The Homestretch

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A message from Bruce Aldridge.

Believe it or not, when I was a student at Canyon High School I was a pretty good short distance runner. (Stop laughing, Dave Friedson!) Cross country running bored me, but I could handle a couple of miles easily. In my junior year, I held the record for the fastest mile in our PhysEd class. Not a spectacular accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless.

During my senior year, a member of the cross country team named Tim joined our class.  Our teacher, Coach Chuck Wood, (no kidding!) was a fierce competitor and could not pass up an opportunity to pit one student against another, so he announced that we would be running for the class record in the one-mile in two weeks. 

When the race started, I set an aggressive pace and soon Tim was almost half a lap behind me. I was feeling pretty good. But as I closed in on the final lap, I was starting to feel the effects of my aggressive pace and was wearing out. With half a lap to go, like a rocket, Tim flew past me and headed for the homestretch. I summoned all my remaining energy but quickly realized I was out of gas, and Tim was going to win. I was about to just walk the rest of the race when I heard Coach Wood yell, “Finish strong, Aldridge!” Tim was still receiving congratulations and no one seemed to notice my completion, a distant and embarrassing second. 

The homestretch is the hardest part of the journey

On February 1, 2022, we plan to step into the daily grind with Odoo as our new ERP system. Our Odoo project started in earnest 16 months ago in August of 2020. Since then, many of you have been meeting in discovery sessions to discuss your departmental needs and identify what changes need to be made in the core Odoo product. We have already had a number of walk-throughs and demonstrations with our key knowledge workers and subject matter experts. It has been a long journey, and we have set an aggressive pace for the organization. We are rounding the last curve and heading for the homestretch. 

The next few weeks and months will be even more challenging. I don’t mean this to scare anyone, but if we are going to succeed, we will need everyone’s help during December, January, and beyond. You can help by participating in training and familiarizing yourself with the new workflows. 

Amanda Parks and Jerry Grant are working hard to build a great training program. Please help them with as much cooperation and participation as possible. This will be our system for years to come, and we need all eyes on it to make sure we are starting strong. I thank you in advance for your assistance. I know we’ve asked a lot from you so far, and here I am, asking for even more. 

I also want to remind you all that the system we deploy in February is considered our Minimal Viable Product. Our agile structure and commitment to continuous improvement will afford you the opportunity to assist in identifying important improvements to the system later on. The new platform is designed to permit us to make changes to both the workflow and to the base system as needed. It’s what we affectionately call “Phase 2.” It will be during the following six months to one year that we will be able to build out the product into the solution we believe will permit us efficiency, growth, and improved insight into our financial and operational systems.


After losing The Great Race of the 1976 in third period PhysEd at Canyon High School, I realized that cross country runners are not as one dimensional as I had thought. More importantly, I learned that the homestretch is not an easy place to be. Your energy is depleted, you may not be as far along as you want to be, and the challenge of completing the race is at an all-time high. It’s very easy at that moment to ask if the effort is worth it.

Coach Wood was a typical PE coach for the 70s - not warm and fuzzy. But his encouragement reminded me that while anyone can start a race, it takes character to finish strong, especially if you aren’t going to finish where you wanted. The last quarter mile, the homestretch, is the real test of character. That’s where I learned that it doesn’t matter where you finish, just that you do finish. 

We are headed for the homestretch. Our muscles are sore, our legs feel heavy, and the next eight weeks are going to be more challenging than we may have expected. Yes, we’ve been beaten up by COVID, the sale of Safety was exhausting, the transition to Google was challenging, and the disruption was just plain hurtful. Many of you have been asked to attend meetings, offer help, test modules, all while still doing your day job. The last 18 months may have been the most difficult we’ve ever experienced as a company. 

Making progress against all those headwinds just proved that we have the character to run, and I believe, to finish. So let’s follow the advice of Coach Wood, and “Finish strong!”


About the AuthorBruce Aldridge

Bruce is the Vice President of Information Technology and ePMO for ORR Corporation.