Pyramids, Purgatory and 76 Trombones


Click here to enlarge image

We humans are fascinated with eternity. In books, movies or our portfolios, we are always looking for the perfect long-term solution. Is it any wonder that Madison Avenue has noticed this yearning, and is happy to oblige?

However, in the electronics industry, we are a different breed. We are “technical people.” We may be cool and stylish, but our ancestors were renowned for their slide rules and pocket protectors. “Give me the facts, ma'am, nothing but the facts,” the soon-to-be-recycled Sgt. Joe Friday used to say. We're into data, not spin. We don't test, we DO. We don't guess, we KNOW!

The truth is, even “techno-philes” can be convinced to grab a dream. Doesn't everyone need 76 trombones as Professor Harold Hill crooned in The Music Man? What is better to wish upon a star than eternity? Sunday mornings are full of eternity and, depending on your chosen path, that long walk might be cool or warm, temporary or permanent.

Now the pyramids have much attraction. Engineering marvels, they have stood through thousands of years, wars, pestilence, even British cooking and still they stand tall with little upkeep and repair. So we technical folks know lasting an eternity or the more secular forever is possible, but not likely.

So it always strikes me as odd, when our fact-based industry considers a product that claims to last forever. Data-obsessed as the next guy, I have always wondered about these forever products. My skeptical nature may come from being raised in the city or perhaps from my years as a helicopter pilot —mind over matter at its best, but I've always had some questions:

1. How long is forever; and can I see your data on when forever ended and why?

2. Exactly what accelerated testing did you conduct to validate forever?

Then, of course, it gets personal. I am in the business of supplying process cleaning chemicals to electronics and advanced packaging manufacturers. I know, you thought that everyone in the cleaning business was shipped off Molokai with Father Damien when no-clean soldering gained dominance. Truth be known, cleaning still adds value in demanding applications—not to mention all those stencils that need cleaning.

So when a cleaning chemical guy says it “lasts forever,” more questions arise:

3. If it lasts forever, why are you still in business—since everyone will only buy a few gallons, once?

4. The wash water in my sink generally doesn't even make it through the dinner dishes. Just what's in your stuff? Is it safe?

5. If it lasts forever, how can it biodegrade?

6. My sink looks pretty nasty when I let the water out after 20 minutes and some dishes. Just what does the bottom of my cleaning machine look like after cleaning a jillion PCBs forever?

Then I realize these claims are not scientific, although they are often made by scientists. This is Madison Avenue talking. They know our yearnings, and just like with those sorely needed trombones, we're inclined to give it a try. After all, forever is a long time! Even before we start, we know that forever will come much sooner than expected. The idea of buying a few gallons just once is appealing, but simply not reality. It might last forever if your sink has an open drain or hole, but do you really believe Professor Hill will help you find the leak? No, but instead he'll sell you a few spare gallons, just in case, while pointing up at a dark cloud overhead and offering a long-lasting umbrella for a fair price.

Tom Forsythe may be contacted at Kyzen Corp., 430 Harding Industrial Dr., Nashville, TN 37211; (615) 831-0888; Fax: (615) 831-0889; E-mail: [email protected].


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account. Comments won't automatically be posted to your social media accounts unless you select to share.