Volume 41, Issue 3 March 2006
Making Wise Choices
Points to Consider When Choosing Vendors
by Paul Bieber
"Buy from, support and cheer for
the vendor that you would be eager to
introduce your kids to. Don’t buy from the
cheapest, turning everyday into an auction."
In the January issue we discussed choosing glass and glass fabrication vendors. A quick review:
Rule # 1: Tell your number-one vendor that he is and should continue to be your number-one vendor and that you will treat him like a number-one vendor.
Rule # 2: Your vendor should service you as a very special customer—no matter how big (or small) you are. A 50-person shop may have better purchasing power, which translates into lower prices, but you should be treated like a number one in every other contact and service.
This mutual commitment, much like a marriage, where you work out, discuss and solve everyday problems, will benefit you and your vendor.
Now, for just a minute or two, I want you to think in a different dimension. For some reason, your glass shop, which you built with sweat, equity and love, is gone. You are looking for a job—maybe for the first time in your life. Now, recall the ever-present thoughts about the crewmembers you have hired and fired in the past who were going from job-to-job, weren’t reliable and didn’t have the skills as advertised.
You took care of them with an extra day off, a hundred bucks here, a birthday gift there and it wasn’t really appreciated. You told them the grass wasn’t greener, but they didn’t listen. Every glass shop owner in the world knows this.
So what does this have to do with choosing your vendors? Which glass fabricator would you be proud to work for? Which one is fair and honest with its employees? This is your first key vendor. Buy from, support and cheer for the vendor that you would be eager to introduce your kids to. Don’t buy from the cheapest, turning everyday into an auction.
So, rule #3 is to make your key glass vendor one with whom you would be comfortable working for—for the rest of your life.
The first three rules are more ethics than glass, and work in any buy/sell environment. Let’s talk about glass. These rules can’t be numbered, as they’ll apply to each of you as needed.
• Buy from a distributor/fabricator who buys from at least two float manufacturers. Don’t be captive to only one tint or type of low-E.
• Buy at least two broad lines (insulating, architectural tempered, laminated, distributed products, auto, shower doors, glass entrances) from your number-one vendor. Buy your single biggest usage product from your number one.
• Buy from a vendor that respects glass and industrial safety. When you unload one-man delivery trucks, does the driver handle glass safely? If he gets hurt in your shop, in many instances, you are liable. If you have safety rules in your shop (at a minimum you should require gloves, arm guards, hard hats and goggles), make sure the delivering driver follows your rules. Insist on it. If the delivering company doesn’t follow your rules, they shouldn’t be a vendor.
• Buy from a vendor that has at least two strong decision makers. You may be buying from a large company, but if it is a “one-man” shop, and he or she is out of touch, and you need that special favor now … well, you get it.
Once a year, twice is better, have a formal conference with your accounts payable person, your receiver, your foremen and job captains to rate your vendors. We’ll talk about this rating and a how to use it next time.
Paul Bieber has 30 years experience in the
glass industry, including nine years with C.R.
Laurence Co. Inc., and 21 years as the executive
vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y.
Bieber retired from Floral Glass last year, some
months after it was acquired by Oldcastle Glass.
© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.