According to Chuck Miller, engineering manager at Workholding Solutions, LLC—or WOHO®, as it’s familiarly known—“the Internet provides leverage, and if we don’t take advantage of that we’re all missing a huge opportunity.”
This new company specializing in custom fixture design/build services for a wide variety of manufacturers is definitely capitalizing on that leverage, building a hybrid business model that allows it to be agile and immediately responsive to its customer’s needs, no matter where they are located. “We’re trying something new here,” according to Jeff Young, sales manager, “and the response so far has been very positive.”
What these customers are responding to is a virtual relationship with a cutting-edge workholding company backed by more than two decades of design experience. An academically trained industrial engineer, Miller has been involved with designing fixturing for manufacturing applications since 1988, working with companies including Chrysler, Kohler, and Harley-Davidson. Having once owned a more traditional “brick and mortar” workholding design company, he is convinced WOHO’s approach will work, as is his partner.
“Here is our basic model,” Young explains. “We intend to establish service hubs at centrally located sites around the country, and in each of those cities we’ll have a contract engineer, a sales representative, and a list of job shops we’ve qualified in advance to build from the designs we create. When a customer in that area wants us to work up a design for a fixturing device, the nearest sales and design team will gather all the information they can and deliver a preliminary concept very quickly, and they will be assigned to the project until its completion. If the customer likes our design, they’re free to build it themselves, or we can do it for them through our network of qualified job shops. And in terms of servicing equipment we’ve actually designed, built, and delivered, we’ll be able to assist our customers in a matter of hours rather than days, which is one of the key abilities we can provide thanks to this model.”
Miller agrees, adding that utilizing a finite element analysis program allows clients to see exactly how the workholding device he’s designed will interact with the piece it’s meant to hold. “To be able to provide such an accurate representation of the device in action is an amazing asset for us,” he says, “and certainly for the customer as well. It just eliminates so many of the unknowns designers were dealing with in the past.”
In its embrace of new technologies, WOHO will also utilize webcast software that will allow direct, immediate interaction between its engineers and clients, no matter where the two may be in the world at that moment. “And this is something that will allow everyone involved to view the same plan on their computer screens in real time,” Miller explains. “With this program I can point out what I’m describing, and I’ll even be able to give the client control of my computer so they can spin the graphic around and view it in 3D while we’re discussing it.”
One reason Miller is so sure of this model’s viability is simple: he’s done it before. “I designed a medical device for a company a couple of years ago, and during the development process I was in Ohio, the project manager was in Illinois, corporate was in Maryland, electronics in California, manufacturing in China, and assembly took place in Florida,” he says with a laugh. “Today this is a multimillion-dollar product for this company, and those of us who were involved in creating it were never in the same room together.”
With more than a decade of industrial sales experience, Young says he’s excited by the opportunity to develop a new approach to doing business, and that he and Miller are currently seeking energetic, self-motivated engineers and salespeople to help establish and maintain its nationwide service hub network. “This is the kind of position that appeals to people who enjoy being in control of their own time,” he says, “because we believe that it’s important to strike a healthy balance between your work and the rest of your life. As long as our customers get what they need when they need it, our engineering and sales staff will basically be free to structure their responsibilities in the way that works best for them.”
An added benefit of this virtual approach is lower overhead, which benefits Workholding Solutions, of course, but also its customers. “What we’re finding is that our clients are open to new ways of doing things, and by keeping our costs down we can pass those savings along to them,” Miller says. “No matter how large we might grow, we intend to remain a sleek, efficient, and responsive organization.”For more information:
Call (866) 964-6765 or go online to [www.wohosolutions.com]. Send e-mail to Young at email@example.com, and to Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.