Plasma coating falling off

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Years ago, I was asked by the newly recruited plasma coating sales engineer at the plasma coating company I was working at to accompany him to visit a customer. I asked the salesman some details about this potential client and very enthusiastically he told me that this potential customer sends out a lot of plasma coatings work to several of our competitors and has been doing so for a number of years. I told him I had never heard of this customer and that the previous plasma coating salesman never even called on this account. To which he proudly replied, “Wonder why he is not here anymore?”. To which I said, “Okay, Mr. Plasma Coating super salesman, I get the point, now let us go and get this customer to our side”.

We started driving towards this customer who was actually located just about three hours away from our shop. Now, note that within a fifty mile radius of where we were, there were close to five plasma coating companies. And so the customer had a variety of plasma coating vendors to choose from. Not so good for us, but good for him. And it so happens that all of these so called plasma coating competitors of ours in this radial area were all low cost producers but at the same time low quality houses. We were not the lowest in price but we were certainly the highest in quality. And so I asked my plasma coating “buddy” now, as to what was the problem with this customer and why did he not consider us. To which he again made a wise crack: “That’s why you are here with me ”.

Okay so after a few stops at a few coffee shops along the way and after stuffing a few donuts, we met with the purchasing manager. He was a middle aged man with greying hair and his belly looked like it had seen several donuts each day. And without too much of introductions and too much of foreplay ( you know how us engineers are ), I asked him point blank what his experiences were with some of the other plasma coating vendors. And he opened up and said the following:

“Well the first shop was cheap, but it took us for ever to get the parts coated and turned around. We would regularly get parts weeks and weeks past the quoted time and it simply got aggravating and I decided to switch sources.”

“And the second plasma coating company, that was a joke too. We received parts with coating in no coat areas on probably ten percent of the parts. And this was a regular occurance. And we would have to reject the parts and send them back for strip and recoat every single time. I got tired of it after a year and decided to switch again.”

“The third plasma coating company was cheaper than the first two and I said to myself I simply cannot go wrong. Just look at their prices. And that was the worst thing I did. Now, I am no plasma coating expert but when my inspector came to me and said ‘Bill, what are you doing, the plasma coating is falling off these parts. I cannot accept them.’ I in turn called the company and said to my vendor ‘ What are you doing, the plasma coating is falling off’. He said, ‘Did you inspect with a 10X magnifier?’ I lost my cool and told him,’My eyes are better than a 10X magnifier, I know a plasma coating when it is on the part and I know when a plasma coating is not on the part. And I tell you your plasma coating is falling off.’”

All I said was “Bill, you will never have any of those problems with us. Just pay our price. You are paying for quality and you are paying to prevent yourself from getting a heart attack.”

And we won the contract!

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