Is this considered good customer service? QUICK!!!!!! Turnaround.
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  1. #1
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    Default Is this considered good customer service? QUICK!!!!!! Turnaround.

    I just needed to share this because it BLEW my mind..

    I've got a customer right down the street from me. He does AG processing equipment,
    He started as a machine shop many many moons ago. And now he does primarily fab work.

    All kinds of neat machines, that do all kinds of neat things that a person looking at
    a pile of onions sitting in the grocery store could Never imagine...

    For instance, the latest "New" machine is an onion bin washing station.. I've seen
    them make a ton of machines that flip the onions bins (the ones that come in on the
    semis, approx 4x4x3ft. Anyways, it flips the onion bin upside down, into another machine
    that they make, that doles the onions out onto a conveyor, without letting them fall far
    so they don't get bruised.

    So this latest machine that is new, after the onions are gently placed on the conveyor,
    washes the onion bin. They get dirt and mud and everything else in there, and this
    cleans them, basically a car wash for onion bins. Sounds simple, but its not..

    The actual story below

    Customer comes to my customer last Thursday. They are putting their product into a new
    type of packaging. They have the packaging, this has planned for almost a year.. The
    product comes to the packaging person already weighed, the just have to grab it and
    stuff it in the printed cellophane bag..

    That didn't work out so well.. The bags come in a stack, and they are perforated to
    a header above that screams AUTOMATION.. Like the plastic stuff at Walmart, or Alberton's
    or Stop & Shop, just fancier..

    Apparently, they were having a hard time getting the product into the bags.. A VERY hard,
    time consuming time.. And they needed to start shipping last week.

    I went down to see them(father and son) Friday morning for some reason, and their customer is there,
    they already have a prototype mocked up. Its all hacked together and whatnot, but the basics were
    there. Formed and bent sheet-metal, machined parts, air knife stuff, regulators, flexible hoses
    etc.

    BAM BAM BAM.. Able to manually fill a bag of product in about 8-10 seconds, if not less. The customer
    was having a good time.. "Load it again".. BAM BAM BAM!!!! "Load it again".. BAM BAM BAM!!!!
    "Load it again".. BAM BAM BAM!!!!

    So we have 10 bagging stations, 50 quick change refillable bag cartridges.. I worked all day Sunday
    and got all the machined parts for them for each station and the welding jig that was needed..
    They got the basic sheetmetal burnt and bent on Saturday.

    Welding and cleaning and powder coating were done this morning.. The Bag cartridges, I finished by
    2pm..

    My customer's customer will be up and running by tomorrow morning, and not at a tiny cost, but not at a huge
    cost either..

    Just blows my mind. Problem.. Prototype.. Manufacturing.. Put into the production line.. 5 days...

    That's just so cool to be a part of..

    And if you ask if they pay? They get the discount rate.. They really do.. Its generally simple work,
    but it comes with the perk of thinking deeply into complex systems.. So its fun, and they are all really
    good people. If there is a way to make it cheaper and better, they are all over it.. Tolerances,
    though sometimes necessarily tight, are usually, "this has to fit in there." 80% of prints are on
    a scratch pad. 1% have been done on an actual drafting table (they have 3 of them). and the rest is
    verbal.

    Do they pay?? Well, if its pass through work, where they bill for services, they get charged a
    nominal hourly rate.. If its work were they have to tack it onto their already quoted price,
    its a little lower. Yeah, they pay. My check is already in the bank. I've offered Net30, but
    they don't want it. They've even payed up front, just because.

    I'm just sharing because it was a fun one to be a part of, and the turn around time just blew my mind.

    And it might be nice to hear a story of a good customer in this forum, instead of a shitty customer.

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    Great success story.....I enjoy reading things like this. I especially like the part about the scratch pad and the drafting tables.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffm8622 View Post
    Great success story.....I enjoy reading things like this. I especially like the part about the scratch pad and the drafting tables.
    Why do people hate drafters so much ?

    I have done similar quick turn around, but I use my CAD to the fullest extent,
    and deliver not only the design, the layouts, the flat patterns, the DXF files
    to the lasers, and the STEP files to the CAM systems.

    And, It's all there recorded, so replacement parts can be easily made.

    No "paying for it twice".

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    That's pretty much my job in a nutshell.

    My boss (V.P. of manufacturing) comes out with an "opportunity" and we brainstorm for a few minutes, and I start mocking up stuff.

    If it's really small and really complicated, I'll start an Autocad session and see what's what, it all depends on the task, and how many they need.
    If it's a bunch (100,000 or more) i'll take the time to draw and dimension the project, if it's just a few I'll still keep track of the dims, but draw it later if it's a real deal.

    Long story longer, I do love that stuff. It makes for days that fly by and projects that show our stuff.

