A "Condemned" Supplier Shares the Truth!
Much has been said lately about how businesses in our industry operate. I've covered this issue in a recent commentary; Here We Go Again... and in my "tongue in cheek" piece, Discover the Truth About Bad Companies.
There clearly are companies who operate in ways that are contrary to the traditional supplier/distributor model we are comfortable with. However, some companies are being judged by what people perceive is really happening, without an understanding of what is actually happening.
Of concern to me is how these companies are being bashed in public forums without regard to the truth. One company being unfairly judged is ADG Promotional Products. ADG has been found guilty and branded as a supplier who sells direct because of a supposed incestuous relationship with a "sister" company, Amsterdam Printing. What proof is there that they have committed this industry crime? So far, there seems to only be hearsay.
When I posted one of my 5 Great Product Ideas in 5 Minutes from a trade show, ADG was included. This set off a flurry of comments online claiming this was a company that chooses to proactively sell against a distributor. That's not accurate.
I had an in-depth discussion with Bill Mahre, the president of ADG, to find out how they actually operate.
ADG Promotional Products encompasses a family of companies: Saratoga Pens, Windmill Planners, Deerfield Collection, Adimages Drinkware and Arlington Keepsakes. Mahre took the helm at ADG five years ago with a wide range of impressive experience both in and out of our industry.
It's no secret that ADG has been the brunt of some nasty smear campaigns, incorrectly claiming they sell direct. This rumor has been around a while, and social media has given the gossip a place to flourish.
"This is the first time I have ever experienced anything like this. Especially when the information being shared is all falsehoods and conjecture," Mahre said.
Just to clear up any confusion, ADG is owned by Taylor Corporation, a privately held multinational printing and electronics company owned by billionaire Glen Taylor. ADG and Amsterdam are just two of approximately 50 printing companies that Taylor owns worldwide. Each of these companies, including ADG and Amsterdam, operate independently and autonomously from one another.
Mahre explained that there was a time when ADG tried to hide from the fact they were owned by the same company. No more. Mahre, who also has experience on the industry's distributor side, said since he took over at ADG his approach has been full honesty and transparency. Yes, they are owned by the same parent company, but all are independent. The only "relationship" that exists outside of ownership is that one of the manufacturing sites, some equipment, and product availability are shared with sister companies Amsterdam and Litho. But again, the businesses operate entirely separate from one another.
"I want people to know: here is how we work, here is how we came together, and here is our business model. Our interest is working with the distributor," Mahre said. "We treat everyone fairly and honestly and we hope to be treated the same." He is happy to explain this to anyone and address any questions or concerns anyone has. The problem is, no one is asking, or even listening.
Mahre said that if people have a problem with ADG's parent company also owning a distributor company, he respects that decision. His issue is with people who spread false rumors and lies about ADG, as they clearly don't have the real facts.
"No one has ever called me to ask me about our business model and how we relate to Amsterdam," he said. "But they feel very comfortable debating the topic online with conjecture and information that is not fact-based." He finds this very disappointing.
We, too, should find this disappointing. Why do people spend their time and energy spreading misinformation and outright lies about a company?
The simple fact is that Amsterdam and ADG happen to be owned by the same billionaire who owns a bunch of companies and probably isn't done buying more companies. Amsterdam is a distributor just like many of us. They have a different way of selling but it isn't wrong or evil. And it certainly doesn't have anything to do with ADG. Sometimes Amsterdam gets an order because of its business model. Sometimes an order comes to us because of our business model. Period.
What are people trying to accomplish when they share falsehoods? One person had nothing but insults for ADG on a social media site. A quick Google search uncovered that this person had been unemployed for a year and had previously worked for two other pen manufacturers. Are there underlying reasons for these comments they are making? Or is this kind of free-for-all insulting something we have come to expect? Aren't we as an industry...and as individuals better than that?
To repeat an often spoken phrase, the industry is changing. It isn't a secret that more consolidation is expected and this conversation is not going way. What happens if Mr. Taylor's company buys another supplier? What happens to other companies with different business models who are owned by larger companies?
I choose to not engage in damaging idle chatter regarding what suppliers are or are not doing. If I have doubts or questions, I ask a lot more questions and investigate before I form an opinion. I think we owe it to suppliers and to ourselves to stop this vitriol gossip that doesn't serve to help, and only hurts our industry. Please join me in starting a more positive, truthful conversation about our supplier partners.
Moving away from that important topic... we want to share that everyone has the opportunity to support the good work of the SAAGNY Foundation. You can participate in person at the Howard Alan Blum 5K Fun Run/Walk held in conjunction with Expo East in Atlantic City, May 21. Or... if you can't make Expo East, or can't run, you can participate in the "VIRTUAL" 5K. Information on this unique event can be found here!
Jeff Solomon, MAS is a distributor affiliated with a Top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and twice a month e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information. On the website, you can opt in to receive these informative e-newsletters! Check out what's new in the GP2: Good Products-Good Prices section of the site. Take advantage of FREE end user safe product videos you can share from their YourPromotionSolution.com website. LIKE their page on Facebook follow them on twitter and connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.