I see one of the greatest problems of the corporate world as being their buying systems. I call it "Passive buying". Procurement is centralised in a department in which the staff have no specialised knowledge of the products. The technical guy who needs a product, requisitions it. It goes out on tender and gets bought from the cheapest supplier or the one who manages to buck the system. The product purchased may have little in common with the requisitioned item. We all know that money changes hands under the table, but the responsibility for purchasing is so diffuse that nobody can be pinpointed as guilty.
I have a large corporate company that has been buying a small item off me for many years. I don't really want the business, I don't even manufacture the product, I just outsource it. Then one day I had to tender for this business. I sighed, doubled the price and tendered. Mine was the only tender. Then they lost my tender. I said "that's fine, I don't want the business anyway." This caused great consternation. If I don't supply it, where will they get it? I said I was sure they could get it for a quarter of the price in India, all they have to do is look for it. Look for it? What a concept! They have never looked for anything before. All they do is wait for people to come and beg them to buy their products. Now I suddenly had this huge corporation begging me to sell them a product. I was most amused. I told them I reject their conditions of purchase, and if they want to buy from me they must pay up front. This really cast a cat amongst the pigeons. Five months later I was paid up front and I supplied the goods.
The suppliers who push their products are the ones who have little to offer. The suppliers who do not push are the ones whose products are bought on their own virtue.
So how should purchasing be done? Whoever needs the product should take full responsibility for it and buy it. If it works he should get the credit and if not he must suffer the blame. Under these circumstances corruption cannot thrive.
Open tenders are good, provided all suppliers get the enquiries. It is a pity that no refractory consumers send enquiries to all the suppliers. "Active buying" is where the customer goes out and looks for the appropriate product. Unfortunately this only happens in small and medium companies.
Here's a neat tip; if you want to sell anything to the mines, just give your card to the guy who needs the product and tell him since the mine does not have an account with you, he must choose an agent himself to represent you. Watch the miner smile! Your business is in the bag, and at your price too!
We use the whole refractories industry as our distribution network. If you are looking for anything novel or unusual, we can supply it for commission, or in blank packaging or in your bags or whatever suits you best.
Judy is doing well with her cancer; she is currently recuperating on a cruise ship where my daughter, Gina is the ship's nurse.
Keramicalia is developing new products faster than ever and we are having fun.
One new product is a ceramic to replace polyester resin in fibreglass.
Another is Marna's new moulding compound called Marmould. It is a hot melt compound which melts at 50 degrees and takes up immense detail. Our most spectacular success was a puff adder which Dave found dead on the road. We made a mould with Marmould and cast it in silicone. The scales ACTUALLY OVERLAP!!
See the photos on our web site www.keramicalia.com/moulding/marmould.