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                                                                                                                                May 2010

                Does Your
                Supplier Truly                  Florida Distributors and
                Have Your Back?
                                                Contractors Left Holding the Bag
Commentary                  by Michael Lowe
                                                   We are all aware of recent problems

                                                with Chinese manufactured drywall, toys,
  We’ve known about the way some of             baby formula, tires, steel, etc. The fact
                                                                                                             T EM
our import competitors do business for          that some Chinese manufacturers are
years. For some importers, business             guilty of producing substandard and

integrity appears to be a needless              dangerous products is not a new revela-

                                                tion. Nor is it attention-grabbing or
burden on their bottom line. Our field
                                                responsible to categorize all Chinese
people see, first hand, how non-                products as substandard and dangerous –
compliant products are failing, and             only some.
how those failures affect project                  There are, however, several interesting    ments with the builders to make the
owners, contractors, and distributors           questions that arise from these stories       necessary repairs.
alike. We’ve tried to warn our readers,         about substandard and dangerous                  But, the builders and distributors
                                                products made in China:                       involved in the litigation have had no
without being too negative, and
                                                1. What remedy would you have if you          success in their claims against the Chinese
without being too alarmist.                                                                   manufacturer, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin.
  Though our cover story this month             were to be damaged by substandard
                                                Chinese products?                             Rather than cooperate with the other
concerns drywall, it demonstrates the           2. How do you know the difference             parties, the manufacturer has chosen to
attitude and lack of support displayed          between good and bad products?                stonewall and claim they have no
by too many import manufacturers in                                                           insurance to cover the damage, leaving
                                                  The Chinese drywall situation provides      the builders, contractors and distributors,
                                                us with answers. Over 3,500                   and their insurers, to foot the bill for the
                          Continued back page
                                                homeowners, primarily in Florida and          expensive repairs.
                                                other Southern states, have joined a             Special trade agreements make it
  Quick Sales Contacts...                       lawsuit against builders, contractors,        difficult or impossible for American
   Michael Lowe, VP Sales and Mktg              distributors, and the Chinese manufac-        companies to sue and collect from a
             WA, OR, AK, ID                     turer of drywall that has contaminated        Chinese producer, so the American
                510.502.4805             their homes and rendered many of them         companies are left holding the bag.
                                                uninhabitable. Recent legislation promises       How could the distributor or contractor
   Gary Wickham, Senior Sales Mgr               to provide a fix for damaged
   CO, UT, AZ, MT, WY, ID, NM, TX, OK                                                         have known that this Chinese drywall was
               510.501.5756                     homeowners, but distributors and others       substandard and dangerous? The simple              caught up in the supply chain are finding     truth is that they could not. It appears
   Bill Woehlke, Regional Sales Mgr             no relief from their Chinese suppliers.       customary for Chinese manufacturers to
       WI, MN, NE, IA, MO, KS, AR                 The builders involved in the construction   represent their products as fully conform-
                414.731.5234                    of these homes have vowed to stand            ing to American product standards,
                                                behind their product, and have supported      truthful or not.
    Ron Izuno, Regional Sales Mgr               legislation that would provide a mecha-         Bottom line: distributors and contractors
                  CA, NV                        nism for necessary repairs to be made to
                805.990.5538                                                                  are left with the responsibility of determin-               the affected homes.                           ing if Chinese products comply with
                                                  Florida HB 1133 would allow                 standards, and they are also left holding
     Brian Lee, Regional Sales Mgr              homeowners the option to bypass the
        OH, KY, TN, MI, Il, IN, WV                                                            the bag if they are not.
               614.371.1730                     pending lawsuit and enter into agree-            Buyer Beware – Caveat Emptor.

