Ever have the idea for something you want to say or write about, but it’s just not fully formed yet?  I first thought about writing this blog a few weeks ago, but I just didn’t feel like I had a good handle on it.  As time has passed, events have happened that brought things into clearer focus for me.

Everyone in the working world seems to struggle to various degrees with striking the proper balance between work and life.  Whatever your “proper balance” happens to be is a highly individual determination.  In general, most people agree that work commitments get in the way of life commitments sometimes.  Trying to successfully fulfill both parts while neglecting neither is an exhausting but necessary exercise.  This week has been an epic example of this struggle for me.  Work and life commitments have made the last few days very long indeed.

Over the past few weeks, several friends and family of EXAIR team members have fallen ill with conditions that generally are not ever resolved successfully.  At times, it seems that there are not enough hopes, prayers or tears to go around to all in need.  Reminders of our universal mortality seem to come at every turn.  The latest reminder came last night.  My wife and I were at a hospice facility where her uncle peacefully passed away with his son at his side.  He was a two-time grandfather that unfortunately will miss his granddaughter’s birthday party next week.

As is often said, life is too short.  It’s too short to forget, even temporarily, about our loved ones and families while other things get in the way.  It’s too short to lose focus on the things that are really important while dealing with the mundane.

And it’s too short to ever assume that someday we’ll have the time to pursue our passion projects after we get our work finished.  “Someday” isn’t guaranteed to come.  What we don’t do today may never get done.

We all need to realize that we have choices to make in work and in life.  None of us can possibly do everything that we want or need to do at any given time.  Changing goals sometimes requires changing directions, and time is not always on our side.

With that in mind, we bid a fond farewell today to Gary Gunkel, our Marketing Manager for the past 14 years and an EXAIR team member for 22 years.  Gary hired me as an Application Engineer back in 1992 and was my first manager at EXAIR.  Gary was smart enough to recognize that “someday” isn’t guaranteed and that what you do for a living doesn’t necessarily define who you are as a person.  Gary has decided to pursue his lifelong love of music, combined with service and teaching, as music director for his church.  The change in direction and schedule will also allow him to attend to family matters that require his attention.

We had a brief gathering this morning to wish Gary our best with food, gifts, laughter and a few tears.  No amount of thanks will be enough for his contributions over the years and he will be missed.  He was a strong factor in shaping this company over the past 22 years, and for that we will be eternally grateful.  I hope to convince him to make a guest appearance from time to time.

Take some time today to think about the things that are important to you.  Give your friends and family a hug.  Enjoy their company.

And make every day count.

Bryan Peters

Who else gets excited about compressed air?

The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.” – Earl Nightingale

Since I have joined the EXAIR team, actually even before I joined, I realized something about everyone that I had spoken with from EXAIR.  That is, everyone that works here has a passion for compressed air.  Now I don’t mean to say that we all go home and dream about compressed air savings (Prof. Penurious excluded), but I also know that I am not alone when I say that compressed air seems to pop into my head at random times.  This is when I realized that compressed air is not only a work item for me but it has become a passion of mine. 

For instance, one of my first blogs I wrote here at EXAIR was on how to use an E-Vac to bleed your motorcycle brakes.  Granted this was based on my other passion of motorcycles but little did I know that I would start trying to figure out more and more ways to implement compressed air products or ways to save compressed air.  Because we have made compressed air our passion we do not just want to send as many units as possible whether they work for the application or not out the door.  We want to do our best to ensure the product that you order or that you aren’t sure about is going to work in your application and help to use your compressed air as efficiently as possible.   And if for some reason the product we help you select doesn’t suit your application as well as you would like you can send it back to us.  We honor a 30 day guarantee to test the products out.  This is yet another way for us to prove to our customers that we want to help them get the best solution for their compressed air application.  I mean what other compressed air company has someone like Prof. Penurious working for them?

