Recently, one of Ebsco’s largest customers requested we complete a self audit they provided. The audit contained elements on quality and delivery, as expected but questions touched on several other sections. The audit included employee training, utilization of teams in the organization and even Ebsco’s environmental policy. Fortunately, Ebsco had recently embarked on an initiative to become ISO 14001 certified for environmental management and we passed the audit.
The diverse questions on the audit caused me to ask, “What does it really take to make springs these days?” That is a question that was easily answered twenty years ago. But what does it take to make springs or run any mid-sized business today?
Making quality product at competitive prices with great customer service was the only answer twenty years ago. Today’s answer is much more complicated. To be successful in business requires attention to diverse subjects. Marketing, finance, human resources, the law, environmental policy, business continuation, insurance and on and on and on.
Manufacturers in 1990 didn’t need SEO programs. The internet was not a part of their marketing efforts. Most small manufacturers used word of the mouth and a salesman to build business. Today we must focus on web pages, social media, SEO and several other channels in addition to the sales force. Most business leaders were able to partner with a banker for most of their financial questions. The banker was all they needed for their financial concerns. Not the case today. Finance has become much more complicated including global forecasting. Fortunately, Ebsco has a great CFO that knows where to find the answers we need. Human resources in the ’90s was the office that accepted applications. Human resources now deals with development, motivation and complex webs of ever-changing laws and regulations. Running a spring company is much more than just making springs.
Of the current projects on my desk, only our new second shift launch is directly related to day-to-day production. As I mentioned, I am preparing Ebsco for ISO environmental certification. Not only is this the right thing to do but as we found in the audit, our customers are requiring us to be environmentally responsible. I also have Ebsco’s business continuation plan. If Ebsco were to experience a disaster, our business continuation plan will allow us to continue serving our customers and allow Ebsco to survive the disaster. After the H1N1 Flu scare a few years ago, Ebsco’s customers required us to have a Pandemic Response Plan. That plan has become obsolete in some areas and we are revising to meet today’s challenges.
As you can see, successfully competing in today’s environment has become extremely complex and requires business to address several issues not directly related to production. The key is to respond to these demands while NEVER loosing your focus on why you here, Making quality springs at competitive prices with great service. That will never change.