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oriented order-takers with purchasing professionals trained as buyers adept at using the ETCO approach to sourcing. These professionals possess the skills to source materials by negotiating better prices and delivery terms whenever possible, and to help customer engineers solve problems on site. The overall result is lower carrying costs, despite rapidly increasing prices for materials such as carbidel. “The market has gone wild over the last two years. We get price increase notices from suppliers literally on a daily basis,” Abrahamson says. “Instead of just passing increases along or absorbing them, we’re in a position to step back and negotiate and work with them on how to eliminate those increases so we don’t have to pass them on.” Finding ways to do that consistently on behalf of customers is a constant challenge, but one the company is eager to tackle. “We know we can add value that others can’t match.” May 08 www.bus-ex.com 37 services, as well as Abrahamson—fi elds leads from across the company. “It covers the breadth of everything we touch inside the company,” he says. An invoice-streamlining project may be followed by one focusing on sourcing product from a new manufacturer, for example, he adds. The team tackles price, administrative and manufacturing costs, fi nding ways to boost customer cash fl ow by reducing inventory carrying costs, suggesting workfl ow improvements, and identifying technological solutions to help customers be more effi cient. Feeding ideas into the team is a sales force that is made up of people with manufacturing and machining backgrounds and applications engineers who are on site at customers’ facilities, constantly seeking opportunities to help customers improve their bottom lines. At the customer site level, ETCO has modifi ed its approach by replacing what were customer-service- Engman-Taylor