Made in India, printed with the white postseason logo, the Indians handed out red rally towels for every game and every watch party. They’re great for cleaning up spilled beer, protecting heads from sleet and rain, and when vocal chords fail, they can be spun around in unison with the fan brethren who refuse to go home as the games march ever so slowly to conclusion. Today they’re another momento of an “almost” season. And as we wallow in overcast skies and a game seven loss, it’s easy to forget the joy we felt along the journey. Who predicted in April that we’d be awash in rally towels, in November?
As the post season began, the Indians had the lowest odds of all the playoff teams to win it all. We were the underdogs, the team plagued with injuries and quickly dismissed. Our catcher was injured, and the replacements couldn’t hit. Our reliable clutch hitter and best outfielder only played the first few games of the season. Pitching and base-running were our strengths, and with two starting pitchers lost late in the season and our ace questionable with a quad injury, well, pitching didn’t look like a bright spot. Our outfield was patched together with rookies and aging veterans, with another outfielder suspended from post season for steroid usage. The chances for victory looked non-existent. And yet there is a reason we play the games.
Remember the Boston series? On the last weekend of the regular season, we swept the reigning World Champion Royals in Kansas City to claim the second seed in the American League playoffs and home field advantage in the division series. We then proceeded to shut out the Red Sox. The media bemoaned the end of Big Papi’s career with a loss at Fenway Park. And they covered the Red Sox fans in distress, and their tearful goodbye to their vaunted designated hitter. And to be fair, the post-game crew did ask our manager if he had any latent sympathy for the Boston team. We rolled our collective eyes. Let them weep in Boston; we’re still playing.
Winning early when part of your team is injured can be a blessing. Time heals. The media circus moves on, and the Blue Jays wore themselves out defeating the Texas Rangers with offensive fireworks and cocky confidence. They showed up in Cleveland for a best of seven series wearing Canadian flag capes and the consensus conventional wisdom of two nations that they would win. But our ace was feeling better, we played error free baseball, and after our starting pitcher was booted from a game due to uncontrollable pinky bleeding, we wove together a victory one inning at a time from the bull pen. Records were set for number of pitchers in a post season win. The Blue Jays were toast, and again we were blessed with a few extra days to recover. We’re going to need more rally towels.
And on to the Cubbies we go, the winningest team in baseball, the National League juggernaut, the sentimental favorite, the beneficiaries of an over-the-top payroll, and the darlings of a large market audience. They filled Burke Lakefront airport with their private planes. They interrupted press conferences at the white house. And they bid ticket prices to all time astronomical highs. And so the team with the longest world series drought in baseball came to play the injured Indians, the small market team with second longest drought in baseball. Maybe we would just curl up and lose gracefully. After all, the weather was miserable. But we didn’t. Our ace set a record for strike outs in game one, and we hit the ground running. Remember when we were up three games to one, and the Cubs faced elimination? The heroes were unexpected. Everyone contributed. We hung in there. But there are risks of using the ace too many times on short rest, and rookies can eventually make errors, and games can slip through your fingers, until the series rests on a game 7.
Seventy degrees in November is Indian summer in Cleveland. The crowd was evenly split, both teams played hard, with the Cubbies taking the early lead and Cleveland catching up. The game was all but won, when Cleveland tied it up in the bottom of the eighth. But injuries were taking their toll. The Cleveland ace was in heavy rotation, pitching his third game, yet another short rest outing. We moved to the bull pen early – strikeouts were scarce. And still we came back, relentlessly refusing to give up. Rain delay, and extra innings, the Cubs scored two in the top of the tenth. Cleveland could only answer with one. And the series swung to the National League Champion Chicago Cubs. It was a roller coaster of emotions, an epic game, worthy of the world series and the historic breaking of the Chicago curse.
