Service Excellence: An Interview with STARC Systems' Rik Glover

STARC Systems' Head of Manufacturing, Rik Glover, is a high-energy, high impact leader.  No challenge is too big for Rik and his team. He has led (several) transformations in production. He shares how the changes help deliver a better experience for STARC’s customers.

How long have you been with STARC?  Almost three years.

How have things changed in manufacturing during that time?  Well, pretty much everything has changed in some way. 

When I got here, we had one product line.  Since that time, we have replaced that line with an enhanced version, RealWall.  We have added the LiteBarrier product line, along with TempCeilings.  Then added a tall wall version of LiteBarrier.  And now we are working on our next product line which is exciting.

We have moved the manufacturing facility three times to meet increased demand for our products.  We recently moved into a large 40,000 square foot airplane hangar which should allow us to grow significantly without having to move again.  While still finalizing the organization of the plant from the most recent move, we are also in the process of designing what the space will look like for the new product line we will be introducing.

What is STARC’s customer service philosophy, and how does that filter through your approach to production & manufacturing?  Customer service is part of EVERYTHING we do.  We see it as our primary job.  When we provide the customer with an excellent service then we increase the likelihood that the customer will come back to us.  Great solutions that solves the customers problems, shortest lead times, product deliveries that are accurate and without damage, custom product solutions when required.  All these things come together to create a great experience for the customer and keep them coming back!

What have you been able to accomplish with these changes? The transformation has been measurable and real for our customers. Lead time for standard product usually ship within forty-eight hours. On-time shipment rates have improved significantly to consistently greater than 98 percent of orders.

How do you accomplish that?  We come to work every day looking for the opportunity to WOW a customer!  We talk about customer service; we talk about having the BEST customer service.  We talk about wins – big order that needs to ship tomorrow for a hospital in Houston and we get it done.  We are proud of those moments, we celebrate those moments, and we look forward to the next opportunity to go above and beyond for our customers!

Tell me about how STARC has grown and what challenges has that presented for you?

When I got here, we had 12 Direct labor folks, 1 CNC machine, and an old tired saw.  We now have 30 Direct Labor folks, including a 2nd shift.  We have 4 CNC machines with pallets changers to increase throughput and efficiency, and a new saw.  Compared to a few years ago, we can now ship five times the product.  During the peak of COVID-19, hospitals had dire need for isolation capacity to take care of patients; we increased our staffing to 51, added space in a new building and doubled shipments within a month. We shipped as much as eight times the product during the COVID-19 surge.  Isolation requirements drove a large increase in custom products to ensure we were meeting the specific needs of various situations.  When the need for isolation slowed, we reduced our temp force sizing for the new normal.  You hear a lot of talk about the ”new normal” these days.  In our world change IS normal, and that is the challenge.  Staying flexible and able to quickly respond to whatever the current state of the marketplace requires of us.  It can be stressful, but also incredibly rewarding. 

How are you planning for the future so that ship lead-times remain as short as possible?  We are constantly looking forward.  What do we believe the coming months will require for shipments?  What is the right size of our finished goods inventory so as to provide the best possible lead times for our customer?  What is the right mix of product going to be, including what are the new custom features that customers are going to need?  What is the “next big thing” – what new product line is going to solve customers’ unspoken needs?  We think about this WHILE building the most flexible possible workforce for the future – building a GREAT and responsive team.   We constantly talk about all these things.  We may not have the perfect answer to these questions today, but through the conversations we are able to be prepared to respond quickly. 

Give me some examples of STARC providing exceptional customer support with shipping lead-times?  While sitting here writing this 4 BIG orders have come in – one for today, 2 for tomorrow and one the customer doesn’t need to ship for 2 days.  This is our normal, and it’s VERY exciting.  When we get a big order, we celebrate – we ring a bell and run around letting everybody know what was sold.  It keeps our team energized for the next challenge, and our people really respond!  I can’t tell you that we are able to ship EVERY order the next day,  YET…

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