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How Much Are You Worth To Your Customers?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Distributors can help customers with regulations, even something as simple as making sure they have fire extinguishers mounted and charged.

What if you could save a customer $59,400? Or, more precisely, shelter them from a fine of that amount. That’s how much OSHA recently fined Mollett Welding and Mine Service, a welding and machine shop in West Virginia, for exposing workers to safety and health hazards.

Among the violations were such things as failure to:

  • Provide clean, orderly places of employment;
  • Evaluate and identify respiratory hazards;
  • Conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment;
  • Ensure employees wore eye protection when exposed to metal shavings;
  • Post “no smoking” signs; and
  • Ensure fire extinguishers were mounted, readily accessible and fully charged.

These are only a few of the 25 violations that the company faced. I picked out these specific violations because they are things their gases and welding distributor salesperson—or even a delivery route driver, in some cases—might be able to identify and help the customer correct. You don’t need to conduct a full-scale audit to discover these violations—many can be observed visually.

This business is about relationships—and helping customers deal with regulations can certainly go a long way toward building those relationships (Think of it as a value-add!). When you can help customers lighten the burden of regulations, you can bet they will be more loyal.

And along with saving the customer some money, many of the solutions to these violations call for products that gases and welding distributors sell, like PPE and welding fume removal systems. With a glance around your customer’s workplace, you might actually make a sale in the process of saving your customer from OSHA.

Just think: if you can save your customer $59,000, how much more would they be willing to spend with you?

How A Resolution Becomes A Regulation

Friday, January 7th, 2011

In my last post (Resolutions For A New Year), I talked about setting resolutions for 2011. As I learned from Ned Lane’s article “Top 5,” communicating those goals to others can help you accomplish them. Not only does it create accountability, but it can enable those around you to provide any needed support. If they don’t know about it, they can’t support you.

While I was thinking about resolutions, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if federal agencies made New Year’s resolutions, too? With a steady stream of changing regulations, compliance in itself can be a full time job. If we knew ahead of time what was on the agenda, it might help distributors be ready and, in turn, allow them to help their customers prepare.

Although the government doesn’t issue its own New Year’s resolutions as such, I’ve tracked down some of the items they’ll be paying attention to this year:

• First, GAWDA’s FDA & medical gases consultant, Tom Badstubner, looks at the medical gases initiatives planned by the FDA, Congress and the USP. Among the potential changes are new guidance from the FDA and medical gas monographs from the USP.

• For truck drivers, GAWDA Government Affairs, Human Resources & General Counsel Consultant Rick Schweitzer reports that Hours of Service could be changing. Follow the link to find out what changes your company may have to make to dispatch and driver management protocols.

• OSHA recently released its regulatory agenda for the next year. Changes to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard may be impacting distributors in August 2011, and they should keep tabs on combustible dust rulemaking that may be impacting their customers.

• Among EPA’s regulatory priorities, the agency’s attention to indoor air quality could have an impact on the welding industry (pp. 79845 – B2).

• For an overall look at coming changes, take a look at the “Top 11” regulatory changes in 2011 as compiled by Paychex, Inc. Of note are changes in tax law, allowing businesses to expense capital investments and healthcare reform. These should be on the radar of any business owner/operator.

What regulations are you watching for in 2011? What will impact you and your customers most?