Thermal spray strategic planning

Sponsored Links

Years ago, as I was working as a young engineer in a premium thermal spray coatings facility, a phenomenal event took place. The company had just hired a new Vice President in charge of sales, who had come to the industry from a non thermal spray job shop background. Until that point, such a position did not exist and this was a newly created position. Of course, there were a couple of thermal spray salesmen who called on our customers and were basically ridiculed in the shop floor as simply order takers. The company had several aerospace plasma coating approvals and so the work simply came in as a result of those. Then again, the time frame was over twenty years ago. Within the first four months of getting into his newfound position, this Vice President decided to hold a two day offsite meeting in a beautiful hotel by the sea shore in northeastern United States entitled thermal spray strategic planning summit. And little me, I was invited too. Being young and lacking experience in such things, I thought this is going to be a party that I will never forget and I was ready for the good times.

We reached the quaint hotel that was just fabulous and the meeting started at nine O clock in the morning. We were given the schedule for the discussions and after a very brief introduction, we started discussing department by department, ways and means to speed up the processing with the goal of reducing the lead time for deliveries. Everyone was given the absolute freedom to speak their minds and there was a notes taker. At the end of this session, action items were delegated to the appropriate department heads. Next we discussed material by material ways and means to cut down on costs and consumption. This included everything from paper purchased for the front office to thermal spray masking tape to thermal spray powders to gun nozzles and so on. At the end of this discussion, action items were assigned to those that were key to this step starting with the purchasing agent. We then discussed the sales effort. This was a very long session, wherein we discussed who our current customers were, what markets they served, what other markets that we could get into, who could be our customers in the new markets, how we could target these new customers, who would be the point of contact and so on and needless to say most of the action items in this section fell upon the “old order takers”. Boy they would have to get used to wearing the new cap that this Vice President just bought them We did not even realize that lunch time had already come and gone and the sandwiches that we had eaten already got digested. The final session for the day was to deal with pricing and quotations. We reviewed our pricing structure and method used to price thermal spray jobs and quote deliveries and the new pricing that could be in place if all of the action items such as cost control and expedited processing and such could be implemented.

It was already seven p.m. and we broke off from the meeting and went to dinner. We were served the greatest sea food I had eaten and the greatest wines and drinks were served. The next morning came in and we started off again at seven in the morning with the sun that had barely started its daily run. We discussed all of the action items from the previous day and each of the participants were asked to sign off on the action item given to him or her. And the Vice President had carefully chosen the participants, so no one was left without an action item or two in their hands. We then listened to a one and a half hour speech by him that gave us a crash course on strategic planning and action implementation, goal setting, time consciousness and the power of selling through the use of positive mental attitude. All this was foreign to engineers like me at that point, who were trained simply to engineer goods and not worry about selling them. At the end of the meeting, we were thoroughly exhausted but thoroughly excited at the same time.

Let me tell you, that was the best course in strategic planning that I ever attended in my life. It had to with everything that was practical. Not some old geek professor that kept yapping without ever having been in a real thermal spray shop, not having ever dealt with customers that sometimes do not pay their bills on time and never having ever sold a thermal spray coatings application to anyone. This was real world stuff discussed away from the real world of our actual coatings shop. The phones were not ringing and the guns were not screaming, but guess what; our goal when we came back was to enable the phones to ring non stop and the guns to scream non stop. So the next time you get a chance, set up a strategic planning meeting for your thermal spray company and if done properly, the results will far exceed anyone’s expectations.

Sponsored Links

No comments: