Can You Feel It?

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A message from our CEO and co-founder, Neil Freder

Although it has been close to four years since I’ve written about the market, our company, and what we are up to, it feels like barely a week ago.

The market, and life in general, is moving at an incredible pace. The Internet has moved us to a place where we acquire knowledge and information almost faster than the speed of light. We learn in nanoseconds. We react in nanoseconds. Is this daily reality beneficial or detrimental to our overall business health? I’m not exactly sure, but personally, I have gone from a life that was touch, feel and react, to the cyber world of browse, click and react.

When I was a teenager and wanted to learn something, I had to put on a coat, go to the bus stop, wait 15 minutes for the ride and then trudge my way to the library. Once there, I would search for a book that inevitably took me an hour to find due to my looking in the wrong place (anyone remember the Dewey system?). When I found it, I would scour the pages and talk to people around me; eventually I’d get kicked out of the library for making too much noise, and not very much was accomplished. I would then have to trudge all the way back home. By all accounts, the exercise of learning almost nothing took me close to 4 hours.

When I fast-forward to today and reflect on the life of my teenage son, I see a pace of life and flow of information that is mind-bending. When, at the age of 8, he’d get curious about something, he would simply go to the computer in the kitchen and do some research. No coat. No hat. No bus. Minimal time spent. Today, armed with his smart phone, he doesn’t even have to leave his chair! It’s “click and know.” A fraction of a second to learn something that took me 4 hours, and I never even got the answer!

This otherworldly speed may be great for business, as it brings people from far away right to our doorstep, but it has its drawbacks too. By getting so much information so quickly and easily, I believe we lose out on the “feel” of things. We don’t actually get all of the information. Companies on the Internet, large or small, nearly bankrupt or extremely prosperous, can portray themselves as larger than life – and yet, we actually know very little about them.

We start with a Google search, then pick out the top three to five companies on the first page — who got there by virtue of search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) efforts — we ask for information and then move on armed with the perception that we now know everything we need to know in order to make smart decisions. But, do we? I have traveled to many places to either purchase equipment for our manufacturing facility or simply to visit. In most cases, I saw something very different from the perception I got from their websites or from hearsay. This is where the “feel” part comes in.

Our facility is highly advanced and steeped in technology. Yet, when people come to visit, very often their first and strongest impression is, “Oh wow! It is so clean!” While “clean” is a nice feature of any factory, as I guess many are not clean, I always hope that our visitors’ lasting impression is of the robotics, cutting-edge technology and efficiency. Those are the things that I cherish about our plant. Clean doesn’t always mean efficient. It may even be an indication of “not busy.” It’s easy to be clean when you have nothing to do. Is it possible that the information overload of the internet has led us to be impressed by superficialities rather than by the things that are truly meaningful?

When we originally did our research on extrusion equipment, we traveled over 1,100 miles through Europe to visit many manufacturing facilities. Some of them were clean — they weren’t building many machines. One of the real eye-openers of that trip was seeing first-hand the difference between a facility that was building 30 machines as compared to another that was building just one or two. If we had simply browsed and clicked online, these companies would all have looked basically the same to us. They would all be the “largest in the world” and would have the “best facilities” and the “most competitive prices”. If I hadn’t known what I was buying, and hadn’t gone there to actually “see and feel” for myself, it’s quite possible that I would have purchased inferior equipment from a second-rate company.

It’s astonishing to me that so many buyers click on companies they find on the internet to inquire about pricing – yet, as part of the bid process, they are not allowed to send samples of what they actually use today. I can say with all honesty that if a company is looking for pricing without offering their potential suppliers an opportunity to view their existing product, they are not being serious in their search for a value-added product. Most people who buy a car don’t simply call the 3 to 5 most popular dealers and ask for a price. Serious people go to those dealers and park their rear ends in the seat of those beautiful new cars to get a feel for them while they size up the dealership and its people. The dealer gets his chance to interact with the buyer, and the buyer gets a chance to “touch and feel” the dealer’s samples.

Since my last message, NELMAR has installed two additional extruders to make plastic film, a new printing press and four new automated bag-making machines. We’ve also increased the size of our facility by 50,000 Sq. Ft. to a total of 200,000 Sq. Ft. We have created many new products and have introduced SureTraxx DT™, a web-based platform that virtually eliminates the traditional deposit ticket and makes reconciliation a much simpler function for banks, armored carriers, and especially retailers.

We have also created new functions and positions and have recently expanded our departments in marketing, bag-conversion and extrusion. The quality and consistency of our products are incredible due to our production methods, and we are providing a customer experience that I am proud to say is second to none for any industry. We have had many customers who, rather than simply click on our homepage, have come to visit our plant and have gotten a “feel” for who we are and what we do.

By visiting each other, we acquire a “feel” for each other’s needs and pain points to a far greater extent than we could with a keyboard and a mouse. We are always happy to visit with our customers and welcome them to our home at anytime.

Oh, did I mention how clean it is?

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