Cleveland is no stranger to heartbreak, in fact we name them. The fumble, the drive, the shot, the departure, all have meaning to Cleveland sports fans. And we were not all quick to forgive when the King returned. It took a heart-wrenchingloss against Golden State for some to embrace “the return.” The 2015 Cavaliers gave their all, every ounce of effort, amid injuries of their own. It wasn’t winning or losing that brought us around, it was the monumental exertion of will and emotion, the willingness to give all to the team that earned the hearts of Cleveland fans.
The 2016 Indians played the same way, they left nothing on the table. They played as hard as individuals can play, and not willing to let their teammates down, believing against all odds that anything was possible, and making personal sacrifices for the good of the team. It is not the outcome we hoped for, but no one can doubt the effort.
So I’m keeping my rally towels. They’re the evidence of an epic game, an historic series, and an extraordinary season. We are the American League Champions. And we got to play baseball in November, in Believeland.
Strategic agreement to propel AHP Merkle Cylinder technology in die casting industry!
US, Canada, Mexico
AHP Merkle GmbH and Delaware Dynamics LLC signed a strategic distribution agreement in late July focusing on the die casting industry in North America. Delaware will market the Merkle cylinder line in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. “The agreement between Delaware and Merkle marks two companies with industry leading technology, internal capabilities to deliver paradigm shifting products, and a desire to spearhead advancements in production and design of complex die cast tooling,” says Ryan, Haas, CEO of Delaware Dynamics. “We employ the cutting edge technology of the Merkle cylinders internally and have found unique and distinct advantages in design, performance and durability.
“Our core business of delivering the best in large complex die cast tooling will not change. But this agreements now allows Delaware to forge relationships with companies outside our technical segment, and share technical advantages that will contribute to others’ success.”
Dan T. Moore, CEO and chairman of Dan T. Moore Co. that holds 19 companies, is an ageless entrepreneur and inventor who is full of ideas and vitality. He skis and motorcycles the world, which you can read about on his blog; starts successful business after business; holds about 30 patents; and currently is hobbling about on crutches and in a cast after having bones in his ankle fused from a ski accident. His plans? To ski again! And, to continue to innovate and create successful startup companies in Collinwood.
His Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center (CiiC) at 17000 St. Clair Avenue, a former airport used by Curtiss Wright of Wright Brothers’ fame, houses nine established and startup manufacturing companies that employ approximately 350 people: Team Wendy, Soundwich, CiiC, Gem Tool, Ecowise, Metal Matrix Innovations, Rooftop Green, NatGasCar and Petfiber. The property also has available tenant space that Moore markets to encourage minority business enterprises…
It all started with those Cowboys in purchasing. They had to figure out what and how much product to buy, and when to order it. The tried and true method was just to keep a safe level on hand, and reorder more when the quantity dipped below it. And that worked great as long as customers kept ordering what they always ordered. Any change in the customer behavior and there was too much inventory on hand, or even worse, too little. The corner office decided it would be great if purchasing could reduce inventories, because isn’t that just cash tied up in a warehouse? Oh and while they were at it, the executives thought purchasing ought to be negotiating better pricing. “A little less vendor lunching and a little more volume discounting,” the corner recommended. So the PO guys got POed at the impossible sounding edicts and decided to go visit their brethren in the sales department. The sales guys at least understood the value of a relationship.
So purchasing and sales got together for a martini or two at the local saloon (and no one recalls who picked up the check) and hatched a plan. Sales would give their monthly forecast of what and how much they were going to sell to purchasing, and the POs would be written based on these expectations. Purchasing used the promise of future buys to wheedle better pricing out of vendors, and that shortage problem all but disappeared. Purchasing was off the hot seat, and an acronym was coined: Material Resource Planning, or MRP.
Wyatt ERP, accounting marshal, shook the dust off his black hat and the smudges off his spectacles. The corner office now wanted to know how much money purchasing was saving the company from this new strategy. So Wyatt decided each item that purchasing bought should have a regular price, and they would call that regular price the “standard.” They would track the difference between what items really cost against the standard, and a new acronym was born, price variance or PV. It’s pretty simple, if we buy an item for 95 cents and the standard is a dollar, we have a five cent variance. So the standard inventory cost is a dollar, the variance is an expense reduction of five cents, and that nets to the 95 cents the company owes the vendor. Tracking this variance was very motivating to our purchasing. At last their contributions were measured!
