Are You Good Enough for Government Work?
Knowledgeable suppliers offer tips on securing lucrative selling opportunities.
It's no secret that some changes within the major directs are creating all sorts of lucrative selling opportunities for the independent supply channel.
What some distributors may not realize, however, is that many of them exist in serving federal, state and local governments' printing needs.
For Steve Buggy, vice president of Phoenix-based B&D Litho, and Bob McAleavey, president of Specialized Printed Forms, Caledonia, N.Y., government projects represent a steady workflow that promises future growth. "At most government levels, the majors have traditionally had fairly decent success with large contracts. But, that's changing as the majors continue to merge, shift strategies and, in some cases, disappear altogether," observed Buggy. "Independent distributors have had a good stake in local government business, and they appear to be making further inroads with state government work."
McAleavey pointed out that due to the major directs effectively touting their superior service and quality over the years, some government print buyers have refused to deal with independent distributors, requiring instead that the company providing product owns or leases part of the manufacturing facility. Strategizing with the vendor to create limited periods of common ownership is one way to surmount this obstacle. "In the past, I've leased time in our warehouse to distributors for one dollar for the duration of the production cycle, or I'll sell a share of stock for one dollar and buy it back once the project has been completed," he said.
However, McAleavey noted that this is becoming less of an issue as these buyers become more comfortable with the independent distributor concept. "Unquestionably, the independent supply channel does a much better job with service, and offers more flexibility and innovation in providing products to streamline operations," he said. "Once customers deal with an independent, I have never seen them go back to a direct."