ILS Editor-in-Chief David Belforte gives a brief synopsis of 2013 in his most recent Blog. While the industry did not have any real “blockbusters” during 2013, most photonics/laser companies did at least reasonably well — especially considering the fact that formerly “easy” government money was much harder to come by.
Dave also specifically mentions picosecond and femtosecond laser processing as being stand-outs in the laser mix that, along with laser additive manufacturing (LAM), could see real growth in 2014 — and I agree on all counts. Thus, my personal mission, or “New Year’s Resolution,” is to really spend the time necessary to promote LAM and ultrashort pulse (USP) laser processing industry-wide (and admittedly for selfish reasons!).
Here are some things to consider when going on a mission such as this:
Gather Information. Information, however, is a dual-edged sword because sometimes too much information clouds the real issues. Concentrate on the clear goals and don’t get lost on complicated details. Also, possession of information is not an end in itself. The information must be processed and acted upon for it to be useful.
Know the industry. This knowledge is obtained by attending trade shows, reading trade journals, taking courses in person and on line, and talking to people in the industry. Networking is key!
Know your vendors. Your vendors are a major source of leads and referrals. Make sure you understand how the vendors can be leveraged to provide not only products out of their catalogs, but also the good will to increase networking opportunities.
Know your customers. Understand their requirements and how to make them happy. As one of my customers once told me: “You guys are great, but the problem is that you give us exactly what we ASK for and not what we really NEED!”
Sometimes a bit of Counselor Selling can make significant breakthroughs in a customer relationship. Visit customers in person. E-mail is great, but it is only ONE tool and not the most important, although it may be the most convenient to use. Remember that a really good customer is a blessing as a reference, but a really angry customer can be a “Death Star”. The old axiom is that a happy customer will tell 1 to 2 people on average, whereas a very unhappy customer will tell 10 people.
Many of my past columns are reviews of trade shows that highlight laser processing, and I intend to continue this feedback in 2014 — with the first shows coming about in just a few weeks.
Photonics West, the premier photonics show in the US and one of the biggest in the world, draws upwards of 20,000 people each year to San Francisco. The exhibit space is huge, and in addition, there are a host of technical talks and courses – including my “Fundamentals of Laser Micromachining” course (Tuesday, 1:30-5:30), where you can sit for 4 hours and hear everything you ever wanted to hear about laser machining and manufacturing (or get a good nap). The next week is the big MD&M West (Medical Device Manufacturing) show in Anaheim, where I am sure USP lasers and LAM applications will be highly visible. Stay tuned for feedback.
In closing, I hope to meet a lot of new people in this New Year. I hope to see all of my old friends. I hope to help to spread the word — or as I call it, Preach the Gospel — of laser manufacturing. I hope to help push some of the new laser technologies into high growth areas. I hope to help uncover new and hitherto-not-thought-of applications.
Looking forward to a Great 2014!
I am always interested in hearing your thoughts concerning laser micromachining, the laser industry, entrepreneurial endeavors, etc. AND … we are always looking for fresh, publishable material. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.