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What You Talking About Supplier X?

Never a dull moment here at QLP!

Before I begin today’s post, a little background on me first. I’ve been involved in the promotional products industry for almost 12 years now. As I often tell people “the ONLY thing that I know are promotional products”. I got started in this business extremely young, I was barely age 16 when I made my first sale of promotional products (it was for some paperboard coasters for a company that is now no longer in business, sorry!), and while I fully understand there are people who are 3rd, some even 4TH generation participants in this industry, I like to think that the many “hats” I’ve been forced to wear over the years allows me to provide a unique perspective when it comes to the advertising specialty industry.

Some people might think my approach is unconventional, some might not agree with me, but as I learned in the church this weekend, fighting for every-one’s approval is a battle that we can never win, so I guess when it comes down to it… I really just don’t care what anyone else thinks, that is, other than  what our CUSTOMERS think. You can ask around, I’m the worst at ad-ages, catch phrases, or joke punch lines, I can NEVER get them right - but the one rule that has yet to fail me is ” always do what’s best for the customer”. Note I didn’t say “the customer is always right”, there is a BIG difference – but that’s a topic for entirely different post! :)

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Yesterday before leaving for the day a popular industry newsletter arrived in my inbox. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Industry Supplier Announces South Carolina Expansion
“Supplier X” announced that it is relocating its print and warehousing operations to expanded facilities located in Gaffney, SC. The supplier’s executive offices and internal sales, marketing and certain back-office functions will remain at the current Mount Vernon, NY, location. The company’s new 147,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is located between Charlotte, NC, and Spartanburg, SC.
CREDIT: Advertising Specialty Institute | Counselor PromoGram | Volume 650 | October 6, 2009

Simple enough, right? Growth is good thing, right? Shouldn’t expansion be exciting?

Not when you’re the last to know!

Without going into to much detail, Quality Logo Products and Supplier X conduct a lot of business together. A lot! Enough to arguably deserve advance notice or a more detailed explanation. If you were going to move your business wouldn’t you maybe send a postcard to all your clients? Ok, maybe not ALL your clients, but what about your top 50? Still to many? How about your top 5. I regress… We received no such notice. Not an a simple “what if” or “we might”….

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for “Supplier X”, though I have my doubts that “expansion/growth/needs for space” are the primary reasons for the move [*COUGH* - NY Labor Unions! - *COUGH*, *COUGH*], but something like this requires a little advanced notice. If not just on principle, how about the fact that moving (possibly splitting?) production from NY to SC has a HUGE impact on order transit/delivery times. Orders to NY, arguably a MUCH larger market/customer base for promotional products than what NC is, will now take two days to ship ground service as opposed to one. Shipping to NY will now cost more. South and North Carolina require distributors to charge end users sales tax on orders produced and shipped within their respective states unless you have a SC or NC tax exempt # (NY did not). The list goes on!

How about giving your partners times to notify THEIR customer’s of this change? Maybe give them a chance to update their systems before springing it on them, and in turn, their customers? And lets not forget about the 800 lb elephant in the room. “Supplier X” already has a hard enough time printing an order correctly when production is in their own backyard; what’s one to expect when production is now more than 200 miles away?

I guess what it comes down to is… Something as simple as this can be a real slap in the face if it’s not handled properly. Disclosure anyone?!?!? I’ve now been forced to remove people from other, arguably more important, projects to focus on updating our systems/procedures to accommodate this shift. Add the fact that we’ve engaged in several conversations with “Supplier X” since this announcement took place without ANY word/explanation on their part.. it’s almost like they’re in denial… Talk about insult to injury!

Sadly “Supplier X” is not the only company in this industry who has this problem, though their track record is hardly stellar (so I shouldn’t be to surprised by this announcement right?!?!), but there is just this attitude in our industry, it’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s almost like everyone and everything expandable. There’s no loyalty. Everyone is to busy chasing the next big thing instead of building meaningful and long lasting relationships with other industry partners. Everyone is so focused on the details that they’re missing out on the big picture stuff. They’ll take $10.00 today over $100.00 tomorrow – it’s quite sad actually. Combine this with countless ass backwards and stone-age practices that plague this industry and you’ve got yourself one heck of a quagmire!

I don’t know, maybe I hold our employees and our company to a higher standard, but I do know one thing for sure, Quality Logo Products is in it for the long haul, and it’s simple things like this that make it very difficult to maintain good supplier relationships. It’s sad actually, but to the suppliers out there who DO care, I know who you are, and THANK YOU!

In closing…. “What You Talking About Supplier X”! :)



Bret Bonnet

Co-owner of Quality Logo Products - Bret is a high energy, gadget loving nerd who is PASSIONATE about Quality Logo Products. Recently selected as a member of the "Top 30 Under 30" by Counselor Magazine, he has been working in the promotional products industry since he was 16. Bret is constantly playing with his iPhone and his favorite TV show of all time is Fraggle Rock. You can connect with Bret on Google+.

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