I want you to join me in giving a round of applause to the manufacturers that provide everything from the rig you use at the jobsite to the tooling that goes in the hole. They deserve our respect, our support and our admiration for sticking in there and doing the job that keeps a lot of other jobs going.

Several manufacturers spoke with me for this month’s cover story (page 10). Mostly, we discussed this month’s Bauma 2016 event in Munich. It is the largest construction trade show in the world, attracting as many as half a million visitors. It’s a big deal. All of the manufacturers I spoke with are attending, whether it’s their first time or their 10th time. All of them spoke about the importance of a tradeshow like Bauma for attracting, growing and maintaining global customers.

Often, I dedicate this space to talking about contractors. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, when those contractors need new or updated equipment, supplies or advice, they turn to their manufacturers (and distributors — let’s not forget about them). Each of the manufacturers I spoke with talked about the supportive relationships they have with the customers and their hopes for potential customers who will walk into their booths at tradeshows like Bauma.

Manufacturers do their best to fill the needs in the market. Contractors have a responsibility to help them understand what those needs are. We’ve all attended tradeshows. You walk around the show floor and get the hard-sell from just about every booth you stop at. It can get old.

But, let’s turn that relationship on its head. Wouldn’t it be great to approach it from the standpoint of a conversation? Pick the booths of the manufacturers you know of and potentially trust. Stop by each one, and tell them about your needs at the jobsite. Send them home with something to think about.

I hear from manufacturers all the time who wonder about the size of this market segment or that one. They want their products to succeed, of course, and they want to know what the market looks like and what it needs. You can help.

If you have experience from a driller’s perspective about how a rig or a piece of tooling performs in the field, it’s your duty to let the manufacturers know. If they need to improve a down-the-hole hammer, or engineer a different bit design, that’s a conversation I think most good manufacturers would welcome. It’s even better if you can say to them, “This is what this rig should be able to do on the job, and if you can make it do that I’ll buy two of them. Even better, I know five more drillers that will do the same.”

The conversation is even more important when discussing equipment faults. If, for example, a drill string doesn’t stand up to the stress of the job you’re doing, the manufacturer should probably hear about it. Maybe you got a faulty part. Maybe the design has a flaw. Or maybe you’re using equipment ill-suited to the job you’re doing. Your feedback can help a manufacturer improve his processes — whether that’s production, sales or support. That helps him and his other customers. If a contractor doing a similar job had the equipment you’re using, and it failed, wouldn’t you want to hear about it?

We live in an economic climate where competition is tough, and even small companies have to both act like big companies and still be nimble in order to keep their heads above water. It’s no easy feat. But making high-quality products for the contracting community and offering knowledgeable, straightforward customer service makes it a lot easier.

It all starts with you walking into a trade booth at a show like Bauma and saying, “This is what I’m looking for in a drilling rig, and this is what I expect it to do.

What do you think? Do you have regular conversations with manufacturing partners? How has it affected your business? Send an email to verduscoj@bnpmedia.com.

Stay safe out there, drillers.