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Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk, Atlanta: In Our Fifth Year and Still Going Strong!

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Giving back to our community is as much a part of the culture at Pacesetter as being family focused and customer experience driven. We support our greater communities in many ways, one of which is the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk, Atlanta.

Since 2013 a group of Pacesetter associates have been getting together as a team to train, fundraise, and then walk 60 miles, all to give back, supporting the Susan G Komen 3-Day, Atlanta.

From late summer through November each year walks take place around the country. This year, in Atlanta, the walk began on October 13th. Day one starts with Opening Ceremonies at Stone Mountain Park, where all walkers begin the route. The weather that day was overcast, 82 degrees and so humid it felt about twice that temperature.

It was a new route on day one, and a tough one at that!

The Pacesetter team, the Big Ol’ Shantys, consisted of four walkers committed to the three day event. One walker committed to the one day route and two crew members joined the four  teammates, and hundreds of men and women gathered to walk 60 miles across Atlanta over the course of three days. The official fundraising goal for each individual was to raise a minimum of $2,300, but here at Pacesetter we blew that out of the water, collectively raising over $17,000.

Each night we hit the campground, and sheltered in our pink tent to get some food, and sleep, and restore ourselves to walk again tomorrow.

Yes, it’s hard to take time away from daily life to commit to this cause.  So, a huge shoutout to our associates who did it!

  • Team members: Corri Green, Jacob Matthews, Tait Feisler, Marcia Feisler and Jeff Derenski
  • Crew members: Michael Parker and Jeff Terrell

The training is hard and there are sore feet, but the bonding and the sharing and the energy make this event more than worthwhile. As, of course, does the cause: fighting breast cancer.

Since 2003, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day has had more than 500,000 people walk over 32 billion steps collectively– that’s 33 times the distance to the moon and back. Between training, days in the sun and nights in tents, the journey has changed countless lives. It’s also raised more than $800,000,000 for cutting-edge research and life-saving breast cancer treatment programs.

It makes us feel great that we’re part of this extraordinary effort. The really good news is that the incidence of breast cancer, in the U.S., has been decreasing since the year 2000. However, it’s estimated that, in 2017, more than 250,000 women and over 2,400 men will be diagnosed with the disease.

Clearly, there’s a long way to go before breast cancer is eradicated. At Pacesetter, we will continue to  help our friends, associates, and loved ones get there, one dollar and one step (or 32 billion!) at a time.

Steel’s Growing Role in Sustainable Design

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Sustainability is one of the foremost aspects of steel in relation to the environment, quality, and overall durability. As we have discussed in previous articles, steel is one of mankind’s oldest utilized tool and building materials. It is 100% recyclable and incredibly durable and energy efficient. As such, it has always had a role in sustainable design—and one that is only destined to grow along with demand for eco-friendly solutions. 

Were you aware that the world’s #1 most recycled material is steel? Many people think aluminum, but it is steel. According to IISI (International Iron & Steel Institute) the 20 billionth ton of steel was recycled in 2007. Ok you think, so it’s recycled, no big deal… In addition to the vast tonnages recycled, what is highly interesting is that steel is the only material that can be infinitely recycled and never lose its quality – it does not lose its properties.

 

Steel’s sustainability

Steel is at the forefront of advancements in sustainability. A design is truly sustainable when it meets the needs of the present, efficiently, without compromising the needs of future generations; and steel products that are structurally and operationally efficient fit the bill.

Steel is inherently sustainable. Besides its recyclability, steel has a high strength-to-weight ratio, coupled with a low carbon footprint, making for an overall reduction of embodied carbon. Steel structures are low-maintenance and designed for deconstruction, reducing waste and costs of upkeep.

Though steel has been around for so long, it is changing with the times. Of particular interest are the new advanced high strength steels – a key component to steel’s sustainability today. Government standards are continuously pushing the automotive, truck, and bus industries towards better and better fuel economy. Due to that, aluminum became a player in the automotive world due to its much lighter weight and corrosion resistance. The steel industry rose to the challenge. With advanced high strength steels, automotive steel is getting thinner and thinner, lighter in weight, all while improving strength and passenger safety. Aerospace steels are going the same route; Huge cargo ships, larger than ever, are also going thinner and lighter with the use of high strength steels. Lighter ships equal more voyages on less gallons of fuel – that is sustainability.

