Win or Go Home: We Need to Sharpen Our Competitive Edge

By Joe Cavalier, Vice President of Operations, Wabtec

Competitiveness is something that everyone at Erie has a gut feeling for. If you want to win – in life, on the job, at play – you need to be competitive and constantly look for ways to gain, and continually sharpen, your competitive edge. 

Put simply, being competitive is key to survival. If we want Erie to survive – and thrive – we need to do everything possible to strengthen our competitive position. That means beating external competitors – those companies Wabtec faces off against in daily battle across the globe. But it also means we need to be competitive within Wabtec to continue being an attractive option to allocate work amongst the various Wabtec locations across the globe.

So how do we do that? How do we make Erie the most competitive plant in Wabtec, so that when it comes time for the company to decide where to source an order – and, remember, Wabtec has many options – it chooses Erie?

Sharpening Our Competitive Edge

We do it by digging deep and dedicating ourselves – every one of us as individuals, and collaboratively as a team – to being the best. Not “good at what we do” – the best! And that means being the best across the metrics that count most in this company and in the ultra-competitive industry we compete in:

  • Safety – Let’s do things the right way, with our full attention, to prevent harmful injuries and downtime.
  • Quality – Let’s build great products built to last with Erie pride.
  • Cost – Great products built safely but out of line with what the market will pay or what another Wabtec site can complete it for won’t win us the business.
  • Dependability – We need to deliver products on time and as promised. Our customers are depending on us. When we are the Wabtec site that’s on-time, every time, we’ll make it that much easier for Wabtec to choose Erie for the job. 

A lot goes into being competitive. You can be number one in safety, but if you’re not dependable, you won’t get the order. We need to do well across all of these metrics, while also continuously improving because our external competition and our other Wabtec sites are constantly setting new standards in order to better meet customer needs. That means if we fall down, we risk not getting the next order.

It also means that if you “see something,” you need to “say something.” Being the best at Safety, Quality, Cost, and Dependability takes you. You know where processes fall down; you know when safety protocols are being ignored; you know where there’s waste in the system. 

We’re making some good progress on several of these fronts, as evidenced by recent time-on- product improvements and our Bullet Train Teams delivering over $2 million in cost savings in 2022. But we need to do more.

Make Winning a Way of Life

For Erie to be number one within Wabtec, we need everyone doing more than punching the clock – we need you making a difference. Bring your ideas to work, make everything you touch better, be a problem solver. And be flexible to take on that next task, even if it isn’t in your job description.

It’s gut check time. Do we want to be great? We have a choice, and it’s a stark one. We’re either going to commit to being the best and win this thing together – ensuring a prosperous future for ourselves and Erie – or lose out to the competition and suffer the consequences.