Today we continue our latest blog series offering a peek into the daily lives of IQMS’ directors. From human resources to testing and training to development, meet the key department leaders who are molding our company’s future and continually advancing the EnterpriseIQ ERP and MES software.
Meet Neil Gow, Director of Manufacturing, who has enjoyed a career in the manufacturing industry for more than 30 years.
Tell me a bit about your department, Neil, as well as your day-to-day activities as a director.
My department is responsible for two things: The first is we take care of the company’s shipping and receiving. The EnterpriseIQ update DVDs are probably the product we ship the most, but we make sure any RMA fulfillment is taken care of as well.
Then there’s the manufacture of the RealTime products, which includes the RealTime wired and wireless production monitoring and the RTStation 7 and 10.1s. It also includes some of the customized automation equipment, as well as new projects. In summary, we handle the manufacture and assembly, and the packaging and shipping of those products.
The major amount of my time is spent helping the customers when they receive their RealTime hardware with questions such as how do they connect it, what are some of the challenges and hurdles that they might face and just helping them feel comfortable with the equipment. Part of my job is to have a conversation with them and make sure that we are really talking apples to apples as far as what we are trying to accomplish and the equipment and infrastructure needed to get there.
I think that for them, my philosophy is kind of the low hanging fruit. Let’s get the easy machines hooked up because once the customer gains this sense of understanding, then there’s this domino effect – it just translates to all their machines and equipment. There’s an “ah hah” moment where the guy goes, “I get it,” and now they are empowered to just blaze through it and get it installed. It’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about talking to people. If I can help someone get to a point where they can now realize the benefits of what the company has invested in, then it’s a huge plus.
In addition to new customers, we may have a customer we have had for 10, 15, 20 years, and they are getting some new equipment and the equipment they had 10 or 15 years ago was connected differently and the newer equipment is new to them. I also help them with how to do this.
We have been offering our RealTime products since 1993. With all of these installations, have you noticed any tips you could pass along to your readers?
The most successful installations that we have, regardless of RealTime, are the ones where upper management is completely involved. The worst ones that we have is when upper management says, “Hands off, you guys take care of it.” Because unfortunately, that message has an underlying hidden footnote that can be received as, “I don’t care.” So the middle management and other folks go, “Hey, I am too busy doing another job, this new ERP thing can wait.” But when the owner says, “I’m involved. Where we at? How are we doing?,” then employees know he cares.
Neil, you are very involved in the progress of our second corporate building. How is it coming along?
We are at lightning speed. In the last week and a half, it has jumped exponentially in how the pace is. Things are moving really, really quickly - they are framing internally and the skin is going on the outside of the building in sections. In fact, there are multiple contractors working simultaneously so it’s almost as if five or six individual projects are going on at the same time in the same building. It’s pretty exciting. You can stand in the building now and see the offices and understand what the hallways will feel like.
Standing in the conference room the other day, I thought: There are houses smaller than this. We’ve been very generous with our spacing, but I think that helps with the look and feel of our employees. We are not sardines in a can. We are comfortable and so we are happier. Our biggest challenge thus far is the scope of the work has had to grow because our growth plan is a little bit slower than our actual growth. So we are building out sections that we were not going to before, but our completion date still looks achievable and we hope to be done by the end of November.
Are there any memorable experiences that come to mind when you think about your years with IQMS?
I think one of the things that is unique and memorable is the quality and class of people and the attitude of IQMS. We are all very high active kinds of people. There aren’t any really lazy folks here; they just don’t last if there are. I think that comes from Randy and Nancy [Flamm, owners] themselves. For 30 years of knowing them, I have never known them to sit still. That’s just the way it is.
By interacting with IQMS customers on such a regular basis, you are really in tune with the current pulse of the manufacturing sector. Any common trends you are seeing for 2013?
Technology is so fast. It really has become if you have an idea, it can become a realization. And it can happen so quickly that there really isn’t anything shocking or surprising anymore. It never surprises me when we come up with a great idea or a customer has a request and we go, “How are we going to do that,” and within a couple of hours of discussion, we have an answer.
But as far as trends go, I think that virtualizing, reducing equipment and centralizing, as well as providing multiple employees access to information, is amazing. The incorporation of our Android technology in tablets and smart phones really starts to open up ideas about how you can do things on the shop floor. All levels of employees now can be really involved. There no low level guy that just does a menial job - they actually can be part of the process of how things go and access information. The idea of automation scares some people because they think somebody’s going to be out of a job, but I think automation creates jobs. It frees you up to do other things at a different level, so now there is growth in positions and opportunities for people to move on and be better and greater at what they do or even do new things.