The Importance of Relations with Vendors // Taylor Rice
Abstract: A relationship with a vendor may end up leading you to your next career opportunity. Working with vendors is a must in the industry, and treating them with respect can have a positive impact on the project and lead to new opportunities you never thought possible.
Audience: To anyone working with a vendor, in architecture, something related or something completely different. Nearly every company has some sort of representative and you never know when you will be needing a material or product. Ask important questions and listen well, it might pay off.
"The Importance of Relations with Vendors"
Architecture is a profession that relies heavily on the use of various vendors to complete a project. Those vendors provide materials such as concrete, lumber, steel, metal, windows, doors, cabinetry material, plumbing fixtures, tiles, HVAC, lighting fixtures, landscaping, and even more. Having vendor’s materials or products is vital to any building project, just like the relationship architects and even contractors have with the point person providing the materials. In almost any case the argument can be made that the human relationship takes precedent to the task at hand, because without those materials no building progress would ever be made. That relationship with the vendor must be strong and collaborative, architecture often requires unique solutions and vendors are there to help advise you in those problem-solutions.
For this year’s Design+Make project, we have been asked to contact numerous vendors in order to design a great duplex at an affordable cost. Each student was responsible to call a vendor to get the supplies that were necessary to build the duplex. I was responsible for getting the plumbing fixtures, a topic I knew nothing about and task that seemed daunting as a student.
Fortunately, I was able to contact Winsupply, with a local vendor representative here in town. He was excited about the opportunity to work with the Design+Make Studio, as he was a graduate from Kansas State University in the College of Architecture, Planning and Design. Upon the first meeting with the Winsupply representative, I learned that there is a huge importance in understanding the material and schedule process in which certain materials are provided. Luckily, he was great in teaching about what goes into plumbing fixtures and what to look for when looking at specifications from other companies. Winsupply is a supplier who orders from large companies like Kohler and American Standard. Since making initial contact, there have been weekly emails making sure that while construction is happening we are getting the necessary fixtures out to site.
While my scenario of working with vendors has been a pleasant one, that is not always the case.
Vendors control a lot of the building process when it comes to the schedule and budget of a project. In the professional world typically there is vendor management within the role of a building project, which helps to navigate any issues with vendors. But as students we have had to weather through this new territory of repeatedly calling vendors and asking difficult questions about their products in order to insure good quality and a well preforming building. Creating an open dialog with the vendor is a must. For us as student being on a more personal level helped to make us feel more comfortable asking questions especially since our understanding of materials is very limited. Through these past couple of months working with vendors, I have seen that good listening skills and asking questions has helped us get materials more quickly and even leads to more donations.
By focusing on creating a good working relation with the vendors, they are more likely to go the extra mile and that has paid off. The vendors are to be respected and in turn they have shown us respect as students and soon to be professionals. Understanding that every project has it difficulties is also very important to the relationship, for us understanding that the point person has to talk to someone else in their company helped when issues arose. Relationships with vendors are something that in the real world can lead to multiple opportunities and networks never thought possible. Similar to my experience with the Winsupply vendor point person, he has his degree in architecture but found himself a unique niche in the architecture realm.
Having great relationships with your vendors could truly lead to your next career opportunity.
Written by Taylor Rice