INSIDE CI: What's the Idea?

The monthly memo from Editor-in-Chief Susan Sutton.

A colleague recently told me about an idea she'd had for the packaging of frozen vegetables. I don't want to step on her toes by giving it away here, but, believe me-as someone who's an aficionado of frozen food-it was a great idea. I would definitely buy it!

She'd generously sent her idea to a large food company only to receive a form letter reply stating that the company does not accept unsolicited suggestions. What a missed opportunity! I could understand if the company had rejected the idea as being impractical or a just plain bad, but to dismiss it out of hand without even evaluating it seems closed-minded and foolhardy. Customer satisfaction is key to success in any business, and telling an engaged consumer that their ideas fall on deaf ears can't be considered effective customer service.

The letter stated, in part, "It is [company] policy not to accept submitted ideas in order to avoid compromising our internal product research, development and marketing efforts." One would think that consumer preferences should drive product development. What better way to gauge preferences than to evaluate submitted ideas?

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the potential logistical and legal complications outweigh the possible benefits. I would love to hear from readers on this topic. Does your company accept unsolicited suggestions? Why or why not? What customer ideas have led to successful products for your company? What has been the craziest, most outlandish suggestion you've ever received? Was it put into practice? Have you ever submitted a suggestion to a supplier? If so, what was the outcome? Please send me an e-mail at , and we will cover some of the details in an upcoming issue of CI.

If it's November, it must be time for the Equipment Digest. This handy annual reference tool incorporates definitions and suppliers* for hundreds of different types of machinery and equipment for the ceramic and related industries. Products are listed alphabetically, and definitions explain what each product is and how it is used. Supplier listings include contact information so you can easily follow up to request additional information about the products you're interested in. The Equipment Digest is also available and fully searchable-complete with additional details and hotlinks for many of the suppliers listed in this issue-online at

This issue also includes informative articles on self-diagnostic refractory presses and material handling systems, as well as the Brick & Clay Record section. In addition, the Equipment Roundup details some of the latest equipment advances for our industry.

I'd be willing to wager that the vast majority of the suppliers included in this issue have accepted and put into practice-to their benefit as well as their customers'-unsolicited ideas. Rest assured, I am always interested in hearing your suggestions for CI. Please don't hesitate to e-mail your ideas to me at or give me a call at (330) 336-4098.


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