Management

CRM programs run the gamut

There are dozens and dozens—maybe hundreds—of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software programs on the market. And it seems that most are difficult to use. In terms of navigating the programs, many CRM packages seem to be rated along an arc of complexity, from user-unfriendly to totally impossible to use. One well-known program, Salesforce, is often …

Out of this world

Brent Anderson is a partner and engineering manager at Aerospace Fabrication & Materials, a Farmington, Minn., company that specializes in the design, fabrication and installation of Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) Blankets for use on spacecraft, launch vehicles and cryogenic applications. The company’s MLI blankets have been used on AMOS II and SCISAT I spacecraft as well …

When employees leave: fact finding

Mine the hidden resources of departing employees with a thoughtful exit interview. When it’s time to hire that new employee, you pull out all the stops: a complete review of duties and responsibilities, a tightly crafted list of desired skills and careful interviews. You make the hire—and hope that you’ve made the right choice. Now …

Person to person

Meeting face-to-face with overseas customers brings a wealth of benefits. I’ve been traveling to Asia, including China, since 1981, promoting U.S. products for more than 100 firms. One vitally important lesson I’ve learned is the value of talking with overseas customers in person. Face-to-face conversations with prospects and customers bring tremendous and unexpected orders—and they …

Keep moving

For most businesses, change is an essential part of long-term success. Ongoing innovation, in products, processes, service and value, is the best way to beat the competition. Innovation. It’s the essential ingredient in any company’s ability to thrive and stay viable for the long haul. Innovative companies are restless explorers, constantly searching for and testing …

Payroll perils

The Internal Revenue Service may be relentless about collecting income taxes, but mistakes in withholding and paying payroll taxes to the IRS can mean real trouble for a business. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be tough on collecting income taxes, but mistakes in withholding and paying over-withheld payroll taxes can be even more painful, …

Back to shore

Jeff Schmitt balances the reality of off-shore manufacturing with how to bring production back to the U.S. “At the end of the day we’ve got to figure out ways to be competitive,” says Jeff Schmitt, senior vice president of operations for The Coleman Company Inc., Golden, Colo. “As the person responsible for both the U.S. …

Tapping into innovation

Innovation doesn’t always come easily, but creating a culture that fosters creativity can improve the process (and results) of continuous improvement. Every company knows that innovation is vital, but knowing how to innovate is a different matter. Why are some companies able to launch one new idea or product after the next while others stagnate? …

A six-letter word

Fabricators take a dim view of extending credit to customers … sort of. On the surface, it seems like a slam-dunk decision for a shop not to extend credit. “Let’s see, when you write off thousands and thousands of dollars—maybe even $100,000 over the 30-year life of the company—you start to think about giving anybody …

Charting a course

Incoming IFAI board chair Katie Bradford takes the helm, using business expertise and networking know-how to lead the association. “I believe good leadership encourages participation and embraces differences,” says Katie Bradford, MFC, IFM, incoming chair of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) and owner and president of Custom Marine Canvas, Noank, Conn. “IFAI membership is …