Steve Rye stepped into many challenges in his 30 years. But maybe none greater than the pandemic that has pushed the entire world to find new and better ways to endure, including his team at IDC Integration in Pelham, Alabama.
As the organization’s general manager, Rye is empowering his 14-person team to tackle challenges each day as a remote workforce with little to no interaction.
“We’ve been through some tough situations as a company. Everyone has, right? You look at 2008 and the ‘Great Recession’. That was tough and we came out the other side in fine shape,” Rye said. “I know we will come through this okay, too, but it’s very different.”
“Our people, including technicians, are working remotely. Manufacturers are open, but operating at significantly reduced capacities. And, our job is complicated by the fact we can’t get in to see people in person. It’s all via some type of online chat or conference call.”
Rye said finding the right operational model was tougher for IDC Integration because it is not a typical distributor as it offers distribution, service, and integrated build systems for new and obsolete equipment. One-third of the company’s business comes from each offering.
“We’re not order takers,” Rye said. “It’s not a case where a customer walks in a buys a 200 HP drive in a box. We also install and do the commissioning. Our customers look to us as a vital resource.”
“We have a three-legged stool and we need all three legs to stand evenly for that stool to stand,” he added. “That’s been a tough task. The distribution side has gone down a little bit, while the service side has not decreased at all. And, a lot of companies are taking advantage of the downtime to upgrade their antiquated systems. That’s created a chance for us to add more customer value.”
Rye said there is one concerning challenge presented by the pandemic – a loss of personal contact with the customer.
“You don’t get to see anybody on the customer side, except in the case of a very specific need,” he explained. “Whether it’s engineering, fixing something, whatever, we’ve lost the social side. You can’t be as proactive for the customer as you’d like. You pretty much have to wait for the call.”
“Now, we are lucky because we have about 500 customers, and they are loyal customers. But, people still like to deal with people they like and trust. Fortunately, our relationships are built on just that.”
Rye said that same kind of trust goes for his relationship with Yaskawa. “I go back with Yaskawa a very, very long time. I may have more tenure than just about 90% of the people there,” he joked.
“John Autero was the only trainer they had. Larry Fuson was there – still there. You don’t work with a company for that many years, if you don’t trust them. It’s definitely a good relationship.”
“We are always very pleased with their products. Heck, they are the most reliable products out there. When you get a customer call at two in the morning because another drive failed, you want Yaskawa on hand.”
“Access to Yaskawa personnel is always important, but especially now as many people are working on their own from home”, Rye said.
“I’ve got 14 employees. Many of them are working from home. They’re going to have questions,” he said. “Yaskawa’s people have been very accessible during this time, and helpful.”
That access and help will continue to be important to IDC Integration.
“It’s been a haul for everyone across the country. We’ve figured out a way to be there for our customers right now. We seem to be doing well and things look better for the summer. I just wonder what it’s going to be like in the Fall.”
IDC Integration is a market-oriented concept in automation and drive control. The company specializes in providing our customers with turnkey solutions to their automation requirements.