As the wise man says, If you have a good story to tell, tell it.
This is a good story.
I met Jeff Mogensen in 1992, when we both lived in Chicago. He was working for Amistar, and I was an editor for another magazine in this industry. Jeff called me up and invited me down to his demo room, which had just installed a full surface mount line. I dutifully wrote the piece, and Jeff and I have remained friends to this day.
Fast forward to today, and Jeff and I have both relocated outside Boston. After departing from Speedline Technologies last year, and motivated by the death from leukemia of the young son of a family friend, Jeff turned his estimable energy to charity, riding his bike hundreds of miles to raise awareness and funds for cyclist Lance Armstrong’s anti-cancer foundation, Livestrong.
As is Jeff’s style, he turned fundraising into a personal competition. As Jeff tells it, he started out thinking that if the typical fundraiser could find $500 in donations, he could find $5,000. Reaching that goal was so easy, he raised his sites to $10,000, and then $25,000. He will ride in a 100-mile Livestrong cycling fundraiser in August and another in October. And he organized a casino night charity event, scheduledfor June 18.
Along the way, Jeff recognized that while donations of $10 or $25 were important, he had a network of industry contacts built over his 30-year career in electronics manufacturing that was going untapped. He turned his attention to a much larger idea: uniting an entire industry in his quest.
To that end, Jeff is asking industrial equipment manufacturers to provide products at no charge or at reduced prices. He enlisted the help of Andrew Joos, who agreed to manage the sale of the items through X-Line Asset Management at no cost to the buyer, seller or donor. Following the auction, the agreed upon donor price (if any) would be returned to the donor company, and the balance sent to Livestrong.
“Jeff came up with this idea for other revenue sources for funding the charities,” explains Joos, X-Line’s vice president of business development. “We actually had this idea of holding auctions for equipment when we were with Speedline. We always talked about it, and he’s watched a lot of auctions.”
The idea and a place to hold it in hand, Jeff started calling OEMs. Among the first to sign on were Schleuniger president Mike Rizzo and KIC president Bjorn Dahle.
“I’ve known Jeff for 20-plus years, and he’s a great guy,” says Dahle. “It’s a very easy decision for me. The project is very worthwhile.
“It’s one of those wonderful things where you have a self-interest both for helping others and for your company. For KIC, we get exposure for our products through Jeff and this auction and that’s always a positive.”
Dahle also sees potential for the auction to turn into something more than just another equipment sale. “Knowing Jeff, this could be more than a garage sale,” he says. “This could turn into a nice little event, and I’m really excited. I’m very happy to be working on this.”
Joos agrees. “It’s really not a hard thing for us to do. I’m 100% behind the cause. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer.”
For his part, Joos has his accountant researching tax law to determine whether buyers could deduct some of the purchase price as a charitable contribution. “The real incentive,” he says, “would be someone paying close to actual value for a new or refurbished machine, and also getting the tax deduction. That would bring some nice revenue back” for Livestrong.
Sponsors like KIC are providing equipment at reduced cost, while others like X-Line are providing free marketing, manpower and web hosting services.
Getting people on board is the harder part. From his suburban Boston home, Mogensen is taking breaks between training to work the phones, trying to get additional sponsors. The tentative date for the auction is July 25.
“We’ve all been affected in so many ways either personally or with friends and family who have been diagnosed with this disease,” Jeff says. “It’s my honor to do what I can to support those affected and in some way try to help create a world that is cancer-free.”
As one of the hundreds of Friends of Jeff, CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY has agreed to provide publicity and other support. Why are we supporting Jeff’s efforts? As Jeff points out, nearly 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer during their lifetime. As a cancer survivor and father of two young boys, and knowing the genetic factors that play into one’s chances of coming down with the disease, I wasn't difficult to persuade. I hope we can persuade you, too.
For more information on how to help, contact Jeff at 508-878-8267, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.letspickafightwithcancer.com.
Mike Buetow is editor-in-chief of CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY; email@example.com.