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What is a good business relationship?
Business relationships are those that you form over the years with your supply chain.  Having a good relationship with a company that you do business with is very important to smooth operations.  Many times we think about a business as a dispassionate box store.  I will call them when I need them, they won’t know or care who I am but I will hopefully get what I need to continue on whatever project I am currently working on.  While I have found that can happen, I have more often than not found that a business, especially a small business, knows the value of good customer service and having a personal relationship with their customers.
This is a two-way street.  If you are a business, you want to have a good relationship with your customers but, you also want to have a good relationship with your suppliers.  Having someone who knows what your business needs, what kinds of things are important to you and is willing to help you when you need help the most, is a valuable commodity.  It is worth your time to be a company that cares about your customers.  It is one of several important qualities that will keep them coming back for years to come and will make them comfortable recommending your services to others.

Schovaers Electronics
I want to highlight a relationship that I started with a local PCB manufacturer in the early 1990’s.  The company’s name is Schovaers Electronics.  If you are local to Salt Lake County you may know Bob, John, Judy, Barbara or Mary Jane.  They are a family owned business that has been around since 1977 (  The specialize in single and double layer boards. 
Back in the Day
When I was starting work in the Master’s Program in engineering at the University of Utah I was working for a company called Hearts in Space.  They were a research group that wanted to explain why there was a shift in the fluid balance of the human body when entering the microgravity environment of space. The experiment they proposed was to create a mock circulation system; one that had an artificial heart, arterial and venous compliance and variable fluid resistance. They proposed to put this experiment in a Get-Away-Special can (about the size of a 55-gallon drum) and send it up on the Space Shuttle.
To do that it had to be completely autonomous.   An astronaut would flip a switch to tell the experiment to start but the experimental protocol had to function on its own.  I am sure you can imagine the complicated power distribution system, the network of sensors and actuators and recording devices that would be necessary to make such a system function.  That kind of automation required custom electronics, which is why I was hired to work on the project.  We produced several printed circuit boards to go on the project and those boards were manufactured by Schovaers Electronics.
At the time none of us knew much about making PCB’s.  I still remember them patiently taking us on a tour and explaining what we needed to do to make our first boards.  The experiment was a success.  We flew on two missions, STS-85 and STS-95. You can read the abstract of one of the papers we wrote here:
Through the years I have sent many boards to be made by Schovaers.  Sometimes we would have problems with making a board do what we wanted.  Bob and John were always available to review a board with me and help me find out how to make it more manufacturable.  Their help in making me succeed, their careful attention to details and quality control is why after so many years I am still using their services and delighted to work with them.

A surprise from the past
A few years ago I had a teenage son looking for a job.  Since I still maintained a good relationship with Schovaers Electronics, I asked them if they had any openings.  Soon my son was manufacturing printed circuit boards.  One day he came home with a familiar looking board and said that Bob had found this and told him to give it to me.  It was an extra copy of the very first board I had ever built, the one that was used to fly on the shuttle.  It was in perfect condition, looking like it had been made yesterday, not twenty years ago.

Keys to success
There are few things more valuable to a business than repeat customers.  Good customer service, making each customer feel that you truly care about them, quality work, honesty and integrity are among the most important qualities that a business can have.  By building strong customer relationships you will keep them coming back to you for years to come.
Final thoughts
This newsletter is sponsored by Celtic Engineering Solutions LLC, a design engineering firm based out of West Jordan, Utah, which can be found on the web at  You can find the newsletter on the company blog, LinkedIn or by subscribing.  Send your emails to The Celtic Engineer at [email protected].