Get the Lead Out!
This, the first of my blog entries, was originally supposed to be a “nice to meet you, here’s why I think you should visit with me each week,”- type of intro. Standard fare—easy, breezy and at least vainly attempting to be funny. But, since I believe that candor is essential when forging relationships, there’s something that’s been on my mind that I’d like to share.
I’m a bit of a newcomer to the promotional products arena, but there’s one thing that has been unceremoniously drilled into my head since my very first trade show. This is an industry entrenched in its “process.” Suppliers sell to distributors. Distributors sell to end-buyers. And ne’er the twain shall meet. Try and find a supplier’s phone number on its Web site—that info, you’ll see, is classified. And rightfully so. No one wants to disturb the natural order of things, and, let’s face it, business has been good—$18 billion times (or so) over.
When a battle plan works, those in the trenches are loathe to change it. But while researching a story a few weeks ago, a fatal flaw in the strategy revealed itself.
By now it’s fairly old news that 56,000 imported lunch boxes were recalled by the California Department of Health. And when I was charged with writing a story covering this incident, my first instinct was an empathetic, “That’s a tough break.” Because, even if a supplier took up a 24/7 post in each of its Chinese factories, it’s impossible to physically see the lead in the paint. And, if this particular supplier operated the way many do, they tested the prototype lunch box, found it to have an acceptable level of lead and sent it on its way—not the most statistically sound process, but that wasn’t the story I was assigned to write.