Our weekly engineering meeting may be the most expensive meeting that we hold but it’s also the most valuable – to us – and to our customers.
This regular meeting was our response to the economic downturn in 2008. At the time we had to make a choice. We could lay-off, cut back and retreat. Or, we could figure out how to be more efficient, how to be a better supplier, a better caster manufacturer and ultimately a better company. We chose the latter and have never looked back. As one of the first measures in this new approach, we took what had been an occasional ad hoc meeting and made it part of the weekly schedule. Gathering our best minds – from sales, production, design, manufacturing, engineering and management – we started plotting the future of Algood.
Now, six years later, this weekly multi-disciplinary meeting is reaping important benefits for Algood and for our customers. Here’s how:
Comprehensive Customer Care
We begin every meeting with an update on customer concerns and product requests. We take customer feedback very seriously. Issues range from component malfunctions to the boxes we use for shipping. The resolution can involve anything from an improved production process to additional quality control measures to the design of new machinery. Because every department is represented, there’s no such thing as a superficial Band Aid fix. We develop lasting solutions that meet both the current and future needs of our customers.
Integrated Problem Solving
The inter-departmental representation at these meetings mimics Algood’s vertically integrated manufacturing environment that includes in house tool & die, injection molding, metal stamping and engineering departments. It means that there is no finger pointing and there is open communication between all departments. Nothing is swept under the carpet. Items requiring attention are given target resolution dates and stay on the agenda until they have been dealt with successfully. Participants at the meeting take collective responsibility for the success or failure of initiatives.
There is no such thing as a bad idea at these meetings. The out-of-the box thinking has resulted in most of the product innovations for which Algood is known. In the last two years, Algood has introduced almost two dozen new products to the marketplace and we are developing our own proprietary production equipment. While other caster companies have turned to offshore solutions, we are investing in North American manufacturing. With shorter lead times and outstanding product quality, Algood is being recognized globally for its innovation and commitment to customer care.
The commitment to re-imagining the future of Algood with the goal of ultimate customer satisfaction is what earned us recognition as a “custom-product powerhouse” in a recent Financial Post article. What’s even more impressive is we achieved this on the strength of the traditional values that come from being a family-owned business. As multi-nationals and investment-firm-backed competitors turn to offshore supply chains, I am proud of our ongoing commitment to being a leader in North American caster manufacturing. Our weekly engineering meetings were the key to turning the corner last decade and our powering Algood into the future. The price tag associate with the meeting may be high but it’s an investment that will pay dividends for many years to come.