I believe that one of the most important things in business is taking responsibility for your own actions. I am afraid to say that I see less and less of this happening. One of the most infuriating things is broken promises.
Today I find that corporations build sturdy firewalls to prevent customers contacting management. Mercedes Benz is the most impressive I have encountered. These guys are masters at keeping customers from complaining. Judy bought a Merc. which soon showed up a factory defect. It was "repaired" several times but the problem remained. Judy got nowhere with Daimler Benz, so I volunteered to "show them", but I got nowhere. You simply cannot contact the CEO. Eventually I got his e-mail address by being abusive, sent him a serious complaint, with copies to motoring magazines, and still I got no response. They actually do not care. Then Christopher, who is at home in the corporate world said he would show us how to handle it. He too failed to get any response. Then I tried to get a ruling on how many times a factory fault must be "repaired" before the vehicle is withdrawn. It was made very clear to me that no matter how many times they failed to fix it the vehicle would never be replaced. I had to concede defeat, see my last e-mail. All I can do now is tell new would be buyers of Mercedes that they should change their minds, because Mercedes doesn't care.
We seem to have a huge variety of vehicles to choose from today. Perhaps the way to choose is to make a short list and try to 'phone the CEO of the company. If you can reach him, as a man on the street, then definitely buy that car.
If you 'phone Keramicalia, you usually get the owner within seconds. I try to follow Ellis Falkof's policy "We may discount our prices but we will never discount our service." I always take back materials for full credit if they turn out to be inappropriate, faulty, or in some instances even beyond their shelf life. That's taking full responsibility. I pride myself on being on a sole trader, not a CC or company. People say I am exposing myself to risk. I simply have to be extremely careful then, don't I? I stand by my products, so you can use them with confidence. I will make anything you ask for except something "the same but cheaper". Part of the price you pay at Keramicalia goes towards service, delivery, research and development, testing in new applications and operational help and training.
Have you noticed how many disclaimers you see these days? I have considered putting at the bottom of my data sheets "this information had better bloody well be right because Dave Onderstall stakes his reputation on it".
Bad news unfortunately, Judy has cancer. She has multiple Myeloma which is incurable but treatable. She is now in remission and planning to live her life even harder!
Marna Olivier has joined us to do research and development. She seems to be enjoying it excessively, I can't get her to go home at 5. Myrtle and Mieke have taken over the accounts dept. with great vigour and are busy fixing all the stuff I have been selling at a loss. My friends may have to withdraw my nomination as worst businessman of the year.
We are making element cages for the pebble bed test plant. They are conceivably the most stunning looking refractories ever manufactured. They fall into the area between technical ceramics and refractories, an area in which Keramicalia has been active for many years, and I have still failed to come up with a name for this class of materials. These materials are usually free flowing slurries which set strippable in two hours, are cast into elastic moulds and can take up extreme detail and wall thicknesses as low as 2mm. Their compositions are alumina, zircon, aluminosilicate and other. Strengths are generally high, and the commonest firing temperature is 1250 deg. with 5 hours soak. Back to the cages; Jay Lloyd designed the concept. I told him it was way past the limits of refractories fabrication, but he proved me wrong. Ernie Coomb did the first production. Chris Koch discovered them, commissioned some fancy ones and then brought the Pebble bed guys to the party. Their requirements were way beyond the run of the mill refractories tolerances, so I got Composite House to design and manufacture the moulds. Their mould makes the space shuttle look primitive! The end result is a most stunning product, accurate to 0,3% with unprecedented efficiency and reliability. It recently struck me that this is the solution to Prof. Jeff Ferreira's problem of how to build a furnace to ship around the world without it arriving in a heap of IFB crumbs. Watch this space!
1. Jack Marshall has an invertor, 42.......... Any offers?
2. Jack also brought a small kiln which I jazzed up. It fires very fast and guzzles electricity. Any offers?
3. I bought a Wacker vibrator motor at an auction, got home and saw it is a 42Volt job! Can anyone use it? I want only 10% of its replacement value of R12000.
I want to get out of precasting and more into R & D. Is anyone interested in taking over my moulds? There are about 750 different shapes.