My company has been in business for 55 years. My father started it, and I have been hanging around since I was 5 years old (I am 56 now). During the lifetime of the business, as well as my personal lifetime, many relationships have been built that have stood the test of time.
Recently, Sun Capital bought two of my primary suppliers. We have been a customer of TGI, a UGC company, and its predecessors for 40 years. During this time, their salesmen have become friends. I know the names of their spouses and children. I know where their kids go to school and their hobbies. We talk about business occasionally; we talk about family often.
Sun Capital also bought Vitro America. We have been a customer of Vitro and its predecessor for 15 years. My children and the children of one of its salesmen are the same age. We have enjoyed sharing the adventures of our respective kids. The branch manager is from the area of the USA where my son currently lives. We enjoy talking Cajun cuisine and favorite beverages. (I am still waiting for him to cook crawfish for me.)
Will Sun's acquisitions impact these relationships? Through eliminating job duplication and streamlining the business, I am concerned. Change is difficult and, quite frankly, I have reached the age where I prefer to maintain comfortable relationships in lieu of developing new ones. I am worried that Sun's purchases might impact our industry much like Wal-Mart changed small town America. Will our industry, and by that I mean the small traditional glass shops, become viewed as a commodity to be taken for granted by a large conglomerate, or will relationships still matter?
I am open to new relationships that understand the values that matter to me. Regardless of how my old friendships may change, I will be proactive in developing new ones that benefit my company.
Recently, a new potential vendor called on me. His company competes with one of the Sun Capital firms. I am a book giver who keeps a stack of small books in my office that I give out frequently to visitors. So, I gave him a book during his first visit. Upon his second visit, he returned the favor and gave me a book. I love to read, and books go straight to my heart. Wow, what a great gift! A book is far superior to lunch. A book lasts forever; lunch only lasts until it's digested. Maybe this guy is worth the effort required to build a trusting relationship. Long-term relationships DO matter to me.
—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.