Steve Massman has been helping to steer the ship at General Kinematics since day one. A past engineering leader, Massman is now a Technical Director involved in researching and testing GK equipment in order to manufacture superior products. So what’s his central priority on top of his research? The answer is simple, to maintain a dialogue with customers.
“We tend to be more involved with our clients because we have always considered ourselves a custom equipment manufacturer,” said Massman. This comes as no surprise considering Massman and GK see the value in knowing the complete scope of customer preferences: pros, cons, likes, dislikes, and opinions of the equipment. With that critical insight in hand, GK engineers can adjust and improve designs.
When Massman started at General Kinematics in the engineering department, he trained under many mentors and within several industries. Eventually, he was promoted to engineering manager for the mining, minerals and processes group. Over the course of his career at GK, Massman has pioneered eight patented items as well as helped to develop several standard lines of equipment including vibrating feeders, the STM™ SCREEN and UN-COALER® Activator / Feeders.
About six months ago, Massman was promoted again to GK’s Technical Director or Grinding Technology. Now, his central focus is examining the opportunities in the development of grinding drums. His plan is to study the possibilities of new technology, learn other technologies, and understand customer needs upfront. In other words, the groundwork starts with research and conversation.
Massman talks with clients about how well the equipment they’re using operates for them—be it GK-made or a competitor’s product—and the benefits of those designs. Conversely, customers also approach GK. Often this happens because they’ve heard of the company, their current competitive equipment is failing, or they want to learn more about the GK product line.
Connecting with customers during the manufacturing phase not only helps to create custom-made machines but also establishes a personal, face-to-face relationship – allowing end users the ability to reach out at any point in the future, if needed. And GK is familiar with the customer and the equipment history, which can help streamline problem-solving in the future.
Furthermore, building non-cookie-cutter, customized machines is paramount to customer satisfaction. Rather than delivering a piece of stock equipment, GK machines are tailored to their end application and user. For instance, they are designed to fit the building in which they will sit, or they are created with specific operations in mind.
GK has a lab where customer-focused features are tested; such as whether or not a particular material can ascend at a certain incline, seeing what happens when heat is applied to dry a material at the same time that material is being conveyed, or engineering an entry point that allows access to the machine.
“As a whole, our company has really made a name with its customer support. In the mining industry and the industrial minerals industry, that’s very important to our customers: our level of support. I think that support by itself really sells equipment,” observed Massman.
The overall goal for product creation is to manufacture machines that are bigger, faster, and more efficient, yet, create a smaller footprint. When it comes to innovation, customer service and maintenance isn’t just front and center at GK: it’s top notch.
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