Redemption over Replacement

By Wes Garner

I  like trucks.  All kinds of trucks.  In a world gone soft, there is something satisfying about a two-ton tool that gets the dirtiest job done without complaint.  Several years ago, I needed a new vehicle and decided to search for a four-wheel drive friend.  The only problem was my cash resources were meager to say the least.  With only $1,500 to spare, my Craigslist results yielded either rusted warriors or mechanically wounded veterans.   Since bodywork is beyond my skill set, I focused on the wrecked engine category.  Eventually, I found a 2000 Ford Ranger, not running, for $1200.  A blown head gasket had stopped it in its tracks.  So, with a little negotiation and a wrecker, I drug it home for $850.  And there in my garage a little miracle happened; a miracle called resurrection. I dismantled the engine, reworked the heads, replaced the gaskets, and cleaned everything.  It was, for me, a long and tedious labor of love.  Yet after many silent hours, the moment of truth came.  With a turn of the key, the restored power plant rumbled back to life.

This automotive illustration provides an essential truth for the wire and cable industry.  When it comes to equipment, employees, or customers, redemption is often better than replacement.  Succinctly put, there is power in bringing things back to life.

Before we apply this principle, it’s important to grasp it wholly.  Perhaps enumerating the steps to redemption will bring clarity.  Be careful not to breeze over this section. The depth of meaning far exceeds the brevity of writing.

Redeeming means:

  1. Looking past the current state and seeing that something or someone previously had value
  2. Realizing the value has been robbed by time, use, neglect or mistakes
  3. Envisioning the person or thing being restored to their original state of value
  4. Considering the cost of redeeming
  5. Investing the necessary means to redeem with patience and persistence
  6. Enjoying the immense rewards of your labor

Now, with the principle stated, lets apply it in the real world of contract manufacturing.

The principle applied to equipment

SureTech Assembly produces custom cable assemblies from 30 awg to 4/0.  Up until recently, our equipment capabilities ranged from 30 awg to 1 awg.  For larger gauges we employed a manual cut table.  As volumes increased, a common perplexity arose concerning tooling.  How do we procure appropriate equipment when the revenue stream has not yet been fully realized?  As such, we began to scour the used equipment market for something broken.  Better stated, we searched for something we could redeem.  Eventually, we located and purchased a used Komax Kappa 240 that was deeply discounted.  Deeply discounted!  The used machine was paralyzed with electrical problems and would not even boot to a production screen.  We applied the steps listed above (you may want to reread them now) and within a few short weeks she breathed life again.  It’s been a year since that repair, but this morning I heard it running perfectly.

The principle applied to employees

SureTech Assembly has utilized this principle extensively in employment.  Over the years, we have hired people who are handicapped, destitute, troubled, and even imprisoned.  One young lady had a recent drug addiction but was now clean and seeking a job. Carefully, she was employed and began as a floor worker.  As time and investment accrued her life began to change.  Eventually she became a line leader and excellent employee.  On another occasion, SureTech employed a person who had been previously incarcerated.  We even provided transportation to help the person back on their feet.  A final example includes a person who had previously sorted chicken eggs.   Obviously, their skill set was very limited.   However, with intentional investment, she blossomed into supervising a production line.  Sometimes, the road has been hard, but it has proven to be profitable in ways that can’t be measured.  The principle is certain, it is wise to put to work what everyone else throws away. In the words of one, “…I have come to seek and save that which was lost.”

The principle applied to customers

Inevitably, some customers experience major difficulties.  They lose market share, their industry declines, or leadership changes.  In one way or another, they find themselves in a bad place.  In these moments, it’s easy to discard the customer and search for a replacement.  But redemption is often better than replacement. In one such case at SureTech, a customer moved all their assemblies overseas to a low-cost region.  However, our support remained the same as their purchase orders slowed to a trickle.  Another customer struggled as a start up in the pharmaceutical industry. We faithfully stayed by their side. In a final case, a customer changed management and imposed unfair terms on SureTech.  We patiently worked through each imposition.  Today, all three customers remain viable!

Indeed, there is power in bringing things back to life.  It is a principle that transcends the wire and cable industry.  It is a truth that can be applied to the simplest things in life and the deepest parts of our soul.  And when it is applied it works.  Five years have passed since that engine rebuild.  But this morning, as the odometer clicked past 227,000 miles, my Ranger gladly carried me to work.  And we were both joyful for the principle of redemption.

Wes Garner is the Director of Sales and Marketing at SureTech Assembly.  He holds a BA in Christian Studies.  [email protected]

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