Knowing where to hit it’s the key

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ABC 555 Pty Ltd manufactured fans and impellers. The company’s director had reduced its workforce to just 14 but it relied heavily upon the optimum functioning of a key piece of CNC machinery. 

The CNC machine broke down and caused an impossible bottleneck that threatened the company’s survival. Customers were relying heavily on the timely delivery of supplies. 

Several consulting engineers were called in:- 

• Engineer #1 was a blue chip brand quoting $33k and said he could have it up and running in 3 weeks. This would cause disruption to the company’s customers and include downtime of the company’s 14 employees. 

• Better yet, Engineer #2 was a local, with a sizeable team that was always busy. He kindly quoted $55k and stated he would cease all other work to focus on fixing the machine within a fortnight. This would minimise disruption to the company’s operations, could be made to work if careful with cash flow and ought to retain the company’s reputation. 

The director nearly agreed, but thought he’d get just one more opinion. 

• Engineer #3 requested $27.5k up front and said he would have the machine running in 2-3 days. He had 25 years of experience working with CNC machines and came highly recommended (despite some comments that he was a little costly…which didn’t make sense compared to the two previous quotes).  

The director is highly distressed, trusts the recommendations and decides to take a chance on Engineer #3. 

The director digs into his own pocket and pays. After being paid his fee in full & upfront, Engineer #3 walks into the factory, and takes a closer look at the CNC machine. He takes a small hammer and strikes the machine three times in different spots and with slightly more force each time.

The CNC machine instantly starts up again. Engineer #3 says to the director that it if breaks again, he’ll return and fix it up for free (12-month warranty) and even leaves the director with the hammer he used. 

Given the remarkably short time required to fix the CNC machine with just a simple hammer, the director is furious at Engineer #3’s price and demands the receipt be itemised or a refund provided. 

Engineer #3’s obliges – the receipt states: 

• hammer $55 GST inc 

• over 25 years of experience knowing exactly where to strike the CNC machine and how hard $27,445 GST inc  (12 year service warranty included).

I’ve heard various versions of this story over the years. Make sure to use a specialist and don’t be suckered in by brand names, unqualified & inexperienced advocates and artificially created deadlines. 

ABRT – Association for Business Restructuring and Turnaround® 

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