By: Davies Hood, Induron President
As we flip the calendar from 2022 to 2023, I must say that I am optimistic about Induron’s position in our target markets. 2022 was another stressful year in the coatings industry–much like the two preceding years–because of a myriad of supply chain issues ranging from consistently high inflation to shipping delays, and in some extreme cases, ABSOLUTELY NO RAW MATERIAL available.
For the first nine months of the year, we were constantly waiting on one critical raw material. I classify a raw material as critical if we have an outstanding order for the product that raw material is required. Industrial coatings, particularly the high-performance variety, can simply not be made without ALL the raw materials. For instance, if you have 8 out of 9 materials, then you can’t make a product–at least in good faith.
Although the critical raw material needed changed over the course of time, we were consistently short of either an epoxy, an amine reactor, critical solvents, and even at one point, 55-gallon drums. It was stressful on our operations team because efficient planning was replaced by “making whatever we can.” It was somewhat like a bachelor’s dinner menu–i.e. open the fridge and make whatever is there. This was also stressful on our sales team and customers because we did not have firm dates on exactly WHEN a needed product could be delivered.
Early on during the supply chain fiasco, Induron made the decision that we would be open, honest, and upfront with our customers and prospective clients on our ability to ship an ENTIRE order. For example, we chose not to sell the primer when we knew that we didn’t have polyurethane to finish the job. This conservative, transparent approach inevitably cost us a few jobs and upset some longtime customers, BUT we didn’t cause any jobs to de-mobilize through an extraordinarily uncertain patch. I am proud that we remained loyal to those who trusted us before the supply ‘crunch.’
However, our treatment of customers and partners during hard times is just one of the reasons that I think we are poised for growth in 2023. Induron also obtained ISO-9001 Certification in 2022. This long process resulted in improved documentation of our standard operating procedures and helped us to formalize our commitment to continuous improvement to a quality program that has for years produced “outlier” results related to cycle count. This multi-step process involved members of every department and helped to break down some of the walls, or perceived differences, between the individual departments and individuals. The end result will be even better consistency and overall quality in our product line.
The last change that we made in 2022 to set Induron up for future success just might be the most important part of any successful team — the people. We had several key additions to our team in outside sales, business development, manufacturing and support staff. Some of these additions allowed us to align our existing staff with our goals and put them into positions that “fit better.” We are strong proponents of not only getting the right people on the bus, but also ensuring that each is in the right seat.
We were fortunate to add a business development manager, Joey Thomas, who will help us grow with his existing relationships as well as by providing support for each salesman AND our sales manager. I could go into the minutia of the value of each addition, but the important thing here is that we added quality individuals and are hoping to continue improving our team. After all, a winning culture really is ALL ABOUT the people!
In closing, I am excited about our future because of the decisions, hard work and commitment to doing the right thing–even when that means saying NO to a potential sale. By adding the right people, committing to quality with a recognized third party, and living our core values of integrity, innovation, respect and reliability, our 75-year-old third generation family business is well positioned for SUCCESS! We look forward to working with you in 2023. Happy New Year, everyone!