Vendors are much like employees. They can be a great blessing or a curse. They can help make you successful or they can be a pain in the rear. Going on my thirteenth year in business I've narrowed my vendors down to where I really can't complain about a single one. They all offer a great product, with great service, at a fair or good price. If a mistake is made they promptly correct it. Wurth Louis & Company provides our hardware & finishing supplies. McKillican provides hardware and lumber. Speciality Forest provides lumber. And even though we often make our own doors, the rock star of the bunch is American Cabinet Door. We are located in the Pacific Northwest.
I believe much of my success in the last few years has been in finding vendors & suppliers that are top notch. Having folks you trust, can rely on and come through in an era where customer service is dying commodity is huge and hard to come by.
Does anybody else have folks you can highly recommend to others?
When, in the past, we would have issues with this or that, I used to waffle between the most important component of a successful business - customers, employees or suppliers. I finally realized you've got to have all three or you can forget about it.
In the Northeast, I have been most impressed with Highland Hardwoods and Downes & Reader as general lumber distribution yards. Rex Lumber does a pretty decent job too, but we find that their prices tend to be a bit higher with no added benefit. However, it's good to point out here that it's important to have several sources in your pocket; you never know when you'll need something ASAP and supplier A & B can't get it to you by Tuesday, but C can. It's a balancing act - spreading out your business so you maintain a relationship, but not spread so thin that you don't mean anything to anyone.
As for mills (T/L qty), Kennebec has by far the best 4/4 Hard Maple we've ever gotten anywhere, but if you have an outlet for the lower end of S&B, Maine Woods and G H Evarts put up a nice product at a substantially lower price.
Bates Finishing and Target Coatings have been doing a good job for us on that end of things.
For general supplies, we rely a lot on McMaster, Quill and Amazon.
Applied Industrial Supplies had been awesome in providing advice and products in the motive transport arena (bearings, belts, fluids, etc).
We try to maintain a decent relationship with at least two suppliers of most items. Some distribution yards specialize in one thing, some another. Price is important but a few pennies more or less isn't the main determinate.
Vendors here in Florida come in two sorts. Those that know their product and respect responsible cabinetmakers and offer expertise and advise. Those that carry the cheapest crap at the lowest price in every product and everyone is on COD. Although I am a small shop, I buy product in cases or bundles and do not nickel and dime my vendors. I always ask to be shown the newest and latest products and show pics of the work that had been built with their products. I expect next day delivery or at least notice of delay and get 4th column pricing and rarely return anything. Keep everyone informed and happy.
Here in North Cal we use Charles McMurray for hardware and Moore-Newton for hardwood. I am loyal to both for their reps who know their product (oddly rare bird these are!), friendly policies and clockwork next day delivery. Haven't compared prices in years, my time is more valuable than a few dollars more for a box of drawer slides.
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