SUPPLIERS YOU SHOULD KNOW
So, now that I've opened the door on other suppliers, I need to be fair to our U.S. suppliers and competitors. The printmaking community is very fortunate to have vendors that are easy to get along with, and who will help each other at the drop of a hat.
Many years ago, I was at a trade show in Boston. A European customer that I'd been trying to sell to for years, came into the booth and asked me if the tools I was displaying were from E.C. Lyons Company. He was a little surprised when I responded that for the most part they weren't. At the time we used a combination of U.S., European and Far Eastern tool suppliers.
Less than ten minutes later a young man wearing an E.C. Lyons name tag appeared at my booth. (I should point out that I know he's a young man because he's the same age I am!) He immediately pointed out that I had a lot of tools on display in my booth, and that none of them were his. Right on both counts!
We began a discussion that afternoon about what it would take for Graphic Chemical & Ink to purchase engraving tools from him. In addition to our ages, Gary Owens and I have a lot in common, and the rapport was there immediately. Graphic Chemical's concern with the tools was never a quality concern - quite the opposite, we knew their quality to be second to none. Our concern was cost to our customers.
Through a process of negotiations, we got to a point where both of of us, and our customers could benefit. The size of our orders was the tipping point for Gary - and the pricing that he came up with was passed along to our customers. We literally carry everything that Lyons manufactures now, and 99% of it is in stock for immediate delivery.
Our first visit to their plant was a real experience. This poor old suburban boy from Chicago was in awe of the Bronx, where Lyons is located. Having served a stint with the Armed Forces Police Detatchment in Washington, DC, however, I was able to cope with the hustle and bustle of the North Bronx.
A little while ago, Gary told me that Law and Order SVU filmed a segment in their plant. I saw the episode, and it's a good thing that they told me that both Gary and his son Brad were in it, because I'd never have recognized either of them! One had on a protective suit and face shield and the other had only his hands visible. Still it was a paying gig, so who can complain? The brains of the operation, wife Sherill, may not have gotten the airtime, but I'm sure it was her that cut the deal with the TV moguls.