Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Heroic Struggle of the Little Guys

"Mural, auditorium, right rear, the heroic struggle of the little guys to finish the mural..." Mudhead, Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, The Firesign Theatre

Right now I'm in the middle of: 1) the multi-line, adjustable strip former project, 2) Shop and Home Supply, the eBay Store (finding products - , refining the interface, getting store traffic), 3) Upgrading our website and getting it to show up in th' dang search engines, 4) and trying to get some kind of respectable handle on marketing in general and internet marketing in particular.

Marketing can be a very frustrating thing. For one thing, we definitely want people to know that we have a fierce dedication to creating quality products for them and that we are a "reality based company" - i.e. we employ state of the art technology and procedures and work to our clients schedules and needs. Still, in many ways we're not a typical company. Though we have advanced capabilities and in-depth understanding of our industry, we're still a small enterprise with a family feel. And our attention to and support for each other extends to our customers. We know how to listen to them, to understand the context for what we're creating for them so we can focus on their most important parameters and maybe help them revise their designs for efficiency and savings. We have a lot to get across, and we don't have the resources of a megacorporation.

So, it's likely to take a while to get this all to jell. We need to get all this information technology that I, at least, don't understand yet, to support the mission of our production technology and expertise, and to help introduce us beyond the circle of our loyal customers and the referrals they give us spontaneously.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Our Silicon-based Partners and Buddies

Once upon a time, everything in machining was done by hand, or with precision manual tools operated by hand. Drawings for parts were drafted by hand in two or three dimensions as a basis for the ways machines were set up in the shop. Machines had to be repositioned for each hole or feature in a part. Things took time.

Businesses were also run "by hand" - all transactions were logged and filed, books and ledgers with columns of figures were laboriously filled out and kept in balance with repetitious arithmetical calculations. Letters were typed (before that, hand-scribed), carbon copies kept in filing cabinets, real-time communications became possible only with the miraculous invention of something called "the telephone." Stuff took time to happen.

If you wanted information on something, you had to research it yourself - either at the library (if you can find one anymore...) or by finding someone with the knowledge or resources to ask. It might take weeks to find a source if you had to go through a list of referrals or queries by mail. Now, you just open a browser (say, Mozilla) and click on your favorite search engine (say, the 800 lb. Gorilla), and, Presto!, one point two seven million hits for web pages created by people all over the globe sharing what they know with you RIGHT NOW. We were talking here just yesterday about how we can't really imagine doing things the way we did even a few years ago.

Here at Phoenix Precision Plastics, we use state-of-the-art cyber-tools to create the programs that run our CNC machinery (4 mills, a lathe with "live tooling," and a 5 by 12 foot high-precision router). We can accept drawings from our clients for quoting or for production in pretty much any electronic format (.IGS, .DWG, STEP, .DXF, .DSN, .CDL, .CSF, .FST, .NCA, .CDR, etc.). In many cases, we can save our customers significant expense by being able to translate their electronic files easily into the programs that run our machines. A single program and machine setup can run a practically unlimited number of features on a part, cutting the production time for a complex part from perhaps hours to minutes. These capabilities, along with our commitment to quality and attention to detail, translate into more, better, faster. And as the technology advances, we'll follow its development to provide our clients the highest, most cost effective service possible.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Blogging for fun and profit!

don't hover over me!

I decided to write this blog because as part of my bailiwick at Phoenix Precision Plastics it's my responsibility to begin to get our web page stats outta the bottom of the basement on the search engines. It was my bright idea to do a lot of the site in Flash because I'm a (wannabe) designer, and with Flash I can get a wicked cool look with a minimum of pain.

If we can't get found on the search engines, then the web site is only useful to people we send the URL to, generally people that already know about us, our dedication to customer service, engineering expertise, on-time delivery, and precision quality parts every time. Hopefully by presenting information of value to you on this blog, and linking back to our website we can start to make those search engine robot spiders happy!

Other than learning about what really works in marketing a small offline manufacturing company on the internet, my current project at Phoenix is helping John Donnelly, our President and Scott Dion, Production Manager, to build a large PGP (pretty good precision), multi-heat line strip former for parts we want to make two bends (this time around) on at the same time. To do this, John found some modular aluminum extrusions on the Web (FAZTEK) for building a strong, clean looking and adjustable frame, and we've been scratching our heads to figure out how to make this machine as simple and versatile as possible, and learning some counter-intuitive stuff about how to achieve precise and repeatable results along the way. Getting our clients what they need as efficiently as possible calls for many kinds of creativity.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Welcome to my new blog - My life in plastics

Hello - this blog is a place where I can talk about being part of the team at Phoenix Precision Plastics, Inc. of Santa Clara, California, the big-hearted little company with the fierce dedication to quality in all of its manifestations - our work, our relationships with our clients, our support for every member of the team, and our impact on the world at large.

Over time I'll be talking about all of these things, as well as challenges we face on the job, the particulars of creating high-precision plastic parts and assemblies, and the inner game of business and work life in 21st Century America. I hope you'll enjoy sharing the trip, and will chime in with your comments, always appreciated, as you feel so moved.