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Ode to McMaster-Carr

April 23, 2009


Can I get some love for McMaster-Carr here?  For any project that requires material goods in order to be completed, they are your biggest and best source.  Their customer service is impeccable.  I ordered something at 1:30 PM one day and it was on my doorstep when I got home that evening.  A friend ordered something at 11 AM and they had a courier on campus to drop it off at 2:30.  They have an awesome return policy, the variety and number of items they have is astounding (480,000 items), and prices are great.  And don’t even get me started on how easy-to-use and logically constructed their website is.  I went to their distribution center here in Atlanta to pick up an item for my banner image project, and I saw that place running like a well-oiled machine of package shipping efficiency.  Huge warehouse; amazing automated packaging setup with minimal human involvement.  It was ridiculously inspiring to see them running their show in the flesh.

I used to be a Grainger guy, but I’m getting that tattoo removed and inking the McMaster-Carr logo over it.

Summary: McMaster-Carr is the Google of hardware and they are every designer’s, engineer’s, and weekend tinkerer’s best friend.

Update 05-07-09

Ha!  Awesome.

Update 03-09-10

Look what just came in the mail from ebay:

What good is having an awesome search engine if you aren’t aware of what you can find and purchase?  Thumbing through this thing and seeing what you can buy ready-made is worthwhile, and it’s why I bought the book.  480,000 products, 3,824 pages.  Impressive.  What’s more impressive is the time you can save by not having to design things which you can buy pre-fabricated.  Good design process requires drawing a boundary between what needs to be created by the design team from scratch, and what should be purchased ready-made.  Generally, I’ve found it’s best to farm out as much as possible.  After you reconcile billable hours with sticker shock of what appears to be ‘super expensive parts,’ you generally see that the cost of developing something from scratch far outweighs the purchase price of  ‘ridiculously expensive’ parts.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2009 7:40 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE McMaster! I always know where to go for that odd or end I need, or just to browse the online catalog for inspiration. I have been using them for years and only just recently bought something from Grainger for the first time. While I can’t complain about Grainger’s service at all, it just wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the McMaster experience. And their massive print catalog with its bright yellow and green cover and neat illustrations is a joy in itself.

  2. justinketterer permalink*
    April 26, 2009 4:36 pm

    Totally agreed. No one can beat their website’s user interface either. So amazing. Just type a word and lo, out of the seeming 480,000 product insanity of their warehouse of products comes EXACTLY the thing you need. I also can’t get over the prompt and friendly customer service either. If I had to choose between keeping my mother and McMaster-Carr, I’d have to go with McMaster.

    Also: I checked out your website. I like the cut of your jib, Mr. Parson. I’ll be following your website and work! Benevolent universe, indeed.

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