I guess what I am trying to say is, because compressed air is more than just a job to us, we can help you to not just select the right product for your application; but also to see the value and the benefits to implementing an engineered nozzle or any of our products into your operation.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
Twitter : EXAIR_BF

Handling Customer Complaints

Many of us would agree that death and taxes are two things we will have to deal with. But if you are in a position of dealing with customers on a regular basis there is a third – you will have complaints, plain and simple. And as much as you take pride in your job and abilities, you will make a mistake sometime and it will cause a complaint. Understanding that you will make a mistake is a good start but it is what you do about it that the customer is concerned with. So to prevent you from drowning in the Sargasso Sea of niggling complaints, that is to say, to prevent you from being ineffective or concentrating on unimportant details when dealing with complaints, here are some tips…

1. Listen and Understand
Understand first that the customer is complaining because they have a problem, they didn’t contact you just to   complain about something. They may be angry or condescending or both. Listen to them and do your best not to interrupt. If you need to, ask questions to get a clear picture of the problem. Once you think you know the problem explain it back to them to get confirmation you understand properly.

2. Stay positive, Take Responsibility, Empathize
A complaining or angry customer who is communicating with a positive person will begin to realize they are dealing with someone willing to help them out and the problem will be taken care of. Maintaining a positive attitude also helps you respond positively and properly. Apologizing for any error(s) and letting the customer know you understand their dilemma will help prove to the customer you are responsible and capable.

3. Don’t Take it Personally
I must admit, this was always the most difficult thing for me. My immediate reaction was to defend the fort or dwell on it long after it was over. Recognize the customer did not call you to tell you about your mistake. They called because they have a problem. It is because of the problem the customer is angry. And sometimes folks can just be cranky for no good reason. You should focus on the problem, take it seriously and not personally. Trying to resolve a complaint with a chip on your shoulder is next to impossible.

4. Assure the Customer and Take Action
Assure the customer you can get the complaint resolved. Explain to the customer what you would like to do and get confirmation from them what you would like to do is acceptable. Once you have taken the action contact the customer again to let them know you have acted quickly and things are in place to provide a solution. If the customer was still stewing about it, you want to keep the stew time to a minimum.

So don’t abandon ship in the Sargasso Sea of complaints, stay on board and steer the ship toward a resolution using the tips above. You will be left with a customer who is confident they are dealing with a person and a company capable of handling things. And in many cases they next thing you will need to handle with this once complaining customer, is another order.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer

I’m an engineer, and I carry a badge (sometimes)

Have you ever thought you were getting one thing, only to wind up with something other than what you expected?  It might have evolved from a conversation that went something like this:

You: Hi there! I need a replacement widget model ABC123.

CSR on the other end: Okay, I don’t show that in my computer system, but I do show an ABC123-A.

You: Okay, will that still work?

CSR: Let me check…

At this point, you’re put on hold, and the CSR (wanting to expend as little energy as possible), spins around in their chair and asks the guy in the next cubicle.  He shrugs his shoulders and says ‘I dunno, probably.’  Which is promptly and courteously translated back to you as:

‘Okay, I checked with a senior technician here and those do interchange, no problem.’  But of course, when the part arrives to, it’s not even close.  Few things are more frustrating.

This is NOT how EXAIR operates.  When our Customer Service reps don’t know the answer, they get up out of their chairs, walk over to the Application Engineering department and ask.  And if the Application Engineers don’t know, they get up out of their chairs and ask someone who does.  Often times, that’s me.  If I don’t know, I find out.  My name’s Dan.  I work at EXAIR, and I carry a badge.

Okay, so I don’t normally carry a badge, but you can often find me with a calculator and pair of dial calipers in my hip pocket.  But this isn’t a story about me, it’s a story about you, the customer. 

Here’s the thing – when there is a living, breathing human being on the phone or a live chat-er that is waiting patiently for an answer, we drop whatever we are doing and find that answer for them.  Not just our best guess, but the only answer that means anything – the correct one. 

Why do we do this?  The simple answer is because it’s the right thing to do.  Sure, it’s good customer service too, but I’m willing to bet everyone here has their own personal reasons as well.  Maybe it’s because we’ve all received poor customer service at one time or another.  Maybe it’s because of the sense of duty that our customers deserve the right answer, no matter how much personal effort it takes on our part.  Or maybe, if you’re like me, it’s because there’s something wrong with you. Just an engineer’s inquisitive nature I suppose.  I want to help you get the answer you need, but I also want to find the answer because I want to know. 

So, next time you have a question about one of our products, please don’t hesitate to ask.  You’re not inconveniencing anyone, and you may just be helping a compulsively curious engineer!

