A Race Against the ClockBy Nadia Alvarado
Recently, a producer for a popular TV game show contacted Jameco asking for help. They were looking for life-sized robots for their set and thought we might have a few lying around that they could borrow. Although we own RobotStore.com, we didn't have any robots large enough for their needs but we still offered to help.
We recommended they contact our friends at Florida Robotics and inquire about the OpBot or Tagi 2014. We also offered to send them other robotics-related products that could be used as prizes. There was a lot of negotiating back and forth, but on a Thursday we came to an agreement everyone was happy with, which included making a one-time exception and sending them assembled products – something Jameco doesn't do.
Focused on all the little, legal details, the actual timeline was overlooked. The following Monday, you can imagine my surprise (shock and panic would actually be more accurate) when we received an email from the producer asking for all the products to arrive in Los Angeles by the end of the week. We suddenly had less than four days to pull all the products, assemble some, package everything and ship it off.
Photo credit: Richard Lund's Photo of the Hollywood Sign At Night
The next three days were a whirlwind of activity around the office. Out of the goodness of their hearts, and sympathy for the look of total desperation on my face when I asked, the Product Marketing team agreed to do the assemblies for me. This was just short of a miracle since that team was especially busy at that time working on our latest catalog, in addition to all their regular projects and responsibilities.
Despite the all-hands-on-deck approach, the team kept running into problems with one particular kit. On Wednesday, I personally begged Product Marketing Engineer Jack to give me one hour of his time to troubleshoot the problem. Even though he had a lot of other projects in motion, Jack squeezed in my request.
Two hours later, he was ready to drop kick the thing out the window, so we declared it dead and he started building a new one. Thursday morning came and I was confident everything would go smoothly with the new build and we'd easily make the shipping deadline of 4 p.m. with lots of time to spare. By 2:50 p.m. I was having kittens.
The new build was riddled with problems. It looked like there was no way to fix them and we were out of time to build another one. As my blood pressure skyrocketed, I decided to tell our Director of Marketing and the TV producer that we did everything we could but we wouldn't be able to meet the deadline.
Weighed down in defeat, I debated how to tell the team the deal was off. I headed towards the warehouse to break the bad news when I ran into our director at 3:05 p.m. She told me that she had visited the Product Marketing team, the problems were resolved and now we just needed to get the products out the door. It's amazing how much things can change in 15 minutes.
Now everything just needed to be walked to the warehouse, processed, packed and shipped. One of the Product Marketing managers dropped what he was doing to help me and the boxes went down the conveyer belt just before 4 p.m. I got confirmation everything would arrive in Los Angeles the next morning and sent the tracking number to the producer. Mission accomplished!
One week later, the show changed its objective and decided not to use our products. Wah wah wah. That's showbiz.
A lot of companies say that their employees are "all on the same team" and that everyone works "collaboratively." Those are nice things to say but it's quite impressive to actually experience it.
I see Jameco employees in every department go out of their way every day to accommodate every single customer to the best of their abilities. We research questions, look for solutions, give suggestions and – when we've exhausted every other option – we even refer customers outside of Jameco to someone who we think can help them. All customers get this level of service and are treated as individuals whether they're making a huge order for their business or just buying a grab bag.
We give it our all, every day, every time. Even if we don't get to be on TV.
Nadia Alvarado has a master's degree in Journalism from Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree in Economics from San Diego State University. She is originally from San Diego, California. Her interests include comedy, comic books, board games, movies and watching too much TV.