Zion – Michigan Open House Q & A

Zion recently held an open house event that gave visitors an inside look at the heat-treating manufacturer’s daily operations.

Held at our Michigan facility in Grand Ledge on October 31, guests could sign up for a morning or afternoon session. Each group was treated to breakfast/lunch and a tour of the facility, giving visitors the chance to see the induction heat treating process up close.

Mark Shoemaker, Director of Operations and Plant Manager in Grand Ledge talked about the event and why Zion feels compelled to open its doors to visitors.

Was this a new idea or have open houses held in the past?

“This was the second time we have done an open house event. Several years ago, we held one here in our Grand Ledge location, and it went well. We just did a single morning session, but this time we decided to open it up to two sessions and had lunch and facility tours.”

How did the day go?

“The event was great, and it was a fun day for both our staff and visitors. Each session had 12 seats, and both were full. We were very pleased to have so many eager guests who wanted to learn more about what we do here.”

Is this something Zion plans to do again?

“We are planning to do an open house in both of our other facilities down in Valley City, Ohio, and Hildebran, North Carolina. Most likely towards the beginning of 2019 and it will give our customers in those locations an opportunity to learn more about us and our services.”

Were the visitors more current customers or potential prospects?

“It was a good mix, and we were really pleased. There were some current customers, in fact, three visitors were from our longest running customer, we have been doing business together for over 25 years. A good number of our guests used it as an introduction to learn more about us even before we start doing some heat treating for them.”

What are some of the common questions or comments you received during the sessions?

“Many of the visitors who joined us don’t have a background with induction heat treating. So, for them, it really is surprising to see it in action.

Visitors are often surprised by how quick the process is. When people think about induction, I think they expect these big, hot ovens and that it takes a long time. Once they see the speed involved, we get questions like “how hot does the part get?” or “how many parts can you heat treat in an hour?” and they are surprised to find out we can do projects that turn out as little as 60 parts in an hour up to 3000.

Another common question was about our inspection and quality assurance practices. People want to know, especially current or prospective customers, how we make sure our parts are heat treated to the right hardness and depth. Outside of customer specifications, we check parts every two hours. I think they were also impressed to see we cut open parts to measure the depth of treatment when they toured our lab.”

Why was it so important for Zion to have an event like this?

“It’s really twofold. We want to build trust and confidence in our customers. We want them to know that we are experts when they work with us. They come in and see a clean, well-organized plant with employees who have been here with me for the past 13 or 14 years since the facility has been open.

Events like this fall right in line with how we treat the customer and we are always open to visits. One of our core values is being passionate for the customer, and that means always being responsive to them. For us to be responsive, we need to know them as more than just a voice on the phone. It is about making them feel important, shaking hands and putting a face to them, it just makes the relationship a pleasure.”

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