How was your summer? For our back-to-school spotlight, we bring you our Parts Manager, Vivian.
Six years ago, Santec was lucky enough to fill a general office admin position by bringing Vivian on to the team. As she tells it, over time she became Parts Manager, a position for which she feels she was "happy to have been given such an opportunity." Our brief conversation makes me think the real opportunity for happiness was Santec's.
Before our chat, I might have described a good parts manager as someone who is organized, neat, and able to replenish parts just before they are needed. All traits I am sure Vivian posesses. She knows her parts, where to find them, how many she has on hand and where to get the ones that are running low. So if I was a customer and called Vivian to ask for Widget X, she would know exactly whether she had it in stock how much it costs, and how soon I could have it.
Problem is, most Santec customers know little about the parts inside their equipment. They are not going to call and ask for Widget X, Y or Z. They are much more likely to say "dishwasher doesn't drain" or "dryer door won't close." Working with a service tech to find out the parts that are needed she then enters the byzantine world of part numbers. The tech will give her the part number after which Vivian verifies (through a catalog or web site) that the part is in fact what is needed for the problem. She can then decide where and from whom to order the part to get it into the tech's hands as quickly as possible.
Now to most of us, a part number looks like a random string of digits...the longer the better: mind-numbing sequences, of varying length, a mix of letters and numbers (is that a zero or an O?), that can easily transposed incorrectly. Were she a mere order-taker, it would be all too common for the wrong parts to arrive. But Vivian has learned to read meaning into those numbers thus avoiding such errors. That strange combination of numbers and characters is instantly recognizable as "dryer door latch" in her mind. So she not only works faster and more efficiently, she works smarter.
Because of this, management thinks of Vivian's job as a Curator, which it turns out is a much more accurate description. Museum curators not only know which paintings and sculptures are in inventory and who painted or carved them when and where. A curator is someone who learns all the connections between the pieces they curate. Each item, or part, becomes a functional entity that has a purpose, a design, a usefulness that makes the machine work ... or work better. Over her years of ordering parts, stocking parts, pulling parts and delivering parts, she has developed an intelligence about these parts that goes well beyond their part number or price. It is likely she understands many of these parts better than the companies that made them.
Of course, there will always be the new part, the new problem that Vivian has not yet encountered. And here she happily sings the praises of her coworkers, who like Vivian, believing that everyone is everyone, will gladly step in to help resolve the matter in as few steps as possible. Adding yet another line to the collective intelligence that is Santec.