But the corner office is never happy for very long. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could track how much raw material was used against how much was supposed to be used?” they asked. Wyatt was dragged into the meeting, thinking, “Now that we’ve complicated purchasing, why not manufacturing?” But if inventory was always kept at the standard cost, then any difference between materials charged to a job and the planned materials had to be a usage variance. The Manufacturing department either used less or more than they should have, and this difference could be tracked (or fracked depending on the mood of auto correct.)
Now we’re getting somewhere the corner office decided. We know price variance, and usage variance for materials, let’s add labor! Same concept, labor can cost more or less than expected based on overtime and shift differential, and production could be more or less efficient than planned depending on how they used it. Wyatt ERP upgraded his ten key and got to work. To track all these differences, a standard for the finished items would have to be created. But this had another advantage. If goods sold were always at standard, then differences in margin generated has to be from too many sales discounts to customers, or the mix of products sold. More new general ledger accounts and more new variances. And now we weren’t just planning materials, we were planning the whole enterprise.
And so it was then ERP was called into the corner office to explain the Ripple order sold to Acme Widgets in Cripple Creek. All these variances flow downhill to the ledger. Someone has to corral these accounts and make some sense out of this. “ERP, crack the whip and explain this” the sheriff roared as he multi tasked and checked his tee time on his Apple Watch. Sales and Purchasing were not the only departments that know how to build relationships. “I thought we got a great deal on the material, and Manufacturing was extremely efficient in making the ripple but this report says profit was exactly what we expected. “ERP, explain this. Where did the extra profit go?”
ERP thought about the glazed eyes that faced him routinely at the monthly meetings. This system wasn’t built Overnight, and the more differences we track the more complex it gets. But basically it worked like the this:
We got a great price on the Ripple bottles and the malt at the after Christmas sale in January. Those differences were recorded in January when we bought them. Manufacturing was very efficient in February. No one was on vacation and they made Ripple in record time. All those differences were recorded in February when the Ripple was made. But the order for Cripple Creek didn’t ship until April. Seems Acme is implementing a new MRP system and they figured out they didn’t need the Ripple until April Fools’ day. So since the variances had already been recorded when the materials were purchased and the goods were made, the sale itself is therefore at planned margin.
The corner office scratched, blinked, turned three shades of red. “What I want is everything at actual cost.”
ERP, tipped his black hat and smiled. “Standard plus variance equals actual,” he said. We can do that. ERP circled the wagons and formatted new reports. They were now officially back to the beginning. But it was all in a day’s work at the accounting corral.
The first chapter of the Dan T. Moore Company story is rooted in its hometown Cleveland, but the second chapter has a new setting. Here is where we explore the next plot point on our World Tour map– Delaware Dynamics. Located in Muncie, Indiana, Delaware Dynamics wears the Dan T. Moore Company stamp with pride from across the state border. They are largest producer of die cast molds in North America, providing clean sheet design, complete die manufacturing, and sampling capability for all the automotive OEM’s in the USA as well as several OEM transplants and Tier 1 automotive manufacturers. Delaware concentrates on engine block, powertrain, and structural die casting programs.
Much like the facility at 17000 St. Clair Ave, the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center, the facility at 700 S. Muncie St illustrates the story behind the company operating within—its growth in size, market, and employees. Since 2011, Delaware has invested over 7 million dollars in equipment, software, and supporting technologies, further strengthening its leadership role as the premier high pressure die casting mold builder in North America. An additional 50,000 square feet makes Delaware 220,000 square feet strong with an employee count approaching 175. Delaware is continuously searching for high quality people to supplement its experienced technical staff.
