All Systems Grow: Jackie’s Story
Jackie Gardner is the Manufacturing Support Products Manager at Hartwig, overseeing all after sale products and EDM consumables (in addition to 12 certified parts professionals) for our entire system from her home base at our St. Louis, MO facility.
Retail experience lays the foundation
Prior to joining Hartwig, Jackie worked in high-volume retail for several years. Her responsibilities included inventory management and pricing, customer service, and liquidating obsolete inventory.
“A lot of my experience in retail played well into my career at Hartwig,” Jackie said. “I came in understanding how to listen to customers and help them get exactly what they need—that creates solutions that are wins for everyone involved.”
Joining the Hartwig team
Jackie joined the Hartwig team in 1999 as a parts coordinator. At the time, our parts department was using Excel spreadsheets to track and manage inventory. Jackie immediately recognized the opportunity to improve our system, spending hours analyzing the system and how it was working. By the end of her first year at Hartwig, she spearheaded the inventory management transition from the Excel spreadsheet to the finance software we were using at the time.
“Moving from spreadsheets to software helped us automate more of our parts processes and made the ordering process more accurate,” Jackie remembered. “It lent more meaning to our numbers so we could better measure our performance.”
Jackie was also instrumental in centralizing customer service for parts and manufacturing support product questions. This helped simplify the process and streamline the customer experience for these types of interactions.
“Customers used to call their local office about parts and get transferred to someone at that location,” she said. “We implemented our parts hotline for people to call no matter where they are across the country.”
In addition to the parts hotline, Jackie helped establish an email queue for customers’ part inquiries as an alternative means of communication.
“Anything we can do to give our customers options in how they contact us is an improvement. Every customer is unique and has different communication preferences. Today, the trend is going more toward email.”
Over the next five years, Jackie continued to step up to make improvements in the parts department whenever she saw an opportunity. She oversaw the transition from their original finance software to the current system and maintained precise inventory accuracy consistently each year—reporting less than a 0.1% shortage.
Then in 2005, she received a call from Gary Hartwig, who was company president at the time.
“He asked me what my title was,” Jackie remembered. “I said, ‘It just depends on what I’m doing and what the day is—I wear a lot of hats.’”
One week later, a package arrived at her desk. It was a set of new business cards that bore a new title: Parts Manager. Her role would soon evolve to overseeing the entire manufacturing support products team across the whole Hartwig system. Today, she is responsible for leading 12 professionals who help connect Hartwig customers with the parts they need to keep their operations running.
To provide more focused service, Jackie created specialized roles in the parts department. Now, eight employees focus solely on working with customers, while three work with service technicians in the field and one is dedicated to working with Hartwig preventive maintenance. This helps ensure our customers receive the same urgency when it comes to service—whether they are working with the parts department directly or indirectly through their service technician.
Let nothing stand in the way of solutions
Today, Jackie is responsible for over $4.5 million in parts inventory at Hartwig. She is also in charge of creating and maintaining the budget for her department.
No matter what, Jackie focuses on accuracy and integrity in everything she does. “Hartwig never puts a limit on what we can keep in stock for customers,” she said. “You have to use that freedom wisely, making sure we have the right items at the right time without excess products on hand.”
When a customer needs a part that isn’t in Hartwig’s stock, Jackie thinks outside the box. She works with different vendors to shorten part lead times as much as possible. If lead times become a challenge, she gets creative in offering solutions.
“There have been times where we’ve sent part drawings from the manufacturer to the customer so they can fabricate a temporary part themselves,” Jackie said. “Our focus is getting them back up and running as quickly as possible, no matter what.”
Jackie’s focus on improvement and growth aligns perfectly with the organizational culture at Hartwig. “As long as something is an improvement for the company and customers, it’s good for Hartwig. And if you make a mistake, you own it, fix it, and move on,” she said. “There are no limits for how much you can grow.”
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