I spoke with an injection molder recently who is quite proud of the fact that his company has received its ISO 9002 certification. He happily recounted his company's accomplishments overthe past couple years, then paused.
``Well, I guess all this isn't much,'' he said, almost apologetically. ``After all, we're not exactly an SPM.''
I hear similar laments from molders whose companies consist of less than 30 presses and whose sales hover around $10 million. Once I toured a very nice plant of a small processor who began the visit by saying, ``We're not a Nypro, but ...''
There is really only one Nypro Inc., only one SPM Inc. or Lacks Enterprises Inc. No molder should feel the need to apologize for not being one of these. Yet they do.
It's easy when you're a small processor to believe that the mega-molding companies are gods - that somehow they've reached a level of perfection that few ever attain.
There is no molder in the world that molds perfect parts 100 percent of the time. No processor has all happy customers all the time. To believe that is to fall for an illusion.
In reality, business is business. All molders confront problems, face challenges and cope with failures along with the successes.
And, the problems processors face on a day-to-day basis are pretty much the same. Only the scale varies, depending on the size of the organization.
Even the big players in the industry have their problems. After all, every company has its weaknesses as well as its strengths.
Successful companies learn to play off their strengths to compensate for their weaknesses. They find their niche: the thing that they do best.
Ask Gordon Lankton of Nypro, Mike Noggle of SPM or Steve Uhlmann of Tech Group. They'll probably tell you that life at $200 million in sales or $100 million in sales isn't much different than life was at $10 million or $20 million in sales.
Everyone can have a strategy, said Chuck Finkbiner, senior vice president of business development for SPM.
Everyone can and ought to find their niche.
``Niches are riches,'' Finkbiner said.
For those who are upgrading, getting ISO certified and looking to the large companies as the benchmark for what they would like their companies to be, congratulations.
You're on track. Be grateful for what you have, and continue to strive not to be an SPM or an Nypro, but the best you can be in your niche. And make no apologies for that.