Current Day Delaware
The development of the DD workforce has continued until the present day, as evident by their list of current job openings. At the moment, Delaware is looking for an Engineering Intern, a Mill Machinist, and two Stick Welders. Cassandra McClelland, the Dan T. Moore Company Recruiting Manager, took a hands on approach when notified of these openings. She drove to Muncie, Indiana, taking a week to learn about the facility and how she could better recruit for the company’s needs. When asked what was the most striking aspect about her visit, she answered, “Their commitment to discovering and implementing the newest and most state-of-the-art technology.”
Cutting Edge Technology
Delaware’s dedication to acting as innovators in the die cast industry is not a novel concept. They have been consistently aiming to be the best by discovering the best. “Delaware is committed to strengthening its leadership role in the die casting industry. It is paramount to develop employees internally and recruit the next wave of talent. It is vital to advance our technologies and provide the roadmap for our customers and their ability to advance their competitive position. Standing still in a global marketplace is not the answer. We have been, are, and will continue to be the definitive source for companies looking for large complex die casting mold design, manufacturing, sampling, process development, and R&D….” said Ryan Haas of the past and current investment.
At Dan T. Moore Company, we innovate to resolve. In the ongoing search for value, the discovery of unmet needs is inevitable, and along with it the motivation to fulfill them. With regards to our second Company Spotlight subject, the unmet need takes form as an empty gas tank, and the solution as
The relationship between the fuel industry and the environment has not always been one of an easygoing nature, but their interconnection cannot be denied. Often, people consider them rivals, with pollution and oil drilling acting as principal antagonists. These preconceived notions have led to green and environmentalist movements demanding eco-friendly policies be implemented in the fuel industry. As a result, interest in alternative energy sources has developed, but still, the United States has been slow-going in its green transition. This sluggish evolution prompted Dan T. Moore Company to take action with the founding of affiliates NatGasCar and Axiom.
Founded in 2008, NatGasCar’s primary objective is to develop safe and reliable solutions for natural gas in consumer vehicles. Fuel is a necessary evil; it may negatively affect the environment, but it is required for modern civilization to continue as we know it. The only reconciliation of fuel necessity must resolve its effects on the environment. Enter compressed natural gas. CNG. Natural gas burns cleaner, emitting approximately 20% less carbon dioxide per mile than regular gasoline. In this process, it creates 25% fewer greenhouse gases. Even if these reasons aren’t enough to convince one to go green with CNG, its price might just do it. Natural gas is cheaper than gasoline, and with Federal government subsidies, there is always the possibility of Federal Tax Credits. NatGasCar designs vehicle conversion and refueling systems that harness CNG’s obvious advantages.
Although NatGasCar fulfilled a significant need — eco and cost-friendly CNG conversion systems for light-duty vehicle consumers — a gap in the industry still existed. Not all CO2 emitting and expensive vehicles on the road are light-duty; in fact, medium and heavy-duty trucks make up 7% of all vehicles on U.S. highways, and they consume more than 25% of the oil. To apply the same benefits of CNG in the heavy-duty vehicle sector, NatGasCar established Axiom Integrated Fuel Systems.
Axiom designs and produces its integrated fuel systems at the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center. Using state-of-the-art CAD and FEA software, we are capable of both client specialization and mass production. Our process allows us to work with factory specified and existing prep patterns developed by alternate suppliers. Much like our fellow subsidiary companies within the DTMCo portfolio, Axiom has extensive interest and experience in development. We strive to innovate and provide the best and the strongest in the industry.
In Recent News
Medium and heavy-duty trucks must endure rough service, and Axiom Integrated Fuel Systems have proven themselves capable of handling these harsh conditions in real world applications. However, a recent event further illustrated the durability of our designs.
