Innovation Is Everywhere

“There’s a way to do it better—find it.”
— Thomas Edison
“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”
— Edwin H. Land

These are two inspirational quotes from great innovators of our history.  They constantly thought outside of the box and outside of what had been working for them for years.  I found these quotes after a cookout at a friend’s house this past weekend.  We (The 2 fathers) were sitting on his patio talking about motorcycles and other daily life, watching his 3-year-old son play on his play set and in the yard.  Of course his 3-year-old would bounce from playing cars and monster trucks in his sand table, to crawling through a tent like it’s a cave.  All of a sudden he goes down the slide and when he gets to the bottom he walks to us and asks his dad if he can make the slide faster.  
Not totally understanding what was going on I sat and watched as my friend went in the house and got out the Pledge furniture polish and sprayed down the entire plastic slide on the play set.   His son couldn’t wait for him to get done wiping it down.  It was like watching a car line up at the drag strip.

 He couldn’t wait to get that green light.   Once his dad was done he was on his way down that slide.   While it did make the slide slicker I felt that we could still get him going down the slide faster. 
This is where the brainstorming started.  I started asking my friend what all he had tried to apply to the slide.  He had stated they tried washing it down and then drying off which did nothing; he said they applied about 8 coats of car wax.  Still nothing worked as good as the furniture polish.   I asked him if he had tried Armor All.  He said no that he hadn’t tried that yet.  Well I learned the first time I washed my motorcycle that Armor All and a seat do not make a good combination when you want to stay still.  So he went into the garage and got the closest thing he had to it.  Next thing we knew his son nearly flew off the slide he was going so fast when he hit the last hump in it.   While he was still playing safely and it wasn’t fast enough to do any serious damage, he was astounded that he could go so fast. 
While we don’t have a slide here at EXAIR (although we should) we do constantly think of ways to innovate or create new products, or make improvements on existing ones.   This is how we have been able to go from a 48 page catalog to a 180 page catalog that is constantly being expanded and changed.   We don’t depend on any one person to come up with all of our ideas either.  Anyone who is an employee at EXAIR is permitted to submit ideas for ways to better our product or for new products.  While other companies stick well within their comfort zone of one or two product lines.  We are constantly traveling into new areas and expanding existing ones. 
This is just one more reason that we have been able to help and serve all of our existing and new customers since 1983. 

 Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com

Always Do Right

Always do right.  It will gratify some people and astonish the rest” is a quotation from Mark Twain hanging in my office.   I first encountered this quotation several years ago when my son, in a last-minute rush to complete an English assignment, needed a quote to write a paper about explaining its meaning to him.   He got a good grade on the paper and I got the quote.

The Customer Service/Order Entry group at EXAIR Corporation operates by this creed.  We have a dedicated group of Customer Service representatives who work very hard each day to “Always do right”.  They serve a variety of customers – both external and internal.  They are the first voice you hear when you call EXAIR.  We do not have automated call answering at EXAIR during the hours of 8 am to 5 pm Eastern Time.  You will always get a live person answering your call – sometimes more lively than other times, I do admit.  If your party is not available, we will offer voice mail or take a message. 

The Customer Service group processes all orders received – either by fax, email, web or telephone.  They are interacting constantly with our Application Engineers, Production Department or Shipping Department.  They deal with a lot of customers throughout the day from all types of industries.

Their goal is to satisfy every customer’s request in a timely and efficient way.  Recently, a customer called in a rush order after all ground freight carrier pick-up deadlines had passed.  He needed some EXAIR product on his floor on Monday morning.  One of our Customer Service reps took his order home with her. She came back to the shop on Saturday afternoon and met the carrier in our parking lot for their 2 pm pick-up appointment.

Give us a try.  Check out the rest of the website and see if we can “Always do right” for you.

Bob West
Chief Financial Officer
bobwest@exair.com

Today Was Not A Good Day

Today was not a good day. I had to fire someone today.

A customer called this afternoon about a shipment that they were expecting last week. It had not yet arrived at their location. Turns out it was a pretty simple problem. The customer specified the wrong address for the shipment and UPS dutifully delivered the package to that address as directed and on time. We explained the problem and promised to contact UPS about the shipment and then call the customer with a resolution.

We’ve all had situations where customers were unhappy for reasons beyond our control. It isn’t something that anyone enjoys, but it happens sometimes. As we always do at EXAIR, we took responsibility for finding a solution even though we didn’t create the problem.

Unfortunately, the customer was rude, obnoxious and profane to both our front line customer service agent and our Customer Service Manager. As luck would have it, both our CFO and I were close by when the call came in and we overheard the entire exchange from our side. Our people were calm and professional even when the customer was not.

After the call, we were able to sort out the details for a replacement shipment that we are sending at no charge. I personally called the customer to let him know that we would ship a replacement order overnight at no charge.

And then I fired the customer.

He refused to apologize for his unprofessional conduct and I had no other choice.

Our people are professionals and they handled the situation correctly.

And they deserved better.

Today was not a good day.

