Look at Fishers Today

This could be FishersThis was our cover story just 3½ years ago. This could be Fishers! It was hard to believe because the town had grown (quickly) on a suburban scale. Wide streets, single story buildings, large fields with trees around the municipal center. This rendering didn’t look anything like that. But Fishers had unveiled a plan for downtown that was designed to make the area around Town Hall more walkable, urban and business-friendly. This was the view from the second floor of Town Hall then.

This the view today

View of Downtown Fishers

It’s a remarkable transformation, especially considering the time frame. In three short years the (now) city has seen amazing activity in the city core. Not everyone likes the change, and some question the public investment, but you have to admire the ambition that’s gone into the dozen or so buildings erected around the Municipal Center. They are creating a sense of place that was missing before, and luring residents and businesses that were nowhere to be found just a few years ago.

Nickel Plate Trail

 One part of those plan for downtown Fishers includes a trail that would run on the right of way of the Nickel Plate Railroad, which runs north to Noblesville and south to downtown Indianapolis. Of course, turning it into a trail means the train tracks would likely have to come out.

For the past 30 years or so, the Indiana Transportation Museum has run a Fair Train on those tracks from Fishers to the Indiana State Fair in the Summer. All those fields around the Town Hall served as convenient parking lots for tens of thousands of people who enjoyed giving their kids a taste of railroading while avoiding parking hassles at the Fairgrounds.

The Fair Train was cancelled last year over track safety issues raised by some within the ITM’s own ranks. It doesn’t look like it will run this year either. The Fair Train was the museum’s main revenue generator and the cancellation has strained its finances.

We take a closer look at this unusual museum in this edition: what constitutes its collection, how it operates, and what are its prospects. It’s run a by a dedicated group of people who love trains and have made countless memories for families over the years. Here’s hoping the wheels of progress don’t claim one of Hamilton County’s most unique assets.

And, while we’re on the subject of trains, let me direct your attention to the Northern Hamilton County chamber page, page 28. Most of it is devoted to promoting a new festival called Atlanta Express. It celebrates our railroad heritage and promises to be a great time for both young and old. Sounds like a great opportunity to head up to the northern part of the county.

The Fixer

When quality lags, its SQ to the rescue

StratosphereWhen large manufacturers of cars, trucks, medical devices, lawn care and other equipment discover they have a quality problem, they know just who to call to solve it for them. They call Stratosphere Quality LLC, an 8-year-old Fishers company founded by Steven Cage.

Cage and his CEO, Thomas Gray, send one of their several teams to the factory having trouble, sometimes within just a few hours from when they received the call.

“We are flexible and so are our employees,” Cage said. “They know they can be called at a moment’s notice to travel anywhere to handle a problem.”

$10,000 a minute

Once they arrive on site, team members assess the operation, determine where the problem is and what needs to be done to fix it. These problems usually involve fixing defective parts that are supposed to go onto a car, a machine or device that for some reason won’t fit or won’t work properly.

These large corporations don’t hesitate to hire Stratosphere because shutting down most production lines in such factories costs an average of $10,000 a minute, Gray said.

The best-case scenario in Stratosphere’s work is when the problem they are called to solve is discovered while the equipment or vehicle is still in the manufacturing or assembly stage in the factory. Then Stratosphere’s team can go in and get the problem ironed out before anything is ever shipped. But sometimes, a problem isn’t discovered until later.

Unfortunately for one manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, one model had a defective fuel line that wasn’t discovered until the equipment had already been shipped to 2,200 retail stores. Stratosphere sent teams to every one of those stores to repair and/or replace every defective fuel line.

Stratosphere“The manufacturer was under tremendous pressure from the retailers,” Gray said. “It was the quickest solution for us to go directly to the stores to fix the problem so there was no additional waiting time for shipping and re-shipping the equipment.”

A word that Cage and Gray both use frequently when describing their work is “fun.” Adrenaline flows when they quickly get their teams in motion and deploy them to where ever the problem is. They serve companies across the United States and in Canada and Mexico.

Stratosphere has 75 employees in two different Fishers locations, 552 total in Indiana and about 2,200 employees total in its warehouses located in strategic locations to best help their clients.

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