Have you ever been in a situation with a customer where everything that can go wrong looks like it will? You probably know that feeling, even if you don’t want to share the story! “Stressful” just scratches the surface. What do you do? Fail the customer and let down the entire launch of their promotional event? But the implications of that choice could be disastrous, for you as well as the customer. Or do you take the problems head-on and power through them and do the next to impossible, to meet that critical delivery?
For exactly this scenario, let us take you back to 2015
AMC‘s LAUNCH OF SEASON 1 ‘FEAR THE WALKING DEAD’
PRODUCT: Compressed T-Shirts
QUANTITY: 20.000 units.
One of our agency partners sent us an order for compressed T-Shirts for the launch of Season 1 of Fear the Walking Dead. This coincided with the delivery of our new generation of highly sophisticated machinery for the compression of the T-Shirts. We’d tried it and we’d tested it. This was exactly the sort of order we’d got it for… Everything started perfectly. With a 3 week production lead time and 1 week’s shipping, we had 4 weeks to cover production and delivery. Again, well within the scope of what we do. The perfect scenario, in fact. Maybe even a breeze. Well… famous last words.
We printed the T-Shirts in a week and all the printed cartons and supplies were ready. Machine pre-run checks started. Everything seemed OK. But a sequence of events unfolded that put us in serious jeopardy – a challenge many would have considered impossible. As we started to compress the first batch of shirts, we noticed something wrong with the hydraulic press. There was a problem with the pressure and cycle speed. It looked like an electronic glitch. Our engineer had a look. Yes, it was a programming error that hadn’t shown up in tests, made during manufacture, in Spain. It wasn’t clear why only now it had become evident, but for the program to be corrected we needed the access codes. Which were, naturally, in Spain, with the original software engineers…
So, still optimistic, we gave them a call. Then the blow struck. All this had happened on the eve of an important 5-day public holiday! Not a soul could we contact. Back to the drawing board. With 5 days lost, we could not see how to finish the order on time. Anxiety and frustration were redefined and etched in our memories. But there was still hope. With the holidays over, the engineers got an urgent call to action!
From Spain, an engineer linked wirelessly to the machine and attempted a fix. Again and again. Still,he couldn’t do the necessary.
So we flew the engineer from Spain to our factory in Sofia.
It wasn’t an easy job. It was much more than a single error. There was a host of problems involved, but 4 days later the machines were working to perfection.
Already sleepless from the stress, we could see we had 3 days to produce and to deliver into the UK. To meet the deadline required some serious thinking. Dessy, our production manager, said we
would have to work 33 hours non-stop to complete the order and to ship on time.
Even a continuous 24 hours would not be enough, and then we’d have to ship the product by air freight to meet the no-fail promised delivery date!
So, we took a deep breath and started. It was tough but we were mass producing and the results were on track. Anxiety and tiredness kicked in.
So, Dessy, Rob (MD of Kingly), and Venko, one of our strongest workers, started what was to be the most grueling production shift ever. 12 hours in we were all positive. With a 30-minute lunch break and a couple of coffees, confidence was high. After 18 hours things didn’t look so good. So, we took a 30-minute break to simply close our eyes and relax.
Then we sprung back into action. It was fast. It was furious. We had a sense of urgency and the production came back to life. We pushed the machines and ourselves to the utmost limits. The machines were hungry and so were we. In a sense, we respected each other because in a way we knew we couldn’t let each other down.
It’s a Sunday morning now. We knew we could do it. Nothing was going to stop us. We’d come this
far and nothing was going to get in our way – but still, we had not crossed the line
Rob: ‘I remember saying to Dessy, ‘if you don’t mind, I need to go to the car for 20 minutes. If I shut my eyes and get some sleep, I know I can come back stronger than ever before’
Dessy: ‘You crazy? There’s no time. We’re not going to make it and you know it!’
Rob: ‘I promise you, and believe me when I tell you, I will come back harder than ever before. Believe
in me. I will push that machine to the limit!;
Dessy: ‘All right then, go get some rest. I’m timing you!’.
After that desperately needed shut-eye, Rob bounced back and took charge of the primary machine, the one that was slowing down the production. On the control panel, he set the machine output to maximum speed.
Dessy: ‘Are you crazy? There’s no way you can match that speed, folding a T-Shirt in a second and getting it in the mould and activating the machine all at the same time!’
Rob ‘Just watch me! We have 8 hours till we have to be at the airport. Let’s make this happen!’ And that’s when it was a Slum Dunk, something you usually only get to see in Basketball.
Rob was slum dunking T-Shirts for 8 hours non-stop, matching the machine’s ridiculously fast cycle time. He was hot and bothered and scarcely looked human… But he stood by the monster, feeding the machine as if it were a starving lion.
Venko soldiered on, tirelessly operating the shrink wrapper; Dessy on her knees – literally and metaphorically, counting shirts, packing boxes, counting boxes.
With 1 hour to spare, miraculously we had completed the order. It was fortunate that the airport was only a 10-minute drive away. We loaded the truck and off we went to deliver the goods to our logistics partner.
The mission was over. Yes, truly it didn’t feel like a production shift, but a mission. Against the odds, we’d made sure the customer would receive the compressed T-Shirts on time, as promised.
The Euphoria that came afterward was one of delight, with a heightened feeling of accomplishment. We knew then, what we had previously promised but had not completely understood at this
extreme level – when faced with a problem, no matter how serious, we will always rise to the occasion.
Rob: ‘We haven’t failed a customer in 14 years and we will never let a customer down without an extraordinarily good reason. Even then, we’ll move heaven and earth to deliver on time.”
Kingly is one of Europe’s leading producers of socks & bespoke clothing, promotional textiles,
Creative Garment Packaging and Cosmetic products all underpinned by a rapid move towards
sustainability. Considered by many to be the fastest and most reliable producer in Europe, we pride
ourselves on an unmatched combination of price, quality and service.
Kingly offers an amazing selection of sustainable products backed up by our certifications: SMETA
PILLAR 4, ISO9001, ISO14001, ISO45001, GOTS, OEKO-TEX, GRS and BCOME Cradle-to-Grave
Platform. All yarns and materials used in the production of our apparel use Oeko-Tex certified
To get your hands on our awesome sustainable merchandise contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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