If you do not work in manufacturing, you may not know what a drive control system is, but Lyle Eveleigh knows. He is what is known in the field as a trouble shooter. Some even call him the “Drives Doctor,” because of his remarkable ability to solve the most intractable of problems in their drive control systems.
He got his foundation in the field beginning with his 8.5 years of service in the United States Army. He held various roles working with electronics, including training other servicemen, before he returned to civilian in 1967. Then he went to work for WER Industrial Corporation. He worked for them on and off during which time they were bought out by Emerson Electric Corporation. He left in 1980 to work for Crown Zellerbach as they were setting up a new plant and he settled in Orange, Texas.
He formed MNE Enterprises after his father passed away in 1984. The initials MNE stand for his father’s name, Malcolm Nathaniel Eveleigh. He started out developing custom small business accounting programs using personal computers, just as they were becoming affordable. Eventually, Emerson would have their customers send their repair work to him, so he set up a small shop and had one guy working for him full-time.
His business developed into a computer store, then two computer stores and a motor shop. He had 13 employees at one point in time. But he was spreading himself too thin, he still worked full-time for Crown Zellerbach, in addition to this burgeoning business.
Then prices for computers really began to drop, and large stores were able to get their computers on consignment and have them replaced by the manufacturer when newer models came out. It was a real challenge to keep pace with the changing market. He had to keep buying all the latest models to have on display, and then when the newer, better, cheaper models came out, it was impossible to get rid of the older models.
Around this time pre-packaged software programs started began to appear, so this ate into that part of his business, since his custom work was more costly than customers were willing to pay. On top of all that, the motor shop he had bought included several employees who needed supervision that he was unable to provide, along with all the other elements of his business that needed to be addressed.
He had to scale back, so he focused on what he knew best, the drives business. He still kept a few employees, for a while.
“The biggest problem is that it is a highly technical business. If you have contracts with the drives systems companies, they hire you because they know you, and they know your work,” Lyle says. “If the company begins to rely on your employees, they can easily go off on their own, once you have trained them.”
Because of the costs of training employees, and the time and energy involved, along with the risk of losing them after all that, he has scaled back to a one man operation.
“You have to be flexible and nimble,” he says, “and you can’t be dumb, dumb can lead to disaster.”
He is a one man operation, but he is training a protege. My son, Xenos Montalalou is apprenticing with him. The Drives Doctor is my Dad.