I've got a friend that coordinates purchasing relationships between U.S. manufacturers and Chinese part suppliers. That may rub some people the wrong way, but his current occupation is just part of a natural evolution. He once acted solely as a manufacturer's rep for manufacturing service providers in the Midwest, but had to change his approach as everyone began to seek overseas sourcing connections. In typical American success story fashion, he saw an opportunity and jumped on it.
But this story isn't about him; it's about one of his customers. This one in particular had been a very satisfied customer until the arrival of new company management. The new regime wanted a review of all existing supplier relationships. In short, management wanted to see what cost savings could be gained by intensely scrutinizing current contracts.
My friend has been through these scenarios before, and he prepared a plan. How could he improve his position while helping out the customer? He knew it wasn't just about parts and prices; it was about solving a customer's pain—even if the company didn't know it had one. (more...)