My Library and Courses
Last Update: Sunday April 11, 2021

Key Idea: Limit Suppliers To Increase Influence

Chris learned early that loyalty and reliability are more important than price.   Here  Hattie is shown how easy it is to mount a bike on a Saris rack.

Key Question:

A: 

Spend more with fewer suppliers and your business becomes more important to them. They value your loyalty to them and they know that if they treat you fairly, they can count on your repeat business

Q: How does having just one supplier for tubing change the way Chris does business?

A:  Chris said, "We have one major tubing vendor with whom we have a true partnership. And we're not going back and forth and saying 'Hey, we need a cheaper price here or we need this or that.' We sit down and develop a strategy with them, and we're honorable in the commitments we make to them. We're committed. And they're sharing technology with us, too. We send engineers down there to work with them to try and get a better understanding on how we can perform manufacturing at a higher level."

Q:  Should Chris be nervous that this supplier would take Graber for granted and gradually hike up the prices?

A:  If he didn't trust these people, he would not have formed such a close relationship. He said this is based upon a "win-win" - not "a winner take all" - philosophy. He wants long-term quality and profits that he believes will be achieved by sticking with people he can not just buy from, but from whom he can learn.

Think about it

Would it help you manage prices and quality if you reduced the number of suppliers with whom you work? 

Clip from: Saris Cycling Group aka Graber

Madison, Wisconsin: Sara and Chris Fortune bought Graber Products in 1989 when it had 24 employees and $3.3 million in sales. When we taped this story there were up to 60 employees and with revenues over $10 million. They continue to grow, changed the name of the company to Saris Cycling Group, and are very committed to keeping their manufacturing in the USA.

Actually, manufacturing is on its way back to the USA!

That is not prophetic verse but the reality of our advancing technologies where highly educated workers can do it better, often faster, and sometimes cheaper than anywhere in the world.

This episode is a case in point: And, this story comes from the heartlands of America. These are the kind of people who love this country and all those basic freedoms to do the right thing in the face of adversity. They have done it right and now they ship their products around the world.

When Chris and Sara bought Graber Products, they bought a solid business with a good reputation, but the sales were flat. The employees were dedicated, but the company needed fresh energy to start growing again. To dump the stodgy image of the company that he bought, Chris found an Italian fashion designer who came up with improved form and function for his bike racks. Chris believed that the market was ready, willing and waiting for new ideas and he was right. Customers have flocked to the new products and employees love to come to work.

They are their industry leaders. They have kept manufacturing in America. And, their industry recognizes them for their generosity of spirit, moral courage, and ethical leadership. These people are quiet heroes,  new pioneers making the world a better place.

Go to all the Key Ideas and Video of this episode...
Go to the homepage of this episode of the show...

Saris Cycling Group (once known as Graber Products)

Chris Fortune, CEO

Visit our web site: http://saris.com

Business Classification:
Manufacturing, Sports (Biking), wholesale

Year Founded:

Limit Suppliers To Increase Influence

CHRIS: We approach business a little differently. We try and limit our number of vendors. We have one major tubing vendor with whom we have formed a true partnership. We don’t go back and forth, saying `Hey, we need a cheaper price here or we need this or that.' We sit down and develop a strategy with them, and we're honorable in the commitments we make to them.

HATTIE: So rather than having three or four suppliers on that one product who are always competing and never knowing if they're going to get the business or not, you selected one and said, `We're committed.'

CHRIS: We're committed. And they're sharing technology with us, too. We send engineers to work with them to try and get an understanding of how we can do our business better or perform manufacturing at a higher level. We've really adopted a win-win philosophy here. In my younger years as a manager, I wasn't always that way. You know, I thought you had to go out and win at all costs. However, I realized that didn't necessarily produce a long-term gain. I made some mistakes along the way that have helped me make better decisions in my business. 

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!