Louis 'Skip' Sander
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Lou's Creations...

Lou has made enduring creative contributions to these nine organizations. Click the links to learn more:
Engineers' Radio Association. Lou turned a moribund campus group into a winner of national awards.  
USS Rankin. On this highly-acclaimed warship, Lou's organization was honored as the best in the fleet.
Beach Jumper Unit Two. Lou led a Naval Special Warfare detachment on classified operations abroad.
Boise Cascade Corporation. Lou created excellence in a division's production and IT operations.
E.I.L. Instruments. Lou turned around a business that was ready to fold.
Northland Public Library. For twelve exciting years, Lou helped grow this institution from a storefront operation to Pennsylvania's biggest and best suburban public library.
PAPEN, the Pennsylvania Professional Employment Network. Lou held every leadership position in this career-oriented personal networking group, and kept it going and growing for seven years.
The USS Rankin Association. In early 2003, Lou ran into two of his former shipmates on the Internet. One thing led to another, and Lou became the driving force behind reconnecting a large group of Navy shipmates. It has held fourteen annual reunions (2004-2017) and promises to hold many more.
The Alliance of Military Reunions. In April, 2009, Lou and four other people were discussing military reunions. The notion arose that reunion group leaders had no place to network or work on common problems. Lou got busy, and two months later the Alliance had its organizational meeting. Less than two years later, the group had 700 members, including reunion group leaders, hotels, and other suppliers.

The Engineers' Radio Association was Duke University's amateur radio club. As its president for three years, Lou revitalized the club's programs, increased its membership manyfold, and earned much publicity for a usually low profile organization. As chief operator of the club station, Lou personally earned the prestigious DXCC award for the club (given for confirmed communication with 100 foreign countries), and twice won the state title in the annual International Sweepstakes contest. These accomplishments demanded large amounts of time and energy, gotten at the expense of academic work. Lou always felt it was a worthwhile exchange.

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USS Rankin is an amphibious attack ship with a crew of 250. Her mission is to transport Marines and heavy equipment to the site of an amphibious landing, then to deliver them to a hostile beach. She is a proud ship—one year she simultaneously held every award available to a fighting ship. When Lou came aboard, she had won the fleet-wide battle efficiency competition for five consecutive years, a feat that had never before been accomplished. The Navy created a new award, the "Gold E," in honor of the Rankin's achievement. Click HERE to see an encyclopedia article about this famous ship, or HERE to see Lou's web site about her.

As an officer in the Operations department, Lou made significant contributions to the ship. The organization he built both saved the ship's reputation and won an award as best in the fleet.

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After reporting aboard at Ponce, Puerto Rico, Lou was assigned duties as Electronics Material Officer, or EMO. The EMO is responsible for all electronic equipment aboard the ship and her sixteen landing craft. He also commands a division of the ship's organization.

As he learned his way around, Lou found that the Rankin's electronics organization was in critically bad condition. All the senior personnel had recently been discharged or transferred, and their replacements were raw recruits. Most of the equipment, especially the boat radios, was unreliable and not in good repair. In fact, the ship's tradition of excellence was in danger because of unreliable communications equipment. Lou's work was cut out for him, and for over a year he lived, ate and slept with his job, as did most of his men. Sixteen- to eighteen-hour days were routine, and longer ones not uncommon.

For some reason, previous EMOs had not kept on top of the ship's inventory of tools, maintenance manuals and parts lists. The men had been working without proper tools, without proper technical information, and with obsolete lists of parts. Lou took steps to get them all. Preventive maintenance schedules had been allowed to slip as well, and maintenance records had routinely been "gun decked," or falsified. Lou put an immediate end to gun decking, and implemented a detailed preventive maintenance program. For years, the Navy's program of equipment updates had been neglected aboard the Rankin. Lou ordered the missing updates, and had his team install them. By attending to these and a thousand other details, Lou improved the management of the ship's affairs.

On the leadership side, Lou demanded excellence from everyone. Because his success depended on theirs, he worked hard at earning their cooperation. The men soon knew that Lou understood the difficulties they faced in their jobs. They also knew that he expected roadblocks to be overcome, and that he wouldn't tolerate excuses. For the most part, they cooperated enthusiastically.

