The Importance of Customer Service
At Cobb Tool, nothing is more important than satisfying the expectations of our customers. We are committed to making sure that not only do our products meet specifications, but that the experiences our customers have with Cobb Tool are professional, respectful and friendly. In the end, that will benefit our customers – but it will also reflect well on us! This applies to all our work – from simple CNC machined parts to custom-designed welding fixtures.
Recently, a welding supply house sold a fairly elaborate robotic welding system to one of their best customers. It was an expensive system and the first of a series of planned purchases. The Nashville-based customer planned to produce their own fixtures, but they still needed a basic fixture mounting frame. While Cobb Tool quoted the frame, the customer chose another shop based on price.
However, upon delivery, it was immediately clear that the fixture mounting frame wasn’t right. It wasn’t flat. It wasn’t square. And it wasn’t rigid enough to provide the positional repeatability that is essential in robotic welding.
The customer called the other shop in to remedy the problem. They did make a few small changes, but then said they were done. The changes they made did not provide the versatility or repeatability that the customer needed to run the wide range of parts they produce. Now the welding supply house had a disgruntled customer … and a hold on an order for another $200,000 plus welding system.
At this point, the welding supply house called in Cobb Tool to review the situation. In truth, our on-site meeting was a little chilly. The company owner was now having trust issues with all tooling shops. We reviewed the project and got a clear understanding of what the customer needed to accomplish. It was obvious that if it had been addressed properly from the beginning, this was not a challenging project. We left the meeting with a clear mandate, but no order.
We immediately developed a concept proposal and reviewed it online with the customer and the welding supply house. We were headed in the right direction, so we developed a quote.
The welding supply salesman wanted to present the quote in person. I felt it was important that I follow through – so I joined him back in Nashville. I wanted to reinforce that if they ordered the tooling from Cobb Tool, the experience would be very different from what they’d experienced.
When we walked in together, the company owner was surprised to see me. But the effort made the intended impression. Our meeting went well. In fact, it went better than expected. Not only did the customer order the Cobb Tool replacement tooling frames, they purchased an additional robot for their second plant along with a second set of frames.
In the end, Cobb Tool enhanced its reputation and its relationship – not only with the Nashville customer, but with the national robotic welder manufacturer. And we gained a valued customer. In fact, we were recently told that the customer intends to buy two more robotic systems and four for frames in the very near future.
A New Approach Creates an Opportunity
Recently, a customer in the packaging industry placed an order with Cobb Tool for a machined casting. This was a new part for us, and the customer hadn’t ordered it in years. The foundry couldn’t find the pattern; time was short; and rapid prototyping options were expensive. Upon review, we proposed a different approach.
Instead of a machined casting, we suggested that we redesign the part as a weldment. The customer had his doubts that this could be a cost-effective solution. But we redesigned the part from raw stock. It turned out that the weldment price was less than the casting. With that result, the customer made us the permanent supplier of this part and eliminated the casting. With Cobb Tool as its partner, our customer ended up with a better part, at a lower cost with a shorter lead-time.
Sorry, But I Need It Now!
Cobb Tool’s best customers realize that Cobb Tool consistently provides excellent service and competitive pricing. We are not always the cheapest, but we always deliver good value.
Tom McQuillen, a longtime Cobb Tool customer from Marel, a manufacturer of poultry processing equipment in Gainesville, Georgia, needed a quote. He had designed a production machining fixture and needed a machine shop to make it. Tom has been a Cobb Tool customer for over 17 years, so he knew he could count on Cobb Tool for a fair price and total customer commitment.
Cobb Tool quoted a standard four-week lead-time based on the time required to get the raw materials and the shop’s overall workload.
But Tom’s need was urgent. He needed a quick turnaround for many reasons and had a lot on the line. According to Tom, “I was in a bind. I needed to get our fixture made so we could get it into production fast. This was a high-profile project within our organization. I knew I could count on Cobb Tool – for their pricing, their work ethic and their commitment to customer service.”
But Tom couldn’t wait four weeks. He only had a two-week window. He called Cobb Tool and explained the situation. So, Cobb Tool did what it always does to help a customer. They expedited the material, juggled the shop schedule, worked some overtime and delivered Tom’s fixture by the end of the second week. Tom met his deadline and his confidence in Cobb Tool was re-confirmed.
Redesign Increases Upfront Costs, But Delivers Long-term Savings
One of Caterpillar’s manufacturing engineers was using a set of simple check gauges that had been made by another shop. The problem was, the gauges weren’t accurate – rendering them useless. The shop had machined the components, welded the assemblies and then heat-treated them. Following that process, the gauges warped, weren’t parallel and weren’t even sized to the correct dimensions. Caterpillar, a regular Cobb tool customer asked us to recondition them. We did so where we could by grinding them square and adding material in the form of welds where necessary.
When Caterpillar had a model change, many of these reconditioned gauges became obsolete. Since they were welded assemblies there was no practical way to modify or reuse the existing gauges. Cobb Tool proposed a complete redesign of the gauges. We suggested a bolt-together design, and the use of hardened tool steel for the gauging surfaces.
The problem was that our proposed design increased the initial cost of the gauges. So, when the engineer submitted his budget request for 39 new gauges, his manager initially reacted with sticker shock. However, because of their trust in Cobb Tool, the Caterpillar team took a deeper look. After reviewing Cobb Tool’s new design approach, they concluded that the new gauge design would be a much better tool upfront and would save money in the long run. As bolt-together components, it would be easy to repair a damaged gauge, or even adjust them to check different dimensions at minimal cost.
Cobb Tool received a significant order – and Caterpillar made an investment that delivered long-term cost benefits.