A Treasured Customer-Supplier Relationship
In the 106 years my company has been in existence, there have been many loyal customers who have become friends. But in my lifetime, one particular relationship stands out. It is with a remarkable die-casting firm located in the Chicago suburb of Bensenville, called Chicago White Metal. Being their plating contractor has permitted me to also enjoy a warm personal relationship with the owners Walter Treiber, his son Eric and key members of their very efficient staff.
The gold plating project that brought our two companies together almost ten years ago, was a critical component for a baby-incubator manufactured by General Electric’s Health Care division. A GE engineer had come across Epner’s unique Laser Gold process on the internet and after months of rigorous competitive testing, put our Laser Gold on the drawing as the only approved coating for the infrared reflector that kept the infant warm.
Chicago White Metal, a long time GE supplier, was chosen to cast this helmet-like shape in aluminum and they were directed to send the reflector to Epner Technology to hand polish the raw casting, electroless nickel plate it and finally apply the Laser Gold. The reflector is referred to as the “baby dish” at CWM, but in our shop it has the somewhat less gentile appellation, “baby-cooker”.
Chicago White Metal sponsors a yearly outdoor picnic on their grass-covered property outside of Chicago and I eagerly accepted their invitation for me to join them and their 300 or so employees along with their key suppliers, for a picnic. Their wonderful caterer sets up a grill and the chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs stream off in a steady flow.
An hour of so into the festivities, Eric Treiber took the microphone and began to introduce some of the attendees, me included. We suppliers took our bow, me included, as each name was called but then Eric changed the subject. He announced that his grandfather had created a company charitable foundation and in a rare display of corporate largess, he encourages employees to nominate one of their favorite charities and the Chicago White Metal Foundation makes a donation to that charity in that workers name. What a wonderful way to do good and express appreciation and respect for his employees.
On the trip home I was already looking forward to next year’s picnic and thinking about another interesting plating project that we have partnered with CWM that drew upon, not our Laser Gold technology, but rather our years of electroless nickel plating experience.
What a special day indeed.