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Rotor Blog - A Day in the Life of a Retaining Ring
(As seen in Distributor’s Link Magazine, Summer 2005)

Monday, 8:30a.m.

Kelly Contrera was flipping out. Some wise guy internet hackers had clogged her e-mail box with "Hello. How are you today?" messages in multiple languages. There was even one in Swahili (she recognized it from a recent PBS special). This on top of seeing "Desperate Housewives" the night before. She was feeling a little desperate herself under the circumstances. It was 8:40a.m before she made her first cup of coffee. As she sipped it, the steam fogged the lenses of her glasses. She was just about to clean them off when the phone rang. "If you're havin' a good day, that's all about to change." It was Pete Johnson, All Ring Distributors, and Kelly's largest customer. "As a matter of fact, I'm not," she said squinting at no one in particular. "Good," Pete replied. "Then you can't blame me for makin' it a little rotten-er." Pete told Kelly he had an emergency RFQ. He needed fast quoting so that he could get price approval and place the order by Friday. "You gotta' come through for me, Kel. Our customer's lookin' at a line shut down. That's not good for either of us." "How many items?" she asked. "Six, but there's a couple of surprises. What's the fastest way to get it to you?" "Use our on line request for quote”, Kelly responded. "www.rotorclip.com. It steps you through the process so nothing is left out. That'll save us both time." "It's on its way." Kelly hung up the phone as she grabbed a tissue to clean her glasses and thought, "Oh, yeah, it's a Monday."8:50a.m. Kelly's e-mail box bonged as she maximized her Outlook. There was Pete's e-mail; he wasn't kidding about the urgency. She opened it up and found six line items: two were standard retaining rings Pete had purchased in the past. He was looking for a quote by the end of the day and the entire order drop-shipped priority Friday for a Saturday morning delivery to his customer. She looked up one of the standard parts (an HO-100 phosphate, stacked part) and saw there was stock. So far so good. Not so for the other one. It was showing a three week lead time. The other four parts involved special conditions. She was about to call Doris Long in quotations, when she noticed her at the coffee machine pouring a cup of the steamy stuff. Contrary to her name, Doris was a whopping 4' 8" high with a voice that ended each sentence in a high pitch shrill. She noticed Kelly looking at her. She tried not to make eye contact; after all, it was Monday and she hadn't had her coffee yet. Maybe if she closed her eyes, Kelly wouldn't notice her. "Hey, Doris." It didn't work. "All Ring has got a problem." "What else is newwwww," Doris's voice trailed off to a piercing pitch as she squinted at Kelly. "I'm shootin' a quote your way they need by the end of the day. Take a look and give me a call, I'll fill you in." "Greattt!" Doris poured her coffee and returned to her desk.

9:30a.m.

"Hey, Brad, Doris heeeere." Brad Rayberry, Rotor Clip Technical Sales Engineer, held the receiver a good three inches from his ear. Standard procedure while talking to Doris. "What can I do for you this fine Monday morning, Doris?" "All Ring’s got a quote here you need to take a look at. I'm loggin' it in and I'll email it to you, okayyyyyy?" Good thing Brad maintained that safe distance with the receiver. "Okay, Doris. I'll check it out." Meanwhile Kelly was on the phone with Lana David. "Got a hot one, Lana. All Ring needs HO-50ST HPD, heavy phosphate and oil, but I don't see any in stock." Lana was instantly pecking away at the keyboard looking for the part in question. "I see. But, it looks like we've got some in plain phosphate. How many do they need?" "100,000," Kelly answered. "Alright, I think we can convert the plain phos to the heavy phos and oil. When is it due?" "We gotta' drop ship to his customer Friday for a Saturday a.m. delivery." "I think we can swing that. Let me know as soon as possible. One other important thing, Kelly?" "Yes?" "Where we goin' for lunch today?"

11:30a.m.

Brad set out two blueberry muffins on a paper towel on his desk. He positioned them on the corner as he waited for Jerry Schrona, plant manager, to visit in response to a call he made earlier. Jerry lumbered up the stairs. In his younger days he would take them two at a time, but he gave that up after one of the young ladies in the office held the door for him one day. No sense in trying to show off. When he reached Brad's desk, the first thing he noticed was the muffins. Anything blueberry to Jerry was like donuts to Homer Simpson. "Are you gonna' eat both of those?" he asked Brad. "Of course not," Brad responded. Help yourself." He now knew he had Jerry's complete and undivided attention. "Jerry." Brad leaned a bit close into him. "Got a customer who needs to comply with the RoHS/ELV directives, you know, hexavalent free rings?" Jerry nodded as he took a bite out of the muffin. "What do we have?" "Trivalent finish," Jerry said as he smooshed the bite full of muffin to one side of his mouth." "I know, but trivalent costs more and his customer won't accept an increase. What else can we offer?" "Well, I know engineering has been talking about heavy phosphate and oil. They're also experimenting with a lower cost trivalent. I'd check with them." "Good idea," Brad said as he sat back in his chair. Jerry looked at Brad as he reached for the second muffin. "Say, you wouldn't happen to have any milk around here?"

