The Damn Pin Cracked

A Memoir

by Robert Beatty
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I'm not a particularly unbiased reader of this account. I had the great pleasure and good fortune to work with Rob back when Plexus was nascent. It was a period of life that was a most professionally and personally rewarding era.

I was moved to tears to hear about Richard, and I'll never forget him . . . There's something very "lineman" about coming up in any sort of business in Detroit. There's a true grit, a strength of character, not found anywhere else in the country.

I think the thing that got me most was the bit about the machine redesign on the fly under great duress and how -- long after it should have been done and over with, and the men who designed it had moved on -- it was still there, doing what needed doing, day after day. A continuous presence, and a story to go with it.

My reaction stems from a personal experience: A decade after my father had died, the radio station where he worked gave my mother a small jimmy-rigged antenna that he had made and that kept one of Detroit's largest radio stations on the air for over a decade. And the antenna still worked.

I'm glad Richard recovered, and I'm equally glad to know that Detroit is still Detroit, with its own brand of solidarity, survivors, and camaraderie.

What a truly captivating story about friendship, partnership, and drive. Parts of the narrative brought me to tears--the very close relationship between Richard and Rob is apparent, and the drive for success that brought them to the partnership and affected not only their lives but also those of many others whose lives they have touched. Reading the story left me hungry for more.

I was just going to peek at this story but it got me with the first line. I thought it was fabulous. I love discovering writers who write about things I think I'm not interested in, but then hook me with their original storytelling and authentic sense of universal human dilemmas.

I came across this story and was hooked immediately.

A powerfully moving personal account. Beatty writing about large events from such an intimate context that the reader is lead easily into his world. The threads of Richard’s illness and business adventures are woven into a strong fabric that informs, entertains, and makes a reader care.

I enjoyed the imagery -- the house by the lake in Bloomfield Hills, the hospital room, the heavy metal of the forging plant. The images added to the emotion of the story.

"Create a sense of urgency" is something we say often in our restaurant business. I certainly wasn't expecting to be sitting on the edge of my seat while reading this story. It illustrates the ability of a passionate man to catch others up and carry them along on a wild ride! I love the fact that the money was not as important as the friendship and accomplishing something together.

This Story of the Week captures the American spirit -- the phenomenon of someone coming to America, having nothing, working hard, developing one company and then another, along the way, helping others. Richard and Robert's story offers a legacy of courage, hard work, and perseverance.

Besides enjoying this memoir for its being a good read, I admire your pacing, the way it pulled me further and further into the business crises before the medical crisis.

Reality is a wonderful concept. The reality of this story is that it is told so well you can live it in your mind and feel it in your soul.

The story draws you in immediately. The characters are developed quickly and well. The vignette about the rifle is effective in adding depth and richness to Beatty's characterization of Richard.

The grit, heat, and wonder of manufacturing comes through in this tight, well-written tale.

This was a truly remarkable story. I was touched by the passion and drive for success as well as by the friendship that sustained it all.

Fantastic story of how life can bring you on paths you can’t predict.

These days, manufacturing is a short article on page 20 or a graph with an down arrow. The drama and emotion of people contending with the forces of fire, steel, and time doesn't quite fit a world of financial "instruments" and momentary celebrity. And yet this world still exists and has a powerful story to tell us. Beatty relates such a story and he does it well.

I was only planning on taking a quick look at this short story, saving the full read for later when I got home. Once I started reading, I found I couldn't stop. It was a great read, expressing human interest without over-the-top drama.

Incredible story. Richard seems a genius at dealing with the Ford executives in an unconventional but completely effective way.

It takes a lot to get and hold my attention when it comes to reading, but I couldn't stop once I started reading this story. Every scene is clearly depicted with the smallest details to make you feel like you're right there. I want more!

Great read. Thank you for sharing your story. Richard and Robert's story is the true definition of "entrepreneurs."

I too am a biased observer. I know both of these men and am just captivated by the story. The risk, the commitment, the depth of the friendship are all phenomenal. Storytelling at its best.

What a compelling story. A poignant look into a world that few people ever see or even think about.

Loved the story! It drew me into the workings of a truly entrepreneurial world and kept me reading till the end, which I didn't want to end. Glad you wrote about your extraordinary life. Congrats!

The story got better and better as it went along. The anecdotes are brilliant!

Many, many years ago I managed a coffeehouse. One of our regular performers told a humorous story about Jonah and the Whale that ended with, "If you get to it and you can't do it - well, there you are, aren't you?"

Too many in our world go through life in a "well, there you are" manner. It's a pleasure to read about people who continue the American spirit of making things. Beatty offers a well-written account of personal ambition, dedication to craft, and devoted relationships combining to create success.

I was hooked from the first line and couldn't put it down until I finished!

Beatty vividly recreates each detail down to the oil dripping on the carpet.

How many people will begin to change their lives after reading this? How many will start to dream bigger dreams . . .

I have had unique pleasures and adventures in life--and they continue! They include working with "Robster" for more than 20 years, growing both MSP and Plexus, with all the experiences described here, including recovery from a "cerebral insult" and near death experience. To find out what happened . . . you will have to wait until the book is published.

Richard's daring feats, of which this story highlights only a few, is matched only by Beatty's ability to preserve them with such skill. Amazing work.

I appreciated being given a behind the scenes view of office parks and manufacturing plants that I zip by on my way to and from work.

Well done. My life couldn't be more different from that of mechanical engineers and entrepreneurs, but I enjoyed learning about both ways of life. I was left with a sense of mystery at the relationship between the author and Richard.

What a great read. I was planning on a quick look now with the full read later on in the day. I couldn't stop reading. Nice job!

One of the most notable aspects of this piece for me is how Beatty chooses to contrast the raw truths about human life and relationships with the grit of manufacturing and business. The emotional recollection of the neurological exam in the hospital room offset by the high pressure situation on the loud oily shop floor create a dynamic impression of Richard McDermott through Beatty's perspective. This is further supported by Beatty's choice of narrative structure, which gradually exposes the varying angles of Richard McDermott, piece by piece, to keep the reader intrigued until the last sentence.

I enjoyed the story and look forward to more.

Good stuff.