Dan Preston

If You Think You Can or If You Think You Can’t – You’re Right

One of my favorite children’s story is  “The Little Engine that Could“. It exemplifies what can be achieved with a positive attitude and determination. In my senior years it bothers me that we have become a society of whiners with a proclivity to avert personal responsibilities.

The spirit that took our country from backwoods pioneers to a world dominate power in less than 200 years is waning away and along with it, our position in the world. The world used to buy american products because they were the most reliable and advanced. The tables have turned though.  Rather than our thinking that we could be competitive and having the determination to be so, we abdicated and shipped our industrial base overseas. This has been a windfall for the foreign economies at the expense of ours.

Our automakers who were once world dominant are in bankruptcy. Our textile industry was shipped off to countries supporting child labor. Our steel mills were sent to countries that do not have the environmental and safety regulations that we do. All because we thought we couldn’t and we did not have the fortitude to try otherwise.

Instead we have become a nation of whiners blaming everyone and everything else. We blame labor for high costs. Why is it then that the foreign automakers have plants in the US with american workers and produce a competitive product?

We blame government policies as being too restrictive on business. Be that as it may, doing business in other countries have their complexities as well.

The bottom line is if we are to regain what we have lost, it starts with ourselves. If you think you can or if you think you can’t you’re right!

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer


The Most Interesting Professor in the Tri State

Well the long, hot summer is drawing to an end here.  I know I haven’t written much during that time, but as you will see in the new video, I’ve been quite busy.  And before anyone gets into a long Lindsay Lohan/Professor Penurious comparison, I would like to just say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Des Moines Police Department, and am thankful that they have decided to drop all charges.  I’ll say nothing more on the matter and thank you for respecting my (virtual) privacy. 

While it’s true that my love for energy efficiency in compressed air products drives my high-profile, danger filled life, my skills set is far more varied than that.  Although my recent ban from the American Cornhole Association, has taken one of great joys of competing out of my life, my friends here at EXAIR still allow me to practice my craft at our company cookouts as I see fit.  And no one here has complained about my coup d’etat of the maintenance department to install more efficient, green light sources throughout the building.  

The most positive thing over the summer has been successfully developing my own personal logarithm. This logarithm, after much modification and number crunching, has declared me, Professor Penurious – The Most Interesting Professor in the Tri State Area

Stay Thrifty my Friends,
Professor Penurious

Does Heavy Duty or Professional Grade Just Mean a Nicer Sticker?

Have you ever gone into a retail tool store to look at a new set of wrenches, an air compressor, or a new power tool, and see two different grades, the standard which we are all used to and then the “Professional” or “Industrial” grade? 
In the past year or so I have tried several different “Professional” grade power tools and other items.  However, what I have found is, it often just means the product might have a little more chrome or black on it.   Maybe it is just a different paint scheme all together with some “professional” grade vinyl decals.  Well here at EXAIR all of our product lines begin at Industrial Grade and improve from there.  We do offer different levels of the same product but you get more than just a different color or sticker.
Now the difference between one stores vacuum, and their Industrial Grade Vacuum is normally just the color of the plastic, and almost always the difference in price.  You are for the most part just getting a different color product with maybe a difference in the warranty.  Here at EXAIR if you see a difference in the name it means you are getting a different product.  Not just a different warranty or decal.  For instance, if you look at the difference between our Chip Vac and our Heavy Duty Dry Vac it is more than just a name change.  The product itself is made out of a different metal, along with the amount of vacuum flow you can achieve with this.  This doesn’t include the facts that compared to electric vacuums our Industrial Vacuums don’t have any internal moving parts to burn up or go out, such as, an electric motor, or bearings, or even the impeller veins.  This is not just on our Industrial Housekeeping Products either; it’s across the entire catalog.
Now this does not mean you are getting any difference in quality either.   Whether you order a Standard Air Knife, or a 316 Stainless Steel Super Air Knife, it is all the same outstanding quality that we put into all of our products. 
Not to mention, we have our 5 Year “Built to Last” Warranty against any defects in workmanship and materials on all of our compressed air products.  Along side of the 1 Year Warranty that applies to all accessories and electrically powered products. 
So the next time you are thinking about buying a new “Professional” Grade vacuum from a store to use in your industrial application or even your home garage why not take a look into some of our products which all carry the same high quality industrial grade products along with if it says Heavy Duty it doesn’t mean you just got a different sticker.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer