Heat Destroys CohesionFebruary 17th, 2009 | Category: From the Daily Editor
Receiving reader response is a gratifying feeling for those of us who work in the publications industry. Feedback lets us know that, aside from simply receiving the magazine, someone is paying attention. It provides an echo that assures us that our words and efforts aren’t dropping into a deep, bottomless pit, otherwise known as the trash can. For this reason, while positive feedback may be the most gratifying, any feedback will do. We truly welcome the good, bad or ugly. And in recent weeks, we have received all of the above.
Not all of the “feedback” I have received in recent times has been aimed at the publication or its content. Much of it comes from readers—dealers, installers, manufacturer employees and such—and is aimed at other members of the industry. A little prying and what I generally find is that these “complaints” are focused on direct competitors. While this isn’t entirely new, I can honestly say it is now ten-fold. This leads me to wonder: Has the economic crisis got the window film industry “up in arms?” Competition is normal, and a healthy part of business, but, as industry members fight to remain vital in a slow economy, will they begin to compete more like fighting dogs and less like respectable competitors?
I recently came across a situation in Florida that makes this question even more compelling. The International Hurricane Protection Association (IHPA) has openly professed its dislike for the practices of some window film dealers in the Miami-Dade area. The group is a non-profit organization including more than 200 manufacturers, suppliers, contractors and government agencies that provide hurricane protection systems, information and education. But guess what? If you query the association’s membership list for any companies including the words “window film” or “tint,” the search will return zero hits. The association’s president says it is targeting window film dealers for the sake of public welfare—alleging that the group’s advertisements and practices are misleading. In the same breath, he also estimates that selling window film as “hurricane protection” to consumers in the state of Florida has generated “tens of millions of dollars” in business; which leads some dealers in the region to believe that the IHPA isn’t concerned about public welfare, as much as it is concerned about eliminating one of its competitors from the public eye. To make matters worse, Florida dealers aren’t all on the same page with this issue. While the IHPA, which some would clearly define as a group of adversaries since it is comprised by those offering competing products, has united in its focus against window film, based on feedback I have received, some window film dealers are more concerned with competition among themselves, rather than preserving the sum of the industry. I have assembled the details and various sides of the issue in an article in our March-April issue. I hope it helps stimulate both interest and collaboration among industry members—Florida-based or not.
In times like these, it is expected that a few members of our industry may fall by the wayside. As global sales decrease, competition increases and industry members fight for their fair share in order to keep their individual companies alive, it is possible that the industry will witness a sort of purging period—one that could turn into survival of the fittest. The question is, will each be best served by focusing on their individual success and needs, or would the industry be best served by a collaborative effort?
We don’t know how long this trying period will last for the industry. And it’s possible that not everyone will remain in it for the duration of this trial. But, for those who do, and especially for those who place their individual struggles aside to focus on the industry as a whole, there is a potential to build relationships designed to last a lifetime. And it’s possible that, by combining focus, fewer will fall by the wayside and much more will be had now and in the future. When the crisis fades, where would you rather be—part of a rebounding group, or alone and starting over?