Selling to the New Carpet Industry
In my last blog entry, “The Consolidation of the Carpet Industry,” we discussed how few manufacturers from the 1980s remain in the industry because leading companies acquired them. To build upon that topic, I will address how these changes altered how we sell to these remaining manufacturers.
The newest sector of business within the chemical and dye industry has become much more private and regulated. Years ago, reaching customers was easily accessible because there were so many people involved in purchasing. Chain of commands have changed with dyehouse manager and plant manager roles in communication now falling to purchasing managers. The simplicity of making a sales call has been severely altered. The process used to be making direct sales calls into the plant, as opposed to now which includes phone calls, text messages and, of course, emails. Due to the change in technology, making a simple sales calls is more lengthy with the additional forms of communication and the consolidation of people.
To expand upon the topic, the entertainment within the industry has also dramatically changed. Twenty-five years ago, lunch, dinner and a weekly golf game were forms of connections within the consumer/supplier relationship. Now lunch is one of the only remaining forms of entertainment, dinners are two to three times a month, and golf is one to two times a month. Between 1990 and 2007, I played golf during spring, summer, and fall at least three times a week. I took clients to dinner more than that, and I provided many more amenities in one year back then than I have in the past ten years. We would sometimes send clients on golf trips that included: 36 holes a day, hotel rooms, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three solid days. When we conducted these trips, they didn’t consist of just golf. The clients would expect us to pick up the tab for new balls, shirts, hats, and golf shoes. It was how the industry worked and how it had always functioned. The amount of entertainment provided was endless. If a customer wanted concert tickets, they got them. If a customer wanted to use the company condo for a week-long vacation at the beach, they got it. When Christmas rolled around it was a widespread gift giving frenzy. Plant supervisors and floor workers all received at least a $75 gift basket, and upper level management positions received golf clubs, hunting rifles, liquor, and four wheelers. It was a completely different environment and it has altered to a much more conservative approach now.
Not only private companies, but the entire carpet manufacturing industry has completely changed. It was a different world, primarily because most mills were privately owned. When consolidation took place, several mills went public, profits were at a premium, and the industry was forever modified.
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