Bryan Peters
President
bryanpeters@exair.com

A Winner Every Time

Sounds like a good phrase doesn’t it? “A winner every time”…

Unless you’re me last week, stepping into the Warren County Fair – smack dab in the middle of the midway with three kids in tow. “A winner every time for the kids Dad”, shouts the carnival barker. Now hear this: my kids have a total of six ears between them, the haven’t heard me tell them to brush their teeth once in their entire lives. But say something about a free KISS mirror if you pop an under-inflated balloon with a dull dart for a mere $5.00, and its like God has spoken to them. It’s not a phrase I want to hear, it’s too good to be true. We all know that the jumbo KISS mirror is the final prize you can get if you pop 22 balloons (in a row, with no misses) with each additional dart at 5 bucks a pop until you have exceeded the value of the mirror by 1700% (not that you could ever really place a value on any carnie’s mirror). Not exactly my idea of a winner.

Believe me, if I could get EXAIR to give away the finest silk screened KISS mirrors with the purchase of a Chip Vac, I would. But we traditionally run a promo which gives away a Vac U Gun – something of value, something useful, and something we don’t think you’ll mind winning (getting for free).

So we scurried through the crowd to reach the exposition hall where America at its best is on display; I seriously love a good county fair. One of my favorite spots is the Ohio DNR booth. I picked up the latest map showing every wildlife area in the state, a great resource for weekend hiking excursions. My boys grabbed the wetland slough ecosystem poster and a sport fishing identification booklet. This book identifies 42 different sport fish of Ohio. It confirms my non-status as a sports fisherman as I have caught 4 of the 42; bluegill, small mouth bass, sunfish and crappie – all out of the same farm pond; have I said I enjoy hiking?  A quick grab of the annual Wild Ohio Kids magazine and we were off.

Of course you can get all the hometown information as well. We took some fans and a “magic gripper” to help with those pesky jar lids from the Warren County MRDD. The kids played Warren County Sheriff Plinko and they scored carabiners and sterile bandage holders, each labeled Warren County Sheriff Department. We spoke with a 4H representative as my kids could hardly contain themselves, I am certain we will soon be raising rabbits and/or chickens. There are always booths with the latest kids fads and toys, non clogging gutters, water filters, fudge and career center information. The ministries folk are also well represented, people doin’ God’s work. Based on the appearance, language and even smell of the crowds – they were in the right place.

Once you’re inside EXAIR’s website you’ll be in the right place too. The right place for saving compressed air energy, lowering noise levels and air consumption, and for increasing safety throughout your operations. You can pick up everything from the tiniest engineered air nozzles to a huge 8″ Super Air Amplifier. You will find compressed air optimization and electronic cabinet cooling systems.

So we made our way out to the main attraction as far as the kids were concerned, the animal barns. It was a hot day, REALLY hot and humid, 96 degrees that day. I haven’t mentioned it because every time I think about the swine barn at about 100 degrees I get a sudden onset of nausea. Not pleasant to say the least, but I do enjoy the rabbits and chickens, horses, llamas and alpacas. Wait a second, the llama and alpaca barn? The all-American barn of South American, high altitude Andes dwelling pack animals bred for their heartiness and wool? Yes that’s right llamas and alpacas have held a place at the Warren County fair for years now, it’s another sign of the American way of life – if you want to raise alpaca and llamas, emus or ostrich – do it, but don’t forget to get ’em in to the fair for the chance at a blue ribbon! It’s evolution of the American county fair from cows and horses to alpacas and llamas.

EXAIR’s first printed catalog had 48 pages and 9 product sections. Our current catalog has evolved to 160 pages and 14 product lines. We continue to want to manufacture more compressed air products and offer you one place to get them all, so we do. We have even received many “blue ribbons” (Plant Engineering Awards) of our own.

We were all very hungry at that point, how couldn’t we be after spending so much time near multiple versions of 100 degree scat? We sped off in different directions with plans to meet back at the eating tent. When we convened once again we had 1 foot long corn dog, 1 blooming onion, 1 order deep-fried mushrooms, 1 slice cheese pizza, 1 sirloin tips dinner, 1 lemon shakeup, 2 mountain dews, 2 waters and 1 thin wallet. We went back for two elephant ears and headed off to the tractor pull.

There we soaked up the power and adrenaline created only from multiple V8’s strapped to a highly modified John Deere. After a few pulls it was time to go, but not before handing off our Warren County MRDD fans to a couple of ol’ boy’s trying to cool themselves with their baseball hats. And throughout these things at the fair we always run into old neighbors, boy scout parents, basketball parents and friends we have made during our years in Warren County, Ohio. Another winning night at the fair.

And during my years at EXAIR I have learned the winning part of the equation is our relationship with the customers. We enjoy getting new customers and helping them accomplish goals. We recognize maintaining our current customer’s satisfaction at high levels is important and we are always happy to hear from old customers who have come back with a new challenge. Yes, it is a lofty goal but what we want is a Winner Every Time.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer
kirkedwards@exair.com

Oil soaked waters, absorbent oil booms and static?

Unfortunately, images like these have become and are still becoming an all too common sight for areas in and around the Gulf of Mexico. It appears that BP and the government have regained control of the blown out oil well. Focus will obviously be shifting to the huge clean-up effort under way.

