Floor employees closest to production are often best qualified to respond to customers' needs. Bob and Tom Jagemann, who run a family-owned tool-and-die shop, located in Manitowoc, Wis., tap into the talent of their line employees by involving them in client visits.
"Their involvement also helps raise their level of commitment to the customer," says Tom Jagemann, "because they see how the product is ultimately used and have a sense of the conditions that the customer has to deal with." Whenever a problem or defect arises, a small group of line workers is sent out with either a salesperson or an engineer to investigate. "It's better than having them sitting back here, potentially knowing the solution," Jagemann adds.
The 52-year-old company projects 1997 revenues of $30 million. Bob Jagemann attributes part of its growth to a culture that tries to avoid making a distinction between labor and management, a culture that has earned the company lifetime customers. In the past five years, Jagemann Stamping, which currently has more than 300 customers, has lost only one of the top 25 accounts that make up 95% of its business--and then, with a bit of hard work, the company managed to land the same client back.