Banner
Face Time

Meeting complex specs

As customers demand tighter tube tolerances, mills mustn’t lose sight of service

MM-1213-facetime-leadDecember 2013 - Maruichi Leavitt Pipe and Tube is a small company doing big business. In 2008, Japan’s largest steel tube maker, Osaka-based Maruichi Steel Tube Ltd., acquired and refocused Chicago-based Leavitt Tube Co. With the new parent company came the installation of new mills. With increasingly complex customer specifications comes the need to focus on both technology and training. Jim Erhart, sales and marketing representative, discusses how to keep an ever-evolving customer-service focused operation running fast and tight.

Modern Metals:How do you maintain a smooth tube and pipe operation while shifting to more sophisticated parts?

Jim Erhart: Customers are demanding tighter tolerances. We addressed this by investing in new equipment. Before, our mills were older—we had a 40-year-old mill and 35-year-old mill, and obviously a lot has changed technology-wise in the past 30 to 40 years. The first big thing is getting in the new equipment, which allows for manufacturing tubing with greater quality specs, tighter tolerances and whatnot for today’s more demanding applications. Since we installed a new W50 structural tube mill and a No. 8 mechanical tube mill in 2012, we’ve gone through a series of intense training exercises to equip our guys with expertise in how to produce tube with tighter tolerances. In some cases, we’ve hired outside consultants for more advanced training purposes. This has enabled us to get into more end-use tubing applications we couldn’t before, such as automotive grade tubing and higher-end agricultural equipment we couldn’t consistently manufacture in the past. 

With new applications, there’s always a learning curve. You start a new project and you’re coming into it eagerly. You have a general idea, you know how to make tube, follow a print and produce the tube to what the print says. But then you send it off and more often than not, there’s always something the customer didn’t mention. Making a product the customer requires versus trying to just follow a specification introduces nuances that our staff, not just the machines, must accommodate. This is especially tough in a market where someone might be used to dealing with the same tube supplier for 20 years. Sure, they can provide you tube. We can do it better with our new equipment, even if there is a learning curve to get product perfect on our end.

MM: Aside from new equipment, where does a personal, customer service approach fit in?

JE: We aren’t doing this just to stay current with the market. Versus our competitors, what we give is a more consultative approach to things. In looking at developing new customers in the Midwest that require more demanding tubing, we have our sales reps and vice president of operations visit with them to discuss what they need and will need in the future. The more we talk with our customers, the more we find that our competitors are not offering that level of service.

As our employees get better with our new equipment, our level of service grows. Our sales reps in the office are easy to get ahold of and our reps in the field come on-site if there’s an issue that needs to be resolved. Our operations team is very mobile and willing to visit with customers to provide solutions to the issues they might be having.

MM: How does having a smaller business support the company’s knowledge base?

JE: We’re relatively small so we can react fast, and that translates to a faster knowledge base. Not having multiple layers of management here helps because you can get answers fast. That’s important to customers because most of the time, the first person to respond wins the business. Everyone is so busy now. Any time we can assist our customers and make their job more efficient, it helps us gain and then maintain their business. And hopefully grow it. MM

Interested in purchasing reprints of this article?  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Current Issue

MM-Cover-10-14-current

October 2014

ON THE COVER: 
Gearing up for 2015
Tackling foreign policies, regulations, trade balances and capital plans, here are forecasts for virtually everything.

MM-Digital-button-current1

Subscribe: PRINT/DIGITAL MAGAZINE - eNEWSLETTERS

Midwest-MM-home-ad-5

Advertisement

Modern Metals on Twitter

White Papers

More White Papers >
Banner

Industry Partners

Alloy Bar Products

Custom Rubber Products

Metals Distribution

Service Centers

Sierra Alloys Royal Rubber Co. ThyssenKruppnMaterials NA Heidtman Steel Products

Aluminum

Cutting Software

Perforated & Expanded Metal

North American Steel Alliance
Channel Alloys SigmaTEK Systems McNichols Co. Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company

Bar

Cutting Systems

Plasma Technology

Thickness Gauges

Gerdau Messer Cutting Systems, Inc. ESAB Welding & Cutting Products Compusource Corporation

Bevelers

Drilling

Plate

Enmark Systems, Inc.
Steelmax Hougen Manufacturing, Inc. Allor Manufacturing Inc.

Stainless Steel

CNC Cutting (Plasma, Waterjet, Laser, Router)

Financial Services

Artco Group Stainless Sales Corp.
Multicam Inc. BMO Harris Bank Churchill Steel Plate Ltd Straub Metal International

Coated Coil

GE Capital Finance Ranger Steel

Stainless, Nickel, Aluminum, Pipe, Tube & Bar

American Nickeloid Metals

Investment Banking

Precision Grinding

Prudential Stainless & Alloys, L.P.
Centria Coating Services Brown Gibbons Lang & Company Joco Precision Grinding

Steel

Metal Coaters

Laser Technology

Profiling Software

ArcelorMittal

Coil Processing

AltaMAR, Inc. FastCam Pty Ltd. Central Steel Service, Inc.
Bradbury Group Amada America, Inc.

Rolled and Extruded Aluminum Products

Parker Steel Co.
Braner USA LVD Strippit Aleris Rolled Products SSAB
Burghardt + Schmidt GmbH Mitsubishi Laser-MC Machinery Systems, Inc.

Sawing Technology

Summit Steel Corporation
Butech Bliss

Machining Centers

Behringer Saws, Inc.

Steel Fabrication

Formtek-Maine Handtmann CNC Cosen International, Inc. Voortman Corporation
Herr-Voss Stamco

Material Handling

Cut Technologies Metal

Titanium

IMS Systems, Inc. Canrack Metal Center Systems DoALL Sawing Products TSI Titanium
Leveltek Samuel Strapping Systems HE&M Saw

Tooling

Machine Concepts Steel Storage Systems Inc. Kasto Carlson Tool & Manufacturing Corp.
Red Bud Industries The Caldwell Group, Inc. Metlsaw Systems

Tube & Pipe

Tishken

Metal Alloy Analysis & Verification

Sawblade.com Independence Tube Corp.

Copper & Brass

Thermo Scientific Niton Analyzers Scotchman Industries, Inc. National Tube Supply Company
Christy Metals Inc.

Metal Finishing & Deburring

Wikus Saw Technology Specialty Pipe & Tube
Farmer's Copper Supermax Tools

 

Turnkey Finishing System

 

 

 

Intellifinishing

 

 

 

Waterjet

 

 

 

TECHNI Waterjet

TrendPublishing

twitter facebook linkedin rss

 

MM-10-14-brandingcovers