It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money, that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. —John Ruskin
That famous quote from social thinker John Ruskin was sent in to Valve Magazine from Urmimala Mukhopadhyay, marketing analyst for Cameron Valves & Measurement. It summarizes very well what many Valve Repair Council (VRC) members feel is the main danger of not using an OEM-certified company in making valve repairs.
“Most fly-by-night repair facilities offer products and services at a much cheaper price. But more often than not, these repair shops do not have the technical knowledge, experience, capability or resources to handle the maintenance and repair of valves to OEM specifications. Relying on these often leads to cost consequences,” Mukhopadhyay explained.
Mukhopadhyay was one of the VRC company representatives who responded to VM’s call to tell us why companies should join VRC, the advantages of belonging, and most importantly, the advantages end users gain by seeking out a VRC member. We also spoke with Darrell Roberts, owner of Wal-Tech; Kim Beise, president of Dowco Valve Company; and Cliff Smith, director of Operations & Service, Flow Control/Automation Business Line, Metso Automation, Inc.
Darrell Roberts, who has just a few years in the valve repair industry, says he is amazed at how many end users have little to no knowledge of the benefits of using an OEM-certified repair facility, a requirement for service and repair companies that wish to join the Valve Repair Council. He tells this story:
“We almost lost a major client because they did not understand what an obsolete valve was.” The client would call and request a quote for a repair, then when Wal-Tech would explain that parts were not available, the client would find a shop that would make repairs without question. “When I discovered what was going on, I made it a point to ask, during the next meeting with our client (a meeting attended by a regional manager, a reliability manager and several other high-level company reps), ‘do you know what an obsolete valve is?’ Not one of them knew!” he explains.
“What I have learned in my short time in the valve business is that we ‘assume’ our clients know and understand the valve business,” but this is simply not always true, he says. As a result, repair companies need to understand how to educate their customers because: “an educated client is the best client we can have,” he says.
But even companies not dealing with the small “fly-by-night” repair shops face real dangers in not using OEM-certified companies, VRC members point out.
“Many of these ‘repair shops’ are quite large,” says Metso’s Smith. However, because they do not belong to an organization such as VRC, they often just don’t have access to OEM specs. As a result, “they are either reverse engineering components or they are purchasing parts from the OEM. Since they cannot be competitive when buying the OEM parts, they are much more likely to reverse engineer,” Smith adds.
But it’s not just the dangers of reverse engineering that should encourage valve companies to seek out an OEM-certified repair facility.
A significant advantage of an OEM service center is the engineering support, Smith points out. “We will not only repair older equipment and restore products to OEM specs, we will review performance issues and provide upgrades and alternative solutions,” Smith continues.
Also, the processes that involve valves themselves change over time so products that were appropriate years ago may no longer be adequate or they may have been improved, which a user is much more likely to know if they are dealing with an OEM-certified company. Meanwhile, however, “non-OEMs service by repairing old, and often obsolete, equipment for as long as possible,” he concludes.
Dowco’s Kim Beise agrees that too many end users don’t actually know the differences between OEM and non-OEM repair facilities, “and many don’t care as long as they get the lowest price at the time the work is done.” However, like all those interviewed for this story, he has a list of dangers to cite in using non-OEM including those already mentioned as well as:
- The end user may not have the right documentation of the repair work performed when an inspector asks for the paperwork.
- A company that isn’t OEM-certified is often in the business for a quick dollar.
- A fly-by-night company may not have the proper equipment to perform a repair job.
- Non-OEMs may not have the updated tools they need to make a good repair.
- A non-OEM-certified company cannot be viewed as a trusted advisor.