Mar 02 2016

ETM Re-Opens Second Shift to Support Customer Growth – How This Affects You


ETM Re-Opens Second Shift to Support Customer Growth – How This Affects You

Every spring we are faced with the same challenge – work more overtime or resume our second shift. When orders increase briefly, one large order for example, it just makes better sense to add overtime. When there is an extended order increase, then it makes better sense to add people. Lastly, when we have an extended order increase that requires a bottleneck piece of equipment, we need to resume our second shift. This spring we have been rewarded with steady welding and steady punch work, both of which are equipment constrained. So we made the decision.

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Feb 08 2016

Another Way To Source Your Production


Another Way To Source Your Production

Rick called me last week to tell me his good news. Sales of their electric version were doing much better than expected. In fact, they were swamping his existing stamping supplier. After congratulating him on the success of the product line, I had to ask why he was calling. ETM does not offer stamping services. Rick knew that but he has been impressed with our sheet metal fabrication and he knows if he sends us more business, we could add an in-house powder coat line. This is the kind of customer we like – someone who appreciates our hard work and wants to get us to the next level. So of course we are going to try and help him.

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Jan 29 2016

Next Level Advanced Problem Solving


Next Level Advanced Problem Solving

Sometimes it seems like we are continually fighting the same issue ever year or worse yet, the business environment has changed and the old way no longer works. Today’s leaders are seeing $1 billion dollar valuations from small companies and they’re thinking “Why can’t we do that?”. If Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Uber, etc. can do that, why can’t our company? The sad fact is that, overall productivity in American manufacturing is declining. Our traditional approaches to problem solving are not working. There has to be a better way.

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Jan 25 2016

A New Way to Evaluate Job Shop Quality


A New Way to Evaluate Job Shop Quality

Recently we held our quarterly Quality System Review for last quarter. Like thousands of job shops across the US, we reviewed customer complaints, customer returns, internal quality trends and past corrective actions. Many of those companies, including ours, have recurring system issues that are addressed at the part level or customer level, but persist at the macro level. Sometimes it is easier to record a “win” on fixing a customer issue and leave the systemic issue for another time. Other times, the cost to fix the issue systemically is too much for the customers to bear. I think there is a better way.

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Jan 06 2016

100 Questions for Your Next Sheet Metal Fabricator Site Visit


One of the many things we do to ensure great customer service is to invest 2 weeks and $2000 in every salesperson regardless of their experience. Before they work with our customers or future customers, we make sure they can address 100 typical questions that a customer might ask. Seems to me that this list might be helpful to you next time you visit your sheet metal fabricator. Have more? Let me know and I will add them to the list!

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Dec 23 2015

ETM Sales vs Auto Sales: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


ETM Sales vs Auto Sales: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

This past weekend we bought an SUV to help with small part deliveries and some logistics. Boy was it frustrating. Despite all the marketing to make me feel like the car buying experience had improved, I was sorely disappointed. If we own a vehicle for an average of 5 years, it occurred to me that I will buy at least 10 cars (20 if you include my wife’s cars). That’s a lot of disappointment. Surely we can do better to service ETM’s customers. In fact, we have processes designed to do the opposite of auto sales.

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Dec 17 2015

Knowing Where You Are Going (And How Far You Have Gone)


Knowing Where You Are Going (And How Far You Have Gone)

Last week we had a chance to visit Bob Garde and Dave Sousa from MagSeal in Warren, Rhode Island. Dave Sousa has been doing this for several years and he’s built an impressive model line. Bob has taken over leadership of the company and it is clear he is eager to get them to the next level. Just like us, they have their challenges shifting their culture, but the important thing is that they are making progress every day. And every day they are creating a slightly better competitive advantage. Here is how they are doing it:

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Dec 02 2015

The Challenges Facing Mid-Cap Manufacturing CEOs


The Challenges Facing Mid-Cap Manufacturing CEOs

A few weeks ago I spent an hour with Avi, the CEO of a $50 million manufacturer of industrial equipment. Sales were good, new product development was good, the staff was good, facilities were good – but he was not happy. Something was bothering him and even he was having a hard time expressing it. After asking a few questions, I think he was frustrated that things were just good and not great. Just like the rest of us, he is reading the news about the upcoming recession but his team is not energized to fight a problem they don’t yet see. Next week we meet again and here are some thoughts that might help him:

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Nov 24 2015

It’s Beginning To Feel A Bit Like Christmas ….


It’s Beginning To Feel A Bit Like Christmas ….

To parody the holiday song … I know the weather outside isn’t frightful, but the orders we’re getting are delightful. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go …

Seriously though, we are so thankful to have great customers with large orders. Not only can we give the gift of overtime to our employees, we also get to give the gifts of finished parts back to our customer in time make their end of year shipments. Many customers have end of year deadlines, so you are not alone competing for the same capacity with your best sheet metal manufacturers. Here are some tips to help you get to the front of the line:

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Nov 06 2015

The Two Ends of the Spectrum of Customer Service


The Two Ends of the Spectrum of Customer Service

Here at ETM Manufacturing we like to pride ourselves on our customer service, but this week was impressive for the extremes of service that we offer our sheet metal customers. On hand, Fred needed help with overflow laser cutting work – now. On the other hand, Josh needed a new financing model to justify a stronger bakery cart to his internal constituents. Two very different problems, with two very different customers, both needing great customer service. Here is how ETM delivered:

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