Same old mantraCabinet Dealers Should Have Multiple Suppliers

“You really only need one supplier for cabinets in our industry.” Ever hear that before? Ten bucks says it probably came from a manufacturer rep or even a manufacturer executive. The bet is it didn’t come from a fellow dealer.

It’s the same old mantra. Just like they tell you that you shouldn’t live with a woman before you get married. We keep saying it but our kids just aren’t buying it.

So as you probably know by now, I don’t really have a set opinion on things, nor do I like to get people riled up. But I will say this:

If you buy into this mantra for the cabinet industry you are completely insane.


Well, let’s take a look at some of the pro’s for carrying one supplier. The manufacturers who want you to sole-source with them would say:

  • Coordinating multiple suppliers takes time and effort, and therefore more costs
  • You have to negotiate different contracts
  • There are multiple customer service departments you have to deal with
  • Us being your only supplier means we will love you (not just love but be “in love” with you)
  • There is more complexity
  • There are more training needs for you and your staff
  • Did I mention that I will stare into your eyes longingly and be a very caring/nurturing partner?

Now I won’t name any names (ahem), but I think we all can relate to the intense damage which can be done when our eggs are predominantly in one supplier’s basket. You can actually go out of business!

Carrying multiple vendors for cabinets is important — especially in a non-standardized market like ours. Yes it is a challenge, but it also reduces your risk. What risks, you say? Like these risks:

  • What if your supplier goes direct?
  • What if they decide to raise prices?
  • What if there are gaps in their product availability?
  • What if there is a disaster — like a fire or tornado — that severely impacts the delivery of your product?
  • What if, after your loving relationship, you decide it’s not them, it’s you and you want to move on?

It’s funny to me that manufacturers think this is a loyalty issue. It’s even funnier when I hear it from the @#^%$!@ who are currently going direct in my market!


I say get off the old mantra already. We’re tired of hearing it and no one is buying it. It’s like that weird smell in someone’s office that nobody wants to say anything about. Some dealers have too many suppliers, yes. Some have not enough. OK fine.

But most of us are struggling to attack niche markets with suppliers that fill necessary market gaps that you don’t offer — or maybe you do but the price point is silly.

Instead of chatting about the same old mantra, how about improving your line so you’re more competitive for us? Or I don’t know — how about stopping the manufacturer direct silliness and actually sticking your neck out to build some loyalty around here. Lord knows we could use it right now.

Who knows — maybe the market will pick your line for that niche opportunity of ours for a change.

Of course we’ll all be here in 2009 bitching about the same thing, but that’s me just stirring up the pot in the hopes that something interesting would change for 2009.