I’m happy to say that this is now my second guest post in quick succession, courtesy of Ben Warren of Legacy Windows

The problem of  understanding the supply chain as mentioned by Nick (AluminiumTradeSupply) is  a very real one. The arrogance of Aluminium Systems Companies is well  documented and they have little or no sympathy for their customers, i.e.  fabricators and even less for the end user. 

Their communication is  poor and they fail to keep the fabricator advised of shortages of revised  delivery dates, thinking that a piece of faxed correspondence the night  before is acceptable. 

When there is a problem  it is difficult to get any help. It is not uncommon for us to make a dozen  phone calls before we can get an answer from an Area Sales Manager and even  then the response is usually something sterile such as: ‘Yeah,  that’s not still happening is it?’; ‘I keep telling them  about that’; ‘I know what you mean, I cant even go to the  software meeting any more, I get too angry.’

They release new  products to the press for which stock are not available and in some cases the  products themselves are not tested to requisite standards.

They issue manufacturing  and pricing software to fabricators (for which they charge handsomely) which  has errors and omissions which cause products to be quoted incorrectly or  specified incorrectly. When this is pointed out they say ‘Thanks, we  will correct that on the next software update.’ Actually they  don’t say ‘thanks’ and they don’t pay for their  mistake either!

I am aware of too many  incidents to mention but a good example occurred recently. A large payment we  made to a particular Systems Company they claimed they had not received. It  had left our bank and the coordinates were correct. We duly arranged for  authority for them to speak directly to our bank to find out what had  happened, but the Systems Company’s response was: ‘Sorry we are  too busy’! Actually they didn’t even say sorry. 

The Managing Director  of the same Systems Company when facing questions about their poor  performance and how they could expect to get any new customers leave alone  keep their existing ones, replied ‘ I am not aware that we are looking for  any new customers currently’! How arrogant and insulting. He may not be  looking for any but his customers are doing so constantly.

My point is that this  is what we, as a fabricator, have to cope with and Systems Companies fail to  understand that Fabricators and Installers have to make money the old  fashioned way. They have to earn it! 
To do this we have to  look after our customers so that they come back willingly and recommend us.  These customers of ours are ultimately the Systems Company’s customers but  we have to do all the work and have all the heartache, including eroded  profit margins, in looking after them. 

So whereas I agree that  helping the end user to understand the supply chain is fundamental in  servicing them and allowing them to plan their project properly, a much more  vexing problem is making the Systems Companies understand the concept of the  supply-chain.