As with any business, the sheet metal fabrication industry includes businesses that are great to work with and businesses that are not so great to work with.
When considering which company you want to partner with, it can be helpful to know some of the common signs of sheet metal manufacturers that take undesirable shortcuts. Here are some signs to look out for as you steer your business toward a partnership with a company you can truly rely on.
1. Overstating their design capabilities.
Do you need design services from your manufacturing partner? Even if you don’t need them initially, you may run into a situation where such services are needed.
Some companies will give the impression that they are comfortable with design when they really aren’t. The ideal company will be able to complete an order based on a drawing or translate your drawings to usable shop renderings.
2. Mistreated and unhappy employees.
When you think about it, good employees are happy employees. And you don’t have to bend over backwards to keep your employees happy — you just need to treat them with respect and value their capabilities.
Sheet metal fabricators are highly trained craftsmen and should be treated that way. But some companies either don’t know how to treat their employees well or don’t care to. Either way, you don’t want your products being produced by someone who hates their job — the quality just won’t be there.
3. Failing to focus on craftsmanship.
There are businesses in every industry that exist to serve a specific type of client — including a client who wants the cheapest option available. Typically to achieve this objective, this means as many corners are cut as possible and craftsmanship goes out the window.
When you want to produce something of high quality, you cannot afford to work with this kind of company. There is no doubt that the cheap price tag can be tempting. But every stage of your production will suffer for it — especially the end user of your product.
4. Not having the capability to finish the job.
This may or may not be a problem in your situation, but it is important to mention. If you have the expectation that your fabricator will deliver a finished part to your door, you want to make sure they have the capability to do so. Some fabricators focus on only one piece or a few pieces of the overall manufacturing process.
You could be in for an unpleasant surprise if you discover that the company you partnered with is done with their work — but you are not getting what you expected. Then you will be left scrambling to find another company to get you to the finish line.
5. Claiming a better reputation than what's true.
The sheet metal industry has been around for a long time. Many fabricators are companies that have been doing good work for decades. You should not have too much difficulty finding a company that has a solid reputation. Just be sure to do your due diligence when researching your options.
Some companies may have a higher opinion of themselves than they should. Always ask for references — like former and current clients — and check those references. A few phone calls will clarify what kind of customer satisfaction exists for the business in question.
6. Claiming that quality is the only differentiator.
Quality is hugely important in manufacturing. However, there are other concerns that should be weighed along with quality. For example, does the fabricator have a backlog of orders right now? Will they be able to work your order in and get it done on time? They can be the fabricator with the highest-quality services in the area, but if they can’t get your job done when you need it done then it’s going to be a problem.
Some companies with a reputation for quality may lean a little too hard on that reputation and attempt to get more work than they can reasonably handle. Make a list of what is important to you — besides quality — and verify that they meet the mark in all those areas.
Your Source for Sheet Metal Manufacturing Information
At Kaempf & Harris, we are proud of our reputation — built through more than 70 years of serving clients like you. If you have questions about sheet metal manufacturing, please feel free to contact our team. We will do our best to provide guidance you can depend on.