1:00p.m.

After lunch, Kelly checked the status of All Ring’s quotation. She called Brad and he told her he was working on the E-75ST ZD that had to be RoHS compliant (hexavalent free). The fourth part was a military ring, cadmium plated (SH-100ST MCD), and the customer had some questions. "Can you handle that one with your customer?" Brad asked as he wiped off blueberry muffin crumbs from his desk. "It seems they want some assurances that the testing is legitimate. Can't be too careful these days." "Sure," Kelly answered. "What about the fifth part? He's asking for a crimp clamp and we don't make one." "Yeah, but his note says they're looking for a cost savings. Tell him about our clamps, they'd be perfect here. Get him to work with ‘You Know Who.’" "I'll give him a call…oops! There's my phone; I'll check back with you later." Kelly immediately hung up with Brad and answered her outside line. "Hello, this is Kelly. How may I help you today?"

1:45p.m.

"Trivalent is a good alternative to hexavalent chromium. It can match the 96 salt spray hours you get with zinc dichromate." Rob Sanders, Rotor Clip's Chief Engineer, was responding to a phone call from Brad. "Yeah, but the cost may be out of range. Jerry said something about heavy phosphate and oil." "That's right," Rob said. "Some customers are opting for HPD. You can get 72 hours of salt spray protection for a heck of a lot less than trivalent…even zinc dichromate, for that matter." "I guess it depends on the application." Brad scribbled a few notes on the pad in front of him. "Exactly. See if we can get a print. That way we can get an idea of the salt spray requirement and whether or not HPD makes sense." "I'll do that. Any other info on trivalent/hex free?" "Well," Rob paused as he collected his thoughts. "Rotor Clip is also experimenting with a less expensive trivalent process that would deliver 48 salt spray hours to white rust and 96, to red rust. This will give customers yet another option to meet the requirements of the directive at much less the cost. I'll keep you posted." "Thanks, Rob. Any other technical issues? "Yeah. Jerry said he got blueberry muffins when he came to see you this morning. How come I never get anything?"

2:00p.m

Hello, Pete? Kelly here from Rotor Clip." Hey, Kelly. How's my quote comin?" "We're movin' ahead. I wanted to ask you about your concerns on that military part, the cadmium plated one." "Oh, yeah." Pete started shuffling some papers on his desk. "Got this note from my customer. 'Make sure military certifications are conducted properly and that all the documentation is in order and available.' As we say in the military, we have to make him feel 'at ease.'" Kelly was quick to respond. "No problem, Pete. Our rings are certified to the military standard by an on-site government inspector. Ya' can't get better documentation than that." "Impressive. That should 'outflank' his concern. "Uh-huh." "If he's had any doubts, that should make him do an 'about face.'" "I agree," Kelly smiled as she checked to make sure there was stock available on the SH-100 cad plated ring. "Are there any more corny military puns I could throw at you?" Pete asked. "No, sir." Kelly caught herself. "I mean, well…you know what I mean…" "Roger that, Kel," Pete laughed into the phone. "Keep me posted on your progress."

2:45p.m.

Brad stopped by to visit Rotor Clip's purchasing agent, Nel Milo. A distinguished looking guy with taught gray hair and wire rimmed glasses, he was a throw back to the sixties. He kept a Xerox copy of a photo pinned to his cubicle wall taken while he was in college in 1969. It showed a young Nel with a Beatle hair cut, moustache and goatee. He wore blue striped bell bottom trousers and a T shirt that read "Born to be Wild" (someone long ago had crossed out the "W" and replaced it with an "M"). "Got this customer, Nel," Brad began as he eyed the man who had almost made it to Woodstock (when asked why he didn't go, Nel replied that he heard there weren't any indoor bathrooms). He wants a part, a reinforced e-ring, with a black epoxy finish on it." "Okay." Nel sat back in his chair. From that angle Brad could see the reflection of the afternoon sun on the bald spot just above Nel's forehead. It mesmerized him for a moment, but he snapped out of it. "He wants a cost savings and I'm trying to come up with an alternate finish that will still meet his salt spray requirements." "Why not try a dichromate finish?" Nel shifted his head, the light now reflecting from his John Lennon knock off glasses and acting like a laser beam directed at Brad. "No good," Brad say as he shifted in his seat narrowly escaping the deadly Milo ray. "This is All Ring and his customer is using this on an exterior assembly. It's gotta' look good." "Stainless steel," Nel said, a confident smile on his face. "As long as it meets the salt spray requirement, it should do the trick. And it looks great."Brad's eyes widened as he considered Nel's suggestion. "Not bad, Nel, not bad. I'll get the specs from the customer and see if it's doable."

