That’s the approach taken by Owens Corning. “We are focused on delivering products that exceed customer expectations and helping customers make more money and earn more share,” says Kimberly Howard, vice president and general manager of OC Glass Reinforcements Americas and a member of ACMA’s Board. “This can only be done by listening to customers and understanding the attributes they value in a product line.”
The company recently launched a new gun roving product to meet customer requests for faster wetout, good lay down, easy rolling and good conformability. Those features, in turn, should allow Owens Corning’s clients to be more productive and make more money.
Ershigs, a manufacturer of corrosion-resistant FRP products and services, employs a similar strategy. Twenty years ago, President Tom Pilcher attended a business management development program where he heard a valuable message. The speaker used an analogy, encouraging salespeople to think of themselves as physicians trying to diagnose their patients’ – or customers’ – pain.
“By asking the right questions, probing and listening to where the customer’s pain is coming from, I could then understand whether I had a prescription to offer that could address their pain,” says Pilcher, a member of ACMA’s Board of Directors. It allows him to develop a better prescription – or product – if necessary. In addition, Pilcher says, the approach has been beneficial “on a much broader management basis in dealing with not only customers, but with employees, suppliers and company stakeholders.”
Howard adds that listening carefully to customers has some great trickle-down advantages. “An added benefit of this listening skill is the connection it can make between you and others,” she says. “It creates empathy, builds relationships and forges alignment.” And those can certainly set a company apart from the competition.
“Hire smart people – smarter than you – and don’t be afraid to pay to retain them.”
– Matt Chambers,
president of JRL
“We are all in the people business. It doesn’t matter what product or service you sell: You have to sell yourself first.”
– Kevin McDonald,
PPG Fiber Glass
“Make sure you have the right people in the right place and most of your problems will take care of themselves.”
– Lori Luchak-Olund,
Miles Fiberglass & Composites
“There are three types of people – problem makers, problem identifiers and problem solvers. Fire the problem makers, train the problem identifiers to become problem solvers and promote the problem solvers.”
The R J Marshall Company