at Knight’s Companies to see if I’d wanted to work here as their permanent welder,” Wright said.
Knight’s had no on-site welders at the time to make repairs or build forms, they brought in an outside welder to do pieces as needed, which was becoming less cost effective.
“But when I came here that all stopped,” Wright said. “I started taking over any and all the welding capabilities and needs.”
17 years later, Knight’s now has six on-site welders and a full-blown shop where most of the equipment for every Knight’s plant is made. However, it didn’t start out that way.
“My first welding table was two rickety sawhorses with a thin sheet of metal on top,” Wright said. “But I remember looking and knowing where I was seeing myself go and where I was trying to have the company go, understanding what the production needs would be as Knight’s grew.”
And through good times and bad, Wright has stuck around to take care of business for the company and make his employees better than when they came to him.
“I learned that if you have knowledge you share it; there’s no sense in hoarding it,” Wright said. “If you don’t empower to the lowest level, shut your stuff down and go home because all you’re doing is stifling growth. You’re not managing properly, and you definitely aren’t growing anybody.”
Because of this mentality, Knight’s didn’t have to hire from outside the company to fill Wright’s position after he decided to take his second retirement. Instead, it was able to pull from within and give Dustin Blecha a chance at filling his shoes.
Following his retirement, Wright won’t be doing anymore welding. He’s moving to Missouri with his entire family to sit back and enjoy some well-deserved relaxation out in the woods.
“But I would not be surprised if I walked out of the house there in Missouri one morning and saw a Knight’s Companies plant rolling up.”