Under Lou's direct personal leadership, downtime was reduced by two-thirds and parts costs were cut in half. The all-important boat radios became solid as a rock. Eighteen months after Lou came aboard, the Rankin underwent her triennial inspection, in which outside observers come aboard to evaluate the ship's organization and performance. The ship as a whole did well, but had fallen from her "Gold E" ways. Lou's electronics department got the highest possible score, and official acknowledgement as "best in the fleet."

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Beach Jumper Unit Two is an elite unit in the same Naval Special Warfare group as the Navy SEALS. While the SEALS are physical, the Beach Jumpers are technical. The Beach Jumper mission involves military intelligence, electronic warfare, and small-unit operations against the enemy. It is a mission of dangerous high adventure, performed at the front lines in wartime; its nature was highly classified until the 1980s.

Lou led an elite special warfare team, and was involved in high-level military planning.

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Lou's duties as a Beach Jumper fell into two categories: administrative duties at headquarters, and assignments as Officer-in-Charge of a shipboard special warfare team. At headquarters, Lou became heavily involved in military planning. He became knowledgeable in U.S. and Soviet defense capabilities, drafting the Beach Jumper section of many Navy Operations Orders and Contingency Plans.

Following completion of demolition training, survival school and several technical schools, Lou qualified as a Beach Jumper, and became Officer-In-Charge of Beach Jumper Detachment 264. His responsibility was to keep an elite group of men combat-ready and prepared for rapid deployment. This involved constant training and teamwork, often requiring the team to be on call at unit headquarters.

Lou's detachment was deployed aboard the destroyer USS Waller (DD-466) and the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42). Lou and his team were commended by the Waller's Captain. As a Beach Jumper officer, he succeeded by finding or developing good people, boosting their self confidence, and turning them loose to do their best.

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Boise Cascade Bags & Specialty Products manufactures design-coordinated bags, gift wrap, and boxes for retail stores. It also produces high-quality web printing in up to eight colors, using the gravure, flexographic and Virkotype processes. Lou built success in four departments there.

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As Production and Inventory Control Manager, Lou was assigned to fix some specific problems. The company had never had good control of its three million pound inventory, and his major task was to achieve this control. Corporate policy required a monthly physical count, which had been done in the past with inaccurate and widely fluctuating results. Lou personally reorganized the inventory procedures and took charge of the 75 Teamsters who did the counting. Within 90 days the company was running an extremely accurate physical count, at a third of the previous cost, with less than a third of the men. Lou rearranged the warehouse to improve materials handling efficiency, and refined the computerized inventory system, eliminating the major discrepancies between it and the physical count.

He made similar improvements in the Production Scheduling and Traffic departments, both of which reported to him. Another assignment was as Data Processing Manager. The EDP installation ran all financial applications (billing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, and general ledger), plus inventory control and sales analysis. In its time and context, it was a very sophisticated department. As manager, Lou lowered the cost of running the department and instituted several refinements and new programs, the first such activity in years. He was also elected President of the company credit union.

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E.I.L. Instruments specializes in electrical instrumentation. Based in Baltimore, it is the country's largest distributor and custom manufacturer of panel meters, and is a major laboratory for calibration and repair. It also sells and repairs medical equipment, primarily for cardiology and critical care. The Pittsburgh branch had experienced several years of growth, then began a long decline. A succession of managers had failed to reverse the trend, and the owners were considering selling the business.

Lou turned the company around, and insured that its success would continue.

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Lou was brought in by E.I.L.'s president to see if the company could be saved. He soon learned that the Pittsburgh operation was experiencing heavy losses, and was keeping afloat only by doing subcontract work for other E.I.L. branches. Although the company as a whole was well managed, chaos reigned in Pittsburgh. Merchandise was piled in every corner of the shop. Control over orders and shipments was nonexistent, and the staff, though individually very capable, had had no guidance for years. Customers would place orders and never hear of them again. An instrument would come in for calibration, then sit for months before anyone looked at it. Productivity was abominable, and the staff was unable to get out more than a bare minimum of work.

As the man responsible for making a profit out of this, Lou threw himself into the fray. Every business activity except financial accounting was done at the branch level, so he had to become familiar with every area, then make whatever changes were called for. Here are some activities that came under Lou's control:
Profitability (Turnaround)
Work Scheduling
Billing and Receivables
State and Federal Contracts
Service Dispatching
Hiring and Firing
Parts Procurement
Salary Administration
Order Processing
Product Line Management
Production Supervision
Productivity Improvement
Quality Control
Facility Management
Shipping and Receiving
It took many months of hard work, but E.I.L. Pittsburgh finally got organized. All the personnel reported to Lou through two managers. He instituted a practical system of order control and productivity improvement, and orders started going out on time. Sales had doubled and were creeping steadily upward. The losses had been stemmed, and the company was earning money every month. Things were going so well that Lou won a vacation for two in Rome and Florence, all at company expense.

