Case study: Preserving growth potential for a gas system manufacturer

It seems simple: You order raw materials from a supplier and the supplier delivers what you ordered.

And if you’re required to follow approved manufacturer lists (AMLs), you share that information with the supplier. If the supplier says it can meet those requirements, it ought to meet them.

It seems simple, but it’s not. And manufacturers in the gas production and processing industry can only tolerate so many mistakes before enough is enough.

Problems with documentation

Our sales team identified a Houston, TX-area firm that made process piping and compressor skids used in various stages of natural gas processing. We wanted to work with this company because our research indicated they were growing, having doubled in size over just the last few years.

Once we established contact, we learned they were having problems with existing pipe suppliers.

One problem was that the products they ordered sometimes did not match the requirements stated in the AMLs that accompanied their orders. Manufacturers required to use materials only from approved sources cannot use materials that don’t meet those requirements. Mismatched products must be sent back in exchange for correct ones, causing significant project delays.

More delays occurred when receiving personnel found that the material test reports (MTRs) that must accompany shipped products were not always complete. Products that arrive with incorrect or incomplete MTRs also cannot be used.

Here’s the bottom line: This firm’s ability to continue its profitable growth was in jeopardy because its raw material suppliers weren’t getting the job done.

Our sales team convinced the firm to request a quote from American Piping Products on the promise that the process was simpler and that our customer support systems would make their lives easier, not harder.

Becoming the preferred supplier

This customer’s first order comprised 1,000 parts across 168 line items. Once orders are placed, American Piping Products follows these steps:

  • The order, along with any AML or other important notes, is forwarded to our pipe yards.
  • Pipe yard personnel assemble the order for shipment.
  • When orders are shipped, the packing list plus other appropriate documentation is sent electronically to the customer. Paper copies also accompany orders in transit.
  • The same day orders ship, an invoice is sent electronically. American Piping Products only sends invoices for products shipped. We never bill customers for products we haven’t sent them.

We also support robust software systems that let our sales personnel provide the latest information to customers. Our customer finds this quite useful: When their expeditor calls to remind us of an upcoming due date, our sales team can confirm the status of the order right away with a couple clicks of a mouse.

American Piping Products’ large inventory of pipe and piping products also plays a role in this successful relationship. An estimated 95% of products shipped over the lifetime of the relationship are kept in-stock. (Looking for products in stock? Download our catalog.)

The total team effort

Aware of the customer’s prior issues with suppliers, our salesman went the extra mile. He called customer contact to double check that the first order was perfect. It was. The salesman, James Hofman, remarked: “The buyer, expeditor and receiving manager all were beyond surprised at the accuracy, ease of ordering and receiving material.”

“My job isn’t just to sell pipe. My job is to limit customer headaches,” James said. “The less the customer has to follow up with me, the less ‘BS’ they deal with. It’s better for them. It lets them concentrate on their job.”

Today, four months after that first order, American Piping Products has shipped over 10,000 parts across 2,000 or so line items to this growing firm, earning its spot as the preferred supplier.

It started with James, but he said he’s far from the only one responsible for this successful relationship.

“Our team, our operations manager, our yard manager, the yard personnel and everyone who worked on the documentation—it was absolutely perfect,” he said. “Without them, accounts like this wouldn’t be possible.”

If your suppliers stand in the way of your success, it’s time to consider an alternative. If you want to discuss challenges you face with our team, start the conversation here.

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