Recently, a Volvo VNL sporting one of our CNG fuel systems was involved in a serious accident that we have been referring to as an “unintended” destructive field test. During said accident, a light-truck impacted the tractor at a speed high enough to bend the frame rails’ alignment by approximately 1.5 inches. Despite this level of impact, the CNG tank designed by Axiom remained intact and in proper working condition with no signs of leakage. For precautionary measure, the tank was removed and replaced with a new Axiom tank. The frame will be straightened, and the truck back on the road soon. This accident may have been unfortunate, but it illustrates clearly the durability of Axiom Integrated Fuel Systems.
With a slogan like “Industrial Innovations,” Dan T. Moore Company’s objective is to seek out the newest developments in any and all industries. The rapid expansion in the realm of nonwovens immediately caught our attention, and led to the establishment of the subject of our first Company Spotlight entry: Fiberworx is housed amongst its fellow subsidiary companies at the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center. It began as yet another twinkle in Dan Moore’s eye when he acquired a few of the machines necessary to start manufacturing nonwovens. Nonwovens are broadly defined as sheet or web structures bonded together by entangling fibers of various materials. Originally, DTMCo’s need for such materials came from affiliate company, Soundwich. Nonwovens are incorporated in several of Soundwich’s major products, including AcoustaTherm and ThermaPatch, both of which harness the fibers’ thermal and acoustic properties to enhance vehicle consumer experience. When the market for nonwovens skyrocketed, so did the potential for a new DTMCo portfolio company. Now, Fiberworx has all the machinery and engineering capabilities to contribute substantially to the ever-growing nonwovens industry.
Fiberworx utilizes recycled and virgin materials to create clean and lightweight fibers used in numerous commercial applications. The intrinsic properties of these materials render them ideal solutions for a wide array of operations, including acoustic, thermal, and structural. The versatile nature of these materials open the door to a multitude of markets. Nonwovens may be hidden, but with a little searching you can find them almost anywhere. Peek under the hood of your car, or behind the upholstery of its seats, nonwoven fibers are most likely there. Behind the walls of buildings and homes, even atop roofs, they are used as insulators. Beneath you when you sit or sleep, they are stuffed in your mattress and chair cushions. Nonwovens are present and thriving in the automotive, construction, filtration, medical, and industrial markets.
The majority of these markets take advantage of the soft, airy quality of nonwoven fibers, which renders them acoustically and thermally valuable. However, the Fiberworx Research and Development Team has extensive interest and experience in the structural value of nonwovens. Due to their malleable nature, these fibers can be processed through forming techniques that make the possibilities for their use almost limitless. With our thermoforming, die design, and stamping capabilities, we can produce nonwovens of nearly any shape and rigidity.
Check out our new website Fiberwx.com for more information!
On Monday March 14th, the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center was lively and astir with activity, as usual. However, instead of machine humming and keyboard typing, glass clinking and chitchatting could be heard. DTMCo. and affiliate company Rooftop Green opened CiiC’s doors to welcome several architects and their guests for a night of networking. The principle reason for such an event was to showcase our new modular green roof tray system that will launch soon in the spring.
ROOFTOP GREEN’s All inclusive modular life
The event began with a small reception and presentation, during which Dan introduced Rooftop Green and the new product. RTG was founded in 2015 as one of the most recently established DTMCo portfolio companies. It fits in well amongst its fellow affiliates, finding and fulfilling an unmet need within a certain market. In this case, that market is in the green roof industry, and the need lies in affordability. Rooftop Green’s primary objective is to make affordable, accessible green roof systems that anyone can use.
“For the first time, you can actually afford, in a normal building, to have a green roof.”
—Dan T. Moore III
Rooftop Green President Patrick Hoffman continued the presentation, detailing product specs and benefits. Armed with an innovative design and a sister-company supplier, RTG manufactures modules based in a 100% recycled polymer tray. This seemingly simple design change has revolutionary potential in the green roof industry.
Rooftop Green’s all-inclusive modular life does not require any of the pre-installation elements that have become industry standard for extensive and intensive green roof systems. Its polymer tray design has absorptive and permeable qualities that eliminates the need for any water management elements. In fact, the tray holds the perfect amount of water, fostering seed germination and healthy plant life.