One item in the news recently…earthquakes. According to IISI, steel pipe has the best capacity of any other material to withstand the seismic action of earthquakes.

 

An eco-friendly future

Analysis of steel constructed buildings shows that water consumption, waste, and even fuel-consuming trips to and from building sites are ALL reduced when steel is the primary material. In energy consumption, steel keeps leading when construction is complete. Steel cladding protects a building from the elements, and again, the high strength steels have reduced the size of beams needed to achieve the same or greater strength than in the past. Smaller beams quickly add up to more useful square footage within a building.

Growing emphasis on solar power and water conservation are also promising for the steel industry. For instance, steel frames are often used for solar thermal panels. Thermal solar systems also produce hot water and are one of the most popular uses of solar energy. But, where would the water be stored if not in large, steel, tanks?

Steel machinery, implements, and related technology have enabled the world’s farms to feed our burgeoning population. Today in developed countries less than 3% of people farm. 100 years ago that number was close to 75%. Seed technology has improved and the steel-built machines, grain elevators, storage and transportation have kept up.

All things considered, it’s remarkable how many ways this ancient material feeds “new” sustainability trends—trends that, ultimately, will benefit the planet and its many inhabitants.

 

How to Prepare for an Extended Absence

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There are a multitude of reasons that people go on extended leaves of absence: family leave to take care of a loved one, parental leave, medical leave for yourself, the vacation of a lifetime, or even jury duty, if the case is a headline-maker!

Personally, my reason was that my husband and I were welcoming our first child into the world. I wanted to take a full three month leave in order to take care of and bond with my newborn baby. I knew those first months would a precious time and I didn’t want to miss a moment of it!

Whatever your reason is, it’s important to plan for this extended time away from your job.

There should be three stages to the plan. The time before you leave, the time you are actually away, and the transition back to work.

 

Before You Leave

First, and this probably goes without saying, it’s important to tell your supervisor and colleagues about your leave. Then, assure them that you’re working on a plan to help during your absence. Besides immediate family, my manager was the first person to know of my pregnancy. I wanted to give her ample time to start brainstorming and strategizing alongside me on how to cover my absence.

One way to create a “while I’m gone” plan is to assess your current day-to-day activities and think of the ways both tangible and intangible that your job manifests. What reports do you pull together? Who reports to you and what will they need in your absence? Who relies on you maybe for brainstorming sessions or out-of-the-box problem solving? If you are client-facing, your client may need to be added to the mix as well.

My manager and I had biweekly meetings for a few months in which we discussed my daily activities and routines. That gave her a good feel for who on the team could take on different parts of my job.

This is a great time to ask people what they most need from you on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Be sure to take lots of detailed notes that you can leave behind to aid whoever is covering in your absence.

On the personal front, remember that there will probably be financial implications. For more about that, check out this article from USA Today.

 

While You are Gone

Now that you’ve figured out all the tasks, duties and relationships, it’s time to tackle the “who” and “how” of your plan, and write it down.

Working with your team, start with the essentials and drill down to the “this could probably be back-burnered.” Be open to people taking on work, but handling the work in a way that works for them; flexibility is key. Also, make time to educate or train the people who be covering for you. If you’re the only one that knows how to put together the monthly presentation for a particular team, share the knowledge.

Once I made my pregnancy public, I was able to keep my teammates apprised of situations that arose and let them know how I was handling them so they could take over seamlessly once I was on leave. I also tried to get any knowledge that I had learned firsthand, but had never recorded, into a OneNote document, so my entire team would have access to it. I tried to make sure each of my teammates who were taking over parts of my job were well-versed in what needed to get done and by when, but left the “how” up to them.

Again, your supervisor and your team are key to actually making your plan work, so get their buy-in. Remind them that it’s better to plan ahead than to wind up in crisis-management mode.

