Friday, October 28, 2016

You’re Going to Have Lunch Anyway, Why Not Take a Customer?

The Law of the Lunch

There are very few things in business that are as important as the business lunch, about which absolutely nothing can be found in textbooks, MBA programs, seminars or conferences. The business lunch is a respected institution, virtually mandatory, and universally conducted according to a fixed ritual.

He or she who does the inviting does the paying! Conversation starts and for a long while remains in the area of seemingly idle chatter (also known as “jibber – jabber” or “chit – chat”) about personal interests in recreational pursuits, entertainment media, family matters, and mutual acquaintances. And don’t forget children and grandchildren, the Super Bowl and March Madness, the weather (but stay clear of politics and religion). Business is finally and gradually crept up upon while carefully avoiding any implications that the lunch exists specifically to enhance the lunchee’s opinions about the lunchor and the lunchor’s assessment of the lunchee (do we like each other?).

The business lunch and its rituals are based on the established fact that important buying decisions are rarely made on price alone or only on technical support, customer service, delivery, technical specifications or vendor competence and reputation. The lunch exists to learn about things that aren’t said, to help to establish and strengthen relationships of personal trust and understanding, to create commercial friendships and compromises, to facilitate favors hoped for and favors given, to go beyond technicalities and legalities in getting and supporting some sort of sale.

So don’t disparage it or miss the opportunities they can present.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Thriving Industry by Any Other Name… Apparel, Apparel, Wait, What?!

Don’t look now, but the apparel industry is slowly, quietly but distinctly making its way back to the U.S., and some of our apparel friends in the Decorated Apparel Market are doing their best to move things right along. An article in the September/October issue of Textile World magazine highlights the findings of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO). As countries outside the U.S. began to be hit with rising labor costs, shipping costs and energy bills, textile production began to find its way home. In numbers large enough to export to other countries!

Last year, American-made textiles generated $56.7 billion, a five-year increase of 13.4%. Big Box giant Wal-Mart, a former leader in off-shore strategy to lower prices, committed to increase its spending with American suppliers by $50 billion over the next 10 years. Why? Fast turn-around, high quality, low risk and cost saving! And as textiles become more available here at home, apparel manufacturers are re-thinking their strategy. Take well known Gildan, for example:

Peter Iliopoulos, Gildan’s senior VP of Public & Corporate Affairs points out, “We have invested $350 million in the U.S. in the past three years. Gildan has leveraged the great quality and superior value of USA cotton with a strong base of skilled labor, low energy costs and a stable investment climate.” Drawing their line in the sand, the Gildan official goes on to state, “We believe that U.S. consumers will increasingly position their support behind brands and companies that are investing in the USA.”

And don’t look now, but jobs at Gildan have grown by 60% since 2010, not including the 700 that were added in 2016. And sales? Since 2010, net sales have increased 96%. Kind of reminds me of the good old days. And if this is a trend – and certainly the growth noted in this article that is documented through the last 10 years – what a great bellwether for the embellishment side of the industry!

To read this article in its entirety, click here.
To learn more about the NCTO, click here.