The Fiberworx material is porous, soft, and lightweight. In order to make green roofing accessible and affordable, the system must be easily installed and managed. Rooftop Green’s trays do just that. They are light enough to be moved and shifted, so our clients can make the green roof they envision. Whether they prefer to hire a roofer, or do it themselves, installation is easy.
All of these characteristics of the Fiberworx tray lead to possibly the most important advantage–its low cost! Rooftop Green clients do not and will not have to invest in external constructions, protective layers, and installation fees to have a green roof. They can make their choice between the standard sedum mix, the wildflower aesthetic, and or specialized herb trays, and easily install their modules themselves, if they wish. This allows Rooftop Green the opportunity to make green roofing a possibility for nearly anyone.
The trays and facility tour
After the presentation, our guests were invited to join the Rooftop Green and Dan T. Moore Company teams for dinner in the actual facility where our materials are produced. Several Rooftop Green modules were exhibited alongside finished rolls of synthetic Fiberworx materials. Conversation flooded the enormous space, with topics ranging from green infrastructure to the renovation and rehabilitation of industrial buildings like the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center. We topped off the night with a tour of several affiliate companies located at CiiC, including NatGasCar, Ecowise, and the newest addition to the portfolio, Polymersion.
For more information on Rooftop Green and our all-inclusive modular life, please visit our website.
The story of Dan T. Moore Company begins, of course, with the man himself. Dan T. Moore III, born and raised a Clevelander, planted his business and entrepreneurial roots in his hometown. From this solid groundwork, growth has not only been inevitable, but intentionally sought after. Seven different locations currently wear the Dan T. Moore Company stamp with pride. Throughout the upcoming months, we will explore the establishment and development of these locations in this blog series, The World Tour of Dan T. Moore Company.
The first stop on our excursion is CiiC, the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center.
Happenings here at CiiC are constantly lively and bustling, with its 10 different onsite companies doing a multitude of things, and the facility’s past is really no different.
17000 St. Clair Avenue began, what would be its great journey, in the aircraft industry, when Glenn L. Martin brought his company to Cleveland, Ohio in 1917. Martin Aircraft Companies constructed the originally 61,000 square foot plant and an adjoining flight test field, supplying aircraft to the army during WWI. The facility was then passed to Great Lakes Aircraft Company until the stock market crash ended aviation at the site.
Plant production made a slight detour in 1945, when Cleveland Graphite Bronze purchased the property to manufacture bearings for the automotive industry. It returned to the aircraft business, however, when WWII increased the necessity for aircraft bearings. With business booming, CGB built a large new plant, and made an addition at 17000 St. Clair. This intense development lead to an exhausted workforce, employee strikes, and eventually a plant seizure by the army.
After a complicated series of company name changes and property owners, the complex remained mostly vacant from 1987 until it landed in Dan’s hands, where its buzzing activity has again reignited.
The building did not become CiiC, pronounced “kick” to its plethora of employees, until Dan T. Moore decided to purchase it. Dan immediately saw the job potential in the 758,000 square feet of manufacturing, office, and warehouse space. In the words of CFO, Nancy Keene, “This was the ultimate recycling project—and space for all future ventures that were still just twinkles in Dan’s eyes.” His true hope was to bring manufacturing jobs back to the Cleveland area. So began the investment and renovation of the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center.
“This was the ultimate recycling project—and space for all the future ventures that were still just twinkles in Dan’s eyes.”
-Nancy Keene, CFO
THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
CiiC could not have developed into the successful 1,000, 000 square feet of industrial space on the east side of Cleveland that it is today without its Director of Facilities, Joe Laumer. The real story lies in the just-so-happened circumstances that lead to Dan and Joe’s meeting.