 

Transitioning Back to Work

The last part of your plan should absolutely cover “when” and “how” you will transition back to work. If there’s a definite date that you’re walking back into the office then remember that you’ll need time to catch up on what happened in your absence.

If the leave is medical or maternal/paternal in nature, there may be a period of time where you work part time, or remotely.

But if you’re not sure when you’ll return, you can at least set up a communication plan where you check in with your boss, or Human Resources, to let them know where you stand. At a minimum, most companies will need a few days to get ready for your return.

Life can take unexpected turns and dish out awesome opportunities. If one of those means you need to take a leave of absence, just make sure you put a plan in place so you can be gone from, and can come back to, work–without worry.

Looking for New Hires? Ask for Referrals!

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At Pacesetter we pride ourselves on employee retention, but that doesn’t mean we never have hiring needs. Business expansion, retirements and, yes, some general turnover means we need a way to find the right person, at the right time.

One of the best ways we’ve found to meet our needs is to actively solicit referrals from our associates. As we’ve mentioned previously, over the last 3 years more than 70% of our new hires here at the corporate office are referrals. In fact, in the I-Rep area alone, five out of the six members on my team are all referrals!

The real key is that these referrals aren’t random buddies. They are former associates and contacts that left a lasting, positive, impression on our current associates which is why they are such a great match for Pacesetter. From day one when I was hired at Pacesetter, I knew that this was a place where I would want to stay for the long haul. Sure there are other companies that have great benefits and values, but how many other companies are there where the CEO knows not only your name, but they know your spouse and children? Aviva told me that Pacesetter would become like my second family and it really has. Pacesetter is a company that practices what it preaches. I daily feel positively challenged and supported. Pacesetter is a company that I can believe in and put my “Stephanie Stamp of Approval” on. Because of this, I have actually referred three of my friends that are now part of the Pacesetter family. In turn, they have also started bringing in referrals!

Why referrals?

There are two strong reasons to rely on referrals, both with financial implications: upfront hiring costs and bad-hire costs.

Upfront Hiring Costs

There are multiple specific costs associated with the hiring process: advertising; in-house recruiters’ salaries or third party recruiter fees; travel expenses; and sign-on bonuses, just to name a few. For certain higher-level positions, there may also be employee relocation costs.

Referrals, even if you have a referral bonus program like we do at Pacesetter (CHECK!) eliminate much of the advertising and recruiting costs, and could give you solid, local, candidates.

Bad-Hire Costs

A Forbes magazine article, discussing successful job matches, points to a Glassdoor study which found that candidates who were referred to a company, by an existing employee, had the best chance of receiving and accepting a job offer.

This is important information because turnover is expensive, both literally and in terms of keeping the company culture positive.

If a newly hired associate is not a good fit, and quits after a short period of time, then the hiring process and associated costs begin again–not to mention the costs of time and labor lost while onboarding and training the first hire.

A 2012 study by the Center for American Progress found that for workers earning less than $50,000 annually—which covers three-quarters of all workers in the United States–the typical cost of turnover equates to about 20 percent of salary. The same cost applies to positions earning $75,000 a year or less, which includes 9 in 10 U.S. workers.

Yet, the Glassdoor study found that, though they are the most powerful hiring tool, employee referrals account for just 10% of overall activities that lead to a job interview.

The fact is, people who already work with you know the company the best, and know the best people to fill positions at the company. Add that to the lower-cost and higher-retention and it’s clear, referrals are the way to go!

 

Pacesetter Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary!

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This year Pacesetter celebrates 40 years of business, and what a 40 years it has been! When the company began in 1977, it was a different world. A lot has changed — the use of advanced technology, for starters — and a lot has stayed the same. We are, as then, a family company that is built on the principles of caring, sharing and giving. We seek to delight our customers with every interaction and be true partners with those whom with we do business. And our associates are still very much our advantage. We would not have gotten four decades, let alone one, without our associates commitment as well as that of our customer and supplier partners.