                                                        NSF   ®                         
Customer Service Update

                                Ten Steps to Improving Your
                                  Email Customer Service
   Using email, and using email correctly,                                            for? Is it clear? Does it answer the question fully, or could it
 however, are two different things. To                                                     just lead to a further question? Friendliness, clarity, and
 make email work at peak efficiency                                                              brevity are the goals.
 requires that certain policies be maintained
                                                                                                             6) Always be available by telephone. Email
 and rigorously enforced. Using email badly
                                                                                                               is great, but if your customer needs to talk
 can be worse than not using it all. Here are a
                                                                                                               to you, be available. Put your direct
 few tips for improving your company’s email
                                                                                                               telephone number in the signature of your
 customer service program:
                                                                                                               email and invite their call.
 1) Avoid cute shorthand and misspelled                                                               7) Always communicate in a friendly,
 words. Funny little symbols or phonetic spelling is                                                  professional tone. No matter how rude or
 fine for your 17-year old daughter chatting with her                                                 obnoxious your customer is, never reply to
 friends, but if you’re communicating to your customer, do                                          them in a like manner. Emails live forever,
 so respectfully. Run spellcheck. Read what you wrote and,                                      and can be forwarded to countless recipients.
 before sending, ask yourself, does this make sense?                                          Never put anything in an email you wouldn’t want
 2) Use the customer’s name in the greeting. Email can be cold                     your grandmother to see. Be nice.
 and impersonal, the exact opposite of the “feeling” you’re                        8) Solve your customer’s problem, or refer them to somebody
 trying to embody in your customer service program. A simple                       who can. Can’t resolve the issue within your group or com-
 “Hi, Bob” at the beginning of your message can set the tone for                   pany? Give them a link to a website or another source that can
 a friendly, professional communication.                                           assist them. Never leave them hanging. Be part of their go-to
 3) Always acknowledge an email message. Be the last to                            team.
 respond to an email thread. For instance, if you’ve been                          9) Be careful with canned responses. If you use pre-written
 emailing back and forth, make sure the last email in that thread                  replies, make sure they apply to your customer’s request.
 is from you, even if it’s just to say, “Thanks, we’re confirmed                   Inappropriate responses waste everyone’s time. Remember, the
 that your shipment will arrive tomorrow afternoon,” or some                       objective is to solve the customer’s problem or meet his/her
 such.                                                                             need, not just respond for the sake of responding.
 4) Reply in minutes or hours, not days. People use email                          10) Remember, email is a supplemental tool in communication,
 because it’s quick and easy, and can be done without involving                    not the primary mode of dealing with customers. Don’t let
 a telephone call that can drag on. With email, time is always of                  email become an automated crutch. If you don’t get a response
 the essence. Respond as soon as humanly possible, even if it’s                    back from a customer you emailed, call them. “Hey, John, I sent
 just to say, “I’ll check on that and get back to you within an                    you an email earlier today, answering those questions you
 hour.”                                                                            asked. Did you get that? Let me know if you need anything
 5) Make your emails understandable. Think about what you                          else,” is far better than just sending the email and considering it
 write. Does it provide the information the customer is asking                     done. The goal is service, and that means following up.

                                      The AB&I Customer Service Team

                            Dori Keenan               Maggie Moctezuma                      Lisa Douzos                   Jannine Longoria
                              Oakland                        Oakland                           Oakland                      LA Service Center
                        Customer Service Mgr             Customer Service                  Customer Service                 Customer Service
                            800-GOT-IRON                  800-GOT-IRON                      800-GOT-IRON                     800-356-IRON
Product Update

       AB&I: Your One-Stop Source for Anaco Standard,
             Heavy Duty, and Specialty Couplings
           Remember, Using
      Non-Compliant Couplings Can
       Void Your Pipe and Fittings
       Couplings can be the weak link in
        your installation. Don’t take a
      chance with substandard couplings
         that could fail. Insist on fully-
         compliant no-hub couplings.

                 Customers are reminded that AB&I is the full-service provider of all Anaco and Husky no-hub couplings.
    Anaco has set the industry standard for no-hub couplings since 1963, when they were first produced under license from the Cast
  Iron Soil Pipe Institute (CISPI). Since that time, they have been the preferred choice of mechanical contractors, as well as plumbers in
                   the field, for their solid reliability. No other coupling even comes close to Anaco’s record of success.

                                        Anaco Standard Couplings • Anaco Specialty Couplings
                                                 Husky SD 4000® • Husky HD 2000®
                                           Rigid Quik® Couplings • Service Weight Gaskets

    Granse/Trio Sales Tagged for                                        Only the NSF and CISPI Marks Ensure
    Midwest Territories                                                 Complete Compliance with
                                                                        Cast Iron Standards
                                                                          Compliance with standards matters. That’s why it’s important
                                      manufacturer’s rep firm,
                                                                        to make certain that any cast iron pipe or fittings product you
                                      Granse/Trio Sales, has been
                                                                        buy carries these third-party marks, ensuring that the products
                                      named to represent the
                                                                        truly are what they claim to be.
                                      complete line of AB&I pipe,
                                                                           Don’t take chances, insist that the products you buy meet the
                                      fittings, and couplings in
                                      Minnesota, North Dakota and
                                      South Dakota.
    Granse/Trio was founded in 1946, and comes to AB&I with
  an extensive background in plumbing products sales.
    “We selected Grans/Trio for their commitment to customer
  service,” said Bill Woehlke, AB&I regional sales manager. “Their
  philosophy of putting their customers first, and going the extra
  mile to meet their needs, fit well with the AB&I style of doing
    Granse/Trio can be reached at 800/328-4509.