If you have ever heard of Dan T. Moore III, you most likely know that he is an avid motorcycle enthusiast. When he caught word of a tour group hosting a Silk Road Trip from Istanbul, Turkey to Xian, China, he jumped on his bike and the opportunity. Somewhere roughly 2,500 miles away in Seattle, Washington, Joe Laumer did the same. The two spent a total of 52 days together in the same group of motorcyclists. Surrounded by people who didn’t natively speak their language, they grew quite close. When the trip came to an end, Joe planned a short excursion around his then current city of residence, Seattle, and British Colombia. And when that trip came to an end, Dan asked, “What’s next?”
Joe’s answer was the Continental Divide. He commenced planning a trip from Antelope Wells on the Mexican border to C anada. During this adventure, the real estate market crashed, and Joe’s home situation became a bit perilous. The irony is, he was originally from Cleveland. He moved back to Ohio, and one day found himself sitting at Dan Moore’s kitchen table. Dan was discussing his acquisition of the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center, saying he needed someone new to run the facility. He said to Joe, “That’d be a good job for you!”
THE DIRECTOR OF MAYHEM
Joe started as a consultant, but quickly became General Manager, then Director of Facilities. Now he doubles as the president of affiliate company NatGasCar as well. The sign outside his office titles him “Director of Mayhem.” When asked his favorite thing about working as such, Joe stated, “The absolute variety.” With 10 companies functioning behind CiiC’s doors, almost anything can happen on a daily basis. Due to the affiliate nature of these companies, Joe becomes intimately involved in their processes. Each and every one is connected somehow, and somehow Joe facilitates their connection.
“Boredom is the least of my problems.”
He even connects the sections of the CiiC complex together, giving them creative place names. The Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center doesn’t just have office space; it has the Sandbox. It doesn’t just have a gym; it has the Sweatshop. Our maintenance crewmen are members of the Fixology Department. Joe is even behind the naming of the Fab Lab.
Joe gave Dan the creative nickname “The Professor,” while on their first Silk Road adventure together. “Dan,” he said, “was always curious.” He carried around a little Economist book with facts about every country they visited. He was genuinely interested in what every person they spoke to during the adventure had to say.
One of Joe’s favorite memories with Dan happened on this trip as well. The tour group was leaving the country of Georgia and crossing the border into Azerbaijan. It was only the second border crossing of the trip, and the tour company had sent handlers, so all of the members of the group could cross together, except—Dan wasn’t there.
The tour guide received a call from The Professor, who managed to find himself at another crossing about 50 miles away. At the time, Garmin had a slogan, “Get a Garmin, or get lost.” Joe decided Dan’s new slogan was “Get a Garmin, and get lost anyway.” You can find this story in “The Book of Moore-isms,” a collection of quotes said by Dan and stories related to him. Joe had the first volume printed, and presented a copy to him for his 75th birthday. Not only is this little book indicative of Dan and Joe’s friendship, but it is indicative of the innovation and exciting activity always happening at the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center.
The Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center today
To Roth or Not to Roth, that is the question.
There are some inherent assumptions in the question itself – primarily that the questioner has already decided to kick some hard earned Washingtons into a retirement account. Rainy days are inevitable, and even squirrels are wise enough to stash acorns away for later. And while bank haters exist (and the millennial version perhaps hoards gift cards instead of stashing paper bills in coffee cans), the vast majority of us have enough faith in financial institutions to place a long term bet on a retirement account. So given that Keurigs seem to be replacing coffee cans, and gift cards have expiration dates, a long term account in a financial institution is not a bad way to go. But To Roth or Not to Roth, what should a saver do?
The term “roth”
William V. Roth, Jr. was actually a person, a senator from Delaware that suggested that perhaps some people would prefer to pay tax on their retirement account contributions instead of deferring the tax until later. Americans traditionally have an abysmally low savings rate. Deferring tax on contributions made to retirement accounts was a kicker initially intended to incentivize taxpayers to save. The deal was that a taxpayer could deduct the contribution to the retirement account and thus pay less federal tax when the contribution was made. But the tax would be assessed later when the money is distributed from the account. The contribution would grow tax free until distributed, and both the contribution and the earnings would be taxed later.
