New Thermal Spray Boss Contd

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In continuation with a previous post entitled New Thermal Spray Boss, wherein we talked about how a bad manager did nothing to a bleeding thermal spray company, this company decided to hire me as the manager of the thermal spray division in trouble. Unlike the previous leader, I had significant thermal spray engineering background although I was not an expert in plasma spray technologies by any stretch. The thermal spray field is just too complicated for anyone to lay claim to knowing it all. In this post, I would like to present how I fared in the new thermal spray assignment.

I showed up for work in decent work clothes and I could see the smile in the thermal spray operators faces – they felt I was one of them. I bonded instantly with the personnel. The first day, I met the thermal spray quality control manager and requested a copy of the quality control manual and told him that whatever we do, we shall never compromise on quality. That put his mind at ease; because the fact of the matter is that people in production functions often bang heads with people in the quality function and vice versa and this battle does not help anyone in the long run. What is the point in shipping hardware today and billing it, only to receive it back tomorrow to re-work it? I scrapped the morning meetings for good and that saved us valuable production time. The spray schedule as to what gets coated in what spray booth would have to written up the previous evening, so the thermal spray powder crib attendant can get all the thermal spray powders ready for the operators in the morning on time. The foreman of the shop had to resign (unwillingly) because of an ailing mother that he had to take care of and I told the really really big boss not to replace him and that I would take on that responsibility also. The boss was amazed that he could instantly save on one more salary ( let alone the fact that I was working for nearly half of Mr.Doolittle’s pay ). Later the thermal spray salesman quit to take up an offer that paid him much higher than what he was getting paid then, and once again, I chose not to replace him. What I proceeded to do was to find out exactly how long it took us to process parts – usually it was about three days. I was quoting all parts with a standard turnaround time of five to seven days knowing very well we could do them in three days. Then I would proceed to woo the customers to pay an expedite charge and they could get the parts in three days. Eight times out of ten, the customers wanted the parts quicker so they did not mind paying an extra expedite charge to get the parts two days sooner – that meant instant increases in revenues for us.

I then proceeded to establish a second shift with a skeleton crew borrowed from the main shift. All the set-ups would be performed by the main shift operators and the second shift personnel had to simply keep the plasma spray jobs going forward. This enabled improvement in machine utilization because usually the first shift pays for all the machine payments. We took on some incremental work where the profit margin was marginal but not negative by any means – all of the incremental work got finished in the second shift. We had an outside cleaning service coming in to clean the shop and I stopped that service and told everyone to clean up their own areas. We were on a roll. We started making money like we never thought we could. Thermal spray operators were requested to work overtime everyday and on week ends. They were happy because their paychecks increased. The boss was happy because his profits increased. And everyone was happy Mr.Doolittle was gone!

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