With this in mind, companies who make the oil containment and absorbent booms are ramping up production to be ready for the increase. One such manufacturer contacted EXAIR recently for help in solving one of their production problems.

The absorbent material gets blown into a long, sock-like, structure through a 4 inch diameter hose. The absorbent material is polypropylene which is also a non-conducting material. As you can imagine, when you blow a non-conductive material through a hose that is also non-conducting, you end up with a rather large static charge that causes tremendous feeding problems. Material becomes bridged inside the hose and blocks the flow which stops the filling process.

The customer was looking for a reasonable way in which the static could be kept to a reduced level so that the process could run, un-interrupted, for as long as needed to meet the new, higher demand. The production engineer involved knew that EXAIR provides a variety of static elimination solutions for industrial applications and so he contacted with us to discuss the options.

Once I had an understanding of what he needed, I was able to recommend use of (4) Model 7199 Ionizing Points and (1) model 7940 Four outlet power supply to create an ionizing collar that could be mounted in-line with the existing 4” hose to supply the needed ions to keep the inside of the production hose static free. Note: the customer did have to make their own conductive collar to ease mounting of the Ionizing points into the conveying line, but that was a small matter due to the problem being such a difficult one to solve any other way. An “ionizing collar” would be what I would call a conductive piece of pipe large enough to fit into the existing conveying line and which has holes drilled and tapped into its side to accommodate mounting of the Ionizing Points.

Before I continue, you might ask, “Why didn’t they try static dissipative (conductive) hose?”. They did, and soon found out that while there was a small improvement due to the conductive nature, it still was only a passive means for static reduction. There was so much static being generated that the customer needed an active system like the Ionizing Point to keep static out of the filling hose completely.

The customer was able to install their static eliminating collar, with Ionizing Points, into the fill line and run production smoothly, without having to stop to clean out the fill hose every 10 minutes. The solution was so successful that the customer is going to make more units to accommodate their other 7 filling lines.

Hopefully, the story with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will have the same good ending as did our customer’s application story and we can all return to our wonderful, pristine beaches again.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

Say What You Can Do and Do What You Say You Can

These are words  given to me by an elderly neighbor friend from my adolescent days of mowing lawns. They have resonated with me throughout my years and has proven to be time-tested advice.

I recently read an article from a marketing consultant that claimed there is a paradox between what you promise and what you can deliver. He claims that If you promise very little, you don’t get a chance to deliver because I’ll ignore you. And if you promise too much, you don’t get a chance to deliver, because I won’t believe you.

I really do not see a paradox but a metric to measure your ability to serve your market. If you promise only what you can deliver and it is not good enough for your customer, then your services are not robust enough to serve that market. You need to improve to meet the challenge.

As for promising too much how can you do that if you only promise what you can do? If you can do it, let your customer know why you can and with examples of what you have done. If you both are confident that it can be done then it is a sale.

I had a mowing customer that needed her property line cleared of overgrowth. I wanted the job but not having a driver’s license I could not haul the refuse to the dump. I could have told her I could do the job but her knowing that I did not drive she would not have believed me and not given me the job.

I stuck to my mantra of say what you can do and do what you say you can do. Since what I could do was not good enough, I hired a friend with a pick up truck to haul the stuff away.

I asked for the job and told her how I would tackle it. She and I were both confident with the arrangement and I got the job.

Lucky for me I found a company to work for with similar work ethics. When you call in  for technical assistance, we application engineers drawing upon our experience, will share with you what will and will not work for your application. On those situations where it is questionable, we will tell you so. Then EXAIR will back it up with a an unconditional 30 day guarantee. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the results you can return it for full credit.

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer
joepanfalone@exair.com

Can You Hear Me Now?

No this blog isn’t about a cell phone commercial, it’s about an application call I received this past week.  The call was from a customer that is trying to do an audit on his facility.  This was not an air audit to find all the leaks or an energy audit, but a sound audit.  The customer ran a production facility that had a regulation implemented to reduce all noise levels to 85 dBA or below.  They had purchased several engineered nozzles and air knives from us but still had open pipes and other devices in their system that they were unsure of the sound level produced.  What I offered to the customer was our Digital Sound Level Meter

 

The DSLM will measure sound levels from 35dB – 130dB and has a frequency range of 31.5Hz – 8 kHz, it is also NIST Certified.  The unit is used to monitor what sound levels you may have at your operator stations to make sure you are not exceeding the OSHA maximum allowable noise exposure or to find out if one blow off operation is in fact louder than another. 
With the unit in hand the customer was able to perform his sound audit and discovered that some non engineered nozzles that he thought were under 85 dBA were in fact louder and exceeding his requirement.  These nozzles were all removed and replaced with EXAIR nozzles that meet or exceed OSHA requirements.
The DSLM also allowed him to determine which of his operators were going to be required to wear hearing protection and those that were not.  The company now performs a monthly check on all of their systems to ensure nothing has changed and that none of their equipment needs replaced.  They also send their DSLM to us once a year to have it recalibrated and certified.
All in all the Digital Sound Level Meter can save employees hearing and help you to make sure that your nozzles are all performing at the sound levels you think they are.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com

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