Satisfying your customers’ needs is at the top of your list, but if your sheet metal supplier doesn’t have the same priorities as you, it could be time to re-evaluate who’s supplying your sheet metal. When seeking out a sheet metal supplier that will exceed your performance expectations, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration. Keep reading to decide if your sheet metal supplier is right for you.
1. Quality – It almost goes without saying, but in fact it should at the top your list. If you can’t count on quality parts coming in from your sheet metal supplier, it’s time to find a new one that will surpass your quality test. Your customers don’t tolerate poor quality and you can’t either from your sheet metal supplier. Period.
2. Delivery – While speed is important, the real key is to look for suppliers that hit the dates they commit to. This means that at times you want your supplier to push back on your due dates when they cannot meet the due date. Having that openness and trust is at the heart of any good supplier – customer relationship. The question you need to be asking isn’t ‘how quickly can you get it to me?’ but rather, ‘how confident are you that I will receive my parts when you say I will?’ The certainty that a stronger supplier provides to your supply chain beats aggressive promises and missed deliveries. It also helps if your sheet metal supplier has their own delivery trucks. This means you avoid costly, time-consuming product damages as well as shipping costs by avoiding 3rd party freight companies.
3. Track Record/Longevity – How long has your sheet metal supplier been in business? While the two are not necessarily related, there is a solid correlation between longevity and capacity. There is truth in the axiom that ‘we’ve been around this long so we must be doing something right’, but that only goes so far. Is your sheet metal supplier modernizing their systems and equipment? Are they keeping up with the latest technology and investing in their team? These are all signs of health you want to look for in your sheet metal supplier.
4. Price/Value – Are you getting competitive pricing? Make sure that your supplier is providing you with solid pricing. If they’re not, push to understand what the underlying cause is. Maybe there is a design-for-manufacturing conversation that needs to take place, or there needs to be a clearer picture of the purchasing forecast anticipated over the next few quarters. The number at the bottom of the quote is not the whole story, but you need to see pricing that will work for your business and allow you to provide excellent value to your customers.
5. Responsiveness – When you call or email your sheet metal supplier, how long does it take for them to get back to you? What is the quality of that communication? Working with global customers and compressed lead-times, being able to manage changing customer demands is an important part of your business. Make sure you partner with a sheet metal supplier that is able to keep up with the dynamic nature of your needs and work alongside you to help you satisfy your customers.
6. Willingness to Take on Tough Challenges – A true partnership requires both trust and the ability to take risks. Does your sheet metal supplier shy away from a challenge? Growing your business means incorporating new materials or technologies that allow you to outcompete.
7. Accountability – Accountability is the foundation of trust and trust underpins every strong supplier/customer relationship. When things don’t go as planned, does your sheet metal supplier take responsibility and work to improve for the future? If not, you need to find a new sheet metal supplier.
About the Author:
Andy Mulkerin (General Manager of APX York Sheet Metal) has 20 years of experience leading advanced technology development programs and overseeing global manufacturing operations. He has managed production/operations within the chemical processing, electronics, and commercial nuclear industries. He has worked on multi-billion-dollar investment and infrastructure deals, as well as spent more than a decade advising US companies on how to successfully navigate the Chinese energy market. Andy led initiatives setting up fabrication operations in China to produce equipment to the ASME NQA-1 and NNSA’s HAF604 specifications.
Andy has successfully driven technology transfer initiatives for dozens of Western energy companies including Babcock & Wilcox, Bechtel, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Energy Solutions and TerraPower. Andy is a recognized global leader in the field of US-China nuclear energy strategy and has been cited by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Andy has collaborated on numerous initiatives with the US Department of Commerce and Department of Energy related to maximizing commercial opportunities for US companies in China. Additionally, Andy also was part of the core Blu-ray strategy team for Sony in Tokyo, Japan.
Andy has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.