The start of a network of professional technicians…
The assembly industry has been around for quite a long time, however, not many people know who we are or what we do. We are professional technicians who build and repair things that are shipped to the consumer in a box or crate and require end user assembly….we are a niche industry who’s merit and equity are long overdue to be noticed.
Everyone knows what electricians, plumbers, mechanics, carpenters and many other skilled tradesmen do, but when it comes to a professional assembler… most people will scratch their heads asking: “What the heck is an assembler”? This is where the United Assemblers Network History really begins.
Mike Mehrle had worked for a number of large sign companies and made quite a few friends in that industry, one of them being Chris Manack. Mike and Chris met each other, sometime in the early 1990’s when they were employed at Hanover Sign Company, and quickly became friends. Not only did they have sign experience in common, but building things was a skill set they both shared as well.
Eventually, Mehrle and Manack left Hanover Signs to pursue other interests and business ventures. Chris decided to follow his dream and opened up a bicycle sales and repair shop, Chris’ Cycle Works, that he built from scratch in the Central Ohio area. Mike flexed his entrepreneurial muscles in the same market also, and opened a small sign shop specializing in computer generated vinyl signs and graphics.
Several years passed, while Mike and Chris pursued their separate interests and businesses. Their communication faded away, and eventually ceased, as often is the case in life when people get busy. Neither one could possibly have known at the time that a mutual interest would bring them back together again.
Chris found that his bicycle shop did very well during the Spring and Summer months, but sales were slim during the bitter Ohio winters, strapping his cash flow. In search of another revenue stream to keep his business moving forward, he called on big box stores to see if they were interested in contracting him to build bicycles, but to no avail.
Chris quickly discovered that all the big chains contracted with national assembly companies (NAC) building all their bikes and other items within the stores, such as furniture and fitness equipment. So, Chris went to work for one of the NAC’s in the winter months, which proved to be a lucrative endeavor, supplementing his bicycle shop income.
Meanwhile, Mike continued to operate his sign shop, but like Chris, he experienced some peaks and valleys in his sales also. Mike had tremendous competition from countless vinyl sign shops in the market, and maintaining an edge was a struggle.
Then one day in the mid 90’s, while Mike was in his sign shop, his old friend Chris came a calling. Chris asked him how things were going, to which Mike replied: “not so good.” Much to Mike’s puzzlement, Chris quickly said, “I’m glad to hear that, Mike.” “What the heck does that mean?” Mike asked in bewilderment. Chris explained to him that he discovered an industry and work that was right down Mike’s alley. He had a very large furniture assembly work order to complete and he needed help. The next day, Mike closed his shop and went with Chris to spend the day with his buddy building furniture.
After the day of assembling furniture was done, Mike asked Chris if he was hiring anyone. Chris replied that he wasn’t, but the company he contracted with was looking for more employees. It took less than a week for Mike to leave his small sign business behind, and was on board with the NAC and cranking out the assemblies with Chris.
It seemed that all good things were coming to an end, for the NAC they contracted with was not doing well with the management of the field teams. It was abundantly apparent that they couldn’t care less about the veteran technicians (and that still hasn’t changed). So Mike and Chris left the employ of the NAC, and went there separate ways, yet again.
Chris ramped up his bike shop to another level in the late 1990’s, and continued to work part time for another NAC, building bicycles, fitness equipment, basketball hoops, game tables, and other equipment in Columbus area big box stores.
However, in 2005, Chris saw that the small bike shop business that once flourished was getting squeezed out by the big chains and the Internet. That same year, he saw the opportunity to leave the bicycle business and sold his bike shop to an area sports adventure company, and reentered the world of sales, this time in the logistics business, leaving the bike business behind him for good, along with the assembly industry as well (or so he thought).
Meanwhile, Mike undaunted by a few setbacks within his NAC employ, saw the potential in the assembly industry and started his own small assembly service in Central Ohio. After picking up a local ready-to-assemble super store, Mike setup a website before most people even knew what a website was, to help enhance his printed advertising.
With a well Search Engine Optimized (SEO) website, Mike started getting calls from all over the country asking him to assemble products in their respective areas. For a while, Mike gracefully turned down these requests from potential customers from New York to California and from Minnesota to Florida. For whatever reason (call it fate), Mike started taking customers’ name and phone numbers, telling them he would try to find someone for them. Thus, Assemble4You was born in 2002 (the forerunner to the United Assemblers Network).
The network’s growth caught the attention of many media sources through a press release sent out by the Assemble4You network. But it also caught the eye of an NAC, that being Diamond Retail Services (DRS) who at the time was looking for a technician in the Central Ohio area when they also found Mike’s website.
Mike initially turned down DRS’ offer to join their ranks as a tech, but Diamond came back with another offer of buying out Mike’s website and making him a regional manager. The transaction was made and the new chapter with Mike’s journey in the assembly industry was about to unfold.
Some of Mike’s associates and affiliates thought it was a mistake to go to work for DRS and represented a betrayal to the independent technicians he had built relationships with. But, nothing could be further from the truth. What this opportunity presented, was a look into the corporate side of the industry. Mike was pretty high up on the corporate chain; but his allegiance was still with the independent technicians.
