Kansas State versus Kentucky, why experience matters

The recent basketball game between Kansas State and Kentucky was a clinic in why experience matters. As far as talent goes, Kentucky on paper was the more talented team of one and done freshmen. It had taken all season for the team to gel into a cohesive basketball team. Here is the fly in the ointment except on rare occasions it takes a team multiple seasons to mature and gel into a championship team. Kansas State, on the other hand, on paper, was the less talented team that had been playing together and maturing together for a more extended period. Kansas State not being a one and done school have the advantage of the senior leaving and freshman entering the yearly rotation of players. Thi

How I do it

You can describe my involvement in the company as solving problems for customers. The goal of the company becoming an extension of our customer's production, with the result being the successful delivery of the customer's own products. -- Commitment to quality is an integral part of my value of customer service. The history of the companies success in delivering products at a near-zero rejection rate is a source of pride for me; a result of the commitment to the "quality is job 1" philosophy. If you start with quality as the goal, you will end with quality as a result. It is much harder to inspect your way to quality after the fact than to build quality into the company culture and manufactu

Why I do it

Why do you do what you do? A much harder question to answer than it appears. What motivates a person to stick with a small business for thirty-plus years. The gut-wrenching downturns in the economy. The lack of a steady paycheck. The frustrations of meeting or exceeding customer expectations only to have the customer disappear. The seeming lack of understanding in today's world that some things are done for the love of doing and less for monetary gain. -- My Answers in no particular order •I challenge myself every day to do every job better than the last. •My satisfaction in being able to count on one hand the number of customers in thirty-plus years who were not initially satisfied. •Zero c

Salespeople are people too

An interesting phenomenon happens when salespeople visit, and you ask questions about them and their lives in addition to the product or services they sell. The phenomenon only occurs if, when you ask, you are sincere about wanting to know the answer. The phenomenon of trust and true communication begins to appear as they recognize they are in a business that cares about them as a person and not just pusher of a product or service. For years our shop would have salespeople stop in regularly even when they knew the likelihood of a sale was low. We spent time with each one as a person. I once had a salesman stop in, and we spent an hour talking before he got up to leave only to realize as h

My best advice

It does not matter what your job title is, and it does not matter how much money you make. My advice is to get over yourself. It was never about you; it has always been about the people affected by your decisions, both good and bad.

Quoting and quantity discounts oh my

For small business quoting jobs is a challenging endeavor. The costs of keeping a facility are climbing, and downward price pressure from larger companies is on the rise. There is this standard game of quantity discounts being played: my experience and random thoughts on this subject. •To many individuals and companies when trying to bring a new product to market concentrate on setting the retail price first and the wholesale price as a second thought. The problem with this approach is the wholesale price is way undervalued. The appropriate method is to decide at the beginning of the process are we going to sell at wholesale and then set out to find out if you can make your product or serv

Suppliers are

•Not here to save you if you have under priced your product. •Here to make a profit. •In need of better communication. •A great source of information.

Some times the answer is a surprise

I had been machining standard parts for a customer when the 3x8 inch parts that had previously vacuumed down to the spoil board would not hold. For that particular parts run, I fiddled with the tool path until I could get them to hold down long enough to machine completely. In the ordinary course of using a spoil board, the surface is machined on both sides to remove the layer of surface wax. The wax blocks airflow through the board's surfaces and is necessary to generate the vacuum for holding parts down. I only discovered the real reason for the sudden lack of hold power on the 3x8 inch parts when I flipped the spoil board over to begin machining from the second side. In my attempt a

Isn't it time

Isn't it time to dispense with the trendy business terms? The people who you expect to carry out your directives are too busy with their jobs to worry about your impressive list of Japanese lean manufacturing terms and business abbreviations. Is not the definition of lean eliminating the amount of unnecessary jargon for your people to remember? -- Would it not be much easier to tell your people we are going to implement a new card system to replenish stock than to say to them we are going to use new kanban cards and then have to explain kanban. Sure there are more words but is not a direct route to the meaning more critical. Are you going to have to explain kanban to every new hire?

Who is more valuable

Just a simple question who is more important, the people who build your products and/or provide your services or management. Ask yourself a question should I care if the person who is tightening the bolts, cleaning the parts before painting, doing final inspection is happy and satisfied with their job. Your customer certainly cares those jobs are completed correctly; anything else that goes on inside your company is irrelevant to the customer. Are both equally important to the company. How does your company treat management as compared to production workers? I dare say most companies are fortunate that a majority of production personnel are conscientious workers. In closing, if you cons

Silence is golden

Silence is golden except when communicating with suppliers. Speak up strengthen your supply chain.

What you don't know

Knowing what you don't know is as important as what you do know. You cannot truly learn and move forward until you accept that there are things you don't know that someone else does know. Put ego aside and ask, you might add to what you do know.


My reflections gathered through reading, listening, personal work experience and observation 

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.

Peter Drucker


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