- April 3, 2019
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Management
As the American manufacturing industry faces a continued shortage of skilled workers, I remember how we used to find recruit talent for Robroy and its different divisions and subsidiaries: We would recruit employees from our vendor partners and suppliers.
By recruiting the talent from our partners, the ones who supplied us with the services or machines we used in creating our own products, we knew we were getting the people who had the skills, knowledge, and credibility to be able to step right into our organization and be off and running on Day 1.
Of course, we would never poach a person from the other company. That is, we didn’t secretly recruit them behind the partner’s back. While it’s not necessarily unethical, it can be rather inconvenient and annoying to the partner company, and it can quickly sour the business relationship.
Instead, we always approached the person with the agreement of the vendor. And in many cases, the new hire would actually be in a position to better help the vendor, and it made more sense to let them make the switch.
For example, we needed someone in our Duoline plant who had credibility in engineering, particularly when they were dealing with oil companies. People in the oil companies tend to be impressed with qualifications, and that’s what will fundamentally get you in the door with them.
One of our vendors had a young woman with a PhD in chemical engineering, and she had exactly the skillset and experience we needed to make next-generation compounds for the oil field tubulars we were making. And even though she worked in the male-dominated oil industry, she had the qualifications to establish her credibility, so they respected her. She also had plenty of lab experience, but not much practical field experience.
So I approached her employer and said, “We’ve been partners for 15 years or so, and I think we can both agree that Judith is wasted in the lab, but I can surely use her to to both our benefits if I can get her in front of customers.”
They agreed, and that’s exactly what I did. I hired her, and she became an employee of Duoline, but was still considered part of our vendor’s team from the customer’s point of view. That is, the vendor still had the same interface with my end users, but it was my products that she was helping to push.
So she worked for us, bringing her PhD in chemical engineering and her knowledge of her previous employer’s products as we were trying to develop our next-generation products. So she worked with the research group of our customers and back fed that through to our vendor, and it closed the loop for us.
We got to make exactly the oil field tubulars our customers wanted, and we were able to sell to more oil companies with an exclusive product.
Bottom line, if you want to recruit your vendors’ employees, then be up front about it. If the vendor is a good partner, then partner all the way and protect the relationship. There’s no downside to approaching them directly, and they have the option of saying no, as long as you haven’t talked to the individual first.
Getting the right employees from the right vendor will not only benefit you, but the vendor will (or should) recognize that they’ll benefit as well. This relationship can guarantee more sales in the future, and it can help you get more of their expertise and knowledge, which helps you serve your own customers better as well.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Amtec Photos (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)