Spahr Metric Metal

421 McGhee Road
Winchester, VA 22603
Spahr Metric, Inc. is an independent importer & distributor of Metric Steel & Metals into the United States.
 We are in no way affiliated with or in a partnership with any other metric steel or metric metal suppliers.

Black Diamond Enterprises – Metric saves time and money

Interview with John Robinson

From the March/April 1997 issue of Metric Today.

CEO John Robinson, who founded Black Diamond Enterprises Ltd in 1976, says that going metric has helped improve operations at his manufacturing plant, in addition to providing the means to seek export customers. The company manufactures high quality stainless steel carts, shelving, and sinks for the food service, health care, and high-tech industries. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Denny’s, Giant foods, Hardy’s, and the US Navy Research Lab are a few examples of the types of customers the firm services.

Black Diamond Enterprises is located in Easton, PA, and Robinson, who is a USMA lifetime member, has been involved in a number of prestigious business groups and seminars. The most recent was his election as chairman of the DC Delegation to the White House Conference on Small Business. This group developed a list of recommendations for enhancing small-business operations and the economy, which were forwarded to President Clinton. It also arranged for a 10-member delegation that visited Russia last September to get first-hand knowledge on the experiences and challenges that small business owners face in the [Russian] developing economy.

Robinson said, This program was an outgrowth of the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown’s efforts. It gave US small businessmen a chance to share [with their counterparts in Russia] strategies open to small business for creating jobs and helping a nation’s economy grow. I am honored and pleased to have been a part of this first DC Small Business Delegation’s mission for helping strengthen relationships between the future leaders and businesses of America and Russia.

During an interview with USMA President Lorelle Young, Robinson provided some very interesting comments:

Young: Was exporting of your products the major reason you went metric?

Robinson: No. While it was a prime factor, the major factor was learning the inherent advantages of this simple measurement system, and the fact that the metric system is the international measurement system of the future. Presently, exporting takes only a small part of company production.

Young: What benefit have you gained by switching to metric?

Robinson: Because the metric system is easy to use, it is easier to train employees, so saves time and money. I have had experiences where new employees had major problems doing their jobs where the use of fractions was involved, but their work is performed more easily and correctly when using metric units. Changing to metric production also helped to set my company up for exporting, and it facilitates communication with foreign customers.

Young: Did you train employees on the job?

Robinson: Occasionally, new employees were trained on the job. But I also took advantage of excellent worker training programs available from the state of Maryland and NIST.

Young: Were there problems to overcome when you made the transition to metric system production, particularly in getting metric parts and equipment?

Robinson: None at all.

Young: Did going metric yield any special benefits?

Robinson: In addition to savings in training employees and expediting operations, going metric definitely expands a company’s markets, contributing to increased profits.

Young: I understand your company is known for its top quality production. Why, then, are you now in the process of preparing for ISO 9000 certification, which is based on quality?

Robinson: I feel that quality improvement should be an on-going effort, and ISO 9000 offers excellent guidelines for developing a company’s ability to conform to the highest standards of design, quality, and reliability. It also can help in sales to European Union and other foreign nations.

Young: What advice would you give to any USA company?

Robinson: I’d inform them that manufacturing to metric units will make it easier to train employees, particularly those with minimum education; and metrication can help expedite a company’s operations. It also can increase profits, through exports. Businesses need to look ahead to determine where changes may occur and should plan ahead. One way to build up business is to check export opportunities. For example, Russia offers rich opportunities for American business, and I feel it soon will be the second biggest world economy, after the USA.

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