COMPONENTS – A downward trend
Bob Evans, CPMR
Rolling Meadows, Ill.
First things, first. Some notes of special recognition that I would like to share.
Congratulations to John O’Brien of Coakley, Boyd and Abbett, on receiving the Ray Hall Spirit of ERA Award. John’s dedication to, and tireless work on behalf of the ERA is the stuff of legends. Also gracing the stage at the conference was our own Karin Derkacz, a deserving winner of the Tess Hill Award, recognizing her amazing service for the last 50 years. To top it all off, we honored our leader, Walter Tobin, with the newly created Tobin Bridge Award; given in recognition of Walt’s innumerable contributions to the wellbeing of ERA.
Kudos also to the hard-working volunteers serving on the Conference Committee who helped put together the 2020 ERA Conference. Thanks to them and the incomparable ERA staff, we all enjoyed the best conference ever.
At the conference, around water coolers across the country, and I suspect in every one of our homes and communities, a hot topic is the coronavirus. While there is much uncertainty as to how it will spread, where it will spread, how long the outbreak will last and all manner of topics surrounding it, one thing is for sure — the effects will be felt for a very long time. Many of those effects are already being felt most acutely in our industry.
By the time you are reading this, I am willing to bet the world’s health authorities will have their arms around the healthcare aspects of this pandemic. But it does not seem like we will be out of the woods on the ripple effects caused by long-term factory shutdowns in China, the interruption in Chinese customs inspections and general lack of movement of people and material. Factory workers were able to very slowly get back to work, only to find that they were facing draconian rules imposed by the central government and then the double-whammy of having little or no material with which to build.
Hidden by the virus uproar though is the fact that things were trending downward a bit heading into the Lunar New Year break. Independent of the outbreak, there were signs of some softening as evidenced by some economic indicators. An International Data Corporation (IDC) article published in February 2020 stated that “According to IDC’s Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, 366.7 million smartphones were shipped in China in 2019… a 7.5 percent decline from a year ago, resulting from market saturation as well as a challenging economy.” The authors went on to say, “In 4Q19, 86.2 million units shipped, down 15.6 percent year-on-year due to both Huawei’s large inventories as well as consumers waiting for cheaper 5G smartphones. This was the market’s 11th consecutive quarterly decline and its third consecutive annual decline.” That is three years of declining sales in the largest phone market in the world.
There is a similar trend in the automotive industry. CNBC reported in November 2019 that “Global passenger car sales fell to 80.6 million in 2018, [down] from 81.8 million new units sold in 2017, which was the first annual decline since 2009. Worldwide sales in 2019 look likely to fall by another 4 percent to around 77.5 million new vehicle sales.” The good news is that more and more electronics are showing up in these cars every year, so this drop may be mitigated. But it still shows a decline in overall units.
MATERIALS, ASSEMBLY, PRODUCTION & SUPPLY – Clear communication is essential
Have you ever watched a TV commercial and when it was over, asked yourself: “What are they selling?” I’m reminded of a line from an old movie, “I think what we have here is a failure to communicate.” Every day, I see examples of “failure to communicate” in our daily business activities.
One of my pet peeves is sending a detailed email and then having the recipient email back and ask a question that is answered in the email.
Well, I’m not exactly exempt from doing the same thing. Just a couple of days ago, I received an email, read the subject line and promptly emailed back a question. Then I read the email only to realize that the answer was right there in the email. We are all in just too much of a rush to COMMUNICATE.
I have written about communication in this column before, but it is such an important and critical thing that the realization that I was doing exactly what I have been griping about, I felt compelled to again get on my soapbox.
Anytime I think about this subject, I’m reminded of a conference several years ago when I was asked to address “communication.” As I was collecting my thoughts and putting together the presentation, my son walked by and, since tomorrow was garbage day, I said “don’t forget the garbage.” About an hour later, he walked by again and I asked, “did you take out the garbage.” To which he replied, “you said forget the garbage.” Selective listening or missed communication? That made me think about both segments of communication. The presenter must communicate clearly, whether verbal or written and the recipient must be careful to understand what is being said and not just “listen to reply.” If that happens, the point of communication will be missed completely.
In today’s environment we are so accustomed to “instant gratification” that many times, in our haste to respond, we fail to grasp what is being said or written. Before the phone call or sales call, we need to have a clear picture of what we want to say. Before we hit the send button, read the email and be sure it clearly states what you want to say (and be sure spell check didn’t change what you intended to say). Before you respond in haste, verbally or in print, be sure you understand what is being said, if not, then ask those questions. That extra moment can prevent serious misunderstanding and perhaps multiple conversations or emails to clarify.
Clear, concise communication is essential in conducting our everyday business and personal communication. And, it is incumbent on both the presenter and the recipient to participate in the communication. Just keep in mind, communication is a two-way street.