Editor’s Note: We sat down with our Quoting Team recently to talk about what they do to help customers receive accurate estimates for their projects. This is the second in our “team” spotlight series. You can meet the Assembly team, here.
Evan Coulter: Most requests for quotes come from Mark Inboden, Terry Engledow or myself. We then pass the quote on to two “sides” of the team: the technical team, made up of Terry and Bob Kroll; and the purchasing side, which is Dani Delisa, who is also supported by Cindy Bybee and Brenda Delisa.
Bob and Terry will go through the prints and make sure all items are present. If not, they will contact the customer. Over on Dani’s side, she will get pricing from our vendors and weed out requested parts that are no longer manufactured. If a certain part is available, but backordered, she will let the customer know so they can either decide to wait or choose another part—which Dani can recommend.
After all of this work is done, I’ll send the final quote to the customer.
Terry Engledow: We want to give an accurate quote for a panel that will work. Sometimes, the drawings or Bill of Materials (BOM) are missing important information. It’s up to us to figure it out. There are a lot of moving parts.
Dani Delisa: We do the quoting work upfront so there are no surprises on the back end.
Evan: The upfront consulting part of our business sets us apart, and we know it helps our customers.
Terry: Usually the first thing I do, if it comes with a spec, is to go through the drawing. If I find a bunch of red flags, I contact the engineer.
We are not in the Change Order business. We want to get it right the first time. We want the customer to get what they need. Sometimes we can help them decide what parts to use. They may have some old parts that aren’t made anymore.
Evan: When it comes to what parts and equipment to use, a lot of existing customers rely on us to make the decision for them.
Terry: Sometimes we don’t get a BOM. We did a project for a customer back in 2007 and recently they asked for the same panel again. They just showed us a photo of what we did before, and that was enough for us to bring up the old records and pull a quote together.
Cindy Bybee: I think the biggest challenge for us is trying to find replacement parts for panels we built 20 years ago. But the customer knows if they give it to us, we’ll figure it out.
Dani: Terry and Bob really talk with the customers each day. On the purchasing side of things, our relationships are with the vendors. We try to work well with each vendor and strive to get the best pricing for our customers. The relationships we form with vendors are ultimately a benefit for the customer.
Cindy: Lead time (on parts) is something we always make sure we get and then pass on to the customer.
Bob Kroll: Sometimes, we have the luxury of time and the customer can wait for the part.
Dani: Or we have some customers who want the panel in two weeks.
Brenda Delisa: I’m the newbie, just learning how to help with Dani’s overflow. It’s a lot of working in the spreadsheet to make sure we’re quoting the right materials that the engineers need. We spend the time with the vendors to get the correct pricing so we can give it to the customers.
Evan: We have a great team mentality. Each quote will have four or five eyes on it to make sure we’re doing it the right way.
Cindy: Something new is always going on. We help each other out.
Bob: I fine-tune the BOM; I might add terminal blocks, that type of thing.
Dani: We offer a lot of custom things here at UCEC that other shops don’t. Sometimes, we’ll pull in Zach for a special job such as retrofitting an older panel with a new plate. We’ll ask him the best way to help the customer receive an accurate quote.
Terry: I get phone calls almost daily from customers who want to ask my opinion. And this is often weeks before the quote request comes in. I’ll walk them through several options or different manufacturers. I try to figure out how to help the best way. That’s what we do.
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