After Lou left, the company prospered for many years, with many of his improvements still in place.

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Northland Public Library is Pennsylvania's largest and most important suburban library. With a seven-figure budget, seventy paid employees and over 50,000 cardholders, it serves 80,000 people in five diverse municipalities. It is recognized by experts as one of the state's, if not the nation's, most progressive public libraries. Library professionals from Australia, Japan and other countries, as well as many states, have visited Northland to observe its operations.

For eleven years, Lou was the proactive, highly involved leader of the governing board of this important public asset. During his tenure, Northland grew from a storefront operation to a truly distinguished institution in a 30,000 square foot building. Lou's name is on a bronze plaque at the center of the library.

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The library is owned and operated by the Northland Public Library Authority, chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The seven Authority members are appointed to five year terms by the governments of the library's sponsoring municipalities. They serve ex officio as library Trustees, and as a group they constitute the Library Board. Authority members have specific legal responsibilities under Pennsylvania's Library Code and Municipality Authorities Act. They are totally independent of the officials who appoint them.

Lou was elected Vice Chairman of the authority and Vice Chairman of the Library Board after serving four months as a member. He became Chairman shortly thereafter.

The Board is responsible under law for the proper operation of the library. Board members are autonomous officials with full authority in their domain; unlike School Board members, for example, who operate under detailed and restrictive regulations. Working under the Board, a professional Director conducts operations and exercises executive responsibility.

The Board provides direction, guidance and management input to the conduct of the library's affairs. Board members make substantial policy, financial and personnel decisions that have wide-ranging effects in the library and the outside community. At Northland, they are serious people with serious qualifications and a serious purpose. Over the years of Lou's tenure, for example, the Board included a partner in a large law firm, a banker, and several corporate executives. Unqualified people were occasionally appointed; they would stay a few months, then leave.

As a leader of this organization, Lou's responsibilities were those of a corporate board chairman whose autonomous CEO/COO handles the day-to-day activities. He operated in every functional area of the organization: accounting, facilities, finance, legal, operations, personnel, etc. The public nature of the job required significant involvement in political affairs and with the media. An important responsibility was securing funds to finance operations.

Lou was highly influential in creating and funding eleven annual budgets, then overseeing the expenditures to fulfill them. The funding required the concurrence of five municipal governments, and was often achieved over significant political opposition.

Outside the organization, Lou worked with elected officials at the state and local level, and with many departments of state and local government. He was a founder of two independent organizations that support the library's cause: the Advocates for Northland Public Library and the Northland Public Library Foundation. He became a member of the Pennsylvania Library Association, attended its meetings, and worked with many of its officers. Within the library profession, he worked closely with the State Commissioner of Libraries and his staff at the State Library of Pennsylvania. For two years he served on a blue ribbon task force preparing a comprehensive plan for Pennsylvania libraries; he was elected Chairman of its Technology Committee.

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PAPEN, the Pennsylvania Professional Employment Network, is a career-oriented networking organization for people in professional fields. Started in 1992 as a self-help group for downsized executives, PAPEN now has 2,000 members working in hundreds of companies. The group serves as a nucleus for career-related networking, and is believed to be the largest organization of its kind. Click HERE to see their web site.

For many years Lou was the most active and important person in the organization, and some members regard him as the single individual responsible for its success throughout the 1990s.

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Lou joined PAPEN in 1993 and quickly became Director of its largest chapter. As an executive and board member, he exercised personal leadership to keep the organization going and growing for a period of seven years. He coordinated recruitment, training and development of a constant stream of chapter officers and board members.

He annually oversaw 200 high-quality programs from outside speakers, and he taught networking skills at four chapters in Western Pennsylvania. He wrote and published over 300 issues of a Weekly Bulletin providing information and inspiration to several hundred subscribers, and he created a system of handbooks, forms and other publications that keep the organization on track.

"Without Lou," say many people in the know, "the organization would never be where it is today."

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