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You Say You Want To Buy A Bridge!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Here we go again. A customer is having a difficult time finding parts. Once again I am called upon to help him locate parts for equipment he did not approve to purchase to begin with.

This is exactly what happens when equipment, no matter what kind, is purchased by “price only.” “Price only” to me means that it looks good on paper when the equipment purchased is made, but down the road has problems.

Of course this is a governmental agency, but I have seen some larger companies have this policy as well. Although the price is very important, there are criteria that should be followed. In my mind this is what I use to purchase product:

  1. Quality
  2. Whether it is a known brand name
  3. Availability of parts, service, etc.
  4. Locality of the company
  5. Cost of the product

Even in my personal purchases this is “the list” as my wife calls. It drives her crazy. So, let’s go through these item-by-item.

  1. Quality. What can I say about a quality product that you haven’t heard? Sometimes quality shows in a product that doesn’t in others. Sometimes it is very noticeable. You know quality when you see it! Sometimes the quality is inside the product and can not be seen. A good example would be a sweeper/scrubber using a special rubber compound in its squeegees to insure longer life. Sure it squeegees the same as its competitors, however, you wouldn’t know the longer life until you purchase the machine.
  2. Well known name. Again, you know whether it is a well known brand name or not. However, it is important to me whether it is a popular product. I have seen popular product not have the best quality at the time of the purchase is made. A great example is the American automobile industry. In the 80’s and 90’s the quality was always questionable in many peoples mind although they were “well-known” brand names. And look at today. It speaks for itself. And we could reverse and say that I would not have given two hoots for a Japanese car in the 50’s and 60’s. Oops, I am telling my age.
  3. Availability of parts, service, etc. Company product support. Eventually a product will break down no matter how good. The support the company gives its product is as important, in my mind, as the product itself. If that sweeper/scrubber is sitting there for a lack of parts, it is costing you time and money.
  4. Locality of the company. If you are contemplating a purchase of a product outside of the U.S. think twice. Make sure this company has dealers or distribution in this country. To make a purchase of a machine without this support is insane. You do not want to be shipping, via air, your parts from China, for example.
  5. And finally, look at the price. Don’t misunderstand me, price is very important, but never buy on price alone.

Now, coming back full circle to my customer. He has three different brand sweeper/scrubbers, five different brand forklifts, heck, I think 10 different brand weed-wackers. What a mess trying to control a parts inventory.

To conclude these are my five and if you make a purchase without using this list, I have a bridge to sell you.

As always, thanks for reading.

Michael R. Creamer

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