in Vol. 7 - November Issue - Year 2006
With Determination to Succeed!
Albert Johnson (middle), President of Superior Shot Peening, Van Blasingame (right), Vice President and Tom Sheldon (left), CFO
Morning production meeting discussing all current jobs
MFN met Albert Johnson and part of his team during the Shot Peening Workshop and Trade Show in Florida last May. Looking at his achievements combined with his intriguing personality, MFN was glad for the opportunity to interview him.
(?) MFN: Albert, tell us about the origins of Superior Shot Peening.
(!) A. J.: Superior Shot Peening was started in 1990 in response to a lack of prompt customer service in the industry. My partner and I did not understand why it took 3 weeks to shot peen a part. We believed that if that same part could be processed in 1 day, the marketplace would respond. We were right. What started as a 2 man operation with 1 customer in a 1,000 sq ft warehouse has grown into a company with over 60 employees, working in over 60,000 sq ft of space and serving over 500 active customers. In addition, what once was solely a shot peening shop has evolved into a full service advanced metal finishing company offering dozens of different processes.
(?) MFN: Then the name Superior Shot Peening doesn’t really describe your business?
(!) A. J.: That is correct. Although Shot Peening still remains a core of our business, we provide many other advanced metal treatments. Over the years, we have added phosphating, metalizing, along with a long list of coating applications. In order to respond to the needs of my customers, I have made it a priority to add at least one process a year to our operations. In fact, if a customer has a special requirement, we can do it.
(?) MFN: Describe your customer base?
(!) A. J.: In the beginning, all of our trade was in the oil tool and power generating industries. As our reputation and capacity grew, our base did as well. We now have a broad customer hub that includes the aircraft, aerospace, chemical, automotive, electrical, food service and construction industries. We also have done classified work for the United States Military.
(?) MFN: What do you think was the secret to your company’s success?
(!) A. J.: Without question the secret to our success is consistently providing the best customer service on the planet, bar none. We take on new challenges from our customers on a daily basis and have earned a reputation for quality as well as prompt, creative solutions. We pride ourselves on the slogan, “Home of the 24 Hour Turnaround”. We understand that what we do is one of the final steps involved in bringing our customers product to market. Therefore, a fast turnaround will have a positive impact on their bottom line. For example, our prompt service enabled one of our clients to reduce product delivery time by 16 days.
Of course, in order to provide excellent service, you must have excellent people. The staff we have assembled here are bright, loyal, and talented. They also possess an uncanny ability to improvise innovative solutions to our clients needs.
(?) MFN: How has your Company evolved over your 17 years of operations?
(!) A. J.: The one factor that determined where this company has gone over the years and where it will go in the future is our clientele. I try to avoid setting business goals in a vacuum. Instead, I visit my customers and listen to what their goals are. Then I come back and confer with my staff and we set our goals to align with those of our customers. All my customers have access to my cell phone number and can, and do, contact me 24 hours a day anywhere in the world.
(?) MFN: After talking with your customers, what do you see as the future challenges for Superior Shot Peening?
(!) A. J.: I see 2 main challenges for the future of Superior Shot Peening. First, I sense the need for this company to have more of an international presence. My customers all say that they are in the process of expansion into foreign markets. They also say that they want us there with them. As a result, we are currently in negotiations to add facilities in China, Singapore, Taiwan, India, Europe, South America and the Middle East. We anticipate having a facility in Europe up and running by the end of the year.
The second challenge is to continue to bring on new technology to better service our industry. Superior Shot Peening is finalizing a partnering relationship with Applied Ultrasonics to use the Esonix UIT (Ultrasonic Impact Treatment) technology for fatigue life enhancement. Esonix UIT utilizes a combination of ultrasonic energy and ultrasonic impacts to form a uniform stress profile. This partnership is one of many ideas we are pursuing to help keep us on the cutting edge of the business.
(?) MFN: What experience does your Company have in international work?
(!) A. J.: We have traveled all over the world to do on site work. Recently, we received an e-mail about a job in South America on Tuesday and were ready to leave on Friday. I have personally traveled to several locations, including China, Dubai and Singapore, for consulting. In the past year, we built several self contained portable shot peening units at our Houston facility. Once they are shipped to their destination, our crews arrive to install and train the customer in its operation.
(?) MFN: Is there any difference in handling international versus domestic work?
(!) A. J.: As far as listening to the client and developing a solution that fits their needs, there is no difference. That is why we have adopted our successful, local philosophy of business to international demands. The main problem is all the different sets of rules and regulations you have to deal with when exporting your technology outside the United States. My head spins every time I talk to my international business lawyer about all the mountains you have to climb just to open a small shot peening operation. The other problem we have is locating media and supplies required for operation. When my customers have an on site job they want a quick turnaround. They do not want to wait 2 months for a ship to travel and clear customs.
(?) MFN: What technological expertise does Superior Shot Peening Offer?
(!) A. J.: Our Metallurgist, Dr. Gopalakrishnan, has a PHD from the Indian Institute of Technology, is well published and highly respected in the industry. All of my key people are at least College Graduates. In addition, our production management personnel have hundreds of years of experience in metal finishing. All certifications are kept current, and our employees are constantly honing theirs skills in the latest quality and production methods.
(?) MFN: Finally, what personal satisfaction do you get from the success of Superior Shot Peening?
(!) A. J.: I see the results of what we do everyday. I know of no drilling operation that is not supplied with equipment that at one time went through our plant. When I travel all over the world, I see the airplane tray tables and oxygen tanks that were coated in our shop. When the space shuttle lifts off, I am pleased to know that my company had a small part in that success. I take great pride in knowing that everyday mountains are moved by hard working, talented people whose goal is to uphold the high standard of quality workmanship that is the hallmark of Superior Shot Peening.
We at MFN would like to thank Albert Johnson for this interview.
Superior Shot Peening Inc.
13930 Luthe Rd
Houston, Texas 77039, U.S.A.
Tel. +1.281.449 6559, Fax +1.281.449 5339