The strategy worked. Taxpayers began kicking money into Individual Retirement Accounts, and IRA became an everyday term for long term money. The smart thinking was deferring tax was a good idea, especially if you’re in a higher tax bracket now than you will be when you retire and start reaping the rewards doled out by your IRA. Throwing money annually into an IRA was a great rule of thumb for every taxpayer. And then along came radical Roth.
Roth said, pay the tax now, not later, and the kicker is that both the contribution and the earnings will be tax free later. As plot complications go, this one is a zinger. First, most people don’t know what their marginal tax rate is now, let alone what it will be later. And estimating what earnings will be when you take the money in the future is another fun calculation due to the compounding nature of interest. Then there is the whole government trust issue, what if the government reneges on their promise that the contribution and the earnings will be tax free in the future (and that’s not too far fetched – the tax law is constantly changing, and taxing at least the earnings as a preference or for alternative minimum tax purposes is an idea that some would generate a lot of revenue for uncle Sam).
Pay now or pay later
Conspiracy theories aside, and assuming the government keeps their Roth promise, is it better to pay tax now on the contributions, or pay tax later on both the earnings and the contribution? So there are few general guidelines. The longer you’re stashing the money, the higher the earnings. Under Roth rules, the earnings are not taxed. So if you have a long savings horizon (eons before you get to stay home and eat chocolates in retirement bliss), paying now and avoiding the tax on the earnings is a good plan. This is especially true if your tax bracket now is approximately the same as what you expect it to be when you retire. But what if you’re not a spring chicken, you’re already hoarding chocolates in the freezer, and your big screen TV is already set to increased font size? Your tax rate now may be much higher than it will be a few years down the road when you’re taking money out.
A good accountant could further complicate this by adding in time value of money (a greenback now is worth more than later) and considering the decision as a stream of annual contributions. And will this contribution be the first money you take out of your IRA or the last? And I’m all for keeping accountants employed, but for simplicity sake, ignore that for now. Make your decision on this year’s contribution only.
To do the basic calculation, you need to know four things:
- What is your tax rate now?
- How long before you retire?
- What will your tax rate be when you retire?
- How much will the contribution earn between now and when you retire?
Step 1: Take the contribution plus the earnings, and multiply by the retirement tax rate to determine the traditional IRA tax. Subtract the traditional tax from the contribution plus the earnings. This is your traditional IRA result.
Step 2: Then take the contribution multiply that by your current tax rate. That is your Roth tax. Tally your contribution, less the Roth tax, plus the earnings. Compare that result to your traditional IRA result.
Step 3: Go with the higher result.
Here’s an example – 35% tax rate now, retiring in ten years, 20% tax rate upon retirement, 6% earnings over ten years, (6% * ten years = 60%, or 69% if you insist upon compounding).
For a one thousand dollar contribution:
Traditional – (1,000 + 600)* .2 = $320 tax – traditional result of $1,280.
(1,000 contribution plus earnings of 600 less tax of 320).
Roth – 1,000*.35 = $350 Roth tax, Roth result of $1,250.
($1,000 contribution- $350 tax + $600 earnings)
So, for all you taxpayers that still have 20/20 vision, go Roth! Beyond a time horizon of ten years, the elimination of tax on the earnings beats the initial tax paid now on the contribution. And if you already have a pair of drug store readers, and you can take a Roth contribution later than when the year you retire – then consider it. But if you’re like most of us, and you need a little reduction in your annual tax bill to afford the contribution, then go traditional. But whatever you do, the first decision, the one to save money, is a good one. When was the last time you heard someone say they wish they had saved less? Roth or not, we all need a few acorns.
Nancy Keene is the Chief Financial Officer at Dan T. Moore Company. She plays a major role in DTMCo.’s success and Investment Philosophy. Her blog series, Nickels and Dimes with Nancy, will periodically share her insights and wisdom on a plethora of financial topics. Visit Our Team page to learn more about Nancy.