I bet many of you thought this day would never come. Well it has. I was not only wrong, but dead wrong. I actually believed that within our industry there were vendor partners that cared and supported In-Plants even though these “partners” had divisions that are counter to our goals. Naïve, uninformed, blind, or stupid all fit. Never again will I fall into a false sense of security with any vendor. I will qualify this by saying that I have great relationships with folks from many of our vendors. I also believe those friends place our industry ahead of other corporate goals. Problem is when it comes down to it, they have no vote as to what happens. Therein lies the rub.
My Grandfather used to tell me that the road to Hell was paved with good intentions. Too many of my friends have been sold out by said “good intentions”. An industry vendor’s good intentions recently caused an in-plant take over. To say I am disappointed by this vendors’ predatory actions would be a gross understatement. To say I was MAD would also be an understatement. I guess in a nut shell the “smile and sell practices” must be balanced by a “sneer and stick a knife in the back” tactic. Best of both worlds for our “partners”, not so much for us.
A wise man told me to keep your numbers to yourself and never share them. They are the gold in the vault. Numbers are like statistics and can be made to say whatever you want and the FM jack wagons will do just that. Smoke and mirrors. Think of it like the news, edit and cut then spin till you get what you want. I have never been fearful of sharing information. My operation is strong, with great support and I can be a mean SOB when needed. Not anymore. I will still be a mean SOB, but all my data is now top secret. Not that I would not share with you my brothers and sisters fighting for the cause, but my vendors can make proposals till they are blue in the face, but not with my data.
Next time you need to write an RFP, be elusive and force vendors to provide all their numbers. Then be ready to dissect those numbers and see how you can make them work to your advantage. Then put the screws to them and drive the costs down further. Never give them ammunition to use against you. The other thing I have learned is to get non-compete agreements from all service bidders. Let them know your operation is off limits to their FM hitmen.
While the In-Plant model has not been this strong in many years, we can’t let our guards down for a second. With the help and support from IPMA, we can continue to promote and help defend our operations.
It is quite humbling to be so very wrong.