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  To start receiving this newsletter by email, please contact AB&I’s
    customer service department at 800-GOT-IRON, or send an                 CAVEAT EMPTOR - BUYER BEWARE!
                   email to
Commentary          by Michael Lowe
                                                                    The Monthly Chuckle...
 Continued from front page

their dealings with American distribu-
                                          George Carlin Quotes                        Famous Baseball Quotes
tors and contractors.
   Right now, we’re hearing stories of     Is a vegetarian permitted to eat animal      I’m convinced that
imported cast iron pipe and fittings      crackers?                                   every boy, in his
failing in jobs in San Diego. When the                                                heart, would rather
                                           What if there were no hypothetical
owners and contractors went back to                                                   steal second base than
the import brokers for relief, they                                                   an automobile.
learned that the brokers were out of       Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when   ~Tom Clark
business, leaving the owners and          you die, your soul goes up on the roof
                                                                                        No game in the
contractors to deal with the manufac-     and gets stuck.
                                                                                      world is as tidy and dramatically neat as
turer several thousand miles away.         Before they invented drawing boards,       baseball, with cause and effect, crime
Good luck with that one. Others have      what did they go back to?                   and punishment, motive and result, so
tried and failed.
                                            I have as much authority as the Pope, I   cleanly defined.
   Even the laws are stacked against
                                          just don’t have as many     people who      ~Paul Gallico
the American customer when dealing
                                          believe it.                                   Baseball is the only major sport that
   To make matters worse, we also           Have you ever                             appears backwards in a mirror.
hear that these same manufacturers        noticed that                                ~George Carlin
are selling their cast iron products      anybody driving                               I don’t want to play golf. When I hit a
through new brokers, even while           slower than you is                          ball, I want someone else to go chase it.
leaving their damaged downline            an idiot, and anyone going                  ~Rogers Hornsby
customers hanging in the wind,            faster than you is a maniac?
                                                                                        When we played
holding the bag. Business integrity         Well, if crime fighters fight crime and   softball, I’d steal
appears to mean nothing to these          fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom   second base, feel
manufacturers.                            fighters fight?                             guilty and go back.
                                            The very existence of flame-throwers      ~Woody Allen
“We’ve tried to warn our                  proves that some time, somewhere,              Baseball is a
readers, without being too                someone said to themselves, “You know,
negative, and without                                                                 game where a
                                          I want to set those                         curve is an optical
being too alarmist.”                      people over there                           illusion, a screwball
                                          on fire, but I’m                            can be a pitch or a person, stealing is
  To AB&I, business integrity means       just not close                              legal and you can spit anywhere you like
that our products are certified through   enough to get the                           except in the umpire’s eye or on the ball.
NSF, the most trusted third-party         job done.”                                  ~Jim Murray
testing agency, to ensure quality. We
                                            Think of how                                Baseball is the only sport I know that
clearly mark our pipe and fittings so
                                          stupid the average                          when you’re on offense, the other team
that we can be easily identified, even
                                          person is, and                              controls the ball.
years later, in the event of a problem.
                                          realize half of                             ~Ken Harrelson
Most of all, to AB&I business integrity
                                          them are
means that we stand behind our                                                          Good pitching will beat good hitting
                                          stupider than
products with a genuine guarantee.                                                    any time, and vice versa.
We are committed to responding                                                        ~Bob Veale
within 24 hours of a product com-           I think it’s the
                                                                                        Nolan Ryan is pitching much better
plaint and are committed to address-      duty of the
                                                                                      now that he has his curve ball straight-
ing product problems quickly,             comedian to find
                                                                                      ened out.
efficiently, and fairly.                  out where the
                                                                                      ~Joe Garagiola
  It’s the American way. It’s the AB&I    line is drawn
way.                                      and cross it

                                                NSF   ®