April 23, 2013

Italians take Rotary tour of Chickasha

The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — While on a tour of the town, Italian participants in a Group Study Exchange (GSE) program hosted by the local Rotary Club toured Chickasha company HSI Sensing where they learned a little bit about how an American family owned business is run.

David Posey, president of HSI and son of the company’s founders Bill and Dorothy Posey, showed the five Italian Rotarians the process by which reed switches – magnetic switches used in various machines to control their operation – are made by the 230-employee operation. The touring group, which will visit other towns in the area during their one-month stay in Southwest Oklahoma, includes two lawyers, an economics researcher, and two engineers. One of the engineers, Jacopo Tilli, said the visit is a valuable experience.

“I really enjoy seeing things in the academic, technological, and industrial fields here,” Tilli said. “There are some very good points that we should try to use back in Italy.”

The group of professionals represents the Rotary organization from the Emilia-Romana and Tuscany region of Italy. All of the visitors have doctorate degrees in their field or are doctoral candidates.

Incoming President for Rotary Club of Chickasha Greg Elliott chaperoned the group around town on their tour, which also included stops at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and at Midwest Towers, another local company. They will also take a tour of Canadian Valley Technical Center, the jail and courthouse, and catch the Harlem Ambassadors basketball game against Chickasha Breeze today as part of their visit.

The GSE program is beneficial to both visitors and local Rotarians, Elliott said. This is the first time in about 20 years that the local Rotary Club has hosted a GSE group.

“We get to meet people from different countries and who have had different experiences,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about the culture. From a Rotarians perspective, it’s about creating new relationships.”

HSI was found in 1968 and has been run by the Posey family throughout its existence. David Posey’s son, Ryan, serves as the vice president of operations.

“Our employees average about 10 to 11 years of time with the company, and we feel the family atmosphere is a contributor to that,” Ryan Posey said. “Having consistent values over the years has been an advantage.”

 Family-owned operations are no stranger to Italians, said Vicenzo Zarone.

“Most businesses are family owned, but they are also small to medium size,” Zarone said. “It’s suitable to that management style.”

What has been new to the group, lawyer Ester di Napoli said, was the Oklahoma weather and the American education system, which she finds particularly interesting.

“The education system you have here is more specific and more used to get people a specific job,” di Napoli said. “In Italy, people get their own education and go off to university, but there is very little specific instruction at that level. You’re more focused on young people here.” Along with di Napoli, Zarone, and Tilli, lawyer Claudio Pezzi and industrial health and safety researcher Andrea Govoni are also part of the visiting group.

HSI deals on a global market, since about 35 percent of the company’s products go outside the country, David Posey said.

“We make the widest variety of reed switches in the world; about 60 different types,” David Posey said. “They are used in every thing from hearing aids, pacemakers, jet engines, all the way up to the International Space Station; we’ve got some of ours up there.”