Insane Hydraulics

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Thoughts About Selling Hydraulic Stuff

I have 8 HPUs to service in our beautiful copper mine during this maintenance break, which means no weekends or holidays for this young fellow for the next three weeks! Manufacturing, replacing, and re-routing hydraulic hoses, scrubbing tanks, replacing filters, and clearing up tons of crap for 12-hour shifts has a tendency of leaving you less "apt to produce highly enticing written content", so bear with me for the next couple of weeks, please, for I will most likely be posting random hydraulics-related thoughts that came to my dizzy and sleepy head during the hour I got to my keyboard.

Anyhow, today I fancy talking about hydraulic sales. I started as a greenhorn shop hand and eventually ended up in a position in which I still do shop and fieldwork (like for example, spending days in a row troweling through a gooey mixture of ore powder and hydraulic oil), but then I also do the technical stuff - like new projects, upgrades, and whatnot, and the commercial - which is basically, making sure that aside from developing the said projects I also make sure that they get bought and paid for by the customers, and, since we also have retail, I do over-the-counter sales as well (when I'm around).

Honestly speaking, I used to despise commercial work when I operated purely in the shop, I really did. But as the time passed, and I began to interact more with clients, and consequently participate in sales - I slowly transitioned to the "dark side", so to speak, and at this point, I even dare say that the commercial side of this business can be as exciting as the technical. That is - all but the crap cleaning - something I will hate forever no matter what!

I am telling you all this because I want you to believe that even though I often position myself as a pure tech guy, I have accumulated substantial experience in sales.

I like selling, but there's one thing about selling hydraulic stuff that often leaves me feeling uncomfortable or even distressed, and so I want to share it with you. A "secret feeling" that I get very often when I close a sale on something hydraulic - like an overhaul, a new component, or even a hydraulic hose. This, by the way, includes all client tiers - from small-caliber retail customers to large production plants and even mines.

Very often one of the two following analogies comes to my mind when I sell hydraulic stuff:

a) Either I feel like I am selling a loaded gun to a teenager,

b) Or I feel like I am selling surgical supplies to a person who says that his stomach hurts and he would like to buy "everything there is" for appendix removal.

It's always one or the other.

It's a paradox I learned to live with and even appreciate. Hydraulics is a technology that is widely spread but by no means cheap, and yet most of its direct beneficiaries are "brave enough" to fiddle with their hydraulic equipment despite possessing the expertise of a mere user at best!

When I tell clients that they should fill the case of the 5k pump they just bought with oil, they say that "it's OK, there's oil in the suction hose!"

When I overhaul a pump after a major catastrophic failure and ask the client if they cleaned their system they say that they replaced the oil and filters, so it's all good now.

When I overhaul a hydrostatic transmission and tell the client to make sure the lines are pristinely clean and ask them to check the charge pressure when they start the machine - they say "Ah, that thing! Don't you worry, lad, we'll give this charge-fresher thing a nice check, we will!"

I just sold two brand new pumps to a client who installed the first one on his rig, and after it failed badly after the first shift, he swapped it with a second one, which failed after the second shift... The oil cooler had ruptured and filled the oil with water/sand mixture. I wonder what would happen had I sold three pumps instead of two...

I always try to give the best service there is to our customers, they all come back, they all get their problems solved, we make money - it's all good.

But this feeling that I described never seizes to return... And even though I learned to live with it, it is still sad and bitter. Maybe hydraulic stuff should be regulated like they do with guns and medical supplies?

So, if you're a hydraulic professional, I am sure that you can relate and feel my pain, and if you are a hydraulic user... well... I hope that this post will encourage you to either leave hydraulics to professionals or invest in your hydraulic self-education, so that the next time you show up on my doorstep looking for a gun, I see a gunsmith and not a teenage youth!