In an aggressive initiative to meet customer needs, Conair Group Inc. (Booth S2649) has added a cross-functional systems team.
The Pittsburgh-based auxiliary equipment manufacturer made some changes in January and, the next month, established an Engineered Solutions Team with Gino Campagnolo as general manager.
The aim is to follow the voice-of-the-customer principle, teaming the correct people from the start of a project and creating a productive dialogue with the customer, Campagnolo said. EST is intended to deliver organizational depth, process expertise and defined procedures.
Conair recruited some market veterans, with an eye on understanding what customers are experiencing.
Conair rehired Bob Arsenault as automation application manager, a new position. He has worked with robotic systems and automation devices for nearly two decades. He started his career with Conair's service department and then worked for a Conair customer with multiple injection molding machines.
Arsenault noted that project management, especially in material handling systems, has always been part of Conair's service, but now the team approach is extending that mentality into every facet of a system job.
In further bolstering the team and adding specialized knowledge, Conair hired mechanical engineers Seth Adams and Darl Weckerly, project manager Stan Kujawa, designer Barbara Hannah and buyer Matt Brinker. Each has a strong background in the industry and qualifications to contribute to the EST.
Now, Campagnolo heads a team of 40 professionals. Globally, Conair employs 375.
Members of the EST have expertise in system quoting, computer-aided design, documentation, application engineering, project management, finance, site management, special-product design and execution, manufacturing management and purchasing.
The EST's core mission: eliminate delays, slowdowns and budget overruns.
Typically, suppliers such as Conair have designated one or two people to provide liaison services with a customer and consult with people in other departments as a project proceeds.
Now, as needed, Conair may assign seven or eight people for one program, with each individual having an in-depth understanding of expectations from the start.
``We are trying to make it easier for customers to deal with Conair,'' said Gene Flockerzi, vice president of sales. He observed that, in the past, some things were not well defined.
``If you look at every customer's plant in the field, every single opportunity is different,'' Flockerzi said in a telephone interview. ``We must treat everyone and every process differently.''
Conair aims to establish a process that can be defined and repeated. ``We want to handle these things for their uniqueness and get a better-defined scope of work from the first quotation,'' he said. ``Customers are short-handed. We try to help customers.''
Flockerzi said that, in his 17 years with the company, forming the EST was the single most positive initiative he had seen for improving Conair's system solutions approach.