Having the regional manager’s position, Mike was able to get many of his comrades who were part of the Assemble4You network much better pay. So, essentially it was a win-win for everyone who understood what Mike was attempting to do, showing great advancements and successes.
As it happens many times in business… DRS lost an account to a large national retailer. This in turn set off a chain reaction with other retailers. There was not, and for the most part, still not any loyalty from the retailers and the NAC’s.
Let there be a few store managers upset with an NAC and enough complaints from customers, and the national retailer jumps ship to yet another NAC. The ironic thing about this is that the new NAC for the stores ends up employing the exact same techs from the previous NAC! Thus, the very same assemblers walk through the doors of the retail store, and the store manager is again not happy. The vicious cycle continues!
DRS found themselves out of business and sold what assets they had left to another NAC wannabe, and Mike found that he was, once again, in search of another assembly industry avenue to pursue.
Now that he had a vast amount of knowledge about the industry, Mike set out to start a new assembly business again, this time under a new name, “The Savvy Tech.” By this time, Mike also knew how websites played a major role in the promoting of any business, especially today, so The Savvy Tech didn’t take long to get noticed. Yet again, the great positioning through website optimization had people finding him all over the country.
Mike soon landed an account with the Kroger Market Place stores in Central Ohio and had to hire a few technicians to help with the workload the Kroger stores were bringing his way.
Additionally, other techs across the country realized very quickly what was developing with The Savvy Tech, and began contacting Mike, and asking him when he was going to resume the online assembly network. After much contemplation, Mike created a whole new concept, that being the United Assemblers Network (UAN). It was more than just a name for Mike…it represented a philosophy, Uniting An Industry! The new business model was taking off again.
History has a way of repeating itself, and yet another NAC found Mike, and asked him to help with recruiting. Urban Express (UX) was that NAC, who found that the UAN was all about helping independent technicians obtain the knowledge needed to prime people into becoming professional technicians and business people. Mike accepted UX’s job offer and got right to work in his new position.
Mike found his plate extremely full, what with The Savvy Tech, starting and promoting the United Assemblers Network, and recruiting for Urban Express. Mike needed to let go of something to allow him to focus on what was most important, and that was building the network. So Mike made the decision to sell the rights to his Kroger account to one of his technicians.
Early in 2011, disillusioned with the logistics arena, the slumping commercial moving business and the entire sales industry in general, Chris Manack called on his longtime friend, Mike Mehrle to see if there was anything that Mike could do to help him locate a sales job in a different industry. Chris knew through contacts he had and infrequent calls to Mike that he was heavy into networking and recruiting.
Chris met with Mike for lunch and was both stunned and amazed at how much Mike had accomplished in the assembly industry over the years they had been apart. particularly with the United Assemblers Network. Timing is everything, as they say, and Chris’ call to Mike was a fortuitous one indeed. Mike was ready to give up his assembly business in Columbus, and Chris was just the man to take it over.
Somehow, things always come full circle…..it’s interesting to note, if not ironic, that it was Chris who introduced Mike to the assembly industry many years before, and now here was Mike, reeling Chris back into the business! Things could not have worked out any better for the both of them.
Chris created “Precision Assembly & Repair Technologies” (PART) and took over what was the rest of Mike’s assembly and repair business, “The Savvy Tech.” Mike built Chris’ website, and taught him how to market his services online. Today, Chris is doing extremely well with his business. His perseverance, loyalty and knowledge of mechanical practices, has made him a valued member of the UAN and is now mentoring any tech that wants to learn how to grow a profitable business.
For a short time, Chris contracted with Urban Express through Mike’s recruiting efforts. Still later, Chris and Mike would both work for another NAC, but their greater success stories are within their independence….both men are true Independent Contractors, having left the NAC’s well behind them, having moved ahead successfully on their own.
In September of 2014, Mike came to Chris with a business proposition that would change the entire course of the UAN. Mike invited Chris to become a partner in The Network and advance its growth to even greater heights, to which Chris accepted with great enthusiasm.
Together, the two men overhauled the UAN by writing a new business plan and model, writing the industry’s first Certification Test for technicians, and designed a whole new direction for the network. The UAN is gaining great approval and support from online merchants and retailers, utilizing the revamped directory of certified professional technicians, who are coming on board at a rapid pace. While some NAC’s have floundered or have vanished all together, the UAN has now seized this opportunity by growing the network tremendously.
On October 7, 2015, Mike Mehrle, founder of the United Assemblers Network, made the decision to retire from the business and the industry. Mike turned the entire business and organization over to Chris Manack, who has now become the sole Owner and President of the UAN. Under Chris’ leadership, the network will continue to grow, and thrive on its own momentum!
If you have read the history of how the United Assemblers network got started, where it is today, and where it plans to be tomorrow….and have an interest in assembling products knowing what this network does and can do for you, then why not join today and be a part of a rapidly growing team? Let us show you how you can build your own successful business. Because with the UAN you may be in business for yourself but you will never be in business by yourself.