This post is the fourth in a 6 part series entitled “Who is Field?” Each post highlights one of Field’s 6 core values.
“Innovation” is a bit of a buzz word in the larger business vocabulary these days. Companies use the word in official statements and marketing materials in an attempt to set themselves apart, and arouse attention. Certainly, innovation is a good thing; it’s something worth putting in front of potential customers for most any company. So if innovation is good, but so many companies are talking about innovation, in what regard does talking about innovation set a company apart? Perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps it’s not the company that talks about innovation that shows itself to be different, but rather it’s the company that lives innovation. Field lives innovation; it is one of our core values. So, while innovation is a buzz word in the business parlance, innovation is a lived principle for Field. It is part of our very identity, and we start and end the day with it in mind.
But what does our lived principle of innovation mean to a purchasing manager for a manufacturer, looking to save her company some real money? It means that Field will save her money, and a lot of it. We can say this with confidence because we live innovation, and that doesn’t stop at our doorstep—it extends into every facility of all of our business partners. We do not supply fasteners; we supply fastening, and there is a difference. Nearly any company with cash on hand can buy a box of screws and ship it to you, and they may be able to do so for a decent price. But this approach will not even make a dent in the overall price of fastening. You see, as a manufacturer, you are not just buying parts and selling them; you’re buying parts and assembling a product with them. This assembly involves numerous physical operations, time, effort, and tactics. Your cost is there, not in the 8 machine screws you receive from a fastener distributor. That’s why our focus is not on those 8 machine screws, but rather on how they are used to build what you want to build with them. The way we see it, the more our goal is in line with yours, the better we both do. So our goal is not merely to get you parts. Our goal is to make sure that your products are built the best, most efficient, and least costly way they can be. This extends far beyond supplying parts. It extends to your purchasing methods, your assembly operation, the bill of materials you use, and where the parts are kept. Our innovative spirit is focused on those areas, because that is where even small changes stand to have the greatest impact on your bottom line. Other distributors may merely ship you parts; Field brings you the parts, and uses the spirit of innovation to find ways to use those parts in ways that realize real and substantial cost savings.
So the question now is, how does Field do it?” The answer is simple, and it has two parts; Field is dedicated to innovation through engineering, and innovation through organic process improvement. Our engineering team travels to our customers’ sites, tear down sample assemblies, analyzes material flows and processes, and reports actionable cost saving opportunities. The beauty of this is that since we know which fasteners are less costly, we already know the best recommendations to make. A garden variety engineer can suggest an alternate part, but Field engineers can suggest one that works better and will be easier and less costly to procure. Through engineering innovations, Field has submitted and implemented hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost-saving recommendations to our customers. The organic component of our innovation comes from every single person on our team. From team leaders to picker/packers in the distribution center, every team member at Field is trained and encouraged to look at processes with a critical eye, to question the way things are done, to look for opportunities to increase the efficiency of how we do business. The innovations that have resulted from this have allowed us to continue to provide the kind of service and cost savings that make our business partners love us.
Field cultivates innovation at every level because innovation is the key to better, more profitable business for our partners. It also cannot be stressed enough that this freedom and encouragement to innovate does a great deal to make Field a place that team members look forward to coming to work every day. When the team member servicing your account really enjoys their work, you can bet it makes all the difference.