Chris Johnston
RVP, West Region
Red-D-Arc Welderentals
Carson, Calif.

With economic swings, politics and the price of energy/raw materials directly affecting our industry, both contractors and vendors have had to make significant changes to stay in the game. Contractors have had to reinvent themselves for their clients, and vendors have had to adapt to their clients’ needs. No longer can vendors just make a few sales calls and ask for the order. They must fully understand the challenges that the contractor is facing, which go far beyond the financial bid. Project timelines and technological advances in equipment and safety all contribute to the success of a client’s project. As a vendor, regardless of the size of your offering, you must be flexible and able to react quickly to a job change.

Successful vendors also must be there at the finish line, which really boils down to ensuring that your invoicing is clean. After more than 30 years in the supply chain, I have seen many successful client/vendor partnerships end badly when trying to close out the job and paperwork is not accurate.
 
Robert Bordeaux
Branch Manager
Distribution International
Saginaw, Mich.

In this age of communication through the use of so many electronic devices, there is still no better method than an old-fashioned meeting between suppliers and construction teams. If they partner right from the planning stage, the benefits are tremendous for both groups.

Before a construction team bids on a project, it should consult with its suppliers, who can offer valuable industry insights relating to material pricing and supply situations. Knowing whether a material is going up in price or if a material will be in short supply can certainly affect a project’s success and profitability.

It also helps both groups to know in advance if a project will call for special order materials. Non-stock items can be special ordered so there is no delay when the construction team needs them. A collaborative effort with good communication cuts down lead times, ensures materials are available as needed and allows projects to run more efficiently.

Marc Storey
Corporate Accounts Sales Manager
ORR Safety Corporation
Chicago

The relationship between a supplier and contractor can be complex. What’s required to sustain a mutually beneficial relationship is an understanding of each other’s business needs. That doesn’t mean driving for the lowest possible price with no regard for the true expense incurred, but rather recognizing that the success of one partner helps the success of the other.

One of the best ways suppliers can collaborate with construction teams is to create inter-organizational teams within the construction project that develop effective systems for communication and information exchange. Projects that finish on time and on budget also typically perform above expectations with regard to safety and quality.

Proper communication during the planning stages of a project reduces the likelihood of interrupting productivity. When both parties understand the project goals, then they are more likely to become integrated into one team and successfully complete the job.