NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES
FROM PEI’S PRESIDENT
Principles Come First
WHEN I entered this
industry, I quickly
realized it was
business.” I was
a just-out-of-school district manager
for E-Z Serve, Inc., and found myself
dealing with all manner of people—
store clerks, technicians, corporate
executives and everything in between.
I soon learned that if I was going to
be successful, I needed to develop
close relationships with my customers
and clients. I built those relationships
on trust, accountability, respect
and performance. And most of my
customers responded in kind.
I have held onto that premise and
those principles in the years I have been
on the distributor/service contractor side.
Most of the PEI members I know share a
similar set of values. It’s one of the things
I have most enjoyed about the industry.
In the past few years, however, the
foundations that have supported our industry have been tested as never before.
The economic downturn obviously has
brought tough times. In Florida, “
post-tank replacement syndrome” (as Bob
Renkes once so aptly put it) has affected
most of us negatively. The customer
base also has changed dramatically.
Gone, at least from our marketing area,
are the major oils. Retail locations are
more likely to be controlled by much
smaller, mostly single-dealer operators.
And those customers are looking at
every dollar they spend. I’m as frugal
as the next guy in the way we run our
own business. But, in my opinion, an
over-insistence on price concessions is
ultimately detrimental to retailers’ success. If forcing the lowest possible price
is their only goal, the results may not be
quite what they intended.
Playing one distributor against
another to drive down prices can
undermine relationships that have been
built over years and years. While I won’t
lower my standards to meet a retailer’s
unrealistic price expectations, some
other providers may do so—even if it
means sacrificing quality or service. As
a result, the retailer who pushed for that
low price may find himself dealing with
a whole new set of problems.
Will our company sacrifice the
principles that we have worked so hard
to cultivate over the years? Absolutely
not. We will continue to base our
business upon trust, accountability,
respect and performance. Principles are
However, at some point, it’s also
clear that once-strong relationships
may simply no longer be sustainable.
Why make extraordinary concessions
to customers who see no value in what
we have to offer? Sometimes, the better
course is to let a customer go to the
competition, even if it hurts in the short
term. When trust and respect are lost,
relationships become negative and
even contentious. That’s not the kind
of business I choose to operate—or the
kind of industry I want to help serve.
Situations and times may change,
but I still believe principles come first.
Joe Y CHeeK Can Be ReaCHeD BY eMail at
JCHeeK@JMPSi.CoM oR BY PHone at
SenD CoMMentS aBout tHe PEI JOURNAL to eDitoR in CHieF RiCK long at Rlong@Pei.oRg oR BY Calling 918-494-9696.
Second Quarter 2012 | PEI JOURNAL | 9