So today, as we look forward to the bright years ahead at Pacesetter, we also look back with fondness on our formative years as Pacesetter Steel Services Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. But there’s more to Pacesetter’s story than even the last 40 years. Without decades of passion and hard work even prior to 1977, Pacesetter would not be what it is today.

How did it all begin?

It started in the 1930s with my grandfather, Murray Herman. In Jersey City, NJ, he manufactured six foot long metal tape measures, flash lights worn on your wrists providing full use of your hands, and most importantly, razor blades under the brand new name Berkeley.

In 1938, Berkeley ran two page centerfold ads in the New York Times. They were the fourth largest selling razor blade company in the country behind Gillette, Schick, and Wilkinson Sword. Moving forward to the late forties and early fifties, my father, Al Leebow started designing, patenting and producing various closet organizers to create additional closest spaces. For advertising purposes Al created a mascot of the closet space savers, the mascot was a panda bear. Why a panda bear?!? The panda bear showed you to “x-panda” your closet. Remember that this was seventy years ago. These products included floor and door shoe racks, vertically hung skirt hangers, pants hangers, tie racks, and so many other space savers.

That’s a brief summary of how it all began!

What’s happened next? Stay tuned for more insight on our company’s storied foundation on the Pacesetter blog.

See below for a gallery of pictures from 40th Anniversary events from our HQ and service centers:

New Technology Depends on One of America’s Oldest Man-Made Materials

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From robotics to refrigeration, HVAC duct work to rail cars, steel is the primary structural support for innovative technology in a nearly endless list of applications.

Steel, the near-magic combination of iron and carbon, is one of the oldest working materials created and used by humans.

A timeline, courtesy of Worldsteel Association:

  • 13th century BC: Iron and charcoal come together: Early blacksmiths discovered that iron became harder and stronger when left in charcoal furnaces.
  • Roman Era: With war comes (material) progress. Imperial armies, including those of China, Greece, Persia and Rome, were eager for strong, durable weapons and armor. The Romans learned how to temper work-hardened steel to reduce its brittleness.
  • In 1709 coke (made from coal) is first used to smelt iron ore. Wood and charcoal were less efficient.
  • 1800’s: As farming in the US becomes larger-scale, demand for steel implements grows and drives innovation in steel. Increased innovation also driven by growth of railroads and shipping.   
  • 1850’s: The Bessemer process invented by Henry Bessemer. At the time, the best process for the mass production of steel from molten pig iron, before the development of the open hearth furnace. It enabled the removal of impurities from iron by oxidation with air being blown through the molten iron.
  • From 1875 to 1920 American steel production grew from 380,000 tons to 60 million tons annually, making the U.S. the world leader
  • Early 1900’s: Interests from Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab, and JP Morgan created US Steel in 1901. By the 1920’s Bethlehem Steel was a close 2nd in industry leadership.
  • 1969 marks a turning point: The integrated steel mills peak in employment; Inland Steel in ’69 had 25,000 employees; and Nucor is founded, starting the advance of the mini-mills surge in growth.
  • 2000’s – China far exceeds any other country in steel production. By the end of 2011 steel output there was over 680 million tons!

This brings us to today, with advanced high-strength steels made in the US and worldwide, and steel found in space age components, satellite dishes, and robotics. Innovation is the focus not just in IT but in steel also. Worldsteel Association says, “The industry is increasingly adopting a life-cycle approach to increase efficiency, re-use and recycling at every point of a product’s life cycle, from raw material extraction to recycling of end products.”

Heating up for solar, keeping cool in refrigeration, steel is there, and Pacesetter is a supplier of steel for manufacturers producing the durable, reliable systems used for food storage and display by mainline and high-end grocery stores.

Technology? Did you know that steel from Pacesetter can be found in the enormous HVAC units on the new World Trade towers? Also in the HVAC units on the sprawling Tesla factory in California?

Pacesetter’s Technical Services and Purchasing teams work closely with the major steel mills to be at the forefront of technology; to pass on knowledge, technologies, and efficiencies to Pacesetter’s valued customers.  

