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Pay it forward for successful business relations

In business, we often hear about the problems rather than successes. What our customer A.O. Smith and Aquasana do here is something we all can learn from. If someone has done a good job, tell them! Everyone enjoys a pat on the back.

This Unsung Hero Award is a really nice gesture from A.O. Smith,says Becky Sexton.

Jacobi is often one of many suppliers to companies, but we are a significant component to keep our clients’ businesses running. So when we are doing a good job, it’s gratifying to see it recognised and rewarded – like with this fantastic acknowledgement from A.O. Smith.

We met with Becky Sexton, a Sales Account Manager at Jacobi, to discuss our relationship with an appreciated client, A.O. Smith, and their daughter companies, Aquasana and Water-Right.

Hi Becky, what does our business relationship with A.O. Smith look like?

A.O. Smith is the parent company to Aquasana and Water-Right, who both serve the home water filter market in the US. We sell carbon directly to Aquasana and Water-Right and interact with A.O. Smith on new product development. Aquasana has been a Jacobi customer since 2011 and Water-Right since 2018.

You have received the Unsung Hero Award, what is that about?

The Unsung Hero Award is a way for A.O. Smith to show appreciation to suppliers that have gone above and beyond during a particularly difficult time. A.O. Smith’s award letter states: “We are committed to delivering our channel partners and customers with clean, purified water. Our products are essential to providing clean water to hospitals, clinics, grocery stores, food service companies, and many more locations, including our own homes. As a necessary supplier and supply chain partner, Jacobi Carbons has been instrumental in allowing us to maintain our operations.”

A.O. Smith acknowledges that Jacobi is a critical partner in helping them achieve their goal of providing clean water to their customers, especially during a global pandemic. 

“An initiative like this strengthens the relationship.”

How do you feel to be awarded like this?

Surprised and honoured!  All of us at Jacobi work hard every day to support our customers and their business, and it’s nice to be appreciated for this effort.

What effect do you think an initiative like this could have?

It strengthens the relationship between us. As A.O. Smith states in their letter: “As a necessary supplier and supply chain partner to A.O. Smith, Jacobi Carbons has been instrumental in allowing us to maintain our operations. Typically, when communicating with customers, no news is good news. Customers can be quick to point out when things are not going well but slow to praise. We want to break that cycle.” 

What they say is very true, and it is a really nice gesture that they acknowledge a supplier in that way, reaching out and showing appreciation for our efforts as a supplier. Actually, we have a similar internal policy, to recognise our people for the excellent work they do that we call “Certificate of Appreciation”.

“Treat the customer the way you want to be treated.”

What does it mean for A. O. Smith that Jacobi could deliver pretty much as usual during the pandemic?

Aquasana has reached out several times to say thank you for the security of supply Jacobi has provided during the pandemic. Covid-19 has resulted in a boom in the home water filter market in the US. Jacobi has been able to supply Aquasana’s typical needs, and additional requirements brought on by Covid-19. Aquasana would not have been able to capture this additional business had Jacobi not consistently supplied one of their key components.

How were you able to do that?

Because lead times to the US can be quite long, it is essential to plan ahead and maintain minimum inventory levels in the US. Inventory levels are reviewed several times a month, so we’re sure we have enough in the pipeline and time to adjust if necessary.  

The Unsung Hero Awardis an initiative from A.O. Smith to thank valued suppliers who have gone above and beyond in support of the client.

What does the situation look like right now, a year into the pandemic?

Our relationship with A.O. Smith, Aquasana, and Water-Right remains very good.  At the end of last year, they acknowledged the increase in raw material and freight costs incurred by Jacobi and agreed to a price increase. US inventory is lower than we like because of Covid-19 quarantines at Jacobi’s plants and longer transit times from Asia to the US. Still, we continue to monitor the situation regularly and are doing all we can to ensure an uninterrupted supply.

What’s your best advice for maintaining a good business relationship?

Treat each customer as if they are your favourite. Treat them the way you want to be treated (the golden rule). Keep your promises and follow up regularly.

For all the readers who might not know you, what do you do when you are not working at Jacobi?

My husband Bruce and I have been married for 31 years and have three children. Our oldest, Jessica (21), has recently been engaged, so we’re busy planning a summer wedding! We are very involved at our church (my husband is the pastor), and we enjoy hanging out with friends and being involved in our kids’ school activities.

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