“FRP is a unique material, and you have to understand exactly how you’re applying it,” says Troutman. “We develop characteristic design strengths for our customers and establish the relative mechanical and physical properties so they know exactly how their part will perform.” For instance, Creative Pultrusions designed a pultruded tube for one client, who also asked the company to develop accompanying design and quality standards related to their internal and external requirements. Creative performed three production runs, taking tubes off the production line and testing them to failure, then performing a statistical analysis to help the client draft its structural and quality requirements for the finished product. These requirements then become Creative’s production requirements.
However, Creative Pultrusions isn’t just concerned with product details; it prioritizes customers’ needs all along the sales cycle. “One way we record the voice of the customer – and make sure everybody within our company understands the voice of the customer – is by documenting it in our advanced quality planning (AQP) system,” says Troutman. “All relative personnel has access to the AQP and can pull it up whenever they have a question.”
At the beginning of each project, company representatives meet with the client and document every pertinent detail in the AQP system. In addition to design and manufacturing requirements, the system includes agreed-upon steps the company and customer will take if mishaps happen during delivery, a product sometimes gets scuffed or it needs to be repaired. “We try to prepare for all this upfront because it’s not a matter of if, but when something is going to get damaged during transit. We know upfront, based on the degree of damage, if the product will get discarded or repaired and how it will get repaired. ” says Troutman.
Another testament to the company’s commitment to customers is its tooling policy. “Whenever a client buys a pultrusion die from us, they invest in tooling for life,” says Troutman. “If the die wears out, we build a new one on our dime.”
Troutman cites one defining characteristic in Creative Pultrusions’ quest to put customers first – transparency. “Be transparent with both the positive and negative attributes of composites and how they behave,” he says. “Engineers want to design based on the positive attributes, but more importantly they want to know what can go wrong and how to overcome it during the design phase.”
The same principle holds true when a problem occurs. “People will respect you more if you pick up the phone and say, ‘We have a problem.’ When you do, you can show your customer how good you are at solving that problem and making things right,” says Troutman.