Why MI Rubber & Gasket?
Your Way is Our Way
Vice-President and General Manager, Phil Maxwell, recounts his first impression of Metro Industries, some 20 years ago, then as an employee of a HEPA filter manufacturer that remains a customer to this day: Covering for an associate, he called Metro regarding a small, but urgent requirement for a few hundred custom made gaskets. The parts were needed for the second shift to finish products for an awaiting chartered aircraft to transport. Metro founder, Norm Garrett, answered the call and saved the day. The gaskets were made, hand carried to a bus station, and delivered 150 miles away in less than 6 hours! Amazed, Phil said to himself, “Boy, I’d like to work for a company like that!” and the rest is history. About the only thing that has changed since then is that we’ve gotten a lot better at serving a lot more customers.
A System that Works
As a small company near the bottom of the OEM supply chain, being responsive and adaptable to our customers’ special requirements is essential. Frankly, we can’t afford to let them down, so our “home grown” computer system has been designed to adapt to each customer on their terms. For instance, we figure it’s our job to cross reference your part numbers to ours, so its built into our system. Likewise, each customer has different criteria for quantity variances, on-time delivery windows (early and late), and packaging, marking, certification, and shipping preferences, which are all also built into our system.
Further, we not only track materials from sheet or roll through production and shipment, we also track partial rolls and sheets and center pieces that go back into inventory in different form for use on other products. And since our employees — the human element — remain the biggest variable in both cost and quality, we also explicitly track all labor, including the basic elements (e.g. who did what, when, how many, how long) as well as the efficiency of their work in contrast to established standards. This not only serves as a basis for training, supervision, and corrective action, it also combines with material tracking data to systematically maintain data and review, control, and improve costs.
Without going into boring details, we think most have been the victim of systems that don’t work in various ways, so the point is that we determined before the first computer was set-up that we would never become slaves to a system, but rather, would only use computers to the extent that they actually enabled us to serve our clients. Rather than a limitation, that chartered a clear direction for our system to develop: And the beauty of a “home grown” system is that it is easily modified to adapt to new circumstances. We work for you, so we make sure our system does, too.
Since our standard product price pages are published on this site, much more said here would be wasted rhetoric. We’ve found our prices compare very well with those who publish their prices, and aren’t too worried about those who don’t. As found on AnaLog Services’ website (completely unaffiliated), “For online O-rings, try www.metrogasket.com… Do not even bother with any of the online O-ring purveyors lacking the nerve to post prices on their websites.”
The author went on to suggest that $0.15 and $0.50 would be good prices for -211 Buna-N and Viton O-rings, respectively. For the record, our prices begin at a small fraction of those “good” prices ($0.02 and $0.185, respectively), and there is no reason to think the rest of our prices don’t similarly compare.
Realistically speaking, about the only way to test our competitiveness on custom fabricated products is to allow us an opportunity to quote yours. We have a broad range of experience, expertise and capabilities, and generally do very well at competing on pricing alone (much more so on more comprehensive measures). No, we aren’t always the lowest price, but even when we aren’t, we’re usually pretty close. In the rare instances where our price is out of range, it is usually on the low side. Still, the only way to prove any of this remains in your hands…
Lastly, one thing we’ll do that others probably won’t: We’ll review your requirement for any possible cost or performance improvements we might be able to suggest.
Low to Zero Tooling Costs
While Metro is also ready to help when alternate manufacturing methods are necessary, steel rule die cutting is usually the first considered. Why? Three reasons: Cost, cost, and cost. These cost savings begin with tooling. During 2001, average non-recurring tooling charges (when applicable) were only $120, including many simpler and/or smaller configurations that were less than half that. (Hardened steel male-female dies for the same products would have averaged several thousand dollars.) This doesn’t even reflect savings yielded by finding existing dies for new applications using our searchable database (by size, shape, product) of over 10,000 dies.
And, if that isn’t enough, we even routinely waive tooling charges just to let you know how important your business is to us. No, we can’t absorb the cost of a $200 steel rule die for a one time $100 order, but we really want your business and consider money spent on your start-up costs better spent than frivolous advertising, gimmicks, or cheap pens with our name on it.
As mentioned above, the adaptability of our system serves us very well in maintaining 99%+ on time deliveries overall. Years ago, when the definition of “on time” began including both early and late parameters, we simply modified our program to include each customer’s unique delivery requirements. Since, from the moment orders are entered, all records, work orders and reports prominently show the due date as a range between two calculated dates. Daily shipment reports also highlight any on-time exceptions, which are researched and handled much like our corrective action procedures for quality exceptions.
We’re aware of the fact that everyone claims to have superior quality control, and we don’t mind making the same claim. (See ISO 9002 Quality.) This, however, is like custom product pricing — the only way to know for sure is to be shown. Probably the most persuasive argument we can offer is the fact that we have been the benefactor of numerous vendor reduction initiatives by extremely quality-minded companies like Honeywell, Garmin, and BE Aerospace.
Specializing in Special
Several of our long-standing partnerships are largely based on our willingness to apply the same attention to the difficult products they need as everything else. Whether working with engineers to resolve a design failure or test an improvement or innovating a way to make something no other company would even quote. It is through such situations that we’ve developed capacities like screen printing, sewing, heat cutting, and snap and rivet insertion (a few products actually involve all of those plus die cutting).
The closure seal on the right is another good example (click picture for larger view). This seal was designed to resolve a leakage problem on the end of corrugated plastic panels. The original design, flat dam-type seal, was failing, so something that would actually plug the ends of the corrugations was needed immediately. Most would have thought a costly molded part that would take weeks if not months to prototype was the only solution. However, we engineered a way to efficiently bond a row of triangular sponge rubber knobs along the edge of a flat sponge strip. As a result, the problem was fixed in a matter of days and for a fraction of the cost.
The ability to combine core capacities like die-cutting, extruding, molding, water-jet cutting, laser cutting, and slitting with numerous complementary “specialty” operations make Metro a uniquely qualified supplier for many original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s). In addition to the capabilities mentioned above, we can apply adhesives to most products, bond and laminate materials together, assemble components, and the list goes on — whatever it takes to get the job done.
This goes also for quantities and part sizes. In addition to being an A+ vendor in general, our customers appreciate the ability to minimize the number of custom fabricators they have to deal with, especially while raising the ratings of their supplier base.
Friendly, Fast, and Free Technical Assistance
Lastly, please remember that quotes and technical assistance are always fast, friendly, and free with Metro. Samples, specifications, and, often most helpful of all, a real person with many years of broad-based experience dealing with all kinds of die cut component issues are never more than a phone call or email away. And that “real person” isn’t just anybody: It’s the combined total of 88 years experience (each one of our management staff has 7 to 31 years tenure, nearly 15 years average) of innovating die cutting solutions for industries just like yours.
Another innovation MI has introduced (c. 1996) is the simplest, most hassle-free and effective Custom Component Inventory Program we’ve ever seen. A few years ago, we asked why regularly used custom components had to be so much more difficult for our customers to purchase than standard products like O-Rings, Grommets, and Flange Gaskets. It didn’t take long to look past the trees on that question, and the results…well…we just love a plan that comes together, and our customers do to! No more cumbersome blanket orders to administrate, no open-ended obligations, minimum release quantities — just the parts you need (no more, no less) delivered when you need them (no earlier or later).