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Patty Augustyn, Regional Sales Manager, Jacobi Americas.


Trust is the most important thing to make a customer relationship stronger

Here at Jacobi we understand that people make the difference in business. We value not only our own people, but also our customers and the relationships we have with those that we do business with. The main component of making these relationships a success: people.

IN THIS EDITION of A Pure World we want to help spotlight some of those relationships and find out who the people are that foster them and what it takes to make them a success. We recently caught up with Patty Augustyn from our US entity. Patty joined Jacobi in 2015 as a Sales Account Manager focusing on Home Water Filtration accounts and is currently the Regional Sales Manager in Jacobi Americas and the Global Champion for the Home Water Filtration Market.

Patty Augustyn has many years of experience in the Home Water Filtration Industry. Having an industry expert like Patty on our team, who speaks the language of the business, helps us develop strong relationships with our customers. We asked Patty to tell us about one of her customer relationships that stands out on a day-to-day working basis.

Patty: One long-term customer with Jacobi is KX Technologies, an industry-leading producer of a wide variety of OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) applications for the Home Water Filtration Market. Our relationship started with them in 2010 when we began to sell them coconut shell powdered activated carbon. KX converts Jacobi’s activated carbon into carbon blocks – the working part of many point-of-use home water filters, especially those found in refrigerators. This application requires a carbon to meet various drinking water regulations with a small volume of media being challenged by a high flow rate. Third party testing will demonstrate that the filter is effective in reducing chlorine and organic contaminants while not releasing impurities into the treated water, which would render it unsafe for consumption.

Activated carbon is at the heart of the products we produce, so having the right partner is critical to our success. Working with Jacobi for over a decade has proven to be a winning solution for us, not only in our day to day supply chain management, but also working together to bring new products to market, leveraging Jacobi’s innovative products.

Jerome Barrillon, President of KX

KX offer a wide variety of applications ranging from personal use to commercial and industrial filters.

Pioneers within Vendor Managed Inventory

Together with KX, we optimise the inventory in a VMI process. VMI is an acronym for ‘Vendor Managed Inventory’, and it relies on a high degree of cooperation between the supplier and the customer. The inventory is on the books for both organisations so that each organisation ‘wins’ by having the right amount of inventory in stock.

VMI is managed by our Global Supply Chain team. Basically, each month the customer reports their end-of-month inventory and their rolling forecast for the next six months. The customer inventory is virtually combined with Jacobi stock – which is on the ground and on the water. We strive to maintain 2½–3 months of combined stock at any given time.

Each month after receiving the data from KX, we have a call to review our stock positions, SKU by SKU, during which time we adjust (advance or delay) Jacobi stock orders as necessary. This is a great opportunity to discuss variations in pulls versus forecasts, possible changes in requirements due to market changes or new product launches and any other influencers on the stock level. Our Jacobi management team has a monthly opportunity to update KX on our plant conditions and to form deeper relationships with the KX team.

KX was the first VMI customer for Jacobi and the perfect partner with whom to initiate the process. They were already quite familiar with VMI before we agreed to manage inventory this way – they had managed VMI with their customers a full decade prior to our cooperative efforts. This allowed us to avoid pitfalls that might occur on such a cooperative project.

KX converts Jacobi’s activated carbon into carbon blocks – the working part of many point-of-use home water filters, especially those found in refrigerators.

A true partnership makes the relationship stronger

We consider KX to be a partner, not just a customer. Aside from helping us to develop VMI to optimise our production scheduling, we have been able to work together on various product development projects. As a carbon manufacturer, we can only take the technology so far, then it must be applied in various formats over which we have no control. KX is a partner who understands that product development takes multiple iterations to reach a mutual goal.

The most important thing in a client relationship is trust. No one – whether a person or organisation – is perfect. But because of our mutual trust in each other, we can have open, honest, sometimes difficult conversations without taking it personally and with an understanding (goal to avoid) that if either party loses, then both parties lose.

I love doing business with someone who believes in what I believe to be a success. KX believes what I believe, and I think they are aligned with us.

The next step in our work with KX

Like any home water filter OEM manufacturer, KX is under pressure to add more claims with a faster flow rate and a smaller footprint. Emerging contaminants discussed at any Water Quality Association meeting are always a favourite topic for our teams to discuss.

Great collaboration prevented supply interruption

Sometimes, I get the question of when supply chains will get back to ‘normal’ again. That’s a rather philosophical question. I thought we had already experienced the ‘new normal’ a couple of years ago. It seems that once one aspect of supply levels off, some other facet falls out of balance. This can be on our side, on the direct customer’s side, or further on down the consumer line. We are finally experiencing some stabilisation regarding shipping, but now with US recession fears, consumer purchases are significantly down, and so the imbalance continues to slingshot back and forth.

But thanks to our collaboration with KX under VMI, the work of our supply chain management team and the continued efforts of our production team in Sri Lanka, I’m grateful to say that KX never experienced a supply interruption from Jacobi.

We recognise the importance of our relationships with our customers and focus on collaboration and connection, rather than solely product provision. Cooperation and trust in one another, and our processes and systems, is key to maintaining a good working relationship. We also recognise the need for regular communication as a vital factor in meeting our end goal. Combining these elements allows us to work with customers like KX on a long-term basis.

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