Notes From Rob Coats SMC CEO

Notes from the CEO, March Edition

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1. Doing What’s Right

Principles are the greatest driving force for SMC. The first two go hand in hand:

  1. Do What is Right
  2. There is Strength in the Truth

These two principles resolve most issues in business. Their simplicity is what makes them powerful. We do what’s right for our Customers; our Employees; our Suppliers, and Service Providers. Doing what’s right is easy when things go well. But things don’t always go well. We make mistakes. We miss deadlines. Our quality is not always perfect. But none of the folks above believe we will not make mistakes, so it is not the mistake that is the issue. It is how we handle our mistakes that matters. Tell the whole truth, and then do what is right to resolve it.

They are the most powerful business principles available and, a study shows, used by less than half of business people. I believe them to be my silver bullet and best kept secret.

2. Delight Our Customers

How do you take care of your customers? Ninety percent of companies believe they are in the top fifty percent in Customer Service! I know – the math doesn’t work. At SMC, we are striving to Delight Our Customers. Why use those words? Why not “We Provide Great Customer Service”, or “The Customer Is Always Right”. For one, we know the Customer is NOT always right. They make mistakes in documentation, forecasting, and in communication – among other things. It is our job as a Supplier to help our Customers when they make mistakes, because the end customer is the one that needs to be taken care of. And we hope, from time to time, that SMC will do something so special, that our customer will say “Whoa – I didn’t expect that” and be Delighted.

3. The Myth of “One Point of Contact”

I have known many companies in my career that demanded there be One Point of Contact, such that all communication came through one person at the Customer and Supplier. Where the Myth comes in is when those are the only people that ever speak to each other from the two companies and they are expected to keep everyone else informed. SMC has the role of Customer Business Manager – a powerful role where that person represents our Customers inside SMC and insures that our commitments are met. However, we also have five Engineering Managers who have strong relationships with their counterpart at our Customers and talk to them regularly. At least one of our Executive managers has regular discussions with the appropriate executive at each of our Customers. And with some customers we have Weekly Meetings where each organization may have eight people in the room. It’s hard to miscommunicate when everyone hears the same thing. So, I agree there should be a “Primary Point of Contact” – as in our Customer Business Manager – but the other layers of contact are critical to a successful relationship with your customers.

About Rob Coats, CEO

Rob Coats is the Chief Executive Officer of SMC Manufacturing ServicesRob brings more than thirty-five years of manufacturing experience to SMC.  He spent the first part of his career in manufacturing management with Procter & Gamble before coming to Lexington to manage the operations of a small manufacturer.  His first position with ownership was a wire harness company near Lexington.  After that business sold, Rob purchased SMC as the majority owner in 1994. Sales grew by 7X over the next thirteen years due to a stellar group of key employees.  Rob holds a B.S. in Engineering and a MBA from Virginia Tech.


SMC is a print circuit board assembly manufacturer, custom cable assembly provider, system integration/box build manufacturer that is located in the heart of Kentucky. Our two locations provide quick and easy access for the technology industry in the eastern region.

We specialize and are certified to manufacture products in the medical, security, military/DOD, industrial controls, construction, and transportation industries.  To maximize customer support, we have created five separate engineering departments: process, test, customer, system integration, and quality engineering. These departments offer world class engineering support and product development. SMC has the EMS solutions you need to ensure quality electronic products at a competitive cost.