June 19, 2012

Single Sourcing for Glass Shops–The Good and the Bad

By Paul Bieber

Let’s say you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—and you only like Peter Pan peanut butter (PPPB), because that’s what your mom gave you when you were a kid.  So, whenever you go to the store you buy the extra large, crunchy, PPPB.  You always shop at the same store on your way home from work on Thursdays.  Every third week you buy your PPPB. (We’ll talk about getting a life in another blog.)  Horror of horrors, your store is out of PPPB.  You break out in a sweat; your heart races and you get dizzy.  You choke on the thought of buying JIF, and you would never even touch the jar of the store-brand.  You haven’t been in another grocery store for two years.  Will they even let you in?  You don’t have their shopper’s club membership card and the checkout folks might not pack your bag so the PPPB won’t break in the bottom of the bag.

This is the bad result of single sourcing.

What if, in any month that has five Thursdays, you shop across the street on that fifth Thursday?  Even buy your PPPB there once a year, watching how they pack it, validating your shopper’s card and letting you out the door with the proper change.  That wasn’t so bad, was it?  In fact, at an in-store tasting booth, you sampled a new brand of grape jelly, and it was good.  You even bought some without feeling guilty.

OK, enough of the Peanut Butter, which by the way is my favorite sandwich, and not because my initials are PB.  My wife likes Peanut Butter and Marshmallow, called a Fluffernutter in New England.  I won’t even try one.  Didn’t I just say enough of the Peanut Butter?  Let’s talk about glass … glass with grape jelly?  Stop it.

If you buy all of your IG from one vendor, you are setting yourself up for trouble.  Your fabricator may give you great service, pricing so low you don’t believe it, and have movie stars for truck drivers.  But on that fifth Tuesday in April, they are going to have a power outage, and you will have a glass outage, with nowhere to turn to.  A glass shop should buy no more than 80 percent of a product from one vendor.  Maybe you like Mike’s Insulating Glass company, then give some tempered to Molly’s Glass Company, so you can buy IG there when needed.  You know the customer service rep at each company, you are credit cleared, and their dispatchers knows how to schedule the trucks to fit your needs.  Feed each company some part of your business to protect yourself, 


  • Don’t mix IG vendors on a one job; that is a recipe for a color-matching disaster. 
  • Don’t consistently play one source against the other.  It is perfectly correct for credit managers of various companies to discuss accounts. You can get bit right in your PB&J sandwich.
  • Don’t mix sources of low-E.

OK, you’ve picked up a new brand of jelly, discovered a new source of PPPB, and your glass shop will be better run if you have a good second source.  Not a bad day after all.