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Presidents Message September 2009

David K. Scheetz

Quotable quotes

Got problems?  TLT readers show where to go for inspiration.

I  was quite impressed by the list of inspirational quotes readers submitted for the Sounding Board survey published in this month’s issue of TLT. The quotes are a treasure chest of accumulated wisdom, many of them from history’s greatest minds.

I urge you to not just read these quotes but also to ask how you can apply this thinking to your professional life.  Here is my take on a handful of quotes that jumped out at me.
 The door to success is always marked ‘push.’  You won’t make a sale if you don’t talk to the customer, and the first step is walking through the front door. This is even more important in recessionary times when many customers are just looking for the lowest price.  When customers view your products as a commodity, you’ve lost half the battle.  So it’s very important to keep pushing.

Plan the work and work the plan.  Every night before I quit for the day I create my “To Do” list for tomorrow.  Waking up knowing the agenda for the day generates a positive mindset.  Of course, having a plan doesn’t mean no deviations. Sales is a very unpredictable business.  One e-mail can sidetrack you for the day—but also lead to a huge sale or a long-time customer.  Be prepared to make adjustments along the way.

Isolation is a dream killer.  Like many of you, I work out of a home office. That has some advantages, but you can’t let it isolate you from customers and peers.  Remember, too, that many customers are in a state of what you might call mental isolation—using an inappropriate oil solely because of the manufacturer’s name.  They are reluctant to change because they are not getting enough information. That’s where you come in.

99% of lubrication failures are not related to the lubricant but to the application thereof.  How many times have you heard a customer say, “Hey, that oil you sold me is no good!”  That’s the time to conduct a comprehensive failure analysis.  Maybe you’ll find that the filter is plugged or the oil pump is circulating dirty oil. Don’t be afraid to don the engineer’s cap.  When there’s a problem, you’ve got to find out what is in the oil and how it got to be that way.

Oil is oil and grease is grease and it don’t make no mind!  I used to do a presentation where I showed a chart that depicted a group of different oils.  Initially, the oils appeared to be quite similar, but as I slowly revealed the individual metrics people began to see the differences.  When you show a customer that an SAE 50-weight oil and a 90-weight oil can have the same viscosity, you get his attention.  In this business, you must be an educator.

It’s child’s play.  This is a quote I am submitting.  In college I had a job that involved packaging metals, placing them on pallets, then flatbeds and eventually onto a railroad car.  My supervisor would always say, “It’s child’s play.”  I didn’t understand it then, but I do now.  While there is a universe of technology behind our lubricants, remember that it always comes down to something as childishly simple as getting the product in place.  If you don’t put the lube to the gear, the gear will fail. If you don’t put the lube to the bearing, the bearing will fail.  In fact, anything will fail if you don’t put the right lube to it.  And you can quote me on that.

Dave Scheetz, CLS, is an equipment builder engineer for ExxonMobil Lubricants & Specialties.  You can reach him at david.k.scheetz@exxonmobil.com


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