Our industry, as everyone is well aware, is going through some extremely challenging times. We are being hammered from all sides. Consider the following.
- Suppliers are being forced to raise prices at alarming rates. Who would have expected to see what we have all seen?
- Oil and natural gas are trading at or near all-time highs.
- China is sucking up everything they can get their hands on, diverting much from North America and creating serious shortages that we are paying for.
- Our industry has allowed our customers to control us. Rather than fight, we have chosen to cower to their unreasonable demands.
- Through the efforts of undisciplined sales managers/people, we have been "suckered" into believing that revenues are more important than margins.
- Online bidding practices have ruined margins, yet we have continued to participate like "lambs going to slaughter."
- Our leadership has led us down the primrose path of "commoditization." As a result, every purchasing agent in the nation has come to the false conclusion that all adhesives are commodities.
- We have succumbed to the "Wal-Mart Mentality" that is sweeping the world. Neither our customers nor Wal-Mart care about our profitability and the long-term health of our industry. All they care about is price, price and price.
- Let's face it: our leadership seems to have abdicated their position as leaders. Rather than doing what we all know is the right thing, we simply walk from our responsibilities. We cringe in fear that if we do what we know we should, we will lose market share or we may lose a customer or two. Our minds are "in the gutter."
Where do we go to point blame? For starters, I suggest we all take a good hard look in the mirror. From there we need to find those within our companies that lack the courage and conviction to do what is right. There is plenty of blame to go around, but for now I strongly suggest we wake up to what is happening and take the necessary steps to address the emergency at hand. We owe it to our suppliers, our employees, our stockholders and, believe or not, our customers. The time for bold, decisive leadership, discipline and fortitude is upon us. We need to act and act now.
- Lex Reynolds, The Reynolds Co., Greenville, SC