Don Green reminds us that relationships are the most gratifying things in this life.

They used to be the small majority of people, but anymore, increasing numbers of people drive from station to station looking for gasoline at the lowest price, and you can't blame them. Saving a buck is the way of the world today. It's the same way in the compressor service business, for the most part. We are invisible until a problem arises that has not been resolved easily by others. We did not exist except to answer a few questions when the public was in trouble, and that was okay in a way. They weren't interested in getting to know us, and, realistically, we weren't all that interested to know them. They were just there and so were we. But, out of the mass of humanity, there surfaced a very small percentage of people who actually saw us. They learned our names; we learned theirs. We got to know them and their habits, their families and their equipment. They were what we referred to as our friends. They were friends for whom we were real - valued and appreciated. Ultimately, they comprised the foundation of our business.

Over time, the relationship that developed with our new customer base was exponentially more intimate than it had been with the greater number of people who crossed through our service shop before. In one world, the relationship was troubleshooting problems over the phone. In the other, it was generally borne out of a deep sense of frustration or disappointment experienced while in the hands of another service provider. Once that is realized, the goal is to ensure that the only customers you lose are those you choose to lose. That may not be the ideal way of looking at this industry, but I'll bet it is more common than any of us would like to admit.

A number of years ago (so many I am not quite sure when), a young man appeared at our shop, frustrated and angry. He had been to a number of service facilities, shops just like ours, and had been told his compressor had internal leakage that was causing oil to leak out through the compressor suction filter every time he shut down the compressor. I was informed that this particular service facility had inspected and repaired all service component parts that could have caused this problem, leading to their diagnosis of a faulty air compressor. The subject compressor has less than 1,000 hours and started after the unit had been brought in customer's shop for service.

We traveled to the job site in the company of this young man. After careful inspection, we found a number of problems, not the least of which was that the compressor oil filter element had the spring and metal plate in the wrong end. This eliminated its function of holding the element in the correct position in the "no bypass" body, which in turn restricted the oil flow to the compressor. This also eliminated oil flow function to the oil stop valve, which allowed the receiver oil flow back through compressor air end and out through air filter at shutdown. After replacing the filter element in housing - the proper way - and reworking the oil stop valve, we installed a pressure gauge at the inlet of the oil stop valve to verify pressure and oil flow to this valve during test.

Everything operated as designed and no oil back-flowed out through compressor air filter on shutdown. We made our recommendations, suggesting he return to the original service provider since that's where he just had the work performed, but he refused. He was furious because he had just about been replaced on his drilling contract due to down time over a filter problem, and sale of the replacement parts, in this case, would have not corrected the problem. We performed the necessary service and sent the young man on his way, hoping that we had built a strong enough foundation to support a long-term relationship.

The many compressor jobs this young man has sent our way in the past months is nothing short of miraculous. We don't know how he knows so many people in the drilling and compressor business. And the original subject compressor, which was supposedly worn out back then, has many thousands of hours on it and is still operating daily.

The temptation is to write about the great job we've done maintaining and repairing the little things that have gone wrong over the months. We could discuss the importance of preventative maintenance and the ultimate payback in service life and reduced cost of operation. But, that's not what this is all about. It's about relationships and what they mean, what impact they ultimately have on everything we do, every action we take, every decision we make.

Having people show you how much they care makes it a lot easier and worthwhile. when that happens, the results can be magical. And, coming in every day to do it all over again? Well, let's just say that the relationship is most gratifying.