Pacesetter, like end-use manufactured steel products; is built to last!

 

New and Improved Technologies Electrifying the Steel Industry

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Steel, the near-magic combination of iron and just-enough oxygen, is one of the oldest materials created and used by humans. The first examples of steel tools date back 4,000 years.

But, while steel may be an old product (and industry), the technology used to process, move, track, and ship steel products is as new as it gets. At Pacesetter, we are committed to innovation and that applies ten-fold (or maybe even 4,000 fold!) to the technologies that allow our company, and our customers, to flourish.

These are a few of the best advances in the industry.

 

Automated Visual Inspection Systems for Defects

Surface defects in steel, no matter what the finish, are unacceptable. Visual Inspection, the inspection of an object’s surface to detect random defects such as scratches, tooling marks and dents among other issues, can now be handled with automated robotic systems. A robotic solution, with lights and sensors, sometimes cameras, and complex algorithms has multiple advantages.

Human subjectivity that can occur during a visual inspection is eliminated. Inspections cover 100 percent of the object- robots can go where the human eye can’t. Many systems offer information that is valuable feedback on the quality of the processing which helps correct any errors that occur. Finally, and most importantly, automated visual inspections reduce the possibility (no matter how slight!) that a non-conforming part will be shipped to a customer.

 

Automated Crane Systems

In steel manufacturing and distribution there is, obviously, a lot of steel moved around. Placing steel, and keeping track of where it is, is much easier with automated (computer controlled) crane systems.

When used appropriately, overhead crane systems that are automated can both streamline processes and make a steel production facility safer. Other advantages include reductions in labor costs, great inventory tracking capabilities, less damage and overall increases in productivity.

Farewell old-school forklifts!

Auto-ID Technology

RFID, or radio frequency identification systems, transmit the unique, identifying, serial number of a product wirelessly.

While RFID systems are also touted for reducing time and labor inefficiencies, the real benefit is the improvements to real-time data accuracy. The technology allows information to be shared with businesses across the supply chain, so the left hand knows exactly what the right hand is doing.

There are both passive RFID systems, which reflect radio waves that originate at the reader antenna back, and active RFID transponders, a microchip and antenna that’s placed on product and “read.”

Both active, which are often used on shipping container and similar large objects, and passive RFID systems, are used in order to provide tracking information in real time. Another benefit is that GPS technology can be incorporated in order to track goods and materials in transit.

 

Finally, the New and More Sophisticated ERP

ERP, system enterprise resource planning, provides an integrated and continuously updated view of core business processes. Using common databases, which are maintained by a database management system, a good ERP system will track business resources from cash to raw material, as well as the status of business-in-process including orders, payroll and purchase orders. The right applications means that each department (manufacturing, shipping, sales, accounting) can share data company-wide.

A few key areas that new ERP systems enhance, for most industries, is the ability to easily connect with outside applications and to generate and process transactions automatically– allowing staff to deal with just the exceptions. In our wonderful world of IT, countless numbers of new profit/efficiency enhancing products are available to enhance corporate needs, such as better shop floor capabilities, and tracking, as well as the analytic tools to help improve processes. Today’s ERP systems allow current staffing levels to handle more business, making companies more profitable.

As technology progresses we see more steel related businesses, from manufacturers to steel processors and service centers, adopting the new technologies that allow us to service our customers ever increasing demands.

Encouraging Collaboration at Work

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At Pacesetter, we do everything we can to encourage our associates to work collaboratively.

As businesses become more globally focused and cross-functional, collaboration among associates is even more critical. A recent Harvard Business Review report  even stated that “over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.”

But there are evergreen reasons as well. Collaborating energizes and empowers the entire team. Everyone is able to bring in different ideas, strengths, and ways to tackle challenges. With this new skillset, problems will be solved and probably in an even faster manner.

While collaborating in your own area is a great start, teaming up with different departments opens the door for even more possibilities. This helps erase the “us and them” mentality across departments. Once this is in motion, it encourages different areas to share information and cooperate with each other.

How can a company create a collaborative environment?

 

It starts with the leadership team.

