To dual, or not to dual

Pioneer’s Danny Williams answers your questions. This month: “We have been with our present profile supplier for 11 years but have recently been considering dual sourcing. Our present supplier hinted they would screw us on terms if we did, but I know that you now dual source after a long time with the same supplier. How have you found things?” Name and address withheld.

We have dual sourced now for two years and overall it has worked very well for us.

We had been with the same systems manufacturer exclusively for 24 years. They worked very hard for us when we wanted a sash designed and manufactured to my designs, and helped us bring it to market. The result – the Pioneer Signature Sash – still allows us to compete in a very competitive area with a superior product that only our own installer customers can actually supply.

Two things steered me towards dual sourcing: one was that my primary supplier was struggling to supply me on time or in full; and two, I took a call one day from the head of another systems supplier who told me he had some products and initiatives he wanted to show me. I wasn’t actually interested in dual sourcing at that time but I agreed to listen to what he had to say.

He had some great looking new products, excellent initiatives and, well, I then began to think ‘perhaps this could work’.

I must admit that I began to think that going to a competitor might light a fire under my existing supplier; the products were quite complementary, but the fire was never lit.

How do we stand two years later? Well, I never received any threats about increased prices or interrupted supplies, and their OTIF stats are actually pretty good now.

And the new suppler? They’re pretty good – we are selling lots of their very nice flush casements, although the marketing ‘initiative’ that turned my head at the time didn’t come to anything really.
But I have a better choice of more products, competition has made both companies sharper because we are making more windows, and the relationship with both is actually quite positive.

It gives me choices because I am not beholden to one primary supplier, and I have, in effect, future-proofed my business and removed a great deal of risk simply by giving us more options.

I think it’s the right thing to do and a choice I should have made sooner and not driven by stress.
Your systems supplier is under pressure from their competitors, and if they tried to have you over it would be an act of monumental stupidity. And, do you really want to work with a company like that?
Just do it – you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated.