Letters: Don’t suck for the low ball!
That, I found, was good advice, for playing baseball or changing our health care system. All kids who ever played baseball have had this drilled into their heads repeatedly. I know I did, even though I never set "North River" on fire as a baseball player, nor was I even a shadow of the ability of my uncle Benny Maynard, who played third base for the best teams in town, during that era that was baseball, or his son Eddie, who made it to AAA ball in the minor leagues. Yet this writer loved to play the game, and every once in a while would get lucky with my Adirondack 33 bat that I used for many years.
I never dreamed, however, that one day I would be blessed with the chance to provide all the finishes for those bats, but also for the toboggans they made, all of which were produced at their plant in Dolgeville, N.Y. It was a very big lacquer account for this fellow, and our company.
Everything went along smoothly for many years, until the old people who knew what it took to make a good bat retired and they brought in a bunch of "young Turks" as I will call them, who, since they didn’t know how to recognize and control good raw materials needed to make a good bat, fell for that old bait of a lower price, that every lowdown lacquer company will use, to get their foot in the door. Now it was the young Turks, who had to learn what it meant to fall for the low-ball trap -- the hard way.
So this writer was out the door, and the low-ball artists were in. But I had learned. I picked up a stick from production that was still finished with my system. I kept it, and about once a month would go into the sporting department stores, and compare the finish the whiz kids were now buying to the sample I had saved. My wife wouldn’t go near me in a store when I would pull this stunt.
About eight months later, the gloss of their finish was gone, the grain of the wood was raised and rough, and the tough finish had turned to a soft gel.
When people make a mistake like that they hate to admit it, and will try everything to hide it -- especially if they are a grieved buyer, or a low-down lacquer company. The time was right and I struck. I told the PA that I had a system that would be tougher, save him money, give him more gloss and build, allow him to pack and ship the same day, and improve is mileage. He said "Bring it on!" I did and knocked the other guy right out of the ball park.
Now the price of my material was a dollar a gallon higher that what they were paying, and since back then lacquer was about five dollars a gallon, my price would raise their basic cost by about 20 percent, but the improvements my company had made through better formulation, saved the day.
The purchasing agent said, "Why didn’t you show us this system before?" I said, "I did. It is the same system you were using last time, when you went for the lower price!"
So the next time one of those young Turks tells you how much good it’s going to be when they get rid of your present health system and give you their cheaper version, dig in your cleats and pay attention to the coach who is shouting "Don’t suck for the low ball."
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