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Suppliers must constantly stay in contact with buyers in order to keep their business going. 5M’s Research & Development project manager, Richard Pavlica explains in an interview that this is even more critical as buyer demands become increasingly complicated and much less straightforward than in the past.
(Published on March 2006 – JEC Magazine #23)
JEC Composites Magazine: How does someone go about buying materials and composites from your company?
Richard Pavlica: A customer can get in contact with our company by e-mail, telephone or fax to express his general requirements. Employees from our sales department then fill in a contact form, before being able to send off an offer. It is often sufficient just to send a purchase order and, if the product is new or complex, our R&D department becomes involved in the problem.
J.C.M.: How do you try to ensure that a buyer continues to purchase materials from your company?
R. P.: Our company stays in touch with the customer and actively participates in both product modifications and the development of new products and techniques.
J.C.M.: Are some buyers easier to deal with than others? What trends have you noticed regarding composite buyers?
R. P.: It is appreciated when our customers have some experience in dealing with composites, when they generally know what they need and are capable of asking concrete questions. As far as trends regarding the buyers are concerned, the number of simple demands is decreasing and the quantity of products with specific dimensions or construction techniques is increasing. The accent is placed on fire resistance, with the demand for thermoplastics and long-fibre composites also increasing.
J.C.M.: Do you have someone who deals specifically with buyers?
R. P.: Sure, there are three possible steps. If the product is already being produced, the customer deals directly with our sales department. If the product is new or more complex, some of our project managers handle the customer’s needs. When the problem is extremely complex, our R&D department deals with the customer.
J.C.M.: What are some of the biggest challenges in dealing with buyers?
R. P.: The biggest challenge, especially for our R&D department, is to explain to our customers how to use composites properly, because composites are used in a very specific manner.