In custom fabrication and custom engineering, we work with a wide range of customers. One day we are working with a senior level mechanical engineer within a large Original Equipment Manufacturing company and the next, we are quoting a high volume product line for a large national customer. These projects could be very different from each other, but at the end of the day, Blackwater’s processes are designed to manage both scenarios. Our processes do not box us in and allow us to move quickly. And some of these processes have been learned from working with various suppliers. We believe our supply chain can make or break us as a company, and that is why we put a lot of value into our suppliers. At Blackwater, we cannot afford to work with suppliers who do not value what we are trying to accomplish. And that is putting our customers first. Although our suppliers do not “sit” next to us in the office, we do treat them as though they are an employee of our company. They are integrated into our processes to help us become more successful. Through various supplier visits, we are able to learn how our suppliers operate and use some of the tools they use to help us manage our projects even better than how we were before. These supplier visits also open our eyes as to how our suppliers operate. This is vital to understand so that we are not causing issues for them down stream. Some companies like to just throw grenades over the wall and say “figure” it out. We do not operate that way. This can create a toxic relationship, and cause serious issues down the line. How can we rely on a supplier to deliver our products on time if we are not communicating with them in a professional manner? It is not possible. We treat our suppliers well and in return, they deliver and pick up the phone when we need them. The cheap guy is not always the best guy to do business with. Some of our suppliers are not cheap and that is because they provide a quality product or service. We want our suppliers to refer us business and speak highly of us. And we also refer our suppliers out as well. The more people like our suppliers that we can convert into customers, the better off we will be.

The word custom can mean a lot of things to different customers and suppliers. And at times, this impedes on some projects because of the complexity of custom fabrication. As stated above, we are agile. If we do not have an established system already setup for a custom project, our existing processes can help facilitate the project. We are here to help our customers come up with solutions to their problems, and at times, that may mean making the long term investment in capital equipment in order to execute our customers’ projects. For example, if our customer has a specific part that has to be on their main assembly, we could offer supply chain support by going direct for them. This allows us to provide the product to our customer and help reduce a transaction or two from their overall process, rather than our customer going to multiple suppliers for multiple parts. Also, we understand the importance of our customers receiving a good experience and receiving a good quality product.

Our high volume customer projects are treated the same as our one off low volume projects. Each customer is set up the same way in our system, and this is backed up by our employees utilizing quality forms with checklists on them. In return, this helps us create discipline in our culture. And discipline instills better planning and reduces last minute issues within these projects. Our customers can have a better peace of mind knowing their projects are being checked at critical phases of the project, and it is not something they need to ask us to do because it is already a part of how we operate. Incorporating quality in every aspect of the business is what we strive to do. It does not make sense financially or from an operator’s standpoint, to check the part at the very last stage. There is a magnitude of issues with performing only one quality check and at the very end. The amount of rework or issues that could arise could cost Blackwater money and completely blow a customers schedule out of the water. From the start, our account managers have a checklist they follow for each new request for a customer request for a quote they receive to ensure they are inputting accurate information into our business management system. Everything stems down from there and other departments such as engineering may need to get involved to help in the quoting process. Same goes for new suppliers that we setup, our admin team follows a checklist to make sure all of the suppliers data is inputted into the business management system correctly.

At Blackwater, we strive to make sure our customers’ projects are completed per their specs and to their quality standards. We are not about short-cuts. We are about providing value to our customers’ organizations. We are continually asking our customers who can we improve or asking their operators how they like the products we are building for them. We enjoy sitting around a conference table or sitting in the shop, and discussing design issues or future improvements they want to make. We believe we add the most value from listening to our customers and providing truthful feedback to them. If we think there is an issue with one of the parts, we inform them of this issue and offer the best solution we can offer. These solutions may result in us making a quick mock-up, and demonstrating to them how it can work, rather than just drawing the idea on paper. We move quickly to build these mock-ups and will help assemble them on customers units if need be, in order to test the theory quickly.