LESSONS LEARNED

There’ll be better days, but I’m getting by with these…”

                                                                                    “Kids These Days,” by Tom Rush

Amazon makes it easy for us aging Boomers to reconnect with the favorite tunes of our youth. Tom Rush was an early singer/songwriter who got lost in the shuffle when flashier performers like Jim Croce appeared, but this tune in particular has stuck with me over the past 45 years.

I bring it up now because of reports that low oil prices are greatly reducing bookings at many gear companies. Oil patch spending has always been a roller coaster, but it gets discouraging when you start going through your third or fourth downturn. My first one, in 1982, came as a newlywed with a fresh mortgage to pay off. It wasn’t “fun” then and it certainly isn’t “fun” now.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from these experiences:

  • While volumes will be down there is still work to be had in the oil sector. Don’t give up on products you are good at but instead sharpen your pencil and improve your processes so you can be the most efficient producer when volumes return.
  • Keep communication lines open. Oil patch people you know might move around a bit but they will resurface eventually. If they had a good relationship with your firm, they will want to work with you again.
  • Prompt responses get orders. Inquiries are always precious, but never more so than during downturns. Fast responses show the customer you are ready to help them book work and they won’t forget you when things pick up.
  • Be careful about jumping into new market segments. It is tempting to take on new projects when things get slow, but there is a genuine risk of underestimating the degree of difficulty and the length of the learning curve.

Stay positive. Your colleagues need to know the sky isn’t going to fall overnight. I am grateful to the experienced hands I worked with back in 1982 for the calm leadership they provided. Good decisions require clear minds and a good night’s sleep

About Charles D. Schultz 572 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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