Now, more than ever, we need to partner with one another. Traditionally, my columns have focused on developing a strong working bond with your PCB vendor partners, making sure that you and your PCB fabricators are on the same page and that you treat one another as true partners in every way. But due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I am going to switch gears and talk about how we must have partnerships with everyone we deal with during our daily business lives.
Of course, your PCB vendors are first in line. You need them more than ever during these challenging times, and they need you as well. There has never been a more challenging time for companies to keep their supply chains open and flowing, supplying you with the products you need to build your own products. That is only one partnership you need to keep solid. Here is a list of others.
Your PCB Vendors Need to Be Partners With One Another
You should encourage your PCB vendors to be partners with one another as well. You can help by introducing them and holding virtual introductory meetings so that they all get to know one another. This is not a time for competition but rather a time for cooperation. You can look at your PCB vendor base as one cohesive unit right now. After you introduce them to one another, you can begin to schedule PCB vendor meetings where you talk about your needs. As a team, your vendors can help you to meet those needs. With a strong spirit of cooperation led by you, this will work.
You Need to Partner With Your Other Vendors as Well
This is no time for silos, nor is it time for the more traditional customer-vendor relationship with the old adage “He who holds the gold makes the rules.” Instead, this is a time to work closely with your other vendors to make sure you are getting what you need when you need it. No matter who that supplier is—from your plastics vendor to your harness and wire supplier, and especially your components provider—you must be certain that you are all working together to keep your company (not to mention their companies) running during these not only medically but economically challenging times.
You Need to Partner With Your Competitors
Yes, you read that right. This is no time for competitiveness or an “every company for themselves” attitude. This is a time of cooperation and coordination. Everyone is on the same side, and we all need to work together if we are going to not only survive but also thrive.
Reach out to your competitors. No one is better suited to help you right now than the company that is building products similar to yours. They will have the same kind of equipment, capabilities, and technologies that you have. The chances are that they have the same vendors as you and that their factory and their processes and very similar to yours. In terms of synergy, there can be no better partner to work with at this time.
If your company is building critical life-saving devices—such as ventilators or medical safety equipment—this is not the time to work by yourself. You and your competitors need to find a way to work together toward the common goal of getting your products into the hands of the people who need them the most. Again, the best way to do that is to work together and ensure that it happens as quickly as possible. These are different times where the goal of our companies should be to save lives with our products, not drive one another into the ground.
Partner With Your Associates and Employees
Now, like always, your employees are your most important partners—especially the ones working on the factory floor and coming to work every single day to ensure that you get your products out. Their loyalty and dedication are critical to not only your success but the success of the U.S. as well. They need to be treated as true partners right now.
As their employer, your job is to make sure your employees are safe and stay healthy because you are their boss and partner. Thank them every day for their service to your company, the industry, the U.S., and the world as well.
To all of you, be careful, and stay safe. My sincere hope is that the next time you read one of my columns, we will be on the downside of the COVID-19 outbreak.