3:30p.m

Kelly put a call into the engineer Brad had earlier referred to as “You Know Who." He was Rotor Clip's hose clamp guru, its "Clampus Maximus," the man who knew everything about self-compensating hose clamps, Burt Bando. "Hey, Burt. Got a customer who's looking to replace a crimp clamp with something less expensive. Brad thinks one of our clamps would work." "One of our clamps would certainly be cheaper, be cheaper," replied Burt. He had a habit of repeating his last couple of words, but Kelly and her colleagues were used to it. She hardly noticed. "Well, I have a drawing here; customer sent me a PDF. If we can meet the specs, maybe you can recommend something." "Sure, I can do that. And somethin' else. If his customer is using a crimp clamp, it's a one shot deal. You can only use it once. Ours you can install, re-install, install, reinstall…" "I get the picture," Kelly said cutting Burt off so he wouldn't get carried away with the repetition thing. "I'm e-mailing it to you right now, right now." "How come you're repeating yourself?" Burt asked.

4:15p.m.

Kelly double checked with Lana to make sure the conversion for the HO-50 from phosphate to heavy phosphate and oil could be made in time. "As long as I know in the next couple of days," was Lana's reply. She also heard from Brad who said Pete wanted to see the E-75 quoted with both a trivalent and heavy phos and oil finish to comply with the RoHS directive. His customer also agreed to see the RE-31 quoted in stainless steel instead of the black epoxy finish. Pete had conferenced Burt Bando in with his customer. Burt explained that a single wire hose clamp, the HC-21, would replace the crimp clamp currently used in his application and deliver a nearly 40% savings. The customer was impressed, even though Burt said goodbye twice. Everything was coming together. Doris had already started the quotation and was waiting for a few last minute details from Kelly to finish it. Kelly was about to e-mail her when the HO-100, to be quoted stacked, caught her eye. She picked up the phone. "Hello, Marcia?" "Yes?" came the reply in a low, playful voice, from Marcia Mallon, Director of Sales. "Marcia, HO-100. Do we offer it on wire?" "You bet. On wire, no tangling." Marcia was known for using as few words as possible, a rare trait in a sales person. "Best way." "Okay, now for the big question. The customer asked for it taped stacked. Is it the same cost if he gets it on wire?" "No way, negative no charge," came Marcia's response. "Uh, are you saying we offer rings on wire, basically stacked, at no extra charge?" "Bingo," was Marcia's typical one word response.4:50p.m Doris Long reviewed the quotation in front of her. It checked out so she e-mailed it to Pete Johnson, meeting the deadline with 10 minutes to spare. She copied Kelly Contrera, Lana David, Brad Rayberry, Jerry Schrona, Rob Sanders, Burt Bando and Marcia Mallon. She let out with a "Wowweeeee!" as everyone in the office (and any dog within 10 feet of the building) held their ears. The Following Friday - 6:30p.m Deana Denzel, Rotor Clip Customer Service Manager, just arrived home from work. She made a brief stop at Costco for a large bag of M&M's®. Since her husband had taken her two children out for dinner, she decided to treat herself and munch on a few of her favorite candies. She was tearing open the bag when the phone rang. "Deana, it's Billie." Deana was almost tempted to say, "Billie who?" but she instantly recognized Billie Smith, Rotor Clip's shipping manager. "Got a problem here," Billie continued. Deana unconsciously popped four M&M's into her mouth. "We got this important shipment for All Ring, Kelly's customer that has to go tonight for tomorrow a.m. delivery. "Uh-huh," Deana said as she popped another handful of candies into her mouth. "The customer designated a carrier, but he never showed. I just called and they don't have a record of the pickup…" Deana shoveled in another handful…."and they don't have a truck in the area." "Uhvoomfooomvuh." "Excuse me?" Billie asked. Deana realized she had a mouthful of M&M's. She chewed, swallowed, then started to speak. "Sorry. Uh, so the carrier didn't show up. Okay, is Kelly there?" "No, she was my first call. Somebody's got to get to the customer and I don't have the number." "Actually, I can do that. I'm connected at home for emergencies. I'll contact the customer and get back to you." Pete Johnson was upset when he heard the news, but grateful that Deana and Billie caught the problem. He gave her the number of another carrier. Deana relayed that info to Billie, who arranged for the pickup. Deana sat back, relieved. "Now, where's those M&M's?"

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