It practically goes without saying, but leading by example is the best place to start. If management demonstrates open communication and creative, collaborative, problem-solving, then associates know that it’s a company expectation, not just lip service.

At Pacesetter, we have really put this into practice. Four weeks ago, I got together with a few of the other managers to go over an open project that we had. We had allotted an hour for this meeting, and about half way through, our conversation had naturally flowed to other areas that we could help each other out on. By the end of the hour we had come up with countless ways that we could improve efficiency and support other areas better. It was supposed to just be that one meeting, but because so much had come out of it, we decided to now meet every month so that we could continue to bounce ideas off of one another. We liked this idea so much that we decided to call ourselves Team 20 as our Pacesetter Way #20 is “Collaborate to Create Win/Win Solutions.”

 

Make sure the goal, or problem-to-solve, is clear.

Google, for years, has studied team dynamics. Most recently they’ve released results from Project Aristotle which compares high-performing teams to low-performance teams. One key point: clear goals were very important.

If a team doesn’t have a clear goal, how will they work together and accomplish anything?

 

Make sure associates have the requisite skill sets–and offer training if needed.

Often, associates and teams want to work together, but they can’t quite seem to get the collaborative dynamic in place.

A Harvard Business Review report (from 2007) showed that a number of “soft” skills were crucial to effective collaboration: appreciating others; being able to engage in purposeful conversation; productively and creatively resolving conflicts, and effective program management. The report suggests that training employees in those areas can make an important difference in team performance.

 

Support a sense of community through company events and office design.

Group events, whether planned like Pacesetter’s annual holiday party, or spontaneous like a team sitting down to lunch together, allow for fun, casual, encounters that foster better personal interactions during the standard work day. If a group of people can agree on pizza toppings and share the result, they are that much closer to negotiating tougher problems.

The design of workspaces–from adding a gym or a library to the office building to encouraging managers to have an “open door” policy–will also let colleagues interact in a more personal way that can help foster good relationships.

 

In the end, trust is key to collaboration.

Focusing on leading by example, building good communication skills, and supporting a sense of community will create a corporate culture built on trust, which paves the way for great collaborations.

The Challenge of Selling Prime Steel

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According to Frank Duncan, BS Chemistry:  Steel is an alloy and has no structural formula. It is composed of Iron (Fe) with small amounts of carbon (C).  This sounds very straight forward, so you would expect that if someone wants to buy prime steel it would be very easy to fulfill their request.  The truth is that the steel industry is very complex because steel has a multitude of characteristics.  

In order for the industry to speak the same language with regard to these characteristics, guidelines have been established by standards developing organizations throughout the world.  At Pacesetter, we generally order steel based on ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards; however, we may also place purchases based on other standards such as SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) in order to meet our customer’s specific requirements.  Simply purchasing steel produced to a specific standard, however, does not guarantee that it will be prime for our customer’s requirements since these standards define min/max levels and/or ranges, not specific values.   Factors such as the exact balance of chemicals added, the heat applied, the working of the metal, and the exposure to impurities as it goes through the steel production process can all affect the characteristics of the final product.  As a result, each batch of steel is unique, just like a person’s fingerprints.  These slight variations within each batch can affect the steel’s characteristics such as strength, formability, and appearance.

As an example, the chemical makeup and mechanical properties such as YTEs (Yield, Tensile, and Elongation) of a certain type of steel may work well for a customer when purchased from one mill but fail during their production process when supplied by a different mill.  This is due to each mill having its own methodology for producing steel that conforms to the ASTM specification.  You would, therefore, assume that buying steel produced by the same mill would guarantee that the steel would always be prime for the customer.  In reality, the same steel may start to fail during the customer’s production process simply due to a change in the customer’s equipment settings or the age of their machinery.  In these cases, we utilize our quality team’s expertise to find that perfect blend of steel characteristics needed to be prime for the customer.

One characteristic that is highly subjective among customers is their flatness requirement.  In many cases, steel with a slight edge wave is still considered prime.  In other cases, a customer may employ a lights-out manufacturing operation.  In that case, steel that has even the slightest wave can potentially jam in their equipment and stop production.  We therefore strive to understand our customers’ production processes and specific requirements upfront so that we can ensure that only prime material will ship to them.

Deciphering a customer’s expectations concerning what they consider prime steel can be challenging, especially with regard to the steel’s appearance.  Simple terms like ‘exposed application’ can for one customer mean that the steel will be visibly seen on the outside of a product that will be enclosed in a wall.  For another customer, it is the expectation that the steel be virtually flawless.  Even the ‘brightness’ of the steel’s finish can be a factor in whether a customer considers material to be prime or not.

There is a saying that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but in the steel industry this could be modified to be ‘prime steel is in the eye of the beholder.’  At Pacesetter, we strive to ship our customers prime steel each and every time.  To accomplish this, we begin with our sales team questioning and LISTENING to our customers’ expectations as well as their requirements.  For more complex situations, we also deploy our quality team to dive deeper.  The information that these teams gather is funneled throughout our entire organization so that everyone – whether in procurement, inventory management, or operations – knows the customer’s definition of prime steel and validates to the customer’s standard.

 

Creating the Ultimate Customer Experience

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Business and commerce go hand in hand, so in one way or another, all companies service a customer. While there is no denying that the quality of your product is crucial, there is no limit to the importance of servicing your customer. In order for a business to stand out among the crowd, it must emphasize on creating an exceptional experience for its customers.

At Pacesetter, we believe servicing the customer is of utmost importance. So much so that one of our core “Pacesetter Ways” is Commit to the Ultimate Customer Experience. This affects how we handle our decisions in the workplace, especially when it comes to interacting with customers. This “way” is revisited frequently so that it becomes more than just a value, but a guideline.

The Ultimate Customer Experience begins by recognizing that there is always room for improvement. This means optimizing every exchange your business comes in contact with.

Below are several tips that may help in creating your own Ultimate Customer Experience.

 

Be an expert

Expertise is one of the most paramount fundamentals in order to create the Ultimate Customer Experience. Your customer is putting trust in you to meet their needs above everyone else. This begins with knowing your product inside and out and being able to address any questions or concerns the customer has with ease.

 

Get to know your customers

Getting to know your customer is the only way to form a genuine lasting relationship with them. Be persistent in researching and investing in your customer. Understand their background and their strengths and weaknesses. Go over and beyond to recognize the customer’s needs, even when they cannot convey them.

 

Be respectful

Respect is the foundation of every strong relationship. Respecting your customer can be as easy as listening to them and valuing what they have to say. Providing the Ultimate Customer Experience should always make the customer feel respected rather than unappreciated and misheard.

 

Tailor your services

Never treat your customers as if they are all the same. Every customer should be regarded as unique and treated as such. One way to show your customers that you are willing to go over and beyond to meet their expectations is to offer flexible services and pricing options. By tailoring to your customer’s exact requests, you will never have to say “no” and cause them to doubt if you can handle their needs.

 

Give more than your competitors

There is no room for mediocrity in today’s competitive economy. One of the greatest assets you can possess in our industry is standing out amongst the crowd. A great way for a business to gain the upper hand is by studying their competitors and offering above and beyond what they do. For example, at Pacesetter we are more than a steel company. We act as advisors for our customers on every level, which in the end benefits both parties.

 

Get feedback — and give it!

It’s difficult to judge whether you are offering the Ultimate Customer Service. A great way to discover if you are best servicing your customer is to ask for feedback and ask for it often! Even though it may be intimidating to be open yourself to critique, it is the only true way to learn where your business is thriving and where there is room to improve. It’s hard to address a problem if you don’t know what the problem is! Good or bad, view feedback as an opportunity for growth. Be open to what your customers have to say and adjust your approach appropriately.

 

Remember feedback goes both ways. Give honest feedback to your customers about your perceptions. Compliment them when appropriate and help suggest ways they could improve. Viewing feedback as a two-way street can help boost your relationship, strengthen your trust, and – ultimately – create the best customer experience yet.