Global Fastener News

2012 FIN – Sakhuja, Bialas & Owens: How to Buy Fasteners

February 25
00:00 2015

2012 FIN – Sakhuja, Bialas & Owens: How to Buy Fasteners

April 25, 2012 FIN – Give your supplier as much information on how the fastener will be used, ask questions before ordering and buy from someone you personally can trust, panelists advised fastener buyers at the Southwestern Fastener Conference & Expo.
Distributor Jeff Owens, director of purchasing for Tifco Industries; Joanne Bialas, national sales manager, for supplier International Fasteners Inc.; and Simmi Sakhuja, president of Stelfast Inc. offered tips on “How to Buy Fasteners.” The panel was moderated by FIN editor John Wolz.

Bialas: Buyers Need to Be Good Salespeople Too
Bialas recalled her early days in the fastener industry: “When I first started, there were no lap tops, no cell phones, no emails, no voicemail, no g.p.s. devices – not even fax machines were in use. We actually had teletype machines, similar to a fax, but you had to type in what you wanted to transmit over the phone line.”
“Buyers had a phone on their desk and a chair next to it for salespeople to sit in. Business was done by live communication.”
“I have had the unique opportunity to sell from a variety of levels of the fastener industry over the years,” Bialas said of her fastener career – which started in 1988 in customer service for Midwest Fastener Corp. in South Holland, IL. “I have been in sales for a manufacturer, a distributor, a coater and an importer. Distributor sales was by far the most difficult sales position I have had.”
• Avoid the “me too syndrome”: “Buying the same product from the same source as everyone else makes you simply the same, not different, not special, not better, not worse, just the same.  It is hard to up sell the same..
• Too high a price is not good, but neither is too low. “If you buy into a market situation at 20% less than the competitors and sell on that purchase price, what happens when they run out or raise their price? Now you have to go to your customer with a huge increase or take the hit which will negate the savings you once had.”
• “Help us help you,” Bialas urged. “The more information that you can provide such as the application can help us guide you in the right direction.”
• Review the total cost of goods: “What about freight which can often become more than the fastener itself?
• Buyers need to be good salespeople too: “By building a rapport with your vendors, you are creating more buying power then you might realize.”
Bialas cited one buyer who is often rude and demanding. “No one ever wants to take her calls and I would venture to say that she does not get the best possible pricing or service every time.”
• Embrace technology, but don’t abuse it,” Bialas advised. “If you don’t want to talk to someone, you can let it go to voicemail. You can fax or email over quotes and orders,” Bialas observed. “However, when all is said and done, it’s the buyer who can pick up the phone at 4 o’clock on a Friday and call the vendor they have a real relationship with to help them put out the fire that was just set ablaze on their desk.”

Owens: Ask Before Ordering
Owens recommended using fastener suppliers with “a good rep agency representing them. If a problem does arise that you cannot get satisfaction on then the rep can get involved and go to bat for you,” Owens explained. “They represent more than just one customer.”
Owens started in the fastener industry in the Tifco Industries warehouse. Subsequently he has managed the Reno branch and became Tifco’s purchasing manager in 1993.
Don’t hesitate to ask for volume discounts, prepaid freight and terms when buying larger quantities than you usually buy, Owens advised. “But do not nickel and dime your vendor on every P.O.
Also remember to let the supplier know in advance of any special needs, Owens added.
Ask in advance if merchandise is returnable and if there would be a restocking charge.
• Reduce costs by keeping the number of P.O.’s to the same vendor to a minimum per day.  That reduces receiving/accounting costs.
• Get to know your vendors. “Take advantage of and get involved in associations like the SFA to network with you vendors,” Owens said. “If possible visit your vendor’s place of business.”
If your regular vendor doesn’t carry an item, ask them if they know who does. “Most people in this industry are very helpful,” Owens noted.

Simmi:  Buy from Someone You Trust
“The most important thing is to buy from someone you trust,” Stelfast president Simmi Sakhuja emphasized.
”Because if you trust them you will communicate with them. You will ask questions if you are not sure about what you will need to buy, you will tell them honestly where you need to be to get the business and for everyone to profit.
Profitable deals are vital because “profit makes it possible for all of us to come to work the next day.”
Simmi started with Stelfast in 1996 and went through an eight-year job rotation – including purchasing fasteners – before becoming president.
Check in advance if the suppliers have ISO or other necessary certifications.
Help the salesperson assist you, Simmi suggested. Tell them not just what you are ordering, but – if possible – the application.
What is the best way to maximize profit?
“Remember to compare costs as they effect your profit,” Simmi advised.
Consider inventory turns and payment terms in calculating costs.
Place your order and confirm your order. “Buy from someone who will manage your delivery.  Will they tell you the parts will be early or late or do you have to figure this out?”
For SFR programs buy from someone who will manage your stock.
When fasteners are delivered to you, “inspect your parts if they are per print or if you are altering them.”
A supplier you trust is someone who will stand by you when we all thought we were doing it right and the customer has now decided we did not.”  ©2012/2015 Fastener Industry News.
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