In the stretch film industry, doing business on the West coast has always had its challenges. There is an over abundance of distributors, countless end users, several local manufacturers, and of course the "import market" that make for a competitive landscape. Import Films seem to ebb and flow based on the current economic condition of the stretch film market. The domestic and overseas resin markets appear to operate inversely. Thus, creating opportunities for overseas manufacturers to penetrate the US marketplace. Over the past several years we have witnessed a number of attempts to gain a foothold on the West Coast, but they cannot seem to maintain position. Why?
Risk -vs- Reward
When times get tough it’s easy to fall back on the old adage of "does it work & what's your price?” Thus overlooking the true art of selling value, performance, and cost -vs- price. Yes, it may be true that during certain economic cycles we can purchase overseas products at a more competitive cost. However, we need to measure the risk associated with these decisions. Let's review some Q&A on this subject:
1. Who are we buying from? Do we really know who we are dealing with on the other end of the telephone line? Are they bricks and mortar, brokers, or legitimate businesses? These types of transactions can be very risky and appear to be transactional.
2. How are these transactions processed? Most of these deals are conducted with 50% down at time of PO & the other 50% paid up front prior to shipping product. No terms? Sounds risky!
3. What happens when I have a problem? Having paid for the film prior to shipment and waiting for the container to cross the Pacific Ocean - we have a lot invested on the front side. What recourse do we have if the film shows up damaged, defective, or out of specification?
4. What type of quality can I anticipate? We have seen many variations of quality coming from overseas. It really depends... you get what you pay for!
At the end of the day I believe Quality, Consistency, and Value will always hold its ground. Sure we can get a quick "deal" to attempt to combat a competitive landscape, but at what cost? Not to mention, I like to embrace "Made in the USA" in as many product categories as possible. It's good to support your local business & develop relationships with people we can depend on. It's okay to deal with the ebbs and flows of the domestic resin market - we're all in the same boat. It's about managing our relationships with both consumers and suppliers alike. Ultimately, it's about setting an expectation & feeling confident it will be met consistently every time we go to market.