Three Manufacturer Myths

By Bob Smith, Director, Quality
June 16, 2016 Tags: Quality Process, Manufacturer Identification, Approved Manufacturer List
Bob Smith

One thing I have learned in my 30 year career in the energy and industrial industry, is that there are a lot of myths surrounding product manufacturers, especially manufacturers based in Asia.  I am regularly asked at conferences and customer meetings to explain how we know that the products we supply to our customers are indeed high quality products.

As noted in my previous post, Identifying Quality Manufacturers in a World of Options, our quality process is an in-depth look into the manufacturers we rely on.  Thanks to that process, there are several myths about PVF manufacturers that I have found to be incorrect:

  1. Made in China = Made Poorly
  2. A good quality program will ensure there are never any product or delivery problems.
  3. The better the manufacturer facility looks, the better the product being produced.

1. Made in China = Made Poorly

Our industry has become a global industry. There is no denying that. In order to meet the new demand and grow our business, we rely on manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia. There are good manufacturers on any of those three continents, and there are bad manufacturers on any of those three continents.

As a company, we have been sourcing products from North America and Europe for decades, so we generally know what we are getting into before we get too far down the approval path with a manufacturer. Asia, in general, tends to be more of an unknown, which can cause an unnecessary prejudice against products from that region. As a new market, you have to expect a greater degree of variability between manufacturers. That’s why our onsite visits are so important. If we don’t go and see them with our own eyes, we have no way of knowing if they are a good fit for our company and our customers.

2. A good quality program will ensure there are never any product or delivery problems.

It is critical to understand that every manufacturer is going to have a problem at some point or another. It’s not a matter of if, but when. We don’t expect perfection from our manufacturers but how they handle issues when they occasionally arise is what sets the best apart from the rest. Do they own up to it? Investigate it? Remedy it?

World-class manufacturers act quickly and take responsibility when they have a problem. And problems don’t happen often because of this attention to detail.

3. The better the manufacturer facility looks, the better the product being produced.

I say it all the time: Not everyone who looks good at first glance is good, and not everyone who looks bad at first glance is bad. That is why we take such a hands on approach to our quality process. We look at a manufacturer’s financials, history, facilities, processes, raw material sources and employees before making a decision. Sometimes, a manufacturer may distribute printed brochures or have photos on a website of their equipment from the day it was purchased, then we go visit and find out it is actually 10 years old and hasn’t been maintained. First impressions are not as important as in person research.

For more information about how MRC Global can help you identify the best product source to fit your needs, contact us.


About the Author

Bob Smith has been with MRC Global since 2000. Prior to joining our company, Bob spent 5 years at Columbia Gas Transmission and more than 20 years at US Steel. Throughout his career, Bob has seen the evolution of the PVF manufacturing industry from what was primarily U.S.-centric market to a global field of possibilities. In his current role, he travels the world identifying new, high quality sources for our supply chain while maintaining relationships with our many long-standing manufacturers.