This will be a brief post today but right to the point. I am sitting here fuming over a conversation I have had with a Hagerman rep 5-6-16. Call up for support on a simple parameter setting question on Lathe threading. After first being told I would get a call right back to let me know when someone would contact me or indeed the CAM support guy would be calling I wait. Some time goes by and I call again since time is money and I am waiting as I was instructed by the phone.
Now I had switched my maintenance from NexGen to Hagerman this year based on the idea of having a company nearby for support and because they also supposedly were into a user community in my immediate area. Sad to say some things are not as they seem. I have pretty well given up on the local user group as I never get any response on this nor any notification about meetings. Sales seminars yes and some online stuff but no dice on the local user groups. I can handle that but what happened today is worthy of being talked about.
I don’t pester people for a lot of answers and so the few times I do reach out for an answer I expect to get a worthwhile reply. Hagerman got a check from me last December and this is the very first time I have called for support. Simple question and it wont take much time to answer. Threading on a lathe I need to know if there is a setting for changing the initial feed depth on the reduced infeed parameters. Yes or no here it is or isn’t. Send in an email and wait or pay extra for immediate phone support is what I am told. $1,500.00 per year with Hagerman apparently does not cover ANY immediate personal support beyond helping with install and licensing. It certainly did not cover the only question I have ever asked them in five months. I have no idea how quickly they would respond to emails as I have never asked for email help before. I don’t intend to bother them again either since what I was met with is not the corporate attitude a small machine shop business owner generally will appreciate.
So this leads to some investigation and here are my findings and conclusions. NexGenCam which is where I started and would have stayed had I known this was Hagermans policy is the largest HSM reseller in the US. This is where I am heading and it is where do CAM customers rate in the world any particular VAR lives in. Hagerman is one of the largest Autodesk VAR’s out there. They sell a ton of Autodesk products and I would imagine that HSM of all flavors represents such a tiny percentage of their gross that if HSM was to die tomorrow they would never even notice. And the Big Company attitude that goes with it. Does that make Hagerman a bad VAR in general? No but it does mean if you are a machine shop owner and your primary source of income is direct manufacturing with machine tools you better look elsewhere. They do not have an appreciation for the urgency a shop owner has when a machine or machines are sitting idle. It is not their business model and today I don’t condemn them for this but I do understand it.
So what is the prudent alternative for a shop owner? Find a VAR who derives a significant portion of their income from the sales for the product you use. My advice for people considering HSM is to do this. Now understand if you want CAD and CAM support this might not be wise. In my case though I still use Solid Edge for my modeling and only use Inventor to bring in parts and do simple edits just so I can get to the HSM gold. The same holds true for all the SW users to I bet and we are all here simply because HSM is so good.
I mention NexGenCam but there is another HSM VAR I have been told about. Since it has become clear to me having a VAR with a physical presence nearby may not bring any benefit at all I no longer count this as a key ingredient for selection especially if there is no active local user network. Which as far as I can tell seems to be the case with Hagerman and Nashville, Tn. So across the country with webexes works and today my prime criteria is becoming what does the VAR have in common with me. http://www.selwaytool.com/applications is who I am looking at for support in the future and they have come highly recommended to me from someone I trust. As far as I can see Selway will be my next and final HSM VAR. Here we have a lot in common as they are an actual Haas and others machine tool sales outfit. They sell and support CAM and not only do they do so they do so with a machinist and machine selling viewpoint. They understand chip making and what cuts the chips and I suspect have a pretty good idea of what we machine owners need and want far above and beyond mega VAR’s like Hagerman.
I like the idea that Selway is a Haas dealer (among others of course) since my machines are all Haas and I expect they have support insight other VAR’s only dream of. Really how can an office full of shirt and tie guys who have never run a mill or lathe but can say we work for Mr Great Big Autodesk VAR guy compare to hands on? I mean hands on all aspects of what I have to personally deal with where the rubber meets the road. The whole Autodesk experience is less than two years in duration for me now and I am still finding things out I did not know ahead of time. One of the things I have found out is that with HSM as my primary reason for being here I darned sure do not want to get support from someone who could care less. If you are a machine shop type I believe it would behoove you to move from Mega Autodesk VAR to a primarily HSM VAR or at the very least explore this idea.
I don’t intend to switch more than one more time. Over the next half-year until my maintenance with Mega VAR Hagerman is over I will be checking out Selway in far greater detail and will report here what I find. At this time sadder and far wiser about what to look for though I don’t expect any unpleasant Selway surprises. I have no idea if Selway is the only US HSM VAR with this business model and I am not going to check much to find out. I trust the recommendation I received. Look around though and perhaps there is a similar one close by to you and if so let me know. It would be nice to have a list of HSM friendly VAR’s to share with my peers and one guy can’t check them all out. So send me your machinist recommended VAR and let us see if we can get a list going.