I’m into my third year with the Automatic ICE™ Systems Team, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It is truly a pleasure to work with the most dedicated and qualified people in the packaged ice industry supply side. I had no idea that this level of professional services was available to packaged icemen prior to coming on board here. My biggest challenge these days is communicating to the independent ice manufacturers I serve the high quality of benefits AIS provides and the advantage of establishing a long-term relationship with a professional team like ours.
One of my easiest tasks so far has been presenting the AIS method of project development to icemen looking to expand their operations or build new plants. It’s a pleasure to present a truly integrated system with examples of our total engineering package included with every Automatic ICE™ System project. No one in this industry comes close to providing the level of detail in plant layout, electrical ladders and wiring layout, plumbing requirements, and refrigerant piping illustration. No one.
Because of this, we are rapidly becoming the “go to” company for new development and plant expansion projects. I’m glad, thank you; we appreciate the opportunities. It’s always good to know that we have projects for next year, or the following.
I also am finding it easier to discuss bag needs with many of the ice companies in my region. I can make the statement with total confidence that we have the best quality ice bag in the industry. We also have the added advantage of having a 20-year, exclusive relationship with our bag manufacturer. Because our marketing and sales are not directed at the “big boys”, we have the added edge of being able to respond quickly to changing raw material markets and seasonal customer demands to serve our client’s individual needs better without locking our customers in annual contracts for so called “bag programs”. If you need to change your order, move up a shipment, etc. we can better serve your ice bag and poly roll stock needs.
Ice bags and ice system projects; those are the easy ones. Not only do we offer better quality products and much superior services, but our offerings are competitively priced and better long term investments. So darn it, there’s a need to provide other services to complete the package. All those highly trained AIS people need to stay busy supporting the day-to-day needs of our customers. We need your parts and supply business.
We are competitively priced on our parts, ice merchandisers, wire, and bagging and closing equipment. We have highly trained people available to trouble shoot and suggest solutions for everyday parts and equipment needs. Our inside sales staff is not comprised of “order takers only.” You won’t find a source of personnel better trained than ours.
My job is to get more of you used to the idea of calling AIS. Sometimes this isn’t as easy as it should be given the facts. Old habits are hard to undo. Speed dial numbers take a minute to change for some people, a little longer for others of us! There’s a certain amount of discomfort in talking to someone new. It brings to mind an experience I had last season with an iceman who had called me to come see him. It was a days travel to get to his plant from my office, but I was glad to go and see him, and hopefully establish a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with him and his ice company. His main reason for wanting me to come was his interest in putting in a Keith WALKING FLOOR® bin. He told me he had heard that Automatic ICE™ Systems had the most experience with the Keith products and wanted me to take a look at his operation. I spent several hours with him and we came to the conclusion that he probably had too much invested in a different system to rip everything out, unless he planned to expand or move. Great visit. Not what I would consider a waste of time and informative for both of us.
As I was planning to leave he thanked me for taking the time to come see him and told me he probably was going to make a move in the next couple of years. That was good news for me. Future business is always good to have. I told him that meanwhile it would be good if we began a relationship by doing some business with his company, possibly his bags, certainly some of his supply and ice merchandiser business. That way we would have a better understanding of his company and individual needs when the time came to do his big project.
I told him he would find our prices competitive, and our service excellent. I informed him of our highly trained staff, and that we placed a lot of value on long term relationships. He hesitated for a few seconds, and then told me, “I always call Cynthia when I need any supplies. I’ve done that for years.” Well I don’t know when Cynthia was going to come see him (she’s an inside sales person), and I doubt he had checked for any competitive prices in a long time, but I felt somewhat baffled that he had failed to see any value in what I had brought to him. Change is difficult. It is uncomfortable, but necessary in the business world. Maybe he needed to put my number instead of Cynthia’s on his speed dial!
Change is not easy. I found it uncomfortable when I considered joining the Automatic ICE™ Systems team, but I’m delighted I made that decision. I’m surrounded by professional, enthusiastic, dedicated people that make my job a pleasure. My challenge is to make sure I constantly strive to maintain my own level of commitment to equal theirs. I want to share this experience with my clientele here in the Southeast. Let me provide you with the AIS level of service you and your ice company deserve. Change that speed dial, call AIS instead. – Ed Norris