I don't want to beat around the bush, so I'll give it to you straight from the shoulder. This year is going to be tough sledding. It'll separate the men from the boys and the sheep from the goats. The team that wins is going to be the one that wants it bad enough. And we want it so bad we can taste it.

Some of you think this is a gravy train, but the free rides are over. So don't push your luck. It's time to shape up or ship out. We all have to get our hands dirty, put our shoulders to the wheel, our noses to the grindstone and go that extra mile. If you drag your heels and don't give it your all, you're going to be up a creek.

If you're in sales, you've got to know your customer's business like it was your own. You've got to get into his shoes. You're not just selling products, you're selling answers to his problems. That means doing your homework. Burning the midnight oil if you have to. And not using a canned pitch as a crutch. Anybody can be an order taker. We need sales people. Professionals.

Of course the rest of us must remember that we represent the company, too. In fact, to a lot of people from outside that you deal with, you are the company. How you answer the phone, how courteous you are, how helpful you are--that's how the company is judged. So you've got to bend over backward.

Every job here is important, too. Where would we be without the production department? The sales force? Accounting? Data processing? Our clerks and secretaries? The people I've forgotten?

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And we're not going to have any weak ones. We've all got to set our sights high, swing for the fences and go for the bomb. Because nothing succeeds like success. There's a snowball effect--and we're going to get rolling!

The bottom line, of course, is the bottom line. Our company, our jobs, our futures depend on profits. Our shareholders deserve a fair return on their investment. Beyond that, we need profits to plow back into the company, for new technology and new capacity, so it can flourish and grow. And, while the buck stops here, the bucks depend on all of you. On our team effort. Let's pull out all the stops.

One more thing to wrap this up: my door is always open. If something's bothering you, come on in and we can kick it around. Or maybe you've got an idea that can save us money or improve our products. Well, you can bet your bottom dollar, ideas are always welcome. Why, just the other day the chairman of the board hit the nail on the head. He said to me that we could use some fresh ideas around here now more than ever.