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Meet the Team: Bob Sumner, Materials Manager

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PVD Products prides itself on its customer service—cultivating relationships with any type of person, whether that be an actual customer, supplier or industry colleague. There relationships are intended to go beyond the individual PVD Products contact to the company as a whole. We recently spoke with Bob Sumner, Materials Manager for PVD Products, who truly embodies this with an extensive history from the customer service, purchasing and manufacturing industry.

What is your professional background?

I have been in manufacturing since 1994, but for almost 30 years before that, I worked in the customer service industry managing health clubs. I’ve been involved in purchasing since 2001 for a number of companies including those in PCB board contract manufacturing, cable manufacturing and water filter manufacturing. I think the reason I feel so comfortable in purchasing is because of the extensive customer service experience behind me.

What brought you to PVD?

In 2012, I joined PVD Products in a purchasing role as Materials Manager. There was a lot of growth this year for PVD, so bringing me onto the team took the weight off of the engineers who were once doing both engineering and purchasing.

What are you responsible for at PVD?

I set up a number of relationships with suppliers that will continue even after I’m gone. This constant communication sets the tone for our supplier relationships: trusting and efficient. I help to make the engineers’ lives easier by bringing in the parts they need, without disrupting or delaying their flow. I love looking at a completed tool knowing that I brought in the individual pieces to make it happen. I’m proud to say my contribution is as strong as anyone else’s here—because that’s the type of team we are.

What’s the culture like here?

How I see it is that it doesn’t matter what your role is, but you strive to do that role even better each day for yourself and for the team. Some companies have people that are comfortable going through the motions. We simply don’t have that here.

It’s also the flexibility and design of this workplace that Dr. Jim Greer has set up, bringing on like-minded people to work together. We’ve even doubled the amount of people on our team since last year, and the newer folks meet that desired “fit.” Dr. Greer and his wife are excellent at making a comfortable working environment for everyone. I very likely will work here until I retire, which is a good feeling.

Anything you’d like suppliers to know that would help reduce cost or lead time?

There are three main requirements in our process of working together:

  1. They provide quality product
  2. They provide the product at a reasonable price
  3. The product is delivered on time

It once was that you would be happy getting two out of three things. But today, you can’t afford not to have all three things. We check that the quality is there; we can’t move forward without it. We can certainly discuss flexible delivery, but we want to work with people who follow their word.

What have you learned from working with suppliers and customers in the research and commercial industry?

It’s a small world in manufacturing, particularly in Massachusetts, and it seems to be shrinking. What I’ve learned being in customer service is that it’s not just the outside customer who purchases your product that you should focus on, it’s really everyone. Everyone you interact with is your customer and you should treat them as such.


Our team at PVD Products is the best of the best for standard and custom thin film deposition systems, helping to get your ducks in a row at every phase of your project. Interested in collaborating? Send us your specs to get started.

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Topics: Meet the Team

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