From sperm to worm

Kevin Jackson is totally dedicated to customer support. In this month’s interview, Paul Gay found that the old adage of care from `cradle to grave’ has been rewritten

There is a trend, suggests Kevin Jackson, for the manufacturing and process industries worldwide to reduce in-house engineering and rely on technical suppliers to do the work for them. Jackson is UK managing director of Fisher Rosemount in the UK and claims that his organisation is responding to this trend by offering engineering services. In fact he claims that the UK is the leading [Fisher Rosemount] division for providing customer service. The services are so comprehensive that Jackson thinks the cliche often used for customer service – customer care from cradle to grave – should be rewritten care `from sperm to worm’

Previously, Jackson had worked within the Siebe Group as a vice president for control valves, looking after Eckhardt, NAF and Schmidt. The division turned over some $300 million annually. “We were always measured against Fisher Rosemount as a solutions provider and therefore we tried to mirror their success,” Jackson suggested. And when it was time for a career move, Jackson `joined the mirror’ moving to Emerson owned Fisher Rosemount.

“Emerson is not just keen on acquisition,” said Jackson. “They are also strict on organic growth – month by month.” Financial reporting to the parent company is naturally very important. And as Jackson put it: “Diagnostics create value. I do understand numbers but I’m a techie at heart,” he added.

Jackson believes that process control companies should take what they’ve got and then develop it with emerging technology. “This is how Delta V was born out of earlier systems,” he claimed. And the beauty of this design philosophy is that systems are always upwards compatible. Jackson believes that engineers must drive automation strategies to produce goods at a lower cost. With this in mind, the process control systems now available from Fisher Rosemount are fieldbus based and run on the Windows NT operating system.

Earlier process control system still run on Unix platforms but users will be coaxed into migrating to Windows NT as they upgrade to the latest version.

Fisher Rosemount’s systems use Foundation Fieldbus for its superior process functionality to many other systems. “We have strong links with Foundation,” said Jackson. “And after all, you don’t use a donkey to do a horse’s work. Foundation is a great opportunity. It gives us a process network with interoperability.”

“When you deal with the user, there is honour. Sometimes, we even produce the sanction document,” he added. Everything is geared to the customer’s needs so a high level of trust exists. “We don’t give Air Miles yet but there is always Emerson Finance or [if the customer prefers] Visa.

“The beauty of Visa is that we get our money in three days but we don’t offer loyalty points,” he quipped. “And all this because we listen to our customers. Selling is easy – we just give the customer what he wants.”

On the Millennium bug: “We haven’t got a problem with Y2K. All 300 UK customers are compliant and we have 20 engineers on the road to give support. What am I doing for the Millennium? I should be with 30 other families in a marquee but I’m on call.”

Jackson, at 41, is the youngest in his peer group and prefers his transport with two wheels rather than four. He is married with three children.

But it’s not all rosy. Jackson is an Arsenal supporter and is concious that `people love to walk past the office door when they lose’, presumably just to gloat.