Volume 45, Issue 7 - July 2010

Buyer’sBlock

No Place Like Home
The Benefits of Buying Locally
by Paul Bieber



Home plate.

Keep the home fires burning.

When Johnny comes marching home.

Home is the place you turn to when in trouble.

It is no different in the glass industry. Buying close to home will benefit you in many ways. In our business, I had a firm rule about buying locally, then regionally, then statewide and then within the United States. Sure, certain types of glass only came from Europe or Japan, but that was small change compared to the big picture.

Buying local helps your local economy—so simple, yet always missed. This projects your name within your trading area. The clerks at the hardware counter will remember your name when they go to the web or yellow pages looking for a windshield repair or an insulating glass unit. Economic reports state that dollars spent locally have a 58-percent greater impact on the local economy than dollars spent out of your area.

There are other factors. Five percent of what you purchase will come in wrong, broken or with missing parts. You will get the replacements quicker from an in-town supplier than from one across the country.

If you buy glass from a thousand miles away because it is 9-percent cheaper, you must factor the replacement costs in your budget. We are all trying to keep costs down, but the hidden costs of distance buying will creep up on you when you least expect. If you are working on a LEED project, for example, the extra point you get for buying within 500 miles will be worth more than a product which is two points cheaper but coming from three states away.

"Economic reports state that dollars spent locally have a 58-percent greater impact on the
local economy than dollars spent out of your area."

You buy on the Internet to avoid your state sales tax and also for the extreme convenience. Go to your local suppliers with Internet pricing and, more often than not, they will match printed pricing rather than lose a customer. It is worth the time to create these mini-negotiations. You cannot lose. You will get the lower price, from the Internet if necessary, but you will more than likely get the local support and service too.

Hidden Benefits
Hidden benefits from buying local include a lower impact on the environment due to reduced shipping and packaging needs, the creation of an opportunity for barter-type transactions where your vendor may be able to use your local services and the goodwill you spread in your community.

Be sure to let your local vendors know the types of work in which you specialize. We got one or two retail calls per day at our fabrication plant, and kept an active list of referrals by zip code and product type. I always received phone calls from glass shops thanking us for referring a customer.

When you have a question at a jobsite, it will be resolved more promptly with a local vendor. There is nothing like a face-to-face during problem resolution.

The only time I would break the local rule was when an out-of-town vendor would do the leg work on a job, providing samples and information. They deserved the order for their hard work. Think of the bad taste you get when you make a mock-up for a job, and then you lose the job to a low-cost house. You won’t take work from that contractor again. Your vendors will feel the same about you. If you have a heavy sampling job, try to start that process locally where you can.

Remember, there is no place like home.

Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. Mr. Bieber’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this magazine.


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