Letters to the Editor: May

Manufacturer: Partnerships Must Be Two-Way Street

Dear Eliot:

In regard to your March 2010 “Industry Partnership” editorial, let me respond as an owner of a custom cabinet manufacturing company and as an owner of three kitchen retailing showroom companies.

For many years, as a relatively small custom manufacturing company, we’ve worked to be friendly, supportive, helpful, responsive and attuned to the needs of our dealers. Hence, many of your “partnership essentials” for manufacturers have not fallen on deaf ears.

We truly believe we understand how very important our retailers are to our success – and our survival as well. However, you failed to mention any reciprocal responsibilities for retailers.

From long and direct experience in both types of enterprise, I know that a custom kitchen manufacturing business is vastly more complex, more problematic, more capital intensive and more subject to the “mine fields of recession” than a kitchen retailing business.

So, on behalf of kitchen manufacturers, and especially in the present recessionary climate, allow me to suggest a “partnership” list of retailers’ responsibilities:

  1. Loyalty. Don’t add yet another brand of cabinets to your product representations. Work constructively with your present cabinet manufacturers to provide a greater breadth of what you need now – including price/detail tradeoffs.
  2. Professionalism. Know your present cabinet products well so that your orders reflect thoroughly thought-out designs that are in harmony with the manufacturer’s product specifications, including extra thought and clarity regarding custom variations.
  3. Realism. Don’t expect that delays in customer decision making, change orders to already submitted plans and procrastination in forwarding required deposits still obligate the manufacturer to adhere to “fire department” delivery pressures.
  4. Responsibility. Are you, in essence, requiring your manufacturer to become your bank and friendly loan specialist? Are you late with deposits? Are there payments past due? Did you fail to secure a “line of credit” when times were good? Have you been less than rigorous in collecting contract-mandated customer payments – but, nevertheless require that your manufacturer perform, be lenient and accept your naiveté or carelessness?

Eliot, I understand that you are a spokesman for the kitchen retailing industry. And perhaps your list of recession-required extras was directed at the large kitchen manufacturing conglomerates. However, when your editorial demands so much of manufacturers, but fails to list the retailers’ reciprocal responsibilities, the essence of your comments, however noble, is more “charity” than “partnership.”

Bill Ohs, president
WmOhs & WmOhs Showrooms
Denver, CO