A manufacturer with a long-standing business strategy of working with independent reps was asked to share his thoughts about continuing with reps in the face of a challenging economy. While the manufacturer is not one that has to fill many holes in his rep network, he does admit that there have been occasions when he's had to replace a rep or find one to cover a territory that hasn't previously been covered. If that provides a positive start to what hopefully will be a long-standing relationship, he continues that he and his company look for more. The joint subjects of communication and relationships took center stage during a manufacturer roundtable at a recent industry meeting attended by both manufacturers and reps. According to one manufacturer, achieving the close relationships that are needed is hardly an easy task. Not surprisingly, just as in most relationships, the biggest challenge is communication.