For many reasons, 2020 was a different year. The most complicated part was trying to figure out how to make plans when everything was uncertain. Needing to reconcile suppliers having extended lead times, being out of products, and customers who call in a panic because they were being forced to shut down and needed to put a pause on production.
Despite the juggling of these things, we were able to secure our purchase department to order only what was needed and keep production on a “just-in-time” schedule. This helped to eliminate waste and excess material on hand and keep Toolless as a lean manufacturer, especially during the uncertainty. There was no panic buying toilet paper at Costco. Our ongoing experience with ISO was very beneficial in helping us deal with concerns and keeping things running smoothly.
While we are wrapping up in 2020, a year many people would like to forget, we would like to look back on the year and think of all the positive things that we experienced.
- We started 2020 on track to get our ISO certification, but like with so many things, COVID-19 slammed its breaks on us, and we had to take the scenic route. However, we are now back on track and are set to have our virtual pre-assessment for ISO on February 8th, with the final audit in the shop on March 21st. The day we have been working hard to finally get here, is within sight and we could not be happier. This is something that we have been striving for and working hard towards for a long time. To see this dream coming to fruition—though later than we would have liked—is great to finally have happened!!
- 2020 also saw our sales level maintaining its strength that it carried from 2019. This was a pleasant realization to see that our company continues forward and onward with its strength to bring custom plastic enclosures to our customers.
- Our customer satisfaction also maintained its strength. We were able to deliver an average of 10 new prototypes per month and served 62 new customers in 2020. This constant flow of incoming customers, as well as keeping old customers was a very nice balance. We love when customers whom we have been serving since we first opened over 20 years ago continue to call us up to order either the same unit or to have us help them with a new product. The new customers are just as exciting to have. To know that we were able to help entrepreneurs, fast-growing medical companies, and up-and-coming tech companies be able to make their hopes and dreams into a reality, is always fun to watch.
- Speaking of fast-growing medical companies… With COVID-19 being rampant, we received more and more inquiries from medical companies (some new, some old) this year. We were able to offer to $0 Design, CAM charge for new prototypes for any customer who was working in one way or another on COVID-19. We also hustled to help a new customer build and execute one of the largest prototypes we have ever seen in our shop in a record amount of time. This prototype required many parts, from different types of plastics, to not only be EMI shielded, but also digitally printed on. The companies “OK” to go from prototype to production was also fast and we were able to produce the required number of units needed in a small window of time, much to the customer’s satisfaction. Also, much to our satisfaction as this was completed without affecting the rest of the flow in the shop.
- Tracking our On-Time Delivery to customers really helps to guide Toolless on it’s lead time and schedule for production. We were able to maintain a steady average of 85% throughout the year but finished strong with a 94% On-Time Delivery in the month of December. Our On-Time Delivery took a hit with COVID-19 with the economic context and the push for ventilators in March and having to scramble to find certain kinds of plastic (such as clear polycarbonate). However, the final result for the year is an excellent high point.
- Another high point for the year was our ability to keep a clean, organized, socially distant shop. We managed to go through the year without a single positive case from any of our employees.
- We also never had to shut down due to the pandemic and were lucky enough to hire new people throughout the year. We created cleaning stations and have masks available for everyone in multiple locations as well as using some of our own existing plastic stock to create partitions in areas where we felt employees were too close. Successfully creating a safe environment for our employees.
This has been a year for the books. With all the good and all the bad that came with 2020, we are happy to see it go and excited to see what 2021 will bring. We look forward to the day when Holiday parties can occur, masks are off, and those stickers on the floor reminding everyone to stay 6ft apart are a distant memory.