Thermal Spray Salesman Cometh

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An interesting tip in this article dealing with thermal spray powders salesmen. If you are involved with the thermal spray industry, you know the thermal spray powders salesmen’s familiar countenance -- the typical thermal spray powders salesman in the business attire with a friendly smile as he (or she ) tries to win your business for the thermal spray powders, thermal spray wires, thermal spray nozzles, plasma spray guns and so on. He may also be interested in selling you an entire integrated thermal spray coating system rigged with all kinds of bells and whistles, including robotics, automated thermal spray powder feeders and so on. Of course, he forms an integral part of your thermal spray coatings operations providing you with the necessary thermal spray consumables, hopefully at a good price and in a timely fashion. Most of these flame spray salesmen and women are of a high caliber and hold themselves to high ethical and moral standards. As is always the case, a few bad apples in the basket ruin a good going thing for everybody in the group. The purpose of this write-up is to warn of a potential problem that needs to be avoided at all costs when dealing with thermal spray consumables sales people.

A long time ago, I was involved with a very price sensitive customer who had a high volume thermal spray application that was getting processed at one metallizing service company. He must have not been very happy with the price; or possibly was trying to get a better price and hence was shopping around. We got involved in the project and by superior tooling engineering and high production concepts, we were able provide the same quality at improved delivery times and at 20 % below what they were paying for the same plasma coating service. Needless to say, we won the job. We switched our plasma powder vendor just for this one contract to get better plasma powder pricing – that’s where the biggest problem came. We had never dealt with him before; but seemed like a friendly person with nothing unusual about his personality. However, suspicions arose in our minds when suddenly our customer pulled out the work and went some place else. We found out through the grapevine, that this “new” powder vendor that had observed these specific parts being sprayed , had seen the actual operation, spoken at length with the thermal spray operator, went about talking about it to somebody else at a different thermal spray shop, who took the tooling and processing concept and undercut our pricing to the end customer; who, in the interests of saving money for his company, dumped us and went with the new source. That I thought was highly unethical of this salesman. I learnt later that he was no longer involved with the thermal spray industry – thank the heavens But, the bottom line is we lost a high volume coatings application. At that point, we made a decision that I would like to share here – unless you KNOW the person visiting you, do NOT let them SEE your thermal spray booths or actual coating operations. You never know where the tongue is going to go to work based on what the eyes see.

As mentioned before, most of the consumables sales people that I have seen in the thermal spray industry would never do what this salesman did; most of them are highly ethical and maintain the confidentiality of their customers’ proprietary nature of the business. However, one bad experience can ruin a potentially high profit contract and you do not want that happening to you.

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