A look inside the 2015 Exporter of the Year
We’ve spent some time lately discussing Small Business Week and detailing Sawyer’s National Exporter of the Year honor, but today, let’s take a deeper look inside Sawyer Mfg. and examine how its culture that emphasizes people first attitudes and creative solutions makes it a unique and strong organization within its industry and community.
Custom Work and Creative Partnerships
This is at the very heart of Sawyer’s business. This industry occasionally requires complex solutions with cooperation and communication being of utmost importance. Sawyer has a long history of partnering with distributors and end users to build special equipment for one-off purposes. Whatever creative solution is needed to ensure a project is mutually beneficial for all interested parties is what Sawyer does.
Some recent examples of this custom work include burning, cleaning, palletizing, and delivering carbon steel plate rings for Strope Manufacturing as well as boring and turning stainless steel turbine shaft parts for Fischer Products. Sawyer has even fabricated custom equipment for a CrossFit location.
These custom jobs aren’t limited to local clients though. Sawyer works with customers all over the world to provide exactly what they need. A recent example of this type of work includes making special internal alignment clamps for welding 48- and 52-inch pipes to valves for Russian company Weldtech. Sawyer has also worked with customers in PanAsia on multiple occasions. One of these customers needed 196-inch bands for beveling 16-foot pipe, and another needed internal beveling bands to complete a specialized internal bevel. On another occasion, the company designed special out-of-round wedges for a distributor in Canada.
For each situation, Sawyer was able to build the equipment needed according to the customer specifications and deliver on time.
Furthermore, fostering unique trading relationships is a regular part of the Sawyer culture. The company has a history of bringing sales opportunities to other Tulsa-based manufacturers to provide equipment to Sawyer customers. Taking that concept even further and as an example of unrelenting cooperation and creativity, Sawyer has even worked with competitors in seizing opportunities and distributing equipment overseas.
Sawyer strongly believes teaming with other manufacturers has allowed the company to build a much more efficient and effective sales network.
Sawyer does not wish to be a mere bystander within its local community. Instead, the company is an active participant in several organizations and volunteer work. Through community involvement, Sawyer seeks to build partnerships within the industry and support employee engagement and community encouragement.
Sawyer is heavily involved with several Tulsa-area organizations, including Pipeliners Club of Tulsa, Tulsa Area Manufacturers Association, Executive Leadership Series, Tulsa Chamber Manufacturers Council, Tulsa Young Professionals, and Rotary Club of Tulsa.
Sawyer has had the distinct pleasure of mentoring other small businesses, especially regarding export-related issues. Its long-standing experience in global export, has allowed the company to be a leader among manufacturing organizations. Over the course of several years, Sawyer has helped promote an environment of general international awareness by answering questions and being a resource for all things related to international exports and imports for several companies.
Sawyer’s mentoring has also come through some indirect avenues. The company’s leadership within the Tulsa community has led to numerous opportunities to share wisdom, guidance and experience through seminars, presentations and discussion opportunities.
Sawyer seeks to inspire and encourage future leaders and is proud to be an education supporter. The list of ways the company does this is quite long and includes having team members serve on the Oklahoma Technical College Welding Advisory Board, sponsoring scholarships at Tulsa Welding School, being involved with Oklahoma State University’s Spears Business Engagement Group, donating resources to the Hereford High School Welding
Competition and providing internships for students at Northeastern State University.
Also, Sawyer Manufacturing recently discovered that many of the welding programs for educating future welders are underfunded and unable to provide an ideal learning environment. This led to the creation of the Sawyer Manufacturing Educational Program, which works with educators to help provide access to quality welding equipment.
Finally, Oklahoma State University, in partnership with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, offers a program to help Oklahoma manufacturers design new products. Sawyer started working with this program in 2013, and the resulting new grinder tool holder model is slated to start production later this year.
Sawyer’s Ambassador program was implemented in 2013 in an effort to better connect with end users. The ambassadors are a select few welders in specific geographical regions who have demonstrated an interest in improving the industry.
The program is simple. Sawyer sends the Ambassadors equipment and marketing materials, and in return, the Ambassadors are asked to use them and report back. If they notice areas that could use improvement, Sawyer wants to know. If they love the product, Sawyer asks them to share their opinions with their friends. In addition to product feedback, Sawyer has received several ideas for new products.
One of the most important benefits to come from the Ambassador program is the relationships that have been built between Sawyer Team Members and many of the Ambassadors. Sawyer currently has 54 Ambassadors working throughout the United States and Canada, and there are plans to expand the program to 100 Ambassadors for North America, followed by expansion into other countries as well.
Sawyer Manufacturing: Small Business, Large Impact
Throughout its 66 years in business, Sawyer has strived to preserve the integrity of its foundation while aspiring to evolve and develop its brand. This is achieved by placing the utmost importance on people. The people of Sawyer focus on building relationships not only with their own employees and colleagues but also with distributors. The company’s belief is that this ensures its end users receive the best experience possible. Sawyer employees pride themselves on exploring creative approaches to distributing their brand and raising awareness while providing superior customer service.
From the beginning, Sawyer has been committed to its family culture. It’s a culture that begins in the board room, carries over to the shop floor, reaches out into the local community and often ends up extending even throughout Sawyer’s customer base. Even as the company has grown tremendously throughout its 66 years of existence, that locally-owned, family-first atmosphere has remained constant.