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Contractor Talks Distributor Relationships

By Jim Williams

Welcome to the latest edition of Contractor’s Corner. For this edition, we talked with Bruce Seilhammer, Electrical Construction Group Manager at SECCO Inc. in Pennsylvania. Bruce was a good sport and talked about a number of topics, but they all centered on relationships.

Bruce: Like every other contractor, we’ve been in situations where we’ve had tough years, or we’ve had projects that require different payment terms, things like that – and, that’s what has really promoted us using local suppliers so much as those folks, every single time have stepped up and worked with us. That’s been a huge help to us when you get into a project that payment terms are 60 days, or 90 days and you try to work that out with your suppliers because they provided a product and they want paid as well. It’s just been a big benefit to us to have those kinds of relationships over the years.

tED: You mentioned payment options. Can you compare the vendor relationship with online outlets that tend to want immediate payment?

Bruce: That’s going to have its place too. You know, there have been times where, boy, it would be nice to have this piece of equipment, or a piece of product tomorrow. Or, it’s an emergency or pressing issue. Those kinds of things are important to and they keep the ball rolling for sure, but I don’t think the one-on-one relationship is going to go away any time soon.

tED: Keeping with local vendors – if they have new product, how would you like them to deliver or show you?

Bruce: Well, our local vendors are pretty good about this. A lot of the guys come in once a week or once every two weeks they are coming into the office or meeting with our estimators. If they have a new product they might come in with the manufacturer’s rep and line something up with us.

Or, they might even come into one of our team meetings where all of the guys are here and maybe do a suppertime thing where they bring in pizzas and they get to display their products and go over new ideas with our guys. That way they get to talk with the field folks as well.

The best way to communicate new product to the team is really anything electronic. All of our foremen have smart phones and laptops out on the projects. If we need to get them some information we can get it to them pretty quickly.

tED: If you are looking for a product and two vendors have the same product, who do you choose?

Bruce: When it comes to doing something for an estimated bid, the guy that helps us on bid day gets the work. They get the job. We are not going to shop it around after the job is awarded.

tED: What if there is a new vendor trying to get in front of you?

Bruce: The best thing is to probably get an appointment with us. Meet us in person and let us know who they are and what they offer. Maybe giving us a heads up PowerPoint or something for us to view and then they can make an appointment to talk with us.

Just so you always remember, the relationship between a contractor and distributor is always a two-way street. When we have the ability to pay early and benefit from discounts, we certainly do that.  And then on other end, when they are willing to work with us on long-payment terms, or something like that, that’s a huge help. That two-way street is so true, when we have a chance to help them, we sure want to do that too.

tED: Any success stories?

Bruce: We have a couple different vendors here, and there have been a couple different times that for whatever reasons something didn’t make it on one of their trucks. We’ve had our salesman, literally, throw it into their personal vehicle and get it out to our job site. We’ve really got folks that step up when they need to.

Special thank you to Bruce for taking time to talk with us about SECCO Inc. and relationships.

SECCO, Inc. has been working in Central Pennsylvania since 1969, providing fast, reliable, and professional Commercial Electrical, HVAC, and Refrigeration. All of their employees have access to the latest training and tools, which allows them to take great pride in the quality of their work and craftsmanship.

To find out more about SECCO please visit their web site www.seccoelectric.com.

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