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44 PCB007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2018 Feature Article by Dan Beaulieu Over the years I have been involved with many customers and many rescue missions. A rescue mission occurs when a shop screws up so much and hurts the customer so badly they have to do something extraordinary to get the customer out of hot water and not lose the account. Many great PCB vendor/customer relation- ships have been forged in adversity. Great com- pany reputations can be made when a vendor handles its problems when they occur. The worst thing a vendor can do when adversity strikes is to argue about whose fault it is. The right thing to do is take care of the problem first and then perform the autopsy later. The customer is usually in a whole lot of hurt and needs his problem solved immediately. There will be plenty of time later to wade through the events and figure out who did what to whom. Then there are the great customer service stories, occasions when a PCB vendor went so far and above the normal expected per- formance the story becomes part of that company's legendary history, a story that con- tributes to that company's definition of customer service. Here is one of those stories. This was in the late '70s when eight weeks was standard lead time and six weeks warranted premium dol- lars; two weeks (10 working days) was too im- possible to even consider. The company was Rockwell's Maine Electronics, a great shop when it came to technology; these folks could build boards 40 years ago that most companies can't even build today. But as good as they were at technology, they were weak on deliv- ery. Catch-back schedules (remember those?) were part of their everyday life. They could build great stuff but on-time delivery was a stranger to that facility. And two weeks? Well, that wasn't ever going to happen. One day, the sales manager received a call from the head of procurement of one of their high-tech customers. This man sounded desperate. One of his buyers had neglected to place an order for a program that consisted of

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