Negotiating multiple international boundaries, measurement scales, quality standards and tariff regulations can quickly turn what might otherwise be a straightforward job into a tangled web of challenges.
But with the experts at The Macomb Group, you still get a streamlined, expertly handled shipment, as Gale Heller, outside sales, and his team demonstrated when a valve order for a glass furnace in Russia landed on his desk.
“The project was for a Toledo company that engineers and builds glass furnaces all over the world,” Gale says. “I’ve worked with them for about 40 years. This time they needed a whole range of valves for a plant in Krasny Sulin, Russia.”
Krasny Sulin is in southern Russia, near the Ukraine border and the Sea of Azov. Normally, Gale’s team takes international orders in stride. But Russia presented several extra layers of complexity. The parts were needed in metric measurements (DIN instead of ANSI) and had to conform to Russia’s GOST quality specifications.
Gale had to source a manufacturer that could meet both the end-customers’ requirements and The Macomb Group’s demanding quality specifications — and that could deliver on time. Then, the team had to orchestrate a logistics process that was a bit more complex than usual.
Taking on the challenge
It turned out that the most suitable supplier was in Japan. That was just the start of the challenge, but The Macomb Group’s team was up to the task.
“We have quite a few knowledgeable people in our Toledo branch,” Gale says. “A lot of suppliers probably wouldn’t even have attempted that business. In fact, we were the only firm to bid for the entire contract. It is certainly a worthwhile job for us and our customer, but there was a lot of work to find the parts, price the job, and order and expedite it.”
Gale notes that time zones were one of the roadblocks that the team learned to deal with. “Expediting the thing was crazy because they’re not open when we’re open,” he says. “Here you can email back and forth in a second, but if you emailed the end customer in Russia today, you might not get an answer until tomorrow.”
Furthermore, the completed order had to travel a complex route. The valves had to be shipped from Japan to the United States, undergo customs inspection, be repacked, and then ship to Russia, with a maze of customs and tariff regulations on the way.
It wasn’t just time difference and geographical boundaries that got in the way either. Language was also a challenge, with translation required at every stage. “Every step just took more time,” says Gale.
Lessons learned — and mission accomplished
Fortunately, the project had a good lead-time, and the experts at The Macomb Group have enough experience that even when faced with significant obstacles and process changes, they know how to get things done.
So how would Gale feel if he were asked to do it all again?
“We’d do it,” he says. “It’ll be easier next time and I know the pitfalls. For example you can’t change the ‘Ship To’ address mid-stream when shipping out of Japan. Next time, I’d ship direct to the destination.”
The moral of the story is that just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s something new to learn. But when you’re working with a company that’s ready to go the extra mile — or, in this case, kilometer — there’s nothing that can’t be accomplished!
Do you have a special order or unusual job? The Macomb Group experts work to be sure every job is the best it can be. Let us figure out how to solve your next challenge. Contact us by email at email@example.com or by phone at 888-756-4110.
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