President's Column - July 2023
Recently I have found myself walking through the different departments of National Steel Rule. Once was for a facility tour with some customers who came to visit. While the other, I helped entertain and keep eyes on the kids that joined their parents in the office for Bring Your Children to Work Day in NJ, USA.
When I came to National, I wanted to understand it to the best of my ability. For me, I need to understand the reality and challenges our different departments face to know what I can expect from them. To accept my current position, I found this crucial.
I took the customer tour as an opportunity to have some customer service team members of our own to join us on this field trip as well. I find it all very eye-opening to see what goes on behind the scenes. What really needs to happen for the product to get out the door? For me, it is important that both our customers and coworkers understand this. What may seem like such a simple request to any of us might actually be quite a challenge.
Like most companies, a typical experience with us starts in our Customer Service department. This is my team. We do our best to handle all of our customers’ inquiries and needs. We pass along orders over to Production where they get dissected item by item to be assigned to the proper department to be worked on.
Production may need a single order to be assigned to five different departments to get moving. Once the product is done in one department, it goes on to the next department and so on and so on. Some items we start from scratch and will need to hit just about every department we have to produce it, while other items, we keep in partially processed stages, so we can quickly finish the items to the proper finished good. Sometimes, we only need to hit one department, and then we’re ready to go!
As we walk through the different production departments, our customers begin to realize and understand how much work goes into producing a foot of rule.
Once production has finished on each item, material finds its way into the warehouse. It is then picked to be compiled onto the proper shipment and finally out the door and invoiced.
None of this sounds like rocket science. Mainly because it isn’t. But it is something that requires skill, effort, communication and proper follow-through to happen and work properly.
When entertaining and keeping an eye on the kiddos, it was a totally different experience. There was no safety-glasses-and-steel-toed-shoe-tour for these guys! We had a totally different agenda for them that kept them off the production floor and into the office where it is much, much safer! Here the kids were all complimented on how awesome they are, got to tease their parents with their coworkers, were given TONS of candy and sugar, had a pizza party lunch, colored “thank you” cards for the bosses and ended the day with a game of hide and seek!
The feedback from visits like this are always so insightful. I am beyond happy to report that everything we heard was positive. It makes me proud that our customers made a point to notice how National Steel Rule employees all take such pride in their work. They were appreciative of how welcoming and sharing we are. And from the kiddos, they stated that it was their most favorite day ever! I’m not going to lie, it was one of mine too! I really enjoy what I do, and I always love when I have the chance to take a look at it through others’ eyes!
You never know just how you look through other people’s eyes……until you take the time to show them a process or environment and are open to the feedback they are willing to share. I hope you all have the opportunity and an open mindset to see yourself through someone else’s eyes.
Jennifer Thoroe is Director of Customer Service & Business Development for National Steel Rule, a steel rule manufacturer based in Linden, NJ, USA. She joined forces with National on November 1, 2018 after working in the industry and volunteering with the IADD for over 15 years. She moved up to NJ from GA in the summer of 2019. One pandemic and three moves later, Jennifer is finally settling into her home near the Jersey Shores with her awesome super-fantastic brother Tom and his even cooler dog, Kelowna.
She has consistently used her time and talents to bring greater value to IADD members, whether through chapter activities, managing volunteers, Board service or overseeing myriad membership recruitment and retention activities. For this, Jennifer received the 2017 IADD Cutting Edge Award, one of the Association’s highest honors. She is the first woman to serve as IADD president.
The President's Column appears in The Cutting Edge, the IADD's monthly magazine.