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January - February 2003

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Buyer Beware!
Manufacturers Should Remember This When Purchasing Components
by John Matukaitis

Buyer beware! The manufacture of door and window products requires that you identify, evaluate and ultimately purchase a wide variety of components and materials from a number of suppliers. In your quest to make a quality product (however you define quality), you must make informed decisions regarding which specific products you will buy and incorporate into your finished products.

Making Buying Decisions
How are you making your buying decisions? The decision-making process has been studied widely across many disciplines. Regardless of which model of the decision-making or buying process one accepts, they all have a few common elements.

The models show that the first phase usually includes the recognition of a problem which is, more often than not, a complex process rather than a simple act. The next few phases consist of searching for information, leading to an evaluation of the information, the identification of alternative solutions that will possibly solve the problem and finally making a decision. 

However, first comes the difficult part. How reliable and valid is the information you obtained? How did you process that information? What influenced your evaluative process? Did you rely on information from past experiences? Did you embark on an external search for 

During your external search: caveat emptor (buyer beware). It would be helpful if you could resurrect Diogenes and have him assist in your search for the truth. Too frequently, the information you receive is not truly representative of the facts or the conditions as they actually exist. Face it, information emanating from mass media, personal sources and marketer-dominated sources (advertisements, salesperson visits and so on) need to be evaluated meticulously for validity, accuracy and reliability. Can the information, which is touting a product’s virtues, be substantiated as facts with third-party, independent test data? How else can the information be challenged or tested relative to reliability?

Separating Fact from Fiction
It never ceases to amaze me that many “scientific, research-based” articles appearing in window and door magazines are little more than advertorials. I am even more amazed when the information presented in these articles is taken at face value as a representation of facts and valid scientific research methods. Yes, I am a marketer of products that are used in the window and door industry, so I frequently meet with managers at many companies, from very small, up to and including the industry’s giants. While discussing the options available to them, many of these managers tell me things that are at best, minor misrepresentations of the facts, and at worst, gross exaggerations of the way things actually are. Sometimes two plus two equals 4.1, other times, two plus two equals 19. 

Not too many years ago I had a mentor, the general manager at the company where I was em-ployed. Many people thought he had the Midas touch; everything with which he was involved turned out to be very successful. I asked him how he was able to almost always make the best, or correct, decision. He replied that he always evaluated the information he had at hand, and categorized it as either a substantiated fact or as an assumption. He claimed he was able to make a good decision with only a few well-substantiated facts, while others would base their decision’s on many assumptions and less than accurate informat-ion. Perhaps conducting reality checks on received information is a managerial trait that is falling by the wayside.

A considerable body of evidence has shown that the buyer, by and large, sees and hears what he wants to see and hear. Caveat emptor


John Matukaitis serves as marketing director for Delchem Inc., based in Wilmington, Del.

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