President's Corner: The Elephant in the Room
Compared to ongoing problems with our supply chain, we got through the first few waves of COVID easily. We were “on time” for the first 14 months of COVID, miraculously, with technicians working incredible hours and our plant in Lengerich churning out equipment. Our “forward thinking” Purchasing Group had built up our backlog of raw materials and crucial componentry, with the hope that it would suffice in any situation.
Stockpiling components can only cover you for so long however, and as drives, electrical components, UL cables, electrical cabinets and circuit boards dried up, we were at the mercy of the world’s limited supply. While most customers acknowledge that W&H has done much better than our competition, we typically gauge ourselves against our own expectations, and those of our customers. It is not enough to simply be better than the competition.
I can only say, on behalf of our whole company, that we are sorry to have disappointed you. We are sorry that we have not lived up to our promises, or your expectations. You have been patient, and we have let you down. It is not our fault, but it is our responsibility, and we will continue to work hard to regain your trust and faith in us. We have incurred massive costs to supply our customers with the necessary components to get their machines running, and yet we still fall behind in our expectations of ourselves. We are W&H, we go the extra mile, which is why customers rely on us.
Impressions from K2022
Meeting with longtime customers after K, I was overjoyed with some of the reactions we received. Across the board, customers were stunned at how many amazing new developments had been done since the previous K. Not only did we show a running line (unlike most of our competitors), but the creative genius of Torsten Schmitz and his extrusion team, introduced developments that have clearly set W&H apart from all competition.
The common international lament from customers is that talent and operators continue to be difficult to find. W&H’s efforts to automate certain features in order to remove that “expertise” from an operator’s job description and make the blown/cast lines “easier” are revolutionary. Granted, these efforts remove some of the “art” of extrusion, but they address real world problems and increase consistency and reproducibility.
Replacing operators with technical advancements has never been the goal … it has always been about creating consistency and repeatability. Even the very best operators occasionally forget something … the % of an additive in the hopper, inserting the trim blades, setting the correct temperature in the extruder … there are hundreds of things that must be remembered. If we can help take some of those factors into account, it allows them to focus on the critical part of their job, namely, to make excellent, consistent product.
Javeed Buch - Goodbye to a trusted colleague and friend
As many of you may already know, our Senior Vice President, my longtime colleague, Javeed Buch, decided to leave W&H. After 26 years with our company, the only employer he has ever known, Javeed has decided to try out a new opportunity, that he felt was just too good to pass up.
Javeed started with W&H in India at age 22, fresh out of school, having received his master’s in electrical engineering. As required at the time, he learned German and was sent off into the world as a Multiwall Technician. We “stole” Javeed a few years later and he quickly climbed the ranks, his smarts and business acumen, not to mention his “customer-first” attitude, making his eventual leadership at W&H a forgone conclusion. Javeed became a trusted confidante and friend whose advice I constantly sought out. As difficult as it is to lose someone like Javeed, we have a strong core of dedicated, loyal, caring professionals, committed to our company, who are eager to take this opportunity to grow the company even stronger. Few people realize that W&H has been selling in the United States for over 120 years, which HAS to make us the longest tenured machinery supplier in this industry.
We are fully committed to the North American market, the biggest and most successful in the W&H Group and will take whatever steps necessary to support our new and longtime customers.