We recently caught up with Audie Dennis, the General Manager of Boyd Metals in Joplin, to talk with about his work and the challenges he faces on the job. Here are highlights from our visit. Enjoy!
How does your day get going?
First, there's coffee. Before I can even begin to function, I have to get my java. Then, if all goes well, the first thing I do is review the previous day's quotes and orders and then I look at our accounts receivables.
Why do you start with the quotes and orders and A/R?
Sales is the life blood of our business, so I like to know who and what we are quoting if it’s a job for our customer or something that is just in the quoting stage at this point. Our Account Managers then work really hard to follow up and gather information which could result in an order or at least prove useful going forward. I also like to review the orders to see who is ordering, who is busy, any new accounts we may have sold, etc. I have been in this business for 33 years, so I focus on what was quoted and look for opportunities to "think outside of the box" and find additional ways to bring value to our client. As far as A/R, that is something you have to stay on top of or it can get out of control quickly. In Joplin, we try to manage our receivables on a daily basis and hopefully that avoids nasty surprises down the road.
You mentioned you've been in the industry for over 3 decades. How long have you been at Boyd Metals?
I've been with Boyd Metals for 22 years and am a part owner. It was a huge risk for me personally and professionally when I left a secure job to help establish a start-up operation in Joplin but the rewards have made it worth it. We have a unique business model and a fantastic culture here at Boyd Metals and I feel those two things have allowed us to succeed in the marketplace. I'm blessed to be a part of the success we have seen here year after year. I am where I am because of the great leadership that mentored me through the years and because of the great team we have been able to put into place in Joplin. I believe in surrounding myself with people that are smarter than me and allowing them to use their talents and gifts to help the company reach its goals. My job is simply to provide the vision and give them the tools and resources they need to be successful.
What does mentorship look like at Boyd Metals?
Here, each one of the GMs is empowered to manage each location directly. Making independent decisions on how to best serve the customer isn't easy. Each member of the team has to truly step up and embrace the responsibilities of their role.
We train Sales Reps, Purchasing Managers and everyone in between that our purpose here is to respond to the local clients' needs. We choose our inventory with that focus in mind, and adjust it with that in mind as well. That focus dictates how we treat others and it drives our culture. Everyone understands that it is imperative that you do what is right and not what is easy. Our leadership is committed to modeling that behavior and our team chooses to bring their best to this effort every day.
How do you stay on top of emerging needs of your customers?
I spend a lot of time actually running the daily operations of this outfit, so I don’t get to meet directly with our clients as much as I would like to. Fortunately, I have an excellent sales team out in the field and am able to rely on them as a source for that information. Quality communication between management and sales allows us to address challenges immediately.
Our customers vary - from small welding and machine shops to very large, manufacturers. We service OEMs, fabrication and welding shops, construction companies, mechanical contractors and more. Even though they are at different points of maturity and have vastly different needs, they all appreciate our fast response on quotes, our daily deliveries and our willingness to go above and beyond to meet our customer’s needs.
Beyond that, our team has a habit of asking about more than just the quote or order in front of them. If we don't ask questions, we may not get the opportunity to go deeper with that client and really shine. We carry a broad line of carbon and non-ferrous metals and are a one-stop shop for all things metal. An unexpected benefit our customers experience regularly is our willingness to source what they thought was impossible. We have wonderful connections in the industry and can help take the heavy lifting off our customers by saving them time and frustration.
What do you think gives Boyd Metals a competitive advantage?
The best way I can answer that is to give you a snapshot of an actual scenario where real life meets real customer service. We had a customer call with two plants in two different cities completely shut down simultaneously at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. One was in the Wichita, KS area and one in St. Joseph, MO. We service the Wichita area daily but not St. Joseph. The minutes were ticking away and every hour of downtime was a massive loss to our client. Springing into action, we had our day crew stay over to pull and load 20,000# of product, called in a driver who had that day off and by 7:30 p.m. he delivered the material to the Wichita area plant. Because we had no other drivers with the hours available to drive, we pulled another 15,000# of product, called in a common carrier, loaded the truck and delivered the material by 9:00 p.m. that evening to the down plant in St. Joseph, MO.
To me, that is a great example of how our team comes together in a crisis for a client. Our team is passionate about making that kind of difference every day, with every project, with every delivery. That is a powerful competitive a powerful advantage and that's what I call the Boyd Difference.