March 2023


By far, the most challenging, and difficult responsibility of my career, was my time spent as the Material Manager for an antenna manufacturer in Baltimore.  It wasn’t even a very large company; less than 200 employees from the president all the way down to the janitor.


During my tenure as a Material Manager, I found meeting these 4 basic goals gave me the best chance of not becoming the center of attention during production meetings.


  • To have the required materials on hand when needed.
  • To pay the lowest possible price for quality, good value materials.
  • To minimize the inventory investment.
  • To operate efficiently.


What made it so difficult, wasn’t the antiquated ERP system, or the thousands upon thousands of different parts on all our product BOM’s, or even the lack of timely engineering document updates to the BOM’s.  Nope, it was the “perfect storm” created by the Vice President of Production’s bonus structure and the commission-based Sales Department’s group of (ex-used car) sales personnel.


The sales group would tell a potential customer whatever they needed to hear to get their signature on the purchase order.  “Sure, you need 10,000 antennas by lunchtime tomorrow, absolutely no problem at all, we do that all the time.”  What’s that you say?  They need to be painted pink with yellow polka-dots, that will be extra, but OK sure, we’ll do that.  Then they bring the purchase order back to the factory and go straight to the Production VP and immediately he gets all glassy eyed thinking about how his bonus would pay for a new boat, or the home theater he’s been thinking about.


And of course, none of this takes into account the quarterly, semi-annual and annual inventory of A, B and C inventory items.  Or the list of components recently showing as obsolete or components with a 180+ day lead time.


Then the real-world realities set in when I found myself trying to explain why the part kits would probably not be ready or released by the planned production start date.

WHAT they would say!  Why is that?


  • Inaccurate or partial Bill of Materials listing from the engineering department.
  • Frequently there were Purchase order revisions and inaccuracies.
  • Shipping and receiving errors causing inaccurate inventory levels.
  • Inaccurate material inventory counts.
  • Inventory adjustments.


I’ve seen some variation of all this (in one form or another) rear its ugly head in Production Meetings from time to time, and I quickly discovered how important planning and communication was.

The planning and communication not only focused on the suppliers we had been dealing with for years, but establishing a network of backup suppliers I could trust to help me out when a crisis came up.


Speaking of a crisis, I worked for a dozen years as the “Technical Data Package” manager for Martin Marietta on the Navy Vertical Launcher program in Middle River, Maryland.  I remember a team of high-level managers (ie; suits) from HQ coming to spend time at our facility to evaluate our management strengths and weaknesses.  At the conclusion of their evaluation, we learned they felt our greatest strength was our “Crisis Management” capability.  They also concluded our greatest weakness was that we were always in “Crisis Management”.  My experience has been no matter how well you plan and communicate something always throws a monkey wrench into the gears and you find yourself in need of suppliers that are ready willing and able to step up when you need them in a crisis.


Galaxy Electronics is like that, and we would like to prove it to you.  Send us your quote request, your Gerber files, and tell us how we can help….

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