CM Perspective: Get a Fresh Perspective!


CM Perspective: Get a Fresh Perspective!

Prior to 2013, I would keep my head down and diligently work all the way through the month of October. It’s typically a very busy month for us in South Carolina. For the last five years, however, I have left the island that is my manufacturing facility and traveled to BCMC. I remember feeling I couldn’t afford to be away from my operation, that our business would suffer if I was away for too long. Based on my experience these last five years, I know without a doubt our company is better off because I do leave the office to attend the show.

The biggest benefit? A fresh perspective. Traveling and attending BCMC costs money and time. However, I get a significant return on that investment through the educational sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking I experience while I’m there.

As far as education, I rarely hear something I didn’t know anything about. Many times though I hear things that cause me to look at the same problem a different way. As I hear my peers share their experiences and their solutions in sessions, I furiously jot down notes on how I think it might apply to my situation. Then, when I get back to the office, I look through my notes and figure out what to try.

This year there was a session called, “Selling Value, Not Wood” (see page 13). A fellow Carolinian, Chris Lambert, led the session talking about, in his words, “people buy from people.” This isn’t a new concept at all, but it was a really timely reminder to me that we need to focus more heavily on our relationships with our customers instead of just focusing on pushing out product.

The roundtable discussions are invaluable. For example, I had been trying to get my employees invested in some lean manufacturing concepts. Frankly, I was struggling with how to make it approachable for everyone. I met a lean manufacturing expert at BCMC last year and had a chance to sit at his roundtable discussion at BCMC this year. His insight and advice (both this year and last) has really helped me get my employees engaged.

Networking is another key aspect of the show. Through BCMC, I’ve met and developed a number of friendships with manufacturers across the country. It’s difficult to just call them up on the phone and grill them about a problem I’m facing, but when I see them at the show and sit down with them over a cup of coffee, it’s amazing how much I can learn.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the guys in my market and I enjoy sitting down with them and talking through some issues. However, there are other things I want to develop into a competitive edge, a way to differentiate myself in my market. Having the opportunity to talk those things through with guys operating halfway across the country helps me gain perspective without potentially risking my “secret sauce.”

In addition to giving me a fresh perspective, BCMC also reminds me that I have to work at these things if our business is going to improve. I can’t just hear it and do nothing, I have to take action when I return to the office otherwise things will just stay the same and I will miss out on the real value.

If you missed BCMC this year, don’t make the same mistake next year. Mark your calendar today and join me in Columbus, Ohio, October 22-25, 2019.