Yesterday was a beautiful day in North-metro Atlanta. Not a cloud in the sky. Pleasant temperatures. A perfect day for a road trip to visit a company that will be profiled in an upcoming article on thefabricator.com.
I printed out directions from Google Maps, climbed in my Jeep (the one that metal thieves had better keep their hands off), and drove up I-85 to visit Sargent Metal Fabricators in Anderson, S.C.—finally.
Sargent Metal's President Tim Hayden and I had been corresponding for a couple of months, scheduling and rescheduling the visit. As excited as Hayden was about having his company profiled, something else took priority—a nine-letter, three-syllable word that is at the top of every fabricator"s priority and wish lists. Can you guess it? Here's a hint: Without this, no business survives.
Yes, the magic word is customers, and Hayden made it perfectly clear in our communication and during my visit that Sargent Metal values its customers. When we finally settled on the date for the visit, Hayden e-mailed me late the day before to ask if I would be finished by a certain time, because a customer would be stopping by for a plant tour.
At one point during my visit, Hayden said, "We have a passion for our customers." How do you back up a statement like that? Having to reschedule and then time my visit because of customer appointments were good indications, but I observed other corroborating evidence during my visit.
Sargent Metals has invested heavily in state-of-the art production and quality-control equipment and has incorporated value-added services to meet its customers' needs. (You'll learn more about the equipment and services in the company profile.)
The company also goes the extra mile. Hayden shared with me that a customer phoned at 4:30 p.m. the day before my visit in a panic. This customer needed 1,000 parts ASAP. Although it turned out that ASAP really meant a couple of days, operators had the job set up and ready to go that day. Production was underway during my visit.
Customers are the Holy Grail of any business, but far too many times, companies fail to treat them as such. All other things being equal—product quality, performance, and price—what sets one company apart from another? Customer service.
The article Superior Service—Why you need it on thefabricator.com addresses how important good service is to industrial customers: "Industrial customers value good service even more than retail customers do. They depend on their suppliers to deliver goods on time, just in time, so that they can meet their own customers' needs. And they can measure a supplier's substandard service in terms of lost sales and profits."
It appeared to me that Sargent Metals understands this.