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    Much respect to the CAD guys....I do not hate them. There's no doubt cad systems have saved a lot in the manufacturing process over the years, it's good progress. Once in a while I like to hear about 'old school'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffm8622 View Post
    Much respect to the CAD guys....I do not hate them. There's no doubt cad systems have saved a lot in the manufacturing process over the years, it's good progress. Once in a while I like to hear about 'old school'.
    Another example, that suits your comment. Same customer.. A machine that does this.. approximately.




    He made the first one he ever did in 1984, there are about a half dozen out there.

    The first one he made is finally just flat out wore out. Its done.. They brought it back
    to his shop so they had an "Example".. complete re-design. It took 4 rollers to keep the tray
    flat.. New design, using Cad(me using Cad). 2 rollers. Much simpler design.. The tracks on the 35 year old
    machine are just randomly torch cut until it worked. And it did, for 35 years (with many repairs).
    Of course nobody ever maintains them, so they break, they wear out.. And the people like us
    that make parts for a living make money.

    I can't say this guy is a slouch.. He works hard and he can finger bang a program out on an
    old Fanuc likes its going out of style. But no Cad, No Cam. Drafting table and a scratch pad.
    Its pretty impressive..

    Back story.. If ya'll are interested. This guy was the 4th person to work at Acroloc. Yes, Acroloc,
    those F'n machines with those shitty tool holders... And they were decent machines, they were
    solid, and then they put a f'n quill on them.. Honestly if they had moved to a more standard
    tool holder system (Cat 40) somewhere in the mid 80's, they would probably still be in business
    today.

    So eventually he moved back from Phoenix and opened his own shop, a machine shop, not a fab shop,
    and he was selling Acrolocs, making parts for Acrolocs, and representing Acrolocs at trade shows.

    Like I said.. Not a slouch.. REALLY REALLY smart guy. He can visualize things I can't...

    The flood of 2005 wiped out his shop, which wasn't that huge of a deal, it was older equipment
    that he wasn't really using anymore, and he had pretty much completely transferred to a fab
    shop anyways. The only machine that survived.. An OLD!!!! I mean OLD!!!!! Acroloc.
    Vacuum tubes and everything.

    So around late 2007 or so, I had moved into his neighborhood(1/2 mile down the road), and I had known him for quite
    a few year from the local watering hole..(YES, you can meet customers in a bar!!!)
    He had sold and then setup one of the Acrolocs where I used to work, MANY years before I got there...

    And I had bought an Acroloc. I had used one where I had worked, and I was mildly familiar
    with the machine.. and it was CHEAP!!!! I used the hell out of that machine, it made a lot of
    money, and I HATED it every second of the way.. so when I brought in a second Fadal, it had to
    go..

    So I went down the street and asked if he wanted to buy a newer Acroloc than he was using (mine was
    an '84) and he said yes.. And then he told me the story.. The first time he set foot in my shop,
    he recognized that machine instantly (but didn't say anything).. It was the only brown and cream
    colored machine they ever sold. He had showed that machine at a trade show somewhere, and nobody
    bought it, so he bought it (at a discount) for his own shop and had then sold a few years later...
    I bought it in Albuquerque and they hadn't had it all that long. Who knows how many owners it had.

    He was able to go through the electrical cabinet and show all the upgrades he himself did from the
    factory setup. It was kind of neat.. And it was kind of strange.. The machine finally went home,
    not in X Y and Z.. But it actually went HOME..

    That OLD OLD Acrloc he had.. The one with the vacuum tubes. Its dead.. It was taken apart because
    none of his forklifts would lift it and its in pieces out in his yard.. 4000 years from now
    some archaeologist is going to dig it up and ask 'WTF is this?".

    Sorry for the long post, typing seems like a lot more fun than working right now, and its
    almost nap time.

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    It's always good, when a concept can be quickly completed as a product.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffm8622 View Post
    Once in a while I like to hear about 'old school'.
    I have made hand drafts now from April to June. All kind of parts, to be turned, milled, welded. With double weight and regular lines, the auxiliary lines, the arrows, the correct dimensions and tolerances. Header with designation, material, place and date, my name. Boss seemed to like it but never said a word about. Business as usual

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    "And it might be nice to hear a story of a good customer in this forum, instead of a shitty customer."


    My best customer cuts me a check with each delivery. I usually email the invoice just as I am leaving to deliver. He normally lets me know when he will be leaving early or taking a long weekend so he can have the check ready ahead of time if I plan to deliver when he is out.

    He knows cash can be tight for me at times. Recently I made a delivery and I did not get the invoice to him before he had to leave unexpectedly. His brother (also business partner) pulled out his wallet to give me cash to tied me over (he doesn't do any of the accounting stuff). Cash flow was OK at the time and I declined. I would have declined regardless. Appreciated it though.

    Bill

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    Nice stories Bob

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    Fun little update to the bag machine story..

    I'm not sure exactly how this all works, or how it happened, but
    somebody saw the little bag opening machines and really liked them
    and wants to distribute them.. I'm fairly certain its the folks
    that make and print the bags..

    Kind of an unexpected outcome... But pretty cool.


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