SHOP FLOOr Peter A. Oglevie WHEN THERE NO DO-OVERS ARE As every Monday-morning quarterback knows, one bad play can cost you a customer forever. iT iS AMeriCAN FOOTBALL SeASON again (not to be confused with European football or soccer). Every week I break out my old sweat-shirts, jerseys and, hopefully, the team necktie I wear after a home team victory. I usually watch the game with friends and listen to the hoots and hollers as either the offense, de-fense or special teams blow it or pull off a great play. The day after I get to play the game’s best position, Monday-morning quarterback. To succeed in business we need to be in team mode. On the shop fl oor as with my home team, each team member has a job to do, and each job must be done in order to get a win or production out the door. As a sales engineer, I was blessed to work with an excellent team. My position could best be described as being on the offensive side of the ball. My job was to score orders. The offi ce and manufacturing facility were the defense, and our laboratory was special teams. The last member of the team, the twelfth player, was the customer. Again I have had the privilege to work with many good customers in my career. I wish I could say every shop fl oor experi-ence was a success. I wish I could go back and have a few do-overs. I wish I knew then, what I know now. Of course none of these wishes can come true, so I am left playing Monday-morning quarterback to my own losses. One that sticks out in my mind was the fi rst job I had during my apprenticeship. The company was family run, with the grandfa-ther who started the company still handing out checks every payday. His son was the president and set corporate goals. He was gone a lot digging up new business and ac-quiring machines to keep the shop fl oor run-ning. His daughter kept the books in order. The grandson set up the tools to go into the presses. Together they formed the manage-ment team. The management team sent employees to technical seminars and training sessions. They viewed these as an investment in their future, for without the team they could not get product out the door. They also valued their suppliers as busi-ness partners. Working with them was always a pleasure. They insisted you give on-time deliveries, quality product and service when needed. They treated the suppliers as well as they treated their employees and expected no less in return. When shop fl oor operators started com-plaining of eye irritation, the company’s commitment to their employees dictated something had to be done. At the time, I was still a rookie and did not recognize this as a biocide problem. I called on our lab people (special teams), and they did not make the connection either. We changed the chemistry to eliminate the problem with no success. What happened next was like standing on the sidelines watching the opposing team return a punt 90 yards for a touchdown. It even hap-pened in slow motion. The customer had to try someone else’s product. They traded me for a hot free agent, and it hurt. The customer had to try someone else’s product. They traded me for a hot free agent, and it hurt. As our laboratory learned more, we made a few trades of our own and attended some seminars ourselves. We were able to put together new products to fi t the needs of the company, but I was never able to get the business back. It was one of those in-stances where a do-over would have been nice. I still respect the company whose busi-ness I lost. Business is business. We’re still friends. Their new partner has their respect, and as any salesperson knows, that can be hard to break through. Their new partner had a great defense, and my offense never got back on the fi eld. The Monday game analysis was that the offense should have played better. The de-fense held up. Special teams should have spent more time watching fi lm before the game. Pete Oglevie is president of International Production Technologies in Port Washington, Wis. You can reach him at email@example.com. 94 Did you know? STLE members have free access to 50 years’ worth of research